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.
john simonds says:
January 19, 2006 at 2:30 pm
what i like about you james is you can look at the same thing as me and come up with a view and/or opinion that not only is insightful, but leaves me thinking time after time…..why didn’t i see that also. i’ve worked with other ibm’rs that would have been good analysts also now that i think about them the way you’ve stated this….
Robin Wilton says:
January 19, 2006 at 9:25 pm
What impresses me is the breadth of stuff you manage to cover; is there a knack in gauging the level of detail you need to go to, while avoiding getting sucked down to the geeky depths…?
January 20, 2006 at 10:43 am
One can probably predict that the analyst(s) who continue to ask the same questions at industry conferences more than likely work for a large analyst firm where this is more opportunity to hide out amongst the ranks.
The funny thing is that many customers are also aware of this fact. Now only if we could convince the guys in procurement that maybe they don’t really need to limit choices of vendors in a particular category…
December 1, 2011 at 6:23 pm
I think the allure of any job is better before you have the job. The grass is always greener on the other side. Christmas trees in the field look more symmetrical from further away. I bet it would be fun to be an industry analyst!
James Governor says:
December 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm
david- about the christmas trees. i really like that!
Allen MacCannell says:
February 1, 2013 at 9:50 am
I have noticed that Doug Heintzman is not on Twitter or Google+ or even Facebook. It’s, therefore, hard to get information to him. How can a VP for one of the companies in the industries he’s watching speak with him? I know that industry analysts often have the policy of only speaking with those they approach, but I don’t agree that this provides the best flow of information. If we’re about to release a major new API and white label service next week, he’s not going to be clairvoyant and think “I should approach these guys now”.
Douglas Heintzman says:
February 11, 2013 at 5:55 pm
Hi This is Doug Heintzman, Actually I am on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked in (although admittedly not as actively as I should) and I do publish regularly at IBM’s Software blog http://www.ibm.com/blogs/software. Anyone can contact me through any of these vectors. I have a very active presence on IBM’s internal Social infrastructure, which of course doesn’t help you with your question of access but which comes to the crux of the issue and one that I struggle with. Much of the work I do is speculative. It involves 3-5 year planning horizons, acquisition targets, competitive responses, partnerships etc.. ie. material that would not be appropriate to discuss in a public forum. I do have many much more detailed discussion with the analyst community as those conversations are privileged. I certainly am not clairvoyant (although admittedly I do have access to some information that affords me a slightly clearer view forward than many). I do think that I should spend more time engaged in public dialog and will endeavor to do so. As far as how do you contact me… my email is [email protected].