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Starting Small in a Big Company

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When Elena’s company was acquired by IBM, she found herself at a career crossroads: look for another job, or stay through the transition? Choosing the latter changed the way she viewed change and allowed her to grow, learn, and pursue her passion.

by Elena Musat

Elena_MusatI became an IBMer by chance. 15 years ago I was a teacher. One of my foreign students who was learning Romanian decided to start up a software business and asked me to set up and manage the development center in Romania. The startup became successful and, 13 years later, it was acquired by IBM.

The news that the small startup was acquired by a big company was bittersweet: on the one hand, a feeling of loss and uncertainty, on the other hand a feeling of pride and curiosity. My colleagues and I went from being one in a company of 40 to being one in a company of almost 400,000. Despite all the great communication and reassuring news during the acquisition, I couldn’t help but wonder “Do I have a place in a big company?”, “Would I become a number on an ID badge in the sea of hundreds and thousands of employees?

There were at least two options ahead of me: (1) find another job or (2) focus on the transition and integration process and wait to see what happens next. I chose the latter, seeing change as an opportunity to grow.

While in IBM, I explored opportunities that will allow me to pursue my passion for learning. I have always been driven by my strong belief that education can change lives and that lifelong learning is at the core of personal and professional growth. A year and a half into the integration, I am now coordinating learning at the IBM Romania Software Lab and I love my job. Moreover, I became a co-leader the Technical Expert Council (TEC) Romania, an IBM Academy of Technology Affiliate, supporting the technical community in IBM Romania.

Changing the Way I View Change

The experience of this acquisition altered the way I viewed change. What if we started seeing change as the very essence of our work life, not as an occasional disruptor? Change takes us out of our comfort zone; so does improvement, learning and growth.

We are living in an age of continuous change – we shop differently, we travel differently, we communicate differently, the list goes on. We are living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. The secret of a bright career does not depend on the size of the company we are working with or on the career path we choose. It is our adaptability, flexibility, and ability to reinvent ourselves. It’s time to get our skills in order and never stop learning. Skills that are needed now and in the future are not limited to technical skills. Human skills are always important: adaptability, resilience, authenticity, self-awareness, self-confidence, enthusiasm, sense of humour, collaboration, conflict resolution, humility, empathy, kindness. Remain open to new ideas, commit to lifelong learning and help others grow!

Elena Musat, is part of the Learning team at the IBM Romania Software Lab & is the co-leader of TEC Romania (Technical Expert Council Romania, IBM Academy of Technology Affiliate). She is a Montessori mom and an active supporter of alternative education in Romania. Outside of her job, Elena also loves gardening in her 20 sqm urban garden and runs Montessori School and Garden, a project that aims to encourage gardening in small places, from a young age.

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