Look Ahead! – Grooming Early Stage High Potentials (IBM)

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There are two distinct categories of high-potential employees. Late-stage high-potentials include experienced managers ready to make their way into the executive ranks. This group is typically identified as middle or senior managers and participates in a wide variety of formal training. Early-stage high potentials are different. These new managers and individual contributors are at the beginning of their careers and are identified more by their talent and drive than their track record. Early-stage high potentials are found in the lower ranks of an organizational structure, and their employers are generally not yet ready to invest the same amount in their formal training and development. While historically organizations have focused primarily (if not entirely) on their late-stage leaders, more organizations today are adopting an aggressive program for developing bench strength at all levels. Top performing organizations now recognize that the earlier potential talent is identified and put into the pipeline, the sooner the entire organization reaps the rewards of more productive and effective leadership. This session will discuss IBM’s experiences in recognizing and developing early stage HiPos.


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Rosalia Thomas
Area Human Resources Leader
Rosalia Thomas is a Human Resources Director responsible for a team of 75 highly skilled human resource professionals whose job is to influence people and organizations, including IBM executive management, on critical, complex and unprecedented issues related to HR programs/practices. Rosalia began her career in 1981 in Atlanta, GA with an Independent Business Unit that later became the Personal Systems Group. She held a number of administrative positions before being promoted to management in 1985.

In April 1990, Rosalia began her career in Human Resources as a Diversity Program Manager and later was promoted to Human Resource Partner, covering both National and International lines of business. In December 1998, Rosalia became the HR Partner for IBM Global Services Latin America, responsible for IGS HR strategies in the eleven countries in which IBM does business. In December 2000, Rosalia assumed responsibilities for HR Operations within eight Southern States. In January of 2002, she assumed responsibilities for Human Resources programs and operations for two Global Services business units. In March 2005 she assumed responsibilities for Appeals to the Chairman. In June of 2008 Rosalia became the Area HR Leader for southern United States and the Caribbean Islands. In August of 2013 she assumed Area HR Leader responsibilities for the East IMT and a 75 person HR partner organization.

Rosalia is heavily involved in Habitat for Humanity and is a founding Board member of the Women’s Executive Committee for Habitat. She is currently on the board of Kennesaw University Coles College Executive MBA Program, is a member of Leadership Cobb, and is on the board at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She is a former board member of the Center for Puppetry Arts and of the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, GCAPP.

She graduated from Mercer University with a degree in Management and an MBA in Marketing. She is Cuban born, married and has a son, Christopher, who is the pride of her life.