Problem: Ineffectual meetings. Meetings that take longer than they should. Too many meetings. Meetings that consistently sound like this five minute video... "The Conference Call" by David Grady.
Don't go. No, really... hear me out on this. If meetings are ineffectual, then no one will look at you poorly for bowing out. I can assure you, if you think the meeting is ineffectual, your colleagues likely do too. Now, I don't mean "just don't go" (this isn't "Office Space" after all), I mean respectfully decline the invitation noting your inability to attend and make yourself available to the host to discuss why. Don't make excuses, be clear about why you've declined, but choose the right setting for that discussion; a meeting invite decline with comments is not the right venue.
Speak up and help drive the meeting focus. Don't let the meeting get bogged down in the minutiae of "solutioning" when discussing a high level problem. Only solution issues when that is the specific purpose of gathering together. If you sense that the meeting is taking a turn for the worse, speak up and refocus the group. If you're becoming annoyed with the spiraling, more than likely the other people on the call are as well.
Having too many meetings on your calendar will likely take care of itself if you effectively implement the first two suggestions... divesting yourself from the ineffectual meetings, and more effectively participating in the ones you do attend will magically see your time slots open up to a point where you can easily and effectively manage your meeting AND work time. Imagine that!
Only call meetings when it is critical to have all individuals present, or when a quick solution is critical to success. Don't call meetings to 'keep people informed'. Share results, but demand participation from the attendees in the form of calls to action or direct unfettered discussion.
But what about those meetings you HAVE to attend just in case something comes up, or to stay informed about developments and progress on projects or programs? Easy. That is what wikis, discussion forums, blogs, and RSS feeds are for; staying informed when it matters!
Collaboration does not mean scheduling a one hour meeting. Collaboration can be done at any time of the day, regardless of your colleagues' availability. Using internal wikis, blogs, and discussion forums, you can not only collaborate more effectively and have written record of your progress, but you can do so across time zones and geographic boundaries. Using RSS feeds, you can keep an eye on any updates from a single location across communities and functional groups.
(Ooooooh, here comes the work plug! In the interest of transparency, yes, I work for IBM, and yes IBM owns Lotus. That said, I honestly -do- think the tooling I am about to discuss is effective and worthwhile, and I don't say that about much!) Using Lotus Connections, you can build communities to support collaboration and reduce the number of "essential" meetings you attend. Because Lotus Connections has wiki, blogging, discussion, bookmarks, file storage, and many other capabilities, the online collaboration can take place at your discretion. Priority management can now be more effectively accomplished as you no longer need to balance those silly meetings with getting actual work done. And because Connections is built with RSS features, you can set up your feeds in the tool of your choice to stay up to date with all the items YOU care about and participate on your own terms.
While I use Lotus Connections for a wealth of reasons in IBM, I find the most beneficial part of it all is the RSS capabilities. The RSS feeds I watch for the various communities I participate in allow me to quickly glance at updates and determine if the information is something I need to focus on now, if it can wait, or if I need to pay attention to it at all. Information triage, as it were, in milliseconds. This has truly been the single most effective tool to combat information overload I have used to date.
So, now that you've divested your self from those ineffectual meetings... are driving the meetings you do attend with a new vigor and granular focus based on specific agenda items posted to your wiki (and updated later with details of the discussions)... and are globally collaborating with colleagues across time zones, what more can you do to reduce meetings and influence people? The answer: Work on your meeting etiquette.
Here are a few tips I've picked up along the way... and I'll say right up front, I have broken every single one of these at one time or another, so don't think I am throwing stones in a glass house here:
Mute. Use it. As a participant, use it immediately after you dial in. Stay on mute unless you are speaking. When you're done speaking, go back on mute. As a host, use "mute all" and use it often. There really is nothing worse than a great meeting being derailed or sidetracked by an accidental un-muted interruption.
For larger meetings/conference calls, turn off the dial-in beep notifications when callers join or hangup. These beeps are the downfall of most every conference call. A late party will invariably interrupt the speaker (who likely has already started late waiting for people to join) resulting in a five to ten minute loss of productivity over the start of the meeting.
Get to the meeting on time. Seriously. Showing up late is disrespectful to everyone else on the call who arrived on time. When you show up late, you've wasted their time. Once or twice are forgivable, but when it happens consistently, those three or four minutes start adding up quickly. Imagine if everyone showed up on time, a meeting could start when scheduled, and END when scheduled, or gasp, maybe even early! Show respect for everyone else, show up on time.
Know your audience. When speaking, whether hosting a call or just talking during someone else's meeting, know when it is ok to joke around and when you need to stay focused on the task/topic at hand. There is a fine line between joking around but staying professional (call it casual professionalism) and wasting time joking when there are better things to discuss. Don't make a long meeting longer by joking around. Laugh, and move on; we all have better places to be and better things we could be doing.
Don't multi-task. Actually this could have gone above as well as an indicator of an inefficient meeting: are you multitasking during it? Then you can probably divest yourself from it. If a meeting doesn't require your full attention, it is a meeting you shouldn't be attending. Conversely, any meeting you attend should be given your full attention, and by virtue, your participation as well.
