IBMer Stories

30 Years and Counting at IBM

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By Simon Davey (3 min read)

You never really start a new role declaring, “Right, this is what I want to do for the next 30 years…” And yet, over three decades in IBM and I am still surviving and thriving.

As Linkedin’s #InItTogether campaign states, “Rarely do people love their job strictly for the money. Instead, we’re driven by other needs.”

In 1988, I was a young VTAM systems programmer at GEC Computer Services in Stafford, UK, a shared IT delivery division for the GEC empire which is now gone. I read a book called “The IBM Way” by Buck Rogers (IBM’s CMO in the 80’s) on a flight from New York and was inspired by the IBM culture. “THINK” is the IBM internal campaign inspired by our founder who said, “The trouble with every one of us is that we don’t think enough. We don’t get paid for working with our feet, we get paid for working with our heads.”

As an aside, I learned that Buck was a 4 handicap golfer and I was amazed that a senior VP had the time to play so much golf. At that time I was still naive in thinking that the more senior you are, the harder you need to work!

During this period, I quickly became known as the “IBM Fan” within my team. One day, while I was on a holiday, an IBM advert appeared on an IT periodical and I returned to work to see it stuck to my screen, signed by the entire team, with the slogan “Go For It!” This I did and have never looked back.

Did I think an IBMer would wear blue laces + jeans in 1988 ?

The one thing that is consistent in IBM is change.

Just a month from joining IBM, I was told that the team was changing – this news shook me at first; I was instantly worried I had made a mistake. Was IBM in trouble? Did I make the right decision? I soon learned not to worry about change because if you’re good and willing to adapt, you will survive.

There was a time a few years ago when, coming back from an International Assignment in Spain, I seriously considered buying a bicycle shop. But IBM came through for me and gave me what I asked for which is to become a Client Executive, a role I truly loved. I’m a petrol head and I work with automotive clients where I “need”, for business reasons, to go to the Frankfurt Motor Show every year. Tough.

In my over three decades at IBM I have never gotten bored, I still feel valued, and I believe that I can still do a better job as I’m constantly thinking about my clients.

My advice for anyone starting their career is to keep your head up, figure out what you enjoy and follow that path. Directions can change but embrace it and don’t fight it.


If you are interested in pursuing a career at IBM, join the IBM Talent Network to get updates on IBM news or job opportunities.

About the author:
Simon Davey is a Client Executive for IBM Europe focusing on Automotive clients based in the UK.

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