Thursday, June 16, 2011

Historic Moment

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Re-posted from My Internal, IBM Blog, "Learning to Lead"

In the ladies room earlier, I ran into a colleague who has been with IBM for nearly half of its history. In my case, my service counts for 21 years in July, though I joined IBM in July of 1996, from a joint-venture at the time called Advantis.

I was telling my colleague that I'm in awe of her, and also proud of my own lasting-power (knock on wood!), to have service-credit that adds up to a fifth of IBM's history. She was generous in acknowledging my tenure and I know why she's lasted so long; she's intellectually curious, rather than complacent:

Recently, she asked me for my perspective on how Cloud Computing will be profitable for IBM long-term. I wasn't sure of the answer, but knew who to ask...and I think that's one of the secrets of why I've lasted as long as I have (k'ayn ayin hara/Yiddish for Banish the evil eye [which would stop my tenure, God forbid]!) -- I know how to ask for help from smart colleagues. Another secret -- not that anyone asked but I'm marveling and also reflecting on my service -- is that historically, I've been great with change. (I might appear inflexible occasionally in day-to-day work --hope not, but I know I can feel inflexible sometimes, whether or not I express it aloud -- but when a huge change comes down the line, historically, I've morphed along with it.)

IBM's 100 Icons of progress, especially e-business and Building an equal opportunity workforce are fun memory-joggers, but none of them precisely reflects the career moment I'm proudest of so far; at CHQ's Centennial celebration, we were invited to reflect on the hugest moment we could recall in our careers or that we've witnessed at IBM. I wrote about the marvelous experience of being sent on a six-month assignment to India to co-design & co-facilitate accelerated leadership development offerings and in parallel, helping plant the seeds for IBM's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) diversity network group in India.

So many wondrous accomplishments have happened in IBM's 100-year history, and that's the power of as many as 427,000 brains applied to many missions within a single, ever-more globally-integrated enterprise. Similarly, in a fifth of that time, I still marvel at how much good has happened in my career and life, primarily fueled by a much smaller pool of brains and love. God willing I will be married on July 1st and then, again, God willing, I will earn my Master's in Adult Learning and Leadership by no later than May, 2012. Neither of these events was a given, and better late than never in my case. I have so much to be grateful for.

This morning, I posted a notice in the Connections Community for the organization I'm part of, the Center for Advanced Learning, stating:

Smarm alert: As we celebrate IBM's centennial, I'm honored be to where I am in my IBM career. Besides feeling that I'm in the right mission, I love the colleagues of my team & our CAL organization because you're smart & menschlich (Yiddish for humane). This notice will expire on the 17th by design.
Posted on 16 Jun 2011 at 10:56 by Sarah Siegel

The notice will expire by the 17th, just as IBM's actual 100-year birthday will end at the end of today, but my gratitude for all that I have is endless.

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