IBM’s Dorothy Copeland Builds On AWS Learnings

Dorothy Copeland believes in taking chances. As the new global vice president of IBM’s Ecosystem Programs and Business Development division, it’s Copeland’s job to convince companies that joining forces with Big Blue will deliver them to the tech promised land.

Become a Subscriber

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading this article.

Subscribe Now

It might sound like a big job but Copeland is up to it – she brims with a warm sincerity that builds bridges and mends fences. It’s hard to imagine a business owner on a tech-mishap warpath that Copeland couldn’t diffuse with her willingness to listen and knack finding the silver lining in an otherwise grey cloud. While her duties likely take her far beyond fielding calls from contrary client-partners, the skills to manage those situations are at the heart of Copeland’s success.

This certainly wouldn’t suggest that IBM’s GVP doesn’t possess the knowledge and skill that comes with her C-suite position – she is a dynamic, results-oriented professional according to those who work with her. It does mean, however, that she can get the job done while building the right environment for buy-in from co-workers and clients alike.

In a recent interview, Copeland spoke about her role at IBM and what that meant for her as a professional: “I’m proud to say I joined IBM… because of all the ways that IBM has been able to reinvent itself over the decades and over a century’s worth of providing technology to people around the world”

About her company’s acquisition of Red Hat, she said they were looking to close the merger in the latter half of 2019. Copeland sees the merger as an opportunity to bring the best of IBM and Red Hat together to create a beautiful hybrid cloud/multi-cloud offering that she is sure will please businesses of all stripes.

“[Developers] can develop once on top of Red Hat’s open source Kubernetes OpenShift product and then it can be deployed on-premise, on AWS, on Azure, on the IBM cloud. So, it creates a lot of portability and it’s really what customers have wanted over the years,” said Copeland.

As a leader, she knows it’s important to empower her team to make decisions and act upon them, when possible, for both professional skills-building and practical time-efficiency reasons: “I’m a really big believer in ensuring that my team feels a really strong sense of ownership,” she said. “Some people call it distributed leadership – I try to make sure that people can make decisions as far down in the organization as possible because that frees up my time and my leaders’ time to spend more of our thinking on strategy and we move the business forward as opposed to having to be involved in all of the individual daily decisions.”

Prior to coming over to IBM in 2017, Copeland spent seven years leading Amazon Web Services (AWS) global partner programs. She oversaw several thousand software and consulting partners and ran a team of dedicated professionals that provided their ecosystem with the initiatives, communications and partner participations necessary to make it a success.

She graduated with her MBA from UC Berkeley in 2007 and started her career as a sales account manager at Quantum, a media and digital content company.