In the Spring of 2015, I happily and successfully earned my master’s degree in Computer Science from Monmouth University, New Jersey, USA. That moment was so special to my parents back home in Saudi Arabia because I was the first member amongst my family and relatives to earn a master’s degree. Typically, in Saudi Arabia, those who pursue top educational degrees will have better chances to find stable job opportunities. Those stable job opportunities can ensure being in the comfort zone for a long time. Therefore, the typical goals of getting married, having kids, and building the one and only owned house can be achieved faster and easier. Applying for a PhD in Computer Science was the ultimate goal that I have always wanted to achieve because of the continuous knowledge that I would gain and the academic life I would live. However, I had zero experience in the work environment and I needed to support my educational achievement with some job experience to expedite joining a company or a university after earning the PhD in the future. In the fall of 2015, I found my dream job in my beloved city at a well-known petrochemical company in Saudi Arabia. This dream job was the reason I delayed applying for the PhD because I thought it was the time, at the age of 28, to start the expected typical life alongside my goal to serve in the city where I grew up. At the same time, the IT job experience that I have gained in the petrochemical environment was great and provided me with great knowledge. It allowed me to join graduate programs, participate in shadowing rotations, participate in the International Toastmasters, manage industrial tools, and develop customized applications using different platforms. On the other hand, I was developing my skills in a routine work environment that might have led to a linear career growth due to the company objectives in the petrochemical environment. For example, the petrochemical environment might have provided wider directions and career positions to the chemical, electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineers than the IT engineers.
After one year, the unexpected career has knocked on the door to pull me out from the routine job environment. I was nominated to join the CbD (Consultant by Degree) program at IBM. I have always assumed that IBM is a company that was in the business of selling research results, advertisements, software, and hardware solutions. Therefore, joining such a company would require a decent number of years of experience and qualifications in the research, marketing and sales fields. In addition, traveling to the United States where IBM is headquartered will be a necessity to join such a great company. However, IBM has opened its office in Saudi Arabia and successful people have been able to join the company. The decision to join IBM MEA in Saudi Arabia was the transformation point in my life because of the unexpected IT career path and the offered learning resources and opportunities to gain knowledge and certificates including the IBM technological innovations, such as IBM Bluemix, IBM Design Thinking and Agile, and IBM Watson. These innovations do not only serve employees with an IT background, but they successfully give great chances to other professionals to progress in the future. In the CbD program at IBM MEA, I have been allied with awesome technical and mechanical engineers, salesmen, saleswomen, designers, and business administrators.
After completing one year at IBM MEA, I have realized that my goal of gaining job experience needs more than one great company to understand different types of job cultures, colleagues, locations, educational materials, and job roles. In my first year at IBM, specifically the CbD program, I have gained experience in different fields that might need five years in other well-known companies. For example, my job role has changed from an analyst to a consultant, which opened the doors for me as a consultant to climb the ladder to be a professional in different areas, such as strategy, digital, analytics, technology, and communication. In addition, I got a chance to explore other cultures from different countries, such as Pakistan, India, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, America, Canada, and Egypt. Now one year has passed and there is another amazing year left to graduate from the CbD program and I will blog about it with a great honor.
Sameer W Mulla