E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

January 20th 1997 – Yes, I Am an IBMer!


Last week was a rather emotional week for yours truly and for several reasons, most of them related to work. Over the course of the years one has learned though that in times when you are emotionally impaired (Whether too upset or too over-excited) blogging is perhaps not the best of activities to engage with. Not because you wouldn’t be able to write good, meaningful articles, but mainly, because, generally speaking, what comes out of it may eventually not be your usual self. So I stayed away for a few days till all of those emotions could settle back in and here I am, starting another week at work thinking what a superb week last week was. Yes, indeed, on January 20th 1997 that fellow you folks know as Luis Suarez (a.k.a. @elsua) embarked on an adventure that would shape and change his life for good. Yes, that year I joined IBM. Yes, that year I became an IBMer. Forever!

I cannot believe it’s been 14 years already since I first joined my current employer. In today’s current (economic) times that’s just huge! I mean, even inside of my own company more than 50% of its entire population have been here with us for less than 5 years! And I have been tripling that amount! Mind you, I know a bunch of fellow IBMers who have been there already for a quarter of a century, if not longer altogether! So what to me means quite a lot of years, to them it’s just peanuts! And they are still having a blast! Can you imagine?

I am sure by now you may be wondering where was I at that time, right? Well, I remember it as if it were yesterday; my first day at work at IBM; there I was with my knowledge of English and another European language, my English Language and Literature degree, my background in education and my very limited computing skills (Anyone still remembers WorkPerfect?), but with an tremendous amount of energy, excitement and enthusiasm to get started with what I knew back then was going to be a rather long and breath-taking experience … One that would mean I, too, could make a difference! It’s amazing to think and ponder how time and experiences help shape those early, young, immature and rather naïve ambitions, don’t you think? Well, 14 years have gone by and I still think that very same way!

So when last week’s IBM’s Centennial Celebrations kicked off with the Welcome to IBM100 Web site and this wonderfully inspiring YouTube video titled “IBM Centennial Film: 100 X 100 – A century of achievements that have changed the world“, I just couldn’t help thinking, rather humbly, too, what an achievement it’s been for yours truly to have worked 14% of the lifetime of a firm that is going to celebrate its 100th anniversary later on this year on June 16th. Yes, me, too! I still can’t believe it! And, like me, there are a bunch of others who are probably feeling that very same way, specially, when thinking they have been working over here for 25% of the firm’s lifetime!

The interesting and mind-blowing thing from last week though, while I was celebrating myself that 14th year anniversary, savouring the numerous achievements IBM has made over the course of decades, was the fact of how much I didn’t know, still, from the company that 14 years back decided to hire me in the first place and keep me throughout all of these years (Who knows for what reasons / purpose…). I didn’t know, for instance, that IBM has been rather instrumental in the creation of the PC motherboard, or the bard codes when we do our shopping, or its role in helping humanity land on the moon … and get back successfully safe and sound, or how, when going through an airport to check-in for my flight(s), part of that system was invented and developed by fellow IBMers, back in the day, to work in real-time! Not to forget as well how forward thinking the firm has always been at fighting for people’s rights to have a decent job regardless of their sex, their creed, their gender, their sexual orientation, their disabilities, their… whatever. You are pretty much basically hired for what you are good at, for what you can deliver and for how you can perform in a rather complex, virtual and distributed global environment of over 400.000 employees and growing…

Thus you can imagine the immense sense of pride and true honour that went through my veins during the course of last week, as well as the huge amounts of kool-aid I kept drinking all along! Goodness, I still am quite a bit to some extent!, so you would have to excuse me for a minute or two while I try to stop drooling altogether. I know it will wear off eventually, but, boy, I am surely enjoying the adrenaline rush at the moment!

What I will do though is perhaps point you to a couple of videos I have already linked above and which I think you folks may find rather interesting, as well as rather inspiring, specially one of them that, while watching through it, I just couldn’t help getting shivers up through my spine and share the odd tear here and there! If not, judge for yourselves. Here are the embedded videos, so you can click on play and start watching them right away:

And here is the second one, which lasts a little bit longer than the previous one, but which is just as enlightening to watch through and witness what a bunch of people can get to achieve over the course of 100 years and counting… Yes, what I mentioned above as making a difference in the world, one that matters.

Now you know why last week was a bit too emotional for yours truly, as I was immersed helping spread the word around in the celebrations of such powerful and tremendous legacy by perhaps one of the most innovative companies from the 20th century for its many, and various!, milestones, which is also probably going to give me a perfect opportunity, as a token of gratitude, to revamp my split personality on Twitter and get @elsua_b back to life again, specially, as about a week ago it marked its first anniversary since I launched it and over the last few weeks it’s been a bit dormant altogether. Perhaps with that flavour of “I am an IBMer!” it would give me an opportunity to share some further snippets on why I am still having a blast at the company that employed me back in 1997, as I keep sharing plenty of snippets on what IBM has been up to, specially, in the same areas that I typically cover over here in this blog as well: KM, Community Building, Collaboration, Learning and Social Computing / Business…

Small bursts, I know, perhaps at a lower pace than in my main Twitter account, but with a clear purpose altogether: share with the world why I am looking forward to another 100 years of innovations from the company that first decided to hire me back in January 1997 and still keeps a bunch of people employed to empower them time and time again to make a difference: for the company and for the world …

Because, after all “I think you have to have more than just a machine“, as eventually, “we must study through listening, observing and thinking …” and realise truly, once and for all, that “all of the problems of the world could be settled easily if men were only willing to THINK!

It’s the least we could all do, I am sure, whether you work at IBM or for another firm, don’t you think?

Happy Centennial, IBM!!

It’s been a pleasure working with you throughout all of these years! And I certainly look forward to plenty more! Thanks for making me who I am today!

I am an IBMer.

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    1. Hi Tony! Thanks a bunch for the kind wishes! I still can’t believe it, my friend! And best part of it is that a large chunk of those years I have spent them with really smart and engaged folks, like yourself and a few others who have moved on to something else or who are still around. That, to me, is the most important part; right like I tried to capture on one of the quotes mentioned above:

      I think you have to have more than just a machine … I would add you probably, most definitely, you have to have the right people with you and I am surely glad that has been my situation all along! Again, appreciate the feedback and thanks for dropping by! Hope to see you soon!

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