After graduation, I was looking around trying to figure out what I wanted to do and my dad suggested that I interview with IBM, so I went through the interview process, and at my final interview with the Montreal Branch manager I asked him “why would you hire someone like me?
The answer is one that I still remember quite clearly and that I relate to new employee classes and to high school students at career days. It went sort of like this: “The stuff we do here you can’t learn in school, the stuff we are going to be doing in 6 months….. – we haven’t invented yet. I’m going to send you to school for 8 months to learn what it takes to succeed in this business. You will never stop learning. You will read 100’s of pages of journals every week and will attend many courses every year, The people I hire have demonstrated a passion for learning. That is the most important skill you can have at IBM.
It’s interesting, when I speak to new employee classes, to explain to them that everything I’ve done has been somewhat accidental instead of having a planned career. It is difficult to chart a career progression in a company like IBM because the landscape and technology is so dynamic.
If you don’t thrive on change, don’t even consider becoming an industry analyst. If you don’t thrive on change and you’re an already industry analyst then its probably time to start looking for a new job.
Industry analysts, like IBM strategists, also need to play a two horizon game – encompassing both strategic and quarterly concerns. As Doug puts it:
Articulating some wonderful vision about what the world might look like to a general manager who is worrying about this quarter’s earnings is tough. You have to bridge today and tomorrow and lay out the steps to get there, a pragmatic approach with intermediate steps. You need to tell the story of the journey.
This interview perhaps tells you more about IBM and why the firm is still an industry leader than any number of official statements or white papers. Like my partner in crime recently said, John Simonds is emerging as one of IBM’s best bloggers.
Why? Its about people, not just bits.