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Top 50 Women in Technology

Transformative thinking Dr. Joanne Martin, IBM Vice President of IT Risk and Chief Information Security Officer, has played a central role in several of the company’s breakthrough technologies since joining IBM in 1984.


art of an elite group of technologists who have earned one of IBM’s highest technical distinctions, IBM Distinguished Engineer, Joanne Martin was on the team that created IBM’s first supercomputer and led the development of the commerce engine for In her current role, Martin has responsibility for the vision, strategy and execution of security initiatives that protect IBM’s IT assets, from intellectual property and proprietary business information to client data. “With my team, I manage programs to identify, develop, implement, and maintain the processes required to reduce IT risks, respond to incidents and formalize necessary standards and controls,” she says. “The new era of computing has introduced mobility, big data, social and cloud environments to our business. Our team ensures that these tools are used securely and effectively.”

International Hall of Fame Inducted into the Women in Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame last year, Martin says IBM CEO Ginni Rometty is her leading role model. “I have had the opportunity to interact with Ginni in different roles over the past 10 to 15 years and I really appreciate the way she inspires confidence,” says Martin. The technologist has been praised by colleagues for her accomplishments. Mark Dean, IBM Fellow and CTO for the company’s Mideast and Africa region, described her induction as “a well-deserved recognition of continued leadership, both to the technical team inside IBM and the greater industry.” 84 | Silicon Valley Global

Martin says that over the past 30 years, there has been a noticeable increase in the representation of women in technology but adds that while this is encouraging “we can go further.” She believes encouraging young women to pursue an education steeped in the STEM disciplines - science, technology, engineering and math – has to start early. “We must also stress the importance of collaboration, which many women are naturally adept at, because it is so essential to technology projects today. Technology companies have a vested interest in getting involved here,” Martin says. IBM runs an initiative called IBM Mentor Place, which involves thousands of employees around the world providing students with academic assistance and career counselling. According to Martin, initiatives such as this one are helping to remove barriers that have prohibited women from fulfilling their potential. The IBM executive grew up in Baltimore, and Columbia, N.C. She attended undergraduate school at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., and graduate school at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., receiving a PhD in Mathematics (Algebraic Topology), before carrying out postgraduate work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. She began research in high performance computing and did the first systematic characterization of the Los Alamos scientific workload, which led to interactions with researchers at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center and eventually a position at the company in 1984. She has worked at IBM since then. Martin was founder and editor-in-chief of the MIT Press Journal of Supercomputer Applications, and was on the steering

committee that created the successful ACM/ IEEE conference series on High Performance Computing and Communications, chairing the conference in 1990 and chairing the technical program for 1998. She has served as an advisor to the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and National Research Council. As a vice president of technology between 2010 and 2012, she held responsibility for guiding IBM technical strategy, developing the global technical community, supporting corporate activities on product quality, and leading efforts to address productivity and innovation in IBM’s product development processes. Prior to that, she was President of IBM’s Academy of Technology for two years. Asked about the opportunities in her current role, she says it allows her to use the skills and experience she has built over the years at IBM. “A number of times in my career I have made significant changes and needed to learn a new technical domain. In fact, that is one of my favourite things about IBM, the fact that I have been able to move to different positions. I enjoy the learning phase, and the demand to produce results while learning has always pushed me to grow,” she says.

Career Highlights Martin reflected fondly on the highlights of her career and the talented people she has met along the way. “These have been roles that required leadership, transformative thinking, technical capabilities, and communication strengths,” she says. “They were challenging and demanding and allowed me to work with strong teams to accomplish our goals.”

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