I truly hope this has given you some good tips, tricks, or tools to use to make your day to day job more effective and efficient. If for nothing else, I hope it gave you pause to think about what you can do as an individual to help make sure your meetings are run as crisp and concisely as possible, with few distractions, clear goals, and shorter run times. After all, if you can make a small difference, imagine what we can accomplish if we ALL make those small differences....
This week we spotlight another "behind the scenes" guy: Mike McCawley. Mike, in addition to being a 'wicked smaht guy', also has a propensity for verbosity as you'll find in his interview below (and a trait shared by your humble editor at times). But don't be scared by all the words, Mike has some outstanding insights and advice to share, and he has even provided a multitude of links to help! So read on and discover what Mike really thinks about gadgets, search, social media, and so much more!
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? Hi, I'm Mike McCawley (yes, Beth McCawley's husband, you met her a few weeks ago) and I'm an IT Architect for eSupport applications. I work on IT projects that IBM Clients use to get help, answer questions, and communicate with IBM engineers, once they own IBM stuff. My official title, however, is Wicked Smaht Guy. This was hung on me by my former manager Kelly Smith (thank you very much) and she put it on my business cards. No, this is not your father's IBM. How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? Since 2003 / 2002 respectively.
Have you had any other roles in Rational? I was the manager of the Downloads and Upgrades department, and of the telephony systems for the Rational Support worldwide organization.
What are you currently working on? IBM Search systems. I mean the big beastly Search applications that everyone uses at the Masthead of IBM.com, the one within the IBM Electronic Support Portal, and a variety of special purpose search applications we use internally. Additionally, I consult for the content management guys (who write all those Technotes and so forth) regarding Search Engine Optimization.
Describe a normal day for you. First, I wake up and ask Beth if I'm the "early" or "late" IBMer parent. Since we are a two-IBMer marriage, we need to figure out how we stagger our schedules to care both for our agendas and our son. Four days a week I commute the grueling 4.1 miles to the Littleton MA office, through one traffic light and beautiful New England scenery. Sometimes on a bike. One day a week I commute twenty feet to my home office.
My job is mostly bringing ideas together to solve a practical technical problem. I work on a few teams that have people from all over the planet. For instance, if I'm talking about Enterprise Search, my direct working team has IBMers from Haifa, Moscow, Paris, Toronto, Chicago, Boulder, Poughkeepsie, and Rochester MN. Scheduling meeting times is a chore!
I read email, arrange my schedule of meetings, get some fresh single-origin organic coffee, and get on the phone, which is still the primary collaboration tool. 10:30am every day is scrum, and we protect that time and always go, except when we don't. When I get a block of a couple of hours in a row, I open up my Thinkpad W500 and use Rational Team Concert, find a couple of tasks on my backlog, and start writing code in Rational Application Developer. If I don't find a lot of contiguous time, I work on conceptual plans for the next release or some new project vision, using Lotus Symphony.
I work until I run out of time, then I commute home, sometimes with a stop at the farm for fresh groceries, and plan dinner. We eat as a family every night and don't talk shop. Often one or both of us needs to cover an early or late meeting with IBMers in Europe or Asia, so we are pretty tightly scheduled.
What project are you the most proud of? Well, this is hard. I've had the opportunity to do some really cool, and some really useful, and sometimes even stuff that is both cool and useful. I'm actually rather proud of something that was really simple, a robot (called Marvin <grin /> ) that would move files from one place to another within IBM, with the twist that the files were very sensitive (client support data) and everything had to be secure, encrypted, highly available, and bomb-proof. I built it very quickly using old technology (lftp, Perl) and it was expected to only run for a few weeks, but it had a two year run in production with a perfect track record. It never complained about aching diodes. Not once.
Do you have an "on the job" hero? If you could "follow" anyone for 24 hours, who would it be? Well, absolutely, but it's so hard to choose. My position in IBM puts me in daily contact with some of the world's best and brightest people. Dare I name names and risk giving someone a big head? OK, I will, Matt Cutts at Google.
Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use? "Gadgets" is so old skool. There is only one gadget: the Smartphone. I use an iPhone, myself. We don't talk about gadgets anymore, we talk about apps. (Can you tell I work in Software Development?) Have you seen PayPal's iPhone check cashing?
What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately? What's up with a 7" tablet and why does everyone need to make one? You got a 4" phone, and a "page-sized" tablet, why on earth do we need something in the middle? Cool? Not so sure, but a whole lot of folks seem to be betting they will be.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support? Oh, now this is gonna be the part of this interview that raises eyebrows. And it's not just a Rational statement, but an IBM statement. I love the peoples. Everyone says "the people" but I do mean "peoples," as in diversity. Here, in IBM Rational, I am surrounded by folks of every possible physical, ethnic, sexually-oriented, religious, national, economic, political, tattooed, and yes even blue-suited description you can imagine. (Some executives have tattoos and some engineers wear suits - whatever.) None of those labels matter here. The only thing that matters, once an IBMer walks in the building, is what they got in their heads, how they can contribute to solving a client's problem and making the planet a little smarter. I really mean it, the way we all inter-operate, work together, respect each other is, in my mind, a model of how the rest of the world should work. I'm surrounded by the best people, and people at their best. Sounds like a commercial, but it's real. Almost unreal. This is a very special place. What inspires you in your work? What are you passionate about? Oh, Search. I mean, the next kind of search engines, the linguistically aware ones. There is a problem with search as you know it now, and that is: you are a human and you need to ask a computer to find stuff for you. You, the human, need to understand something about computers to be successful. You need to know the right words to type into that little box. Authors need to know how to classify and publish data so it will be found. I want to reverse that. I want to teach computers how humans work. I want authors to do what they do, I want searchers to ask in plain language, and the machines have enough intelligence to understand not only what authors and searchers are saying, but what they mean, and connect the two. Ultimately I want computers to know what you meant to say, not just what you said. Then give you what you need, not just what you asked for. Fortunately, we are very likely to see this happen, perhaps very soon, and I'm proud and pleased to be working on these technologies every day.
