IBM at 100 – Once an IBMer, Always an IBMer
Or so they say… I still remember my first day at the company, as if it were yesterday. January 20th 1997. There I was, standing by the main entrance door at the IBM site in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, wondering whether I made the right decision to enter the IT world or whether I would be regretting it for life. There I was, a non-techie, English graduate, who still hates computers today, looking forward to start working for that computing giant that had continued to make history throughout decade after decade, not knowing how it would all work out eventually, or whether he would be able to stick around for a while… 14 years later, things haven’t changed much. The excitement and willingness to make a difference are still there, as if it were the first day. The aversion for everything related to IT is still there as well, however, the fondness and pride of being surrounded by a wonderful group of talented and very smart folks, as my work colleagues, are still very much there, too! And, if anything, it’s what has kept me going over the course of years. Like in almost any business, I am sure, the people who build and shape them!
Happy 100th year anniversary IBM! Indeed, this year, and, in particular, this week (Today), IBM is celebrating its 100th year anniversary. 100 years of history in the making and still going rather strong. The only IT company in the whole world that’s been there for that long. The only IT business who has kept reinventing itself over the course of decades and still going strong. Rather strong! And as I get to reflect on this post on what that has meant for me over the years, I cannot imagine how someone like me has been able to stick around for over 14% of that lifetime achievement, when over 50% of today’s IBM population hasn’t been in the company for more than 5 years. Do I feel old? No, absolutely not! I just feel privileged!
Privileged to have developed a career that has expanded for those 14 years doing what I love doing, i.e. my dream job; and still keep going at it. Back then I started working as a customer support representative for the mainframe, from there onwards I moved into training and education, to then further on start working around 2000 in the areas of Knowledge Management, Collaboration, Online Communities, Learning and the last few years around Social Computing. All of that expanding four different business units, three different countries, 5 different projects, hundreds of business trips, meeting thousands of very smart, interesting and insightful people (Both clients and fellow colleagues!) from whom I keep learning day in day out throughout all of that time. Not too bad for a dinosaur, archaic, computing based, rather strict business, don’t you think? Yes, indeed, I, too, doubt it would get better than that: privileged to have the flexibility to shape up not only my own career, but the company I have been working at for the last 14 years and going…
I am not too sure how much longer I will be here, since you never know what may be happening tomorrow or the next day. You all know how it goes… What I do know though is that, regardless of whatever it may be happening, having worked for this company for that long has certainly meant a whole new world for me; it’s shaped tremendously this person you folks know today; it’s helped me age and grow both intellectually and mentally to be who I am today. From my younger years to the not so younger years anymore. In fact, I never thought I would be making it this far, since I am still very inclined towards my teaching and education background and I know that, at some point, I will be going back to my origins. However, for now, I’ll continue to rejoice, experience and live through the Centennial celebrations of that company that has given me the opportunity to shape up my role and contributions to the same. Something that I will always appreciate and treasure quite a bit, specially as we all keep humanising the corporate environment we work at with all of this Social Business stuff.
That’s why today, and like almost every day, I will keep drinking a bit more of kool-aid, or, better, I will keep drinking our very own champagne, knowing that it’s always much much better to do it in good company, with those fellow colleagues who have moved on from being just my peers to become my good friends, my partners in crime, the ones I will keep treasuring for how they keep taking things into the next level when delighting their clients and the ones that I know, long after I am gone, will help me remember all of these years with plenty of fond memories. Yes, of course, there have been tough times throughout all of those 14 years, but one has come to realise that it’s those difficult times they ones that allow you to grow further, to become better at what you do, to continue making a difference, to be better for your customers and for those around you, to be just you, which, at the end of the day, is what really matters.
And to that extent, I can only add plenty of words of gratitude and appreciation to this company, IBM, who has decided to employ me for that long and for allowing me to be part of that 100th year legacy that I will remember for what’s left of my life. Yes, I know that things could change, and they would eventually change, but they won’t be able to take away what I have learned, and lived, and experienced with my colleagues over the course of the last 14 years and still going. That’s mine. That’s ours, eventually. It’s our human experience that no-one can touch any longer. And to such extent, that’s the main reason why this year, in order to celebrate that 100th year anniversary I will be pledging over 100 hours of community service where I will be volunteering my time to help others in various different areas, although perhaps with that special focus on the Academia world, which is, basically, where I come from in the first place. It’s always good to go back to basics, I suppose.
If you are a fellow IBMer, and if you are reading this blog post, I, too, hope you will be pledging some hours to those special projects you always wanted to work and contribute to, but didn’t find a good time to engage. Even if you are not an IBMer, you can still pledge some hours to contribute back to your own communities. Perhaps now it’s the time to go ahead and do it. And that way help prepare for the next 100 years… You and me won’t be there, for sure, but our legacy will. Regardless. Just like the folks on this wonderful video clip have witnessed over the course of the years…
(Ever onward!, and on to the next 100 years, my dear IBM! May you keep growing and show the world what a sustainable and smarter planet business can do to make a difference for us all … and for this world altogether… THINK!)