My journey at IBM – Part II.: Learning opportunities

There is a site in IBMs intranet, called YourLearning and it is about what its name suggests.

There are very few things you, whoever you are, have to know about me. One of these is that I’m a knowledge junkie. I need to learn something new every day, and I need to expand the boundaries of my knowledge on daily basis. If it doesn’t happen, then I’m getting frustrated which is not good.

Again, I had preconceptions about IBM. I worked for a few multinational companies so far, all of them told me that they support learning, but there was a catch. There are no enough licenses, a subscription only for the crappiest learning site, or begging for a book costs 20 USD endless time so eventually you bought it for yourself. So, I started to browse IBM’s Your Learning site having the experience above in my head. And, suprise, I was wrong, again. Very wrong.

Just browsing the content I found thousands of available materials in multiple topics including every role available in a huge organization like IBM. Ok, sounds valid. After that I found a book and click… I was redirected to Safari Books. My heart almost jumped out from my chest! High quality technical books for whatever the hell you want to do in technical field! Because, I work for IBM I have access to this, and it is free.

Later as I got more familiar with the portal I found the learning sources section. Harward Business Publishing. It is the same in business/management field as Safari Books in technical field. Moreover, it is primary source for business literature. All the new stuff published here. In their digital library all the HBR articles are available.

Beside the two above, and the other I haven’t discovered yet, the portal helps you to track your progress in learning. Whatever you learned will be part of your profile and history, and you’ll get badges.

All in all, in my onboarding process I watch a video where Ginny Rometty talked about a journey in IBM where learning is essential. That time I had only the preconception I described above, now just scratching the surface of Your Learning portal I start to understand that IBM takes seriously learning. It points back to my expereince during interview process. With these resources I lot can be achieved…

And there are more I haven’t discovered yet.

My journey at IBM – Part I.: The People

I started my career at IBM Budapest Lab in mid February, 2020, as engineering manager. The reason I choose them is the people I met during interviews. I had my concerns regarding IBM, big company (~300 000+ employees), possibly big intertia (nothing happens or just slowly), rigidity and possibly uptight managers. It turned out that I was wrong. Very wrong.

The fact is that one of my friend and former colleague works at IBM Budapest Lab and he told me that the vibe is similar to what we had and loved in our previous job. “IBM, oh, yeah, sure…”

A few weeks later I had face check interview with 3 managers, now one of them is my line manager and the other two are my peers. I was surprised because all of them were nice, correct and professional, and the meeting ended up without any red flag from my side. No ego flare, no sign of power games, but clear interest who I am. All the topics were about how I deal with people, and no question whether I can write code this and that language. So far so good.

A few weeks later I met two other managers from the US and Canada. The result from my side was the same. No red flags, no points where I have to compromise my basics values. Moreover, it turned out that these managers are people focused and clearly understand that people are the key of success. This was the moment when I felt that I want to be member of this team, and work in an environment where people are more important than technology.

There is another picture built up in my thoughts while I was doing the interviews with IBM folks. Even though they are mainly people with strong technical background, it is clear they have a lot of knowledge and experience how to manage people. This complex knowledge was displayed by that they were able to translate my answer to their own language, and they double checked the meaning by asking questions. It is sign of paying attention to what I said (this is one of the hardest part of a manager job) and matching to their set of knowledge. One is not capable of this just having superficial knowledge. On the other hand, if the senior manager represents this quality the organisation will follow. This was convincing.

During my first day I met with both of the teams I’m going to work with. My first impression told me that there are no rockstar developers, no drama queens and no signs of ego issues, just rather humble team players. Later turned out that they have good sense of humor too. Wow! Kudos for the local managers!