The desire to continuously grow and learn is one of the main defining characteristics of an IBM-er. To support this goal, IBM has created the Think Academy initiative that hosts educational events on variety of relevant topics on Friday of every week. I was lucky to assist in organizing and also to attend such event in Cambridge, MA in October. This ThinkFriday was especially interesting because it was aimed at new hires, i.e. people who, just like me, started working for IBM only recently.
As a new IBM-er myself, I was not sure what to expect and I was full of doubt as to whether I am even qualified to help with such a large-scale event. Still, I took the risk and offered to help in any way that I could, which materialized in organizing the lunch portion of the all-day learning event. After surveying number of possible options, I created multiple menus for the team leads to evaluate. Satisfied with my work, the team delegated the organization of the lunch to me. After many back-and-forth emails and phone calls with the caterer, we were able to enjoy a large variety of food choices at the event and many of our attendees mentioned that they enjoyed the lunch in particular. Of course, deciding whether to order asparagus or kale or when to serve coffee is a minute detail when compared to the Think40’s larger impact on nearly 100 young people, but being able to contribute to the general success of my team as well as contribute to learning within IBM in less than a month after I joined was very rewarding. Indeed, I felt lucky to have participated in this event.
Overall, the day was busy and very interesting. After the lunch, our attendees listened to a lecture by Mike the Vice President of Business and Corporate development, Mobile and Security, and Bill, the Director of Development, Watson Health Care, IBM Watson Health Group. Their presentations provided a riveting overview of the key initiatives for strategic growth in IBM Security and Watson Health. Moreover, sharing their personal career stories enlightened many of the attendees about the possibilities within IBM.
Following these presentations, the attendees toured the Cambridge IBM office, guided by other recent hires who work in that office, before engaging in “Blue Spark Ignition,” aimed at expanding professional growth and community engagement of young IBM-ers. Through a group activity, Battle for Boston Harbor, and a New Hire panel, many of our attendees were able to expand their professional networks and learn about the opportunities within IBM.
The day finished with a bang: IBM Night at the Boston Museum of Science, where over 800 IBM’ers and their families came together to learn more about science and technology. While exploring the museum, many of the attendees had an opportunity to connect with others with similar interests while also learning about technology and innovation, which drive our company.
As I mentioned earlier, I count myself fortunate to have participated and helped to bring about this event, where so many of my coworkers could enjoy learning and socializing in Cambridge. As a new IBM-er, I felt that there are ways to immediately plunge into the community and contribute, regardless of one’s experience at the company. What is the take-away? Starting out at a company as large as IBM can be overwhelming but there are many opportunities not only to learn but also to enable the learning of others, which creates the perfect way of giving back for your own progress.