Happy Bee-Day to me!

| career, work

I recently celebrated my two-year anniversary with IBM. This is what I posted on my internal blog on October 16, 2009.

Yesterday was my two-year anniversary with IBM. And yes, I’ve been blogging since 2006, but that was as a graduate student doing research with the IBM Toronto Center for Advanced Studies. I can get away with saying I’ve only been an IBM employee for a little over two years.
Here’s my Bee-day post from last year. I wrote:

What an amazing year. I’m looking forward to the next one. I would love to keep myself booked doing things I love: developing quick community sites using Drupal and other open-source platforms, helping people learn more about Web 2.0, brainstorming ideas, developing strategy, designing and implementing systems, and coaching people and groups.

There are also a number of things I’d like to help do in order to help make IBM a better place. I want to see the campus hire and new hire networks around the world linked up (maybe even recognized as a formal diversity group?) so that we can share resources, get representation, and make it easy for people to bounce ideas off us. I want to help put together different guides to Web 2.0 at Work that can be incorporated into the new employee orientation process or into the community-building cookbook. I want to put together a set of conference social networking tools that’ll help people make the most of those face-to-face or virtual get-togethers. I want to teach everything I’ve learned (or at least capture it somehow) so that I can understand it better, so that I can share it with others, and so that I can go and learn even more. There are a lot of things I want to do, but there’s plenty of time, and there are plenty of people who are passionate about similar things who can help make it happen.

It’s been a terrific year, and I’ve grown a lot. I’ve stayed fully-booked doing Drupal and other projects. I’m still in Global Business Services, but I’m currently working on an engagement that’s more like corporate strategy, marketing, communications, and emerging technologies evangelism, all rolled into one position that was created for me. I get to brainstorm ideas, develop strategy, design and implement systems, and coach people and groups on Web 2.0 and other topics. So yes, my day job is exactly what I dreamed up in the beginning.

Many of the other goals I had have been accomplished without much work on my part. (Yay!) The campus hire and new hire networks around world have been linked up through the Worldwide IBM Graduates group. Social networking is now part of the new hire orientation process, and tutorials are featured in the New IBMer Zone. Many conferences have shifted to a fully virtual format, and I’ve helped some of them use social media to connect participants. I’ve been giving lots of presentations and writing many blog posts. I recently discovered that I could draw. =)

So here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way:

Drupal: I spent most of the year building Drupal-based systems and sharing what I was learning. I shared my top 25 tips for Drupal development at Drupalcon 2009 and was promptly invited to speak on a panel. I coached a number of other developers on Drupal, and we’re well on our way to developing a Drupal competency center that helps us deliver great websites within small budgets and even smaller timeframes. I don’t do official Drupal development in my current engagement, but I keep my skills sharp by answering other people’s questions and by working on small intranet sites that support the work that I do. I like coaching people. We get tremendous leverage on time and we can spread skills. I help people by answering questions and pointing people to the relevant modules or lines of code, and then they go and take care of everything else. I’d love to scale up.

Web 2.0 coaching: I’ve been helping my team and other communities learn more about tools for collaboration. I love helping people think about adoption and coaching, and I’m often surprised by what I’ve managed to learn along the way. The more I learn and share, the more interesting the space becomes. I’m getting better at thinking of how we can scale.

Presentation skills: I’m getting better at finding my voice and visual style when it comes to presentations: sparse, simple, sketched out, and happy. I’ve had two talks accepted at the IBM Technical Leadership Exchange, which tickles me pink because I still think of myself as an IBM newbie. Three of my recent presentations shared online reached more than 6,000 people each. I’m getting better at organizing my thoughts, working with corporate templates, and presenting ideas and proposals, too.

Some of my mentors have moved on from IBM (hello, Aaron!), but that’s okay. They’re off to other great adventures. I’ve gotten to meet so many amazing people, and I’m glad whenever I get to share what I’ve learned with others.

My manager and I have had the “would you be interested in people management?” talk, and I think it might be a great long-term career goal. I like improving systems and processes, but I like helping people improve even more. I have to confess that I’m curious about what small businesses, independent consulting, or entrepreneurship feel like, though, so I may explore that before committing to one career path or another. But what I’m doing right now at IBM makes me feel happy and fulfilled. I can see how I help others, and I connect with amazing people all over the world.

Life has been fantastic, too. I’ve made myself more at home here in Canada. We adopted two cats from the shelter and started a vegetable garden (which has now been put to bed for the winter). I finally got over my fear of bicycles, bought a city cruiser, and have started riding it almost everywhere. We’ve been streamlining our household routines and have taken to stashing lunch portions in our chest freezer. I’ve taken up sewing and improv comedy. Sewing has been great for learning patience and precision, for exercising creativity, and for making things for the house and my wardrobe. Improv comedy turns out to be great for creativity as well as leadership, and I look forward to exploring it further.
Two years in, and I’m even more in love with IBM and with life than when I started. =) It’s been a great two years, and I look forward to more.
What might next year be like?

  • I want to get even better at helping people connect and collaborate. I want to learn more about how individuals, teams and communities can make the most of these tools, and I want to get better at sharing these insights with others. In addition to blogging and making presentations, I hope to learn how to make animations. Those will be fun. =)
  • I want to coach more people on Drupal and Web 2.0. I love helping people learn, and the more I help people, the more I can get things out of my head and into a form that people can learn from.
  • I want to further develop my technical skills. Drupal 6 is fun to work with, and I can do even more as I get used to the platform. What I really want to do is help build quick and easy community platforms with strong metrics, because that allows us to start asking interesting questions about social media. I’ve also been picking up more and more LotusScript as I work with Lotus Notes, and I think that will be quite useful too. Maybe I’ll pick up Rails again too.
  • I want to get the hang of career growth within IBM. I’ve always been curious about rotational programs because I believe that getting different kinds of experiences helps people make creative connections, so perhaps I can build one for myself.
  • And I want to keep exploring.

I want to stay fantastically happy, and I want to help lots of people grow in happiness as well.

Thank you for another great year!

You can comment with Disqus or you can e-mail me at sacha@sachachua.com.