One year ago , this day 


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 

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Digital Transformation – we are so far away, it’s scary !


A couple of months ago, my wife and I found a house that we really liked – nice neighborhood, close to our daughter’s school and so on. So we decided to put an offer and see if we could get that house.


Our realtor uses docusign – so the entire offer process was done online. And I started to think that this home buying exercise would be such a frictionless experience. Boy , was I wrong !

Lets start with the loan application.

We had enough savings to put a downpayment .  I have an extremely good credit score and fairly low Debt to income ratio. I have also had my checking, savings and credit card at the same bank for many years. I even had my past mortgage and line of credit with them . The bank would know everything that happens in my life – after all I have been in their top tier of loyalty program . I generally expected to walk into the bank’s office , sign some docs, share my tax info and W2 etc,  and expected a loan to get funded in a few weeks . 

I also wanted to take a home equity line of credit from the same bank and filed an online application for that .

Guess what – turns out , my bank doesn’t know anything about me . My line of credit application went into a black hole . Few weeks later , I called them and forced them to work on it . 90% of information they collected from me are things they readily have with them but didn’t seem to have access to ! 

The end of this process was even more weird . They sent me a letter saying I asked for $X and it is denied because my house appraised at a value that is slightly (by few thousand dollars ) lower than what’s needed for the line of credit . So rather than offer me a slightly lower credit line , they just denied it . So much for all the top loyalty tier and time spent on it . I am still shaking my head on that . Absolutely bizarre !

The actual loan application didn’t fare much better . And finally they came back with a loan that cost me more than what internet lenders offered . Plus they needed several more weeks to close than others . 

Cut to the chase – I went with another lender who offered a better rate and faster time to close . My bank just lost my business – they tried really hard to not win it . 

In hindsight , I should not have been surprised at all . A trained monkey looking at my checking account statements would know when my car lease would end . My bank was never once able to use that information to offer me a car loan . This doesn’t need complicated analysis – it’s just stupid . Clearly, you can’t fix stupid . 

My lender wanted to get a HELOC note for a line of credit I had paid off and closed in past. I  went to the bank only to be given a toll free number . After speaking to multiple people , I found a helpful lady who found the note for me . However she only had two options to send it to me – regular mail or fax . Email apparently is still alien technology for them. I had to call my wife to hook up a fax machine and get the document . My neck hurt from all the shaking .

So yesterday I went to the bank to get a cashiers check for the down payment . I used my debit card – which has my photo – to take the money out of my account . The teller then exclaims she cannot verify my signature because I had opened that particular account online without a paper form showing my signature . My debit card PIN and my photo on it , and the signature on my drivers license didn’t count . She had to get her manager , make me sign more paper before they could get me a cashiers check . Easily an hour lost for me , and three employees at the bank . I now have a bald patch on my head thanks to scratching my head since then till now . 

So that was the bank . Let’s move on to the actual paper work after the loan is secured. Barely 20% of the documents can be electronically signed . Rest needs trees killed and ink spread on paper . Emperically – redundant information to be filled by the title company is probably around 50% across all the forms I had to sign . Chances of making errors are everywhere , let alone the sheer time needed to fill all those forms . Even if “digital” can be ignored , why not at least streamline the paper forms ? 

A company like DocuSign can single handedly disrupt this terrible manual process and bring it to 2016 digital standards . They will have the gratitude of home buyers and sellers across the country – and their money !

These are not insurmountable problems even by technology capabilities of a few years ago – which is why I am all the more annoyed with this . I am not calling out the bank by name – but I am going to find the CEO’s email id and send this information . And then I will wait by my fax machine to hear if he can do something about it .