Clare Mortimer

Executive Partner - IBM UK Ltd

Can you describe a typical week at work?

My role varies from spending a day going from a meeting about our graduate programme to a deep content discussion about how we are going to take artificial intelligence into healthcare, through to corporate session on where we are taking our strategy as a business.  I have massively diverse weeks and I’m always jumping from one thing to another.

How did you get into data and technology, and why?

Ever since I was a little girl, everything I did was about problem-solving. For me, data and technology was all about doing that with the real world – it’s breaking the world into a set of pieces that I can put together and solve in a logical way.

What motivates you on a daily basis – what gets you up in the morning?

I am a curious person. I have a short attention span so I’m easily bored, and I am nosey too. One of the reasons I have progressed in my career is because every time I take a step forward in an organisation, I then see more things that I haven’t seen before and there’s something new that I want to solve.

How do you feel about doing things differently?

Going through life I found that there are very few things that I can’t do, but what I have also found is that I can’t do things the way that someone else wants me to do them. I have to find my own way through.

I have a really good network of supporters. But I also have a really good network of challengers, who are equally important.
What does ambition mean to you?

It’s important to be open about your achievements and don’t hide what you’ve done by implying it’s just part of something else. It’s really important for other people to look at what I’ve done on my journey and say: “that’s something I can do.”

 

What advice would you give to girls and young women interested in a career in data and technology?

Women and girls should look at everyone – men and women – to find the person who is doing what they really want to do, for inspiration. There’s nothing to stop anyone from doing what they want to do if they are really passionate about it.

 

How do you lean on others to gain strength?

I have a really good network of supporters but I also have a really good network of challengers who are equally as important. Having people who see the world differently is important as it challenges us to think differently or to try a different approach.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

If I was talking to teenage Clare I would say to stop looking in the mirror and criticising yourself. Just look at the things you want to solve instead and go and do them.

How do you gain confidence?  

I’ll let you in on a secret; I have very little confidence! People look at me with disbelief when I say this, particularly graduates and other professionals when I’m talking to them about confidence at work, but I absolutely hate standing on a stage, it fills me with dread and I’m shaking inside whenever I do it. Also, every piece of work I do I wonder what I could have done differently and I don’t ever believe it is good enough.  But I’m working on this.

Can you tell us about the significant object that you’ve chosen?

I chose a Rubik’s Cube because I am someone who is always seeking to break things down into separate blocks to find a methodical way to solve the problems. With a Rubik’s Cube, there is a very fixed pattern. It looks all over the place, but by following a sensible set of steps that you can learn, you go from absolute chaos to all of a sudden it being solved. Then you can muddle it up and start again. This series of individual pieces that you break down into a set of steps to solve, really is what sums up my attitude to most things.