In this issue: Spring 2019

Profile

Disruptive Innovator

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By any reckoning, Moni Miyashita has had a storied career. From working in corporate finance at IBM, where she and a programmer developed bleeding-edge forecasting algorithms, to becoming one of the world’s experts on successful mergers and acquisitions, Miyashita has spent her professional life seeking out “white space” for new areas of growth and opportunity.

During her 30 years with “Big Blue,” Miyashita lived through several “near-death” experiences as the company struggled to reinvent itself during the personal computer and client-server revolutions.

But IBM did reinvent itself, and Miyashita, who was honed in this crucible of change, has emerged as an executive inspired by possibility. Reflecting on the most valuable takeaways from her years at IBM; at McKinsey & Company, where she advised clients globally on transformational M&A; and now as a partner at Innosight, a consulting firm that helps forward-thinking leaders navigate disruptive change, Miyashita stressed the importance of seizing the white space—and doing it brilliantly.

“You need to be distinctive,” she said. “You can’t be operating at the mean. At IBM, I focused on the white space. So I had many opportunities to do something new, which was exciting because it meant working on where things were going, like helping to get the new growth engine started—doing M&A at scale at IBM after nearly 85 years of almost no M&A.”

After leading IBM’s corporate development initiatives across Asia, including migrating IBM Japan’s business from a product focus to one offering solutions and strategic outsourcing services, she took on the challenge of building and leading the company’s first M&A integration approach. Over a six-year period, Miyashita helped to integrate 75 companies into the IBM family, revamping the company to one focused on software solutions and services.

But before she became a key leader involved in revolutionizing IBM, Miyashita pursued an MBA degree through Daniels’ Executive MBA program. Offering similar course content and professors as the full-time MBA program, the EMBA program makes it possible for ambitious businesspeople like Miyashita to earn an advanced degree, maintain a career and apply what is learned in real time. Miyashita also completed two Executive Education programs (The Women’s Leadership Forum and Women on Boards) at Harvard Business School.

“The MBA really broadened my thinking,” Miyashita said. “I got excited about the broader finance perspective [at Daniels], and at least in my job, was able to bring some of these financial perspectives to IBM that changed the way we did things.”

In 2010, Miyashita was recruited by then-Dean Christine Riordan to become a member of Daniels’ Executive Advisory Board, where she served for eight years. Additionally, she has served on the board of directors of the U.S.–Japan Council and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and on the external advisory board at Biogen. In 2016, Miyashita received the Reiman Distinctive Finance Alumni Award at Daniels.

“To continue growing in your career, you have to be authentic,” Miyashita said. “People have to feel like they can approach you and that you have integrity. To me, it’s about sticking to principles, never resting on your laurels and always creating new white space opportunities for both companies and people.”

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