Sondra Ashmore
Sondra Ashmore

Age 35 | Portfolio manager, IBM Corp.

Sondra Ashmore grew up in Des Moines winning national championships in track and field and competing for state championships at Drake Stadium.

Now, she finds herself back in Iowa after time spent working and living around the country. An employee of IBM Corp. since 2000, Ashmore came back to Central Iowa to get her Ph.D. in human-computer interaction at Iowa State University, which she is scheduled to complete in May.

“It’s a big change,” said Ashmore, who hadn’t lived in the area since graduating from Iowa State in 1999. “Des Moines has changed so much since I was here before. The downtown, Jordan Creek mall wasn’t here – there are just so many exciting changes that have happened.”

As a portfolio manager at IBM, Ashmore manages IBM’s data protection and retention products, which generate more than $700 million annually. She is responsible for helping businesses back up data, such as bank records or insurance records.

Growing up in Des Moines, Ashmore won youth national championships in the high jump. As a student at Roosevelt High School, she won the state championship in the high jump three times, and was also the winner of the first high school girls high jump event at the Drake Relays.

She is still passionate about track and was an assistant coach for the Roosevelt track team last year. Ashmore is also on the board of a new nonprofit organization called Dynamic Sports You Inc., which aims to get children involved in athletics in Central Iowa.

For fun, Ashmore still runs in open events at the Drake Relays.

“I always enjoy going back there,” she said. “It’s a special place for me.”

She also has taught an M.B.A. class at Iowa State and has mentored 30 aspiring project managers both inside and outside IBM. Ashmore is also actively involved in the Technology Association of Iowa.

Five reasons she’s a 40:

• Manages a $700 million product portfolio for IBM Corp.

• Called “an extremely intelligent, articulate, well-rounded overachiever” by James Kurtenbach, associate dean of the College of Engineering at Iowa State University.

• Team captain for the Iowa Crohn’s and Colitis Walk.

• Winner of the IBM President’s Volunteer Service Award.

• Has published several research articles on software engineering and human-computer interaction.

Fun fact:

Even though Ashmore is not a Drake University graduate, Drake Stadium holds a special spot in her heart. So special, in fact, that she named her firstborn son Drake. Drake Ashmore, now 8 years old, had fun when he moved to Iowa for the first time and saw people wearing college memorabilia with his name on it.