This week, we travel across the Atlantic to The Netherlands in search of Bert-Jan Werkman, who is managing Rational Support Europe. Bert-Jan's enjoyment of cooking, Apple products, and good espresso are only equaled by the inspiration he finds in his staff of support engineers. Read on to learn more about this dynamic leader! And don't miss any of our past interviews, which you can find using the 'interview' tag.
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support?
I am born in 1963, living with my family (Lara and our 2 sons) in Heemstede, Netherlands, a small town close to the sea, the famous flower fields and Amsterdam. For the past 2 years I have been leading Rational Support for EMEA
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational?
I have been with IBM since 1998 - started as sales in GTS, became sales manager. After some years an assignment at EMEA HQ in Paris followed by a WW role focusing on GTS/Tivoli collaboration. After that I moved into SWG
Have you had any other roles in Rational?
Before this role I was leading SWG Services for Benelux (all brands)
What are you currently working on?
Leading Rational Support for EMEA (IOT NE, IOT SW and CEEMEA)
Describe a normal day for you.
Do some email at home, bring my two sons (5 & 8) to school - some more email - at the office around 10AM. I always try to start with 10mins browsing W3 (IBM's intranet). About 60% is booked with calls & meetings. 2-3 times a week I have evening calls
I try to keep time free during the day and between meetings/calls for ad hoc stuff...it is important to be available for the teams. Most of the good ideas are ad hoc; come up during conversations with a good espresso.
What project are you the most proud of?
The tremendous amount of work the engineers do every day.
Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use?
Yes - iPhone, iMac, my Nikon camera, and I am addicted to tools for home renovations
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without?
My iPhone - also for my kids...when they use it, I can read my newspaper (they love the iPhone apps)
What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately?
iPad - not new technology (just a much bigger iPhone), but the approach by Apple is very innovative.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support?
Complex customer situations - to see that collaboration across teams in RCS & IBM - all over the planet - is impressive
What inspires you in your work?
The people and technology.
What are you passionate about?
The turnaround of unhappy clients into new deals & references - to make our products work.
How do you define success?
Stick to the basics - when you achieve something desired, planned, even the attempt alone can give you the feeling of success (that you tried it)
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you?
Cooking, home renovation, & my friends and family - especially my two sons (5 & 9).
What tools / skills have you acquired that you feel are vital to your success in this field?
Adapt to change - IBM is continuously changing. You have to see it as an opportunity for yourself, not a threat.
Do you have any big plans for the future?
I like traveling with my family. See the Northern light and maybe even Antarctica
If you were stuck on a technology deprived island, what single technology could you not live without?
Espresso machine - if that is too big a pocket knife
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading?
What has been your biggest surprise you have witnessed in the technology industry?
The world is flat.
Any new technologies that you think are about to break into the big time?
As you might have noticed, I am a big fan of Apple products. Innovation combined with quality, user experience & great GUI. They really think of us as a client. So my guess is the iPad. Other vendors will copy that very soon.
What future technology would make your life easier?
Advanced, sophisticated search on the internet... it is getting more and more difficult to find the right answers to easy questions without getting annoyed to all the advertisements & crazy websites. I was impressed by wolframalpha.com but it did not really get to the next level.
What are you doing to make the planet smarter?
I hardly print - when I do it is double sided and if not a PDF, print 2 pages on each side.
How do you grow your technical skills?
Self-learning. IBM has an enormous amount of opportunities for all of us to enable ourselves. Just be curious and take some time to explore.
How are you using social networking today?
I am using Lotus Connections a lot - it needs time to get it into your system but it is real innovation. Twitter still in beta for me. I am not a constant user, so I have more questions than followers
How could you see yourself using it in 5 years?
I do hope it will be a more integrated approach. Hopefully not linked to our laptops but also to other devices. iPad ? Make it simple.
Are you a blogger in the blogosphere? ... Are you a YouTuber? ...Are you an Author? .... Do you Tweet? ...
Not really - started with Twitter, but it is not in my DNA yet
Any other fun tidbits of information about you, your job, or RCS that you'd like to share?
Life goes fast - enjoy it!