IBM Chief talks leadership and the digital economy at Meet the CEO

Friday, 27 September 2013  Features

Celebrating 10 years of our flagship Meet the CEO​ event series, Professor Geoffrey Garrett, Dean of the Australian School of Business interviewed Andrew Stevens (BCom '81, MCom '88), Managing Director of IBM Australia and New Zealand in front of a live audience of 500 alumni.

Andrew Stevens shared with the audience insights into IBM's history as a dynamic and resilient business, and also explained his vision for the digital economy and future of Australia.

Oft discussed was the now iconic IBM 'Smart Planet' campaign which Andrew said, "is not just a marketing campaign, but a vision for how the world should, and could, operate". He explained that IBM, which began as a company that sold weight scales and cheese slicers, has never defined itself by the products it sells but rather is interested in "making a market in something that is future". This, Andrew said, is how the company has managed to thrive over 100 years, many of those years in the fast-moving Information Technology industry.

A highlight of the interview was also discussion of Andrew's leadership style. Andrew said he is focussed on "realism" and believes "a problem well-defined is a problem half-solved". He is open about challenging his staff and broadening their perspectives, and considers his role as leader, "to bridge the gap between realism and hope for what the future could be".

The IBM Chief said he draws many leadership lessons from sport - he is, accordingly, on the board of the Greater Western Sydney Giants AFL team - especially in the areas of adaptability and resilience.

Watch the complete interview with Andrew Stevens below