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you? Well, my spare time profile has changed dramatically now that we're parents. However, in addition to being a professional nerd, I am a somewhat accomplished scuba diver, a private pilot, and a pretty good cyclist, however not so good as my wife. At one point I've had seven salt-water reef aquariums. I cook with passion using whatever ingredients show up from our CSA farm membership. I play drums, guitar, and now bass with more enthusiasm than talent. But not so much of that now; mostly I practice at being a good father.
When did you first become interested in computers? Oh, interested ... around 1982 when I got my Commodore 64. When I went through college (the first time) at Penn State, I had joined a research team in the Physics department (electron optics and high vacuum) and was infected with a passion for computers. Ah, those were the days - late nights debugging FORTRAN with my punch cards spread out all over the floor .... When I got a PC/AT model 5170 in 1986, it very literally changed my life. I fell in love with my test equipment and stopped caring so much about the science I was exploring. I changed careers and never regretted it.
What tools / skills have you acquired that you feel are vital to your success in this field? The ability to focus on something for hours/days at a time. Seriously, IT is about problem solving; and it's a deadline oriented business. As phenomenal as IBM is regarding work-life balance (and I mean it), there will be deadlines and promises you gotta keep. So, sometimes you grab a problem and don't let go until it's solved, however long it takes. Sometimes you do it because a client has a severity one issue, or sometimes because you simply can't move on until you have closure. To steal a line from another colleague, we reward RESULTS, not effort.
What message would you give to someone just starting out in the IT industry? Learn another language, and let me suggest Chinese. The importance of this cannot be overstated. The planet is shrinking, and all this business of shoveling bits around is fundamentally about empowering people to do their thing. Always remember - science is science, but technology is a humanity, and if humans don't benefit, you're wasting your time.
What specifically drew your interest to become involved in the IT Architect field specifically? Well, I finally found the career that best suits a "jack of all trades" such as myself. I am not the world's foremost authority on anything, despite trying, but I can command a 'B' average in a whole lot of different things. This is fundamental to good Architecture - you need to know something about everything, not everything about something. When I do need that deep skill, I reach out to my team - I can find an expert on any given topic in seconds via Sametime. What is on your nightstand with regard to reading? A stack of stuff. I mix up a bag of science fiction / fantasy (currently reading Patricia Briggs "Mercy" series) with self help (James Martin's "The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything") and classics (Hemmingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" -- again).
What has been your biggest surprise you have witnessed in the technology industry? The Prell bottle. No question. What, you ask, about MRIs, the Jarvic heart, the polio vaccine? Lemme ask you: if you drop an MRI machine down a flight of stairs, can you still use it? OK, Mel Brooks aside, I'm still simply stunned that film photography died so suddenly. I mean, I've got a great digital camera setup (I'm still a Nikon partisan) but film is art. Now, E-6 is dead, dead, dead. No one has enough business to keep the developer chemicals fresh. When Kodak stopped production of Kodachrome, Paul Simon and I cried all night.
Is there any technology that you think should get more respect and adoption but does not? What does it take to get Linux on desktops? It's good enough. For anything. Really.
What is your favorite technology that fizzled or failed to live up to the hype? Segues. Firewire. SCSI.
Any new technologies that you think are about to break into the big time? Within a couple of years, every telephone will have bidirectional video. I'm not certain I'm ready for this. I mean, do I really want to see who's calling me? Will telemarketers now have to hire photogenic operators? Do I want them to see me? How do you turn your camera off socially? (No, honey, I'm not at the pub. My camera must be hosed again.) Will there be a mass market for software that alters your appearance with real-time CGI? What will my avatar be? If I'm not seeing the real you, what's the point? Makes my head hurt.
What future technology would make your life easier? Professionally: Really good machine translation, or a cheap real-time translating machine. (er, app for your smartphone - gadgets are so old skool.) I mean, I want Douglas Adams' babel fish. And I expect he had it right (may he rest in peace), that something like that could be the greatest source of peace and prosperity in the history of the Universe. Imagine if we didn't misunderstand each other so much?
Personally: Putting technology in its place. I want things to take the drudge out of life. Eliminate the repetitive, moronic, soul-destroying tasks, and generally let me focus on activities of value. But, I have to say, I lead a rather privileged life already and I'm thankful for it. I'd rather that inventors use their brains figuring out cheap ways to purify drinking water, or grow food with less fertilizers, or get from point 'A' to point 'B' without using so much fossil fuel. I don't need a new gadget, thank you very much.
What are you doing to make the planet smarter? I used to teach people how to work with computers. Now, I teach computers how to work with people.
