Rhonda Childress


Rhonda Childress is an IBM Fellow and Vice President of Global Technology Services (GTS) Business Information Security Officer, and she is part of the prestigious Women In Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame.

She has demonstrated to be a woman with many firsts: 1st IBM Service’s female master inventor; 1st IBM security fellow in a traditionally male area; and 1st IBM fellow from a Historically Black College or University.

As part of the IBM Fellows, she is part of an elite group of women pushing the barriers of change at the organisation. Rhonda has worked to bring other women forward in the organization as well. 

She is recognised by her phrase: “outcome-based mentoring.” This is mentoring not for the sake of a series of career conversations, but rather to achieve a specific outcome, such as obtaining architectural certification or filing a patent. She also, and very importantly, encourages her protégées of their responsibilities to reach back and build up an army of women helping other women. Judges were pleased to read that many of the women Rhonda has mentored in IBM have gone on to obtain professional certification and be promoted further.

She is a strong leader and supports a great deal of projects i.e. IBM Women in Security Excelling community; she goes to schools and talks about the exciting world of Security; and she is building a pipeline of students interested in STEM careers with “outcome-based” projects. Her passion for teaching and mentoring is remarkable and should be recognised. 

Rhonda is also working on a book series on a female teenage, cyber sleuth which will introduce young ladies to the passion of security – keep an eye out for this book!

Rhonda is leading by example, breaking through many barriers once thought to be impermeable. These traits and all her fantastic achievements make her our 2020 Woman of the Year – Congratulations!


Rhonda Childress is an IBM Fellow and Vice President. One of only 30 female IBM fellows in IBM’s history, Rhonda is the first IBM Service’s female master inventor, first IBM security fellow, and first IBM Fellow from a HBCU. She has over 180 granted patents. Rhonda is a global champion for the advancement of women and other underrepresented minorities across the industry. She mentors children and many in multiple stages of their careers pushing themselves to heights not thought possible.