Gerstner took over a sprawling, unwieldy empire of staggering proportions. IBM, headquartered in Armonk, NY, had 15,000 software applications, 150 data centers, 13 business units, each with its own payroll and human resources department, and 400,000 employees all over the world.
“We were a loose conglomeration of companies with one corporate logo,” recalled Bromley.
In his first two years, Gerstner reduced the data centers to eight, consolidated support functions and the company’s supply chain and appointed a single chief information officer to oversee the whole thing.
“There are lessons we learned for ourselves, and we think that we have some lessons learned we can bring to DHS,” said Bromley.
As a result of IBM’s evolution—and her own 16 years’ experience moving up through the company’s ranks—Bromley brings not only seasoned wisdom but a lively enthusiasm and a great deal of sympathy to her task of serving DHS and the other agencies that provide homeland security.
Big Blue’s presence
Prior to creation of DHS, IBM was serving the many agencies that would make up the department, and Bromley oversaw sales efforts to the departments of Transportation and Agriculture.
Indeed, on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Bromley was on her way to an important meeting at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Though sensing that the events in New York were extraordinary, her FAA contact, a former Marine, insisted on holding the meeting. Once the Pentagon was hit and the FAA building in Washington evacuated, he still tried to hold the meeting in nearby Rosslyn.
Bromley took charge of IBM’s relations with the newly created Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the immediate wake of 9/11 and watched its growth from an information technology perspective.
“That was a very dynamic time, avery interesting time,” she recalled. “The level of effort and the work effort that went into that was just unbelievable.”
Bromley received considerable accolades for her success in handling that mission, and in January 2004 she was put in charge of all of IBM’s relations with DHS. This past January, she was promoted to vice president.
Today, IBM brings its considerable research and development muscle to homeland security tasks and contracts, expanding the work it did prior to 2002 and leveraging its existing expertise and contracts in the service of homeland security.
At the same time, it will be bidding aggressively for new work. Prime examples are the newly unveiled DHS programs EAGLE (Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edgesolutions) and the program for acquiring IT commodities called First Source.
Bromley oversees a team of 1,000 IBM employees and managers responsible for IBM’s overall strategy for DHS, including all IBM brand offerings—hardware, software and services. She’s responsible for all customer relationships with the department—as well as customer satisfaction.
The person who shepherded IBM’s relations in the new environment is a native Virginian, and in a real sense a native Washingtonian, having been born in the District and a graduate of Virginia’s James Madison University. Indeed, so rooted was Bromley in the Commonwealth that a move across the Potomac River to IBM Federal’s complex in Bethesda, Md., was a trip into terra incognita.
For Bromley, working in homeland security is different from her previous jobs at IBM.
“In 16 years in IBM, I’ve spent all of it selling to the federal government,” she observed. “Those people who are in DHS and those people who cover DHS 100 percent of their time buy into the importance of what we’re doing, and companies give us more slack. If there’s something that might not be 100 percent in IBM’s best interests, but it’s in the interests of the government and the nation, you don’t get one second of static for doing it. There’s just a level of understanding that we can’t afford to let DHS fail. And that’s a different situation than I’ve ever been in before.”
She added, “In 16 years with IBM, I’ve had 16 different managers. I’ve moved around a lot, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is my absolute favorite job. You feel good about what you do and you feel good about what your company does for your customer. It’s a good feeling. I love this job.”