How do you grow your technical skills? My manager supports my addiction to O'Reilly Press ("Dojo, The Definitive Guide" is on my desk now.) and I take on-line classes at the University of Massachusetts. Additionally, I complete a few IBM Global Campus training modules every year, but mostly, I get involved in a project where I don't know all the answers, and I gotta figure it out on the job.
How do you prefer to find answers to your questions? Oh, need I say it? Even a dude like me, who works on Search for a living, still uses Google routinely, but... additionally, I very frequently use my technology communities. Much of my work is confidential, so I cannot use what you commonly call social media, but we have team-based equivalents inside IBM and I can use them to connect with experts on practically any subject.
Are you a blogger in the blogosphere? ... Are you a YouTuber? ...Are you an Author? .... Do you Tweet? ... I was. I would like to be, but you know, not so much anymore. First off, it was a time suck, and my spare time is at a premium. Second, as I was following along this curve, I decided the social media things (Facebook, Twitter, etc) were filling up with noise. The value of the whole thing seems to be declining now, since the signal to noise ratio is decreasing. I don't need to know what breakfast cereal you just discovered, thanks. I am interested in really only a small amount of this stuff, like the fact Ubuntu decided to pick a different default UI in the next release. I need some sort of way to filter all of the social noise out, so I can only see the stuff going on in my digital neighborhood I am interested in, without requiring me to slog through the useless (gratuitous, salacious, inflammatory) other stuff. Yeah, yeah, social media is wet and messy just like real life. Great, there is just so much of it, is my point. I expect this will work itself out presently - I know I'm not the only one who feels like this.
Oh, wait, last point: grammar matters, people. (Or, maybe that's my problem.)
What publications / websites do you read / visit? Wired. Freshmeat. Slashdot. VeloNews. Bon Appitite. The Onion. Wine Spectator.
In case you hadn't heard, it's Customer Service Week! We'd like to take the opportunity to honor and recognize ALL of the individuals across the world-wide Rational Client Support organization who are dedicated to your success every day.
And did you know? They aren't just on the phone or responding to emails. They are writing technotes, whitepapers, and redbooks. They are contributing to user groups, communities, and social media outlets. They are speaking at conferences. They are conducting early client programs. They are a tireless bunch, maniacally devoted to solving issues and helping wherever they are able.
We have been highlighting a few of these support stars on our "Meet the Peeps" interview series here, providing a "face" to the support and service side of the company. One of the recurring themes I have seen in these interviews really highlights the core of what Customer Service Week is all about: the people. Almost every interviewee has indicated the best part of working for Rational Client Support is the people. And I couldn't agree more. Having worked in a Technical Support role for much of my career, I can honestly say, my colleagues and clients alike were (and still are) the best part of the job, providing challenge, motivation, and best of all, inspiration.
But don't be fooled, those interviews only represent a small sampling as the breadth and depth of our tireless support organization, like an iceberg, is far greater than what can be seen sticking out of the water (or blog for that matter). With that in mind I'd like to ask you to take a minute sometime this week and let your support engineer (or any customer service worker) know how appreciated they are. Those small thanks really do go a long way!
This week we catch up with Erik Mats, a Support Engineer out of Uppsala, Sweden. For the past five years, Erik has been supporting modeling clients in the US defense sector but he is now moving to the European team where he will be working with clients in the enterprise architecture and software development sectors. Read on for an interesting look into Erik's daily routines and passions! And don't forget to check out some of our previous interviews too!
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? I work at the European help desk for modeling products, focusing on tools for enterprise architecture and software development. If you are meeting challenges in SysML, UML or data modeling, or using defense architecture frameworks, I’m there to help. For the past ten years, I have used social software to work with colleagues and clients from East Asia through California in the west, largely out of my home in Uppsala, Sweden. I am married with two children, and spend most of my spare time at the playground or jogging or cycling on trails in the nearby woods.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? Ten years ago I joined Telelogic Modeling Support. At first I was working for the Malmö, Sweden office with US customers, but I shortly moved to Dallas, TX. I also had a chance to enjoy a couple of years in suburban New Jersey before returning to my native Sweden. I have been part of the Rational Client Support family since IBM acquired Telelogic AB about two years ago.
What are you currently working on? For the past ten years, I have worked for the US modeling help desk, but quite recently I have shifted to its European counterpart. My most important mission right now is to deepen my knowledge of customization, compilation and SysML coverage in Rational Rhapsody.
Describe a normal day for you. Most days, after I have a solid dose of coffee, read the daily paper and drop off the kids at daycare, I sit down in our spare bedroom/library/office to really dig into the daily pile of e-mails. By the time I start my breakfast I have typically already had a first peek. I spend a few hours on questions or problems that have come in from around the world. In the morning I often spend some time online with colleagues in India, Korea, Australia. In the afternoon I mostly deal with problems that pop up in Europe or North America. I shut down my laptop at 3pm, unless I’m working the evening in which case I may be online until midnight. I rarely spend more than a couple of hours at a time on any given problem or project. Instead I context shift around and let the trickier issues grow at the back of my mind. I try to go jogging or cycling during the day to gather my thoughts. After my kids go to bed at night I sometimes have a chance to revisit some of the trickier problems of the day, or to simply chat a bit with my US colleagues. Whenever I wrap up a problem, be it a defect report, a request for enhancement, a question, I write up some kind of a summary of the issue. Many of these are published to www.ibm.com as tech notes, others are kept for internal reference. A few days a week I venture into the IBM office in Kista, a 40 minute train ride. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve recently shifted my focus towards more interaction with European clients, so now it makes more sense for me to go into an actual physical office.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support? What inspires you in your work? What are you passionate about? My favorite part of working for Rational Client Support is all the chances I get to educate clients and co-workers in new tools and methodologies. I know that the benefits I help roll out in their organizations will later make it into the healthcare, automotive or communications applications that surround us today. GSM and 3G technology would be two concrete examples. I also love solving seemingly unsolvable mysteries, and building lasting relationships with clients doing interesting work. Over the last few years I’ve had a chance to learn a lot about game theory, decision theory and models for problem solving. I’m excited about the Kepner-Tregoe processes for situational analysis and problem solving that we use in Rational Support, but I have also come across a lot of other interesting frameworks, such as those used by the High Council of Sweden in the 17th century.
