I joined IBM …again , after nearly a 3 years gap, for my second innings !
Today morning , as I woke up in the morning in my hotel room in Asheville, NC – I reached for my iPhone to check mail . Then , as usual I quickly scanned Twitter and then Facebook . And there it was – FB alerted me that this was the day last year that I joined IBM , with a photo that I had posted from my orientation class in Herndon,VA . Talk about “digital transformation” being real 🙂
I can’t believe a year has passed ! Time really flew by me . In this short time, I have already worked in three roles across sales , delivery and service line leadership . That is one reason I haven’t noticed the time – each role needed me to learn something new and that has kept me on my toes . That in a way surprises me . In my last two jobs – after a few months, I generally had a feeling that I have a grip on how to run the business. Once I came back to big blue – most days I get up thinking “there is so much more to learn”. My current passion is machine learning – and how I wish I spent more time listening to my statistics professor . All of this comes with its own fair share of pressure , but for the most part – it’s pure fun!
Travel has not reduced significantly – but not as many international trips given my patch is North America now . I have travelled about 70K miles already this year, and probably will do another 80K in second half of the year . But I do get to spend some more quality time with family and have slowly gotten better about not being on email throughout weekend etc . Not sure if my family and fur kids think of it that way 😉
One thing that helped me get settled quickly in my second innings was that I tapped into my network of mentors early and often. Even got a few new mentors along the way . I have also consciously decided to spend more time coaching our new hires and helping them get settled – and nothing is more gratifying seeing them succeed . It doesn’t hurt that I am blessed to have a fantastic team that makes me look good 😉
Our team is very diverse now – across multiple dimensions . I wouldn’t have it any other way now – the business results prove how valuable it is to have a team that is diverse . I have some great partners, associate partners and senior managers in my team – but what makes my gang special is the sheer talent of the New college and grad school hires. These are our future leaders and I already think I will work for some of them before I retire . Absolute rockstars !
I have also had the chance to try a few new things in my job . I now interview candidates at all levels over coffee at the local Starbucks on Friday afternoons . It helps my recruiting team schedule better , and I get to observe them in a neutral setting which helps them be at ease mostly. We even do some joint coding or design to see if we can work together . I am also slowly getting comfortable with interviewing on video via hireview.
Another experiment that is working out well is changing how my staff meeting works . We meet every Friday morning for an hour . For the first half hour we discuss regular business – pipeline , talent etc. For the second half hour – I invite an eminent external guest to address us. These are customer CXOs, analysts , executives from competitors , etc. These are informal sessions – they talk candidly on a topic and we get to ask questions . No PowerPoint , no recording . Just straight talk ! And it helps keep us grounded and minimize the echo chamber effect .
There are plenty of areas to improve too – like delegation . At every order of magnitude of your portfolio, you have to relook at how you delegate . I have some ways to go there . The ability to better balance short term with long term is something I am learning from my boss now – and I am sure I will figure it out soon .
A few things have suffered along the way . Reading list has grown , reading has not . Same thing with blogging . And I generally avoided conferences for most of last year – except two. Those are all in the bucket list to get better at .
Before I end this rather long blog – if I could only thank one person for keeping me productive in IBM, I will choose my executive assistant Thelma Reed (and Andrea Edwards who backs her up, and who is literally a clone ) . I don’t know how she does it all so gracefully and efficiently , but if she wasn’t there – I know I will be paralyzed just dealing with my calendar . Thanks for everything you do Thelma !
Can’t wait to see what is in store for future