What happens when IBM Champions talk about their career
Since May, I've interviewed 13
different IBM Champions with my partner-in-crime, David Pittman. We ask
each Champion about their work, their background and what’s shaping their industry.
Inevitably, these conversations turn towards community.
Several of our Champions hold leadership roles in their
respective user groups, and nearly all of them mentioned how valuable the
groups are throughout their careers. Champion for DB2 Julian
Stuhler explained, “We’ve got people who are willing to take
their hard-won experience and stand up at conferences and mentor people and
pass on their hard-won skills so that other users and organizations don’t have
to suffer the same kind of knocks and bruises that they suffered going through
Christensen, who helped found the IBM Content Managers OnDemand User Group
(ODUG), heartily agrees, saying that user groups are “a win-win-win for
everyone. Whenever you get organizations together, they’re sharing ideas and
experiences…. How many times do you get three large telecoms who compete
against each other sitting together around a table, talking about how they can
use the product better? That is huge.”
User groups also help hurdle language barriers. Miguel
Carbone helped found the Brazilian Informix Users Group
(BRIUG) and is helping develop a similar group for Spanish-speaking Latin America.
Miguel sees BRIUG as a vital link between Brazilian users, IIUG and IBM,
noting, “We are delivering the message better, and the customer can communicate
with IIUG and IBM better.” This enables local users lacking English fluency to
network and access vital ideas and information, while also funneling concerns
to the international group.
Communities work both ways: newer users can learn the
lessons of their predecessors, while established users who have moved onto
consulting roles (like many of our Champions) learn from those “in the
Baker invests a lot of time in IDUG, traveling the globe to
present at various conferences where she also takes time to learn. “Gaining
knowledge is so important to me,” she said, admitting that she learns more from
her students than they realize. “They have the day-to-day, hands-on familiarity
with DB2 that I used to have.”
Beyond conferences and user group meetings, communities are
taking new forms, including incredible growth in virtual worlds that we couldn't have imagined twenty years ago.
Harris, the “Shakespearean data quality consultant” I first met
two years ago via Twitter, leverages social media for his daily work, building
an online community of experts from around the world who share best practices.
“Social media has made my world so much smaller,” Jim explained, noting that he
can access a wealth of thought leaders without needing to leave his Iowa home,
gaining insight into how they solve a variety of data management puzzles.
Based in Argentina, Cecilia
Rodriguez-Babino agrees, mentioning that she relies on Twitter to keep her updated
on InfoSphere news and trends, including blogs penned by other Champions.
But communities are also about giving back. Julian
explained, “I personally got a big lift up quite early in my career and relied
quite heavily on people who shared their experiences and skills with me, and I've always felt quite keenly that I should be repaying that debt to the DB2
community.” Many of the Champions noted similar “pay-it-forward” reasons for
being engaged with their communities.
With the Champions well-integrated into their respective
user communities, users around the world benefit from shared ideas and best
practices, plus a sense of camaraderie that can help a technical challenge seem
much more manageable.
Check out our series
of interviews, and subscribe so you’ll see each new edition. We publish
every two weeks.
How has your career been impacted by user groups and