What project are you the most proud of? My favorite projects have been when I've been able to help clients adopt new and exciting technology or methodologies. Around 2001-03 I did a lot of work in UML 2.0 tools, mostly in the telecom sector in the Americas. I fondly remember heated discussions about readability, value semantics, computational efficiency and other geeky stuff. Geeky, but incredibly important for a lot of the smart handheld devices and appliances we use today. I have also been involved in some really tricky but rewarding trouble-shooting around FLEXnet licensing.
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without? My smart phone; WLAN. Camera. Spotify. E-mail. Diary. Calendar. Alarm clock. Podcasts. Exercise journal. Oh, and sometimes it even rings! I only wish it would handle online TV better. I see a strong trend towards ubiquitous and free wireless broadband. A few years from now I expect our handhelds will act as portals into the cloud. There will be no sense carrying around computational capacity when the network becomes more accessible. The way I see, as information and intellectual property becomes increasingly accessible, we will re-evaluate how we value, purchase, license, store and share information. It is quite clear that music and movies will be in the cloud rather than crowding our living rooms, but how will we value the literally thousands of baby pictures we take today.
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you? I am incredibly fascinated by consumerism. How we decide what to purchase, the mild neuroses and intense marketing that tend to go into each decision. A few semesters of business studies along with early experiences as a father has given me some very striking insights in this field. I can discuss this stuff for hours on end. Music. In fact, my most unexpected job accomplishment ever was when one of my songs was used for an office event in India! I am an avid Scrabble player. In fact I love word games in general. I did spend a few years at Uppsala university majoring in linguistics but I just can’t seem to get enough! I spend a lot of my time baking and cooking, vegetarian and as healthy as I practically can. As an experiment, I have even tried making housecleaning a hobby, but I hate to report so far this hasn’t been a great success.
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading? I’m a bit of a knowledge junkie, so I read mostly non-fiction. Right now on my nightstand and along for my train rides to the office:
Johannesson, K: Retorik eller konsten att övertyga. ”Rhetoric or the Art of Persuasion”; I really need to learn more about rhetoric. I know all the technical performance, accuracy and correctness in the world won’t help, if the team or client doesn’t know where we’re going. I feel this is a challenge not only for me but for a lot of my colleagues too.
Ekström, A: Google-koden (“The Google Code”). A fascinating read about Google’s history and strategy.
Shortz, W: New York Times Crosswords for a Rainy Day. Again, I’m hooked on wordplay!
How are you using social networking today? I use LinkedIn to keep track of former colleagues, Facebook to keep up with the extended family and old friends. For work I use Lotus Sametime (a chat client), Lotus Connections (our internal community platform), wikis, IP telephony, Lotus webcam conferencing. Only the other day I was at an Italian restaurant trying to figure out what kind of a fish dentice is. Wiktionary and Wikipedia to the rescue. I use the streaming music service Spotify to find out what my friends are listening to. Of course, there is also a risk that your street cred will go down in flames when people find out what music you actually listen to.
Our interview today comes from Amsterdam to highlight Bertrand Durou. As another presenter for next week's IBM Innovate2010 conference, Bertrand will be speaking on "Closing the Loop: From Support Request to ALMRequest and Back with Client Lifecycle Management on IBM Rational ClearQuest ". Plus, meet Bertrand at the Support Cafe' (agenda here) where he'll be demoing Service Request (SR) and helping clients get enabled managing PMRs on-line with SR. Check out his interview below so you'll have things to talk about when you meet him next week in Orlando at Innovate2010! Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? I am Bertrand Durou: 39, French working in Amsterdam, living with a Spanish wife and 2 kids... The job role is KT program manager. I'm teaching and leading troubleshooting methodology. But that's really only one small aspect of what I do everyday...
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? 10 years this year, 5 in Rational, and 5 in IBM Rational.
What are you currently working on? Feeding this questionnaire
What project are you the most proud of? Lately and without doubt, the implementation in MTS organization, which end up with an Award in 2009. With this implementation, the design/architecture of a "sustaining engineering" workflow based on ClearQuest, and presented at Innovate 2010 Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use? I'm the proud owner of a Nokia 6021... I can call from anywhere in Europe and send sms
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support? Working with a diverse and multi-national teams... And Clients. Totally different perspective everyday.
