Alumni Spotlight: Elsie Paulino

CONSULTING / PROFESSIONAL SERVICES – This spotlight series features T. Howard Foundation (THF) alumni working in consulting or professional services.

Elsie Paulino (THF ‘13)

Please describe your role.

I am currently a services sales representative at IBM where I am addressing our clients’ end-to-end IT needs. We’re using innovative technologies in security, cloud, resiliency, mobility, and networking services help our clients in their digital transformation journey.

What do you enjoy most about your company?

What I enjoy most about IBM is the access to a wealth of opportunities. IBM empowers us to continuously learn new things, become comfortable with being uncomfortable, and experience different roles and careers, creating well rounded employees. I am currently on my second career path with the company and I’m motivated and encouraged by our leadership team.

In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?

I started my career as a financial analyst and quickly realized that finance wasn’t right for me. After conversations with people from different organizations, I decided to pursue a career in sales because it seemed to fit my strengths and interests. I was attracted to the opportunity to work with talented and intelligent teams who help our clients transform their business.

How has your affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced your career?

As a first generation American, I quickly realized that for me, college was never an opportunity to pursue a passion. My family always valued education but the objective of going to college was to land a good paying job. I had to be practical and intentional. At Baruch College there were two dominant career tracks, finance or accounting so I chose finance. The T. Howard Foundation was my first exposure to a variety of possibilities, and I was impressed by the diversity in talent and interests among the class. It inspired me to think bigger and it was the first time I questioned finance as a career choice. I successfully completed my internship and secured a full-time offer but instead went on to accept an internship with IBM. I pursued finance until I felt I gave it a fair chance but my experience with the T. Howard Foundation pushed me towards finally thinking about my passions.

What personal attributes have been essential to your career success?

Confidence in my work regardless of seniority or lack of experience as well as the ability to connect with others professionally and personally. The confidence came with experience and understanding that we’re all humans, which can be difficult to realize in the beginning of our careers because we’re sometimes intimidated by intelligence, knowledge, and seniority. Connection with others comes from a sincere interest in people beyond the business. I rarely meet someone and center the conversation around their role. I rather get to know people on a more personal level and understand what’s important to them.

If you were entering this career today, how would you prepare to facilitate entry?

When mentoring new hires and early business professionals, I get this question a lot. If given the opportunity, the most important actions I take in the first weeks and months of a role is to observe, ask a lot of questions, meet and speak to as many people as you can, and leverage what’s been done to find what works best for me.

Do you perform your work in a cubicle, office or open workspace? Please describe what’s on your desk at this moment.

I’ve been working remotely for a few three years now, so my desk has been a coffee shop in Harlem, my parent’s kitchen counter, and everything in between. The flexibility of remote work is invaluable to me because I am trusted to do my work but with the freedom to create my own schedule.

How do you re-charge at work?

This may not be a conventional answer, but I nap. Not every day, but a quick power nap here and there does wonders for my productivity.