Marilyn D. Johnson

Vice President, Market Development, IBM, White Plains, N.Y.

Marilyn D. Johnson is one of a handful of African-American women with sales and marketing experience at the executive level within the global elite of information technology firms. Her credo: ?Step out of your comfort zone with confidence.?

As vice president of market development at IBM, Johnson leads the group responsible for developing the company?s strategy for reaching out to and building relationships with businesses owned or operated by Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and women. She was promoted to this position after serving in other key executive roles, including as director of eBusiness infrastructure and director of worldwide sales operations, and has had management and operational responsibilities in North America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America.

While she holds fast to her credo, Johnson acknowledges the role of others in her successful career. She cites especially the early discipline of her parents, who focused on her educational development, and the mentorship of Dorothy Height, founder of the National Council on Negro Women.

Johnson graduated from John Marshall University in West Virginia with a master?s degree in education and another in curriculum development. She has been a featured speaker for several organizations, including the National Black M.B.A. Association, and enjoys mentoring and coaching younger professionals and would-be professionals. She is a member of the Executive Board of Directors of the National Council of Negro Women and has served on the board of directors for One World Theater, the advisory board of the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the board of the Coalition of 100 Black Women.

Johnson?s service to the community and to her profession has earned her several awards. At home, meanwhile, she is raising the next generation of leaders: a son and a daughter, both of whom graduated from high school with honors. There is yet one thing she would like to do?read all of the works of Langston Hughes, Dante and a few other authors she admires. If only she had the time, she says.