What are you passionate about? My family
Tell me about the biggest problem you've solved? Problem with ODBC connections since upgrading to the latest OS400 release... I had no knowledge of this set of technologies, but helped out the Engineer during the training workshop to separate in 4 different distinct problems, and fix the most important one during the workshop
How do you define success? The way the client is defining it at the beginning of the call
If you were stuck on a technology deprived island, what single technology could you not live without? ... None. Maybe a boat to go to a technology island
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading? Magasin Géneral et Le Photographe
Today I have the distinct pleasure of highlighting Virgil Titarenco. Virgil is a bit of a renaissance man; skilled in many diverse fields, he puts his broad knowledge to use in his daily job as a Rational Support TSE. From web design, literature, digital arts or even the sciences, if it is an intellectual pursuit you can bet Virgil will be interested if not already researching it! Read on to learn more... and don't forget to check out our previous interviews to learn even more about the faces of Rational Support
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? My name is Virgil Titarenco and I work as a TSE in Rational Client Support mostly for the requirements management applications.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? I have worked for IBM in Rational since the company I was working for previously, Telelogic, was acquired by IBM in 2008. I worked for Telelogic since 2005.
Have you had any other roles in Rational? Yes. I was working as Customer Care Manager, a role that I performed both in Telelogic and during the first 2 years after the transition into IBM.
What are you currently working on? I’m working, as I mentioned previously, as a TSE and part time I’m assisting the CSPO office with different client issues. The main goal of my activity is assuring the IBM Rational clients have a positive and beneficial customer support experience when dealing with our products and services.
Describe a normal day for you. I think a normal day for me is no different than the normal day for any other TSE: nothing spectacular. Reviewing the PMRs that I need to work with that particular day, working them, contacting IBM clients via phone or email, testing different problems from the clients, creating technotes, finding time for the necessary training and enablement sessions. In my “spare time” I try to create some IEA modules or to catch up with lower priority emails.
What project are you the most proud of? I am very proud of the Customer Orientation Webinars and Webcasts I did while in Telelogic and during the transition into IBM Rational. I received much positive feedback from clients for this. Also I’m proud to be the creator of the first IEA modules for DOORS in IBM Rational.
Do you have an "on the job" hero? If you could "follow" anyone for 24 hours, who would it be? I’m afraid I’m still in search for that.
Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use? Funny, the word “gadget” reminds me of my childhood; I used to receive the French “PIF Gadget” comic magazine and every issue contained a gadget you were able to build yourself. It was amazing. In terms of electronic gadgetry I think I’m more settled now than I was 10-20 years ago. I still have one of the first handheld PSION II (model LZ) – one of the ancestors of handheld organizers of today. I used to program on it. I built many computers by myself, more than I can remember, including my last powerhouse i7. I also have an iPhone and I enjoy photography with a Canon EOS 40D. I still dream about a biological microscope to connect to my PC - a remnant of my love for microscopy during my university years.
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without? Let’s be serious, humans lived without electricity and electronics for thousands of years. I’d survive without them. It would be much more difficult for me without paper and pen, or without books.
What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately? I think is the new driverless car tested by Google, and the 3G/4G wireless broadband mobile hotspots.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support? Discovering new people and things both inside and outside IBM.
What inspires you in your work? The sacrifices I made to come to the US from my native country.
What are you passionate about? Family, success, money, and discovering the essence of things.
Tell me about the biggest problem you've solved? I don't know, there are several. Moving when you are 35 with all your family over an ocean and start a new life learning and absorbing the American way of life. Moving a whole website from a home made structure to Drupal CMS. Actually I like solving problems and managing the journey to success. I can be pretty stubborn when fixing my eyes on a goal.
Tell me about the biggest problem ahead for you? Achieving a career in IBM. Buying a house in California.
How do you define success? Success (from my perspective) is achieving what you are made for, against all the odds. I think each of us reaches the maximum potential when we are able to arrive at a place and a role that matches our internal structure and energy. Then is when we can say there is harmony between the external and internal universes. And in the same time there is harmony between our "cause" and our "effect".
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you? Poetry, philosophy, theology, history, politics, web design (Drupal, mysql, php), literature, photo and digital art. I also built, own and manage an international 500 member literature website/e-zine. And sometimes fishing and painting.
Have you worked on any projects that you feel were exceptionally exciting for you? I’m very proud of my first published book of poetry – Mirabile dictu, that won a national first prize in Romania. Also during my college years I was the first to take photographs of animal chromosomes in my university.
Do you have any big plans for the future? Translating my poetry and publishing it in English, and writing prose. And, of course, as I said previously, a career in IBM.
If you were stuck on a technology deprived island, what single technology could you not live without? My laptop. What is on your nightstand with regard to reading? The Bible.
Is there any technology that you think should get more respect and adoption but does not? Open source.
Any new technologies that you think are about to break into the big time? I think this is as much a technology question as a socio-psychological question. I think technological success has to do economic and cultural circumstances but also with human nature. Generally speaking I classify the people in two categories: people who like to customize and control technology, and people who just want to us it. However, I think there are more people who just want to use things without the need to control them. So I think technologies that appeal to this human aspect will be more successful in the future. I also believe the technologies that will be able to fully integrate TV, Radio and phone into a fast and reliable wireless Internet service will have success in the future. What future technology would make your life easier? 4G (or more) and reliable house remote control. Or maybe something like a "home computing cloud". Also the holographic display. I also think the Internet is now full of poorly designed websites and services. Basically I think the whole Internet experience is in it's infancy. Something like the "iron age". There will be a time when computing will be not only science and technology but also art and skill, a real extension of human behavior, relations and experience. That’s why I think the future will bring up a new art/science of building a successful and reliable web presence. Also the way the web will be developed will be molded more around the human nature and not vice versa (as it happened until now).
How do you grow your technical skills? Mostly reading and testing new tools and technologies. I like to experiment. Ask my grandma the way the old family "cuckoo clock" was taken to pieces. Or my father about the old pick-up radio or his wristwatch. All of them "enjoyed" the growing pains of my technical skills.
How do you prefer to find answers to your questions? Dictionary.com, Google, Wikipedia, Refdesk.com, CEO Express. And the old fashion way of searching inside books.
How are you using social networking today? Not very much. Sometimes I use Jumpino.com. I use mostly my literary website for this. It's where I post my literary texts and interact with others. I built it on Drupal CMS and it has all that a social network can offer. And of course I always can add more modules. Are you a blogger in the blogosphere? ... Are you a YouTuber? ...Are you an Author? .... Do you Tweet? ... Talking about all these, I was around and I remember using BBS, mail list, majordomo, etc. Philosophically speaking I believe technology is just a shell, a tool, a way of doing things. And history showed us many times that the scarcity and the technical limitations of our tools are beneficial for the quality of what we create. There was a time when digital photography didn't exist. During those times a single shot was expensive and time consuming. During those years the art of photography was in its prime. Now we can take brilliant thousands of digital photos a day. I don't know about the art of photography anymore, or the effort to make each one of these photos to be perfect. Talking about blogosphere and all the networking tools out there; they are great. We live in an amazing age. Our parents made the greatest leap in the history of the technology. Some of them remember electrification and the dawn of radio and tv. On the other hand their grandchildren can produce now an entire tv show on the net just pushing a button. The only question is about the real quality and value all this brings to human life and experience. How shallow or how profound we became as human beings. How much real value and progress for each of us individually and for the humanity as a whole. Homer, Shakespeare or Bach didn't have all these, and we (or at least some of us) are still reading or listening to them. I think technology is an amazing tool if it creates or enhances value in human experience whether individually or as society.
This week we visit the Littleton campus to chat with Beth McCawley. Beth is one of the driving forces behind knowledge management in the support content space for RCS and has a sharp eye as a grammar/spelling/punctuation guru. Of course she has a way with words as you may expect from a person who works with written knowledge everyday and a formal education in English. Read on for more interesting facts!
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? I am Elizabeth McCawley, but I still answer to Beth Carroll. I am a Knowledge manager in Rational Client Support.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? I have been with Rational since April of 2000 and with IBM since the acquisition of Rational in 2003
Have you had any other roles in Rational? I started in Licensing Support then briefly was in Modeling Support, until the creation of the team that evolved into what now is KM in RCS.
Describe a normal day for you. Besides my daily queue of approving documents for publishing, I might check in with the Knowledge Champions who report to the Support Delivery Managers to whom I am assigned to see how their teams are doing with content contributions. I process at least a request or two to set up new user's permission to work with the tool we use for authoring documents. I frequently edit the taxonomy for Rational products in that authoring tool. A few times every day I answer questions about the tool (and then I capture the Q&A to a shared space so the info is available like an internal technote of sorts.)
What project are you the most proud of? It is a tie. I successfully lobbied for our authoring tool and the publishing mechanisms to accept Japanese documents. This initial project opened the door for us now being able to produce content directly in several languages, including three other multibyte languages. The other win was enabling and training the Development and Documentation teams so they could produce their release notes as Technotes. This makes Release Information documents easier to find and they can be updated with version additions and, later, fix information.
Do you have an "on the job" hero? This will sound hokey but it is Carl Hero, my teammate. Carl creates and shares a lot of shortcuts that save us from hours and hours and hours of busy work.
Are you a gadget person? I'll bet an eyelash curler does not count as the kind of gadget you want to hear about...
What type of gadgets do you use? Besides the wisecrack above, I am delighted by my iPhone.
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without? It'd be a challenge to get comfortable night of sleep without the baby monitor.
What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately? There is a doohickey can slice bread a whole loaf at a time.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support? The exemplary integrity of all the rational people with whom I work What inspires you in your work? See previous answer
What are you passionate about? My family, bicycle riding, civil rights AND civil liberties, and proper English spelling & grammar
What tip or trick would you like to share with the class? Its vs. It's (Editor's note: clarity on the difference can be found here http://www.elearnenglishlanguage.com/difficulties/its.html )
Tell me about the biggest problem ahead for you? I'd prefer to call it a challenge: I am working with a group across the Software divisions to make Support documents compliant with the latest IBM.com publishing standards. I want to do this with as little manual editing intervention as possible so that my teammates and document owners don't have to do the housekeeping.
How do you define success? On time and not burned
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you? I am nuts about bicycle riding and cross country skiing. I bake a wicked good batch of homemade granola
What message would you give to a Knowledge Champion just starting out in the Knowledge Management industry? Don't get too attached to any tool or practice or rule. Enjoy the opportunities for trying new tools and methods that will lead to enhancing the clients' experience with the knowledge your organization is sharing.
What specifically drew your interest to become involved in the Knowledge Management field? I knew I could make a difference in the quality and usefulness and accessibility of our Support content.
Aside from Knowledge Management, do you have any other passions? The Boston Red Sox would be the local politically correct answer
Do you have any big plans for the future? Learn to play a stringed instrument
If you were stuck on a technology deprived island, what single technology could you not live without? Gloryoski, if the baby and husband are not with me, then the iPhone to call home and to constantly look at pictures of the boy and his Daddy
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading? Analytics at Work. Also Infant Potty Training - it's a bizarre concept at first, and too late for this one, maybe we'll try it if there is a next one.
What has been your biggest surprise you have witnessed in the technology industry? That online banking is safe enough for my husband to embrace it Is there any technology that you think should get more respect and adoption but does not? Electric vehicles - there need to be convenient recharging locations as easy to find as gas stations.
What is your favorite technology that fizzled or failed to live up to the hype? None worthy of mentioning, but does anybody remember those tablets the dentist would give you to chew to see what spots on your teeth you weren't brushing enough? I do miss writing letters with pen & paper and receiving snail mail via US Postal Service
Any new technologies that you think are about to break into the big time? Harnessed wind power
What future technology would make your life easier? Something like a Roomba for driveway snow blowing
What are you doing to make the planet smarter? The obvious answer is that I am guiding people to sharing their knowledge - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, as they say. Also, I intentionally live close to the office, carpool with my husband whenever I can, ride my bicycle for transportation wherever I can, and generally don't buy bottled water. We have a share in a CSA this year so we are working on becoming locavores. I now pay most bills online - green AND convenient!
How do you prefer to find answers to your questions? I search Google
How are you using social networking today? Long lost pals and I have found each other through Facebook - what a hoot!
How could you see yourself using it in 5 years? Organizing kiddie soccer games and playdates without a million phone calls
What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow? http://www.theonion.com/
What publications / websites do you read / visit? "The New Yorker" is the one print subscription I still keep; http://www.charmone.com/Company.aspx; http://www.massbike.org/aboutus/mission/; http://www.onelook.com/
Any other fun tidbits of information about you, your job, or RCS that you'd like to share? We appreciate it when you take the time to complete the Rate This Page survey at the bottom of every technote that you use!
Today we bring the spotlight to Ben Rubinger. Ben is one of our 'behind the scene' guys in Rational Client Support as a tools developer. Having been a support engineer himself, he has special insight into changes and features to internal tools which are needed on the front lines of support, and is busy making life for the TSEs easier one feature set at a time. But life isn't all coding for Ben, he's also active outside of work as you'll find below.
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? I'm Ben Rubinger, and my role in RCS is to find ways to help make TSE's work lives easier through building efficiencies (like EPS Sender, DCF Kickstart, etc.)
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? I've been with IBM 6 years, and in this job role 2 years.
Have you had any other roles in Rational? I was a TSE supporting PurifyPlus for 4 years
What project are you the most proud of? Probably EPS Sender. It's my first really impactful software development project, and it makes me feel really good when I walk around and see it on someone's screen. Plus, when it first came up, someone came up to me and thanked me for helping to ease his carpel tunnel syndrome!
Do you have an "on the job" hero? If you could "follow" anyone for 24 hours, who would it be? I've always been really impressed with how Chris Flynn knows and connects with EVERYONE. I'm a firm believer that personal skills are just as important as technical skills.
Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use? I'm really not a gadget person. I'm pretty outdoorsey, and so if I'm not in the office or at home, I probably don't need to be staring at yet another screen. I think that not saturating myself in technology is a big reason why I continue to love working with it.
What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately? There is a new 128GB blu ray disc coming out. That's a lot of storage on a disc!
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support? The people. I love how much interaction I get with people who use software I build. Good people make a job really fun. Plus, it's always great talking with people from all over SWG (Software Group) and talking to them about what they do. What inspires you in your work? I love solving problems. I never know what challenges I'll deal with on a day-to-day basis which constantly makes my job interesting and varied. That variety keeps me inspired and motivated.
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you? In my spare time (when I have some), I love to be active and outdoors. I feel like it's important to balance out the time you spend at your desk. I love volleyball (I played both sand and indoor while I was living in California), swimming (the pool at UCSB was beautiful!), running (I ran cross country all four years while I was doing my undergraduate work at Clark University), yoga, weight lifting, and biking. Beyond that, I love listening to music, and I'm starting to do more cooking.
What tools / skills have you acquired that you feel are vital to your success in this field? Communication is really important. You have to be able to listen to what people want and need or they'll be stuck with something they won't use. Of course, technical skills are core to my job since I'm working deep in code every day. At the end of the day, I need to be able to take ideas and turn them into reality via code.
How do you define success? Feeling happy with who you are, what you're doing and where you're going in life.
Describe a normal day for you. Well, that changed dramatically. If you asked me that two months ago, I'd describe my life as a full time student living in Santa Barbara, California. Now, my days are really varied. For a good chunk of my day, my emails lead me. I never know who has a question about a tool I wrote or needs my help with some new feature request. For the other part of my day, I work through a list of features I'm in the process of implementing in various tools, or work building new ones. I also spend a chunk of my time interfacing with my stakeholders (often TSEs in Rational