Nomathamsanqa Shares Her Experience as a zSoftware Engineer in IBM South Africa

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I’m Nomathamsanqa Toba, a zSoftware Engineer based in IBM South Africa. I joined IBM through this graduate program aimed at upskilling and closing the gap on the scarce mainframe skills in the industry. Five months into the program and my overall experience at IBM has been nothing but pleasant and exceeded my expectations. I am provided with endless resources and learning platforms, and have access to accreditations that are highly recognized across the industry which I can share on my LinkedIn profile.

Getting real-world exposure

I wasn’t just looking for a job when I joined IBM, I was looking for a career and growth. Being part of this program is the perfect stepping stone towards my goal. The mainframe was nicknamed “dinosaur” yet here it is today, continuously evolving and leading in technology. The possibilities have proved to be endless.

I’m very privileged and fortunate to be working with technology that supports workloads of 92 of the world’s 100 banks, 10/10 world’s largest insurers, over 90% of US’s retail and airlines, and its ability to run millions of transactions per second without fail.

My first impression of the program was that it is very organized and informative. In my second week at IBM, I had a weeklong bootcamp on the introduction to Mainframes. I also participated in the “Master the Mainframe” challenge facilitated by three US IBM zEngineers. My manager, Bulelwa Mtati, has effortlessly helped me grow in my career holistically by ensuring that we have weekly or biweekly meetups with seniors in the business who share their area of expertise and experiences. We’ve had weekly presentations that were not only aimed at boosting our confidence but to further learn on topics that are currently hot at IBM and in the industry. My seniors who attended my presentations often gave constructive criticism and fire me up with questions related to the topic. There is no better way to learn than with constructive criticism.

How my manager enabled me for the new normal

The whole world is facing a pandemic that has forced us to be homebound. We’ve all had to quickly adjust to a new normal. Bulelwa made the transition very easy for me. We started having virtual meetings in the office before South Africa’s national lockdown was announced. She’s enabled me to work from home by providing a 3G dongle making my connectivity at home quick and easy without any hassles. I haven’t had data and network struggles since. But with the new normal as we know it, she continuously makes sure that my learning and progression wasn’t affected by monitoring my work and our checkpoint sessions proceeded as normal.

I have had weeks of virtual training during the lockdown and this includes doing labs that skilled me in interacting with ISPF, TSO and zOSMF creating, locating and editing data sets. Creating and executing batch jobs using JCL. Working with DB2 system, utilizing DB2 commands, executing DB2 utilities, and how to use DB2 the tablespace Recovery and using iSHELL. I was afforded the opportunity to work on a client center implementation (IAM) IBM Security project to implement access control, whereby I’m learning security and networking skills. I am set to do my in-service training at one of the client’s because the program is still going ahead despite the pandemic.

I’m very happy to share my experience with my friends, former colleagues, and school mates. Some of my peers are using IBM’s Digital Nation Africa to learn and expand on their skills, earn badges, and build solutions. My advice to any prospective IBMer is to soak up as much knowledge as you possibly can with the resources available to you now. I hope to inspire and motivate other young professionals. Truly, IBM is great a place to learn and GROW.

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