Career Pivot: Making the Move from IBM Exec to Australian Keynote Speaker of the Year

By Marie-Antoinette Issa
on 20 March 2024

Catherine DeVrye is the embodiment of resilience, ingenuity and a commitment to empowering others. She recently shared some pivotal moments and insights that helped shape her remarkable transition from her early days as an executive at IBM to becoming one of Australia’s most sought-after keynote speakers with Women Love Tech.

Reflecting on her time at the global technology innovator professionally known as “International Business Machines Corporation”, Catherine reminisced about the challenges and triumphs she faced. Particularly as a woman in a predominantly male-dominated industry. She recalled a significant moment when she was appointed the first female manager in her team. Breaking barriers and paving the way for gender equality in the workplace. “It was incredible and rewarding, but also difficult as it took time for the team to trust me,” she shares.

However, it was a twist of fate that propelled Catherine onto the stage as a keynote speaker. When faced with the sudden cancellation of a speaker for a major conference, she volunteered to fill the void. Only to be dismissed by her boss. Undeterred, Catherine concocted a clever ruse, posing as an expert from Harvard University to deliver a memorable presentation. This experience ignited her passion for public speaking, eventually leading her to embark on a new career path.

Joining Professional Speakers Australia proved to be a turning point for Catherine’s speaking career. “Being supported by others who understand the journey you’re on is invaluable,” she acknowledges. Through her membership, Catherine honed her skills and connected with like-minded professionals, propelling her towards greater success.

Drawing from her diverse experiences in the tech industry, Catherine emphasises the importance of combining technical expertise with human-centric approaches. “Tech is amazing, but it’s the outcomes for people and productivity that must be kept at the forefront,” she asserts. With a blend of insights from her tenure at IBM and anecdotes from her speaking engagements, Catherine challenges audiences to rethink their approaches to innovation and change.

“What sets me apart as a speaker is my ability to connect with audiences on a personal level,” Catherine explains. “By sharing stories of triumphs and setbacks, I inspire others to embrace their authenticity and pursue their passions fearlessly.” Through humour and humility, she fosters an environment where individuals feel empowered to chart their own paths to success.

Beyond her professional accolades, Catherine’s involvement in initiatives like the Life. Be In It fitness campaign and her role as an Australia Day Ambassador reflect her commitment to making a positive impact in her community. “Helping others to help themselves” remains her guiding mission. Driving her to make a difference in the lives of countless individuals.

“As much as I love standing ovations, it means much more to receive a letter or email months later, saying that the words I wrote or spoke actually helped someone take actions of their own to follow their dreams or overcome adversity,” Catherine shares. Through her books, speaking engagements, and advocacy work, she continues to embody the spirit of resilience and compassion, leaving an indelible mark on the world.

In a rapidly evolving technological landscape, Catherine offers sage advice to aspiring professionals. Particularly women, looking to thrive in the tech industry. “Do what you believe in and believe in what you do,” she advises. “You always have more choices than you think, and setbacks are inevitable, but keep your goals firmly in view.”

As Catherine DeVyre continues to inspire and empower others, her legacy serves as a testament to the transformative power of resilience, authenticity and unwavering determination. In a world hungry for wisdom and guidance, she stands as a beacon of hope, illuminating the path for generations to come.

Related News

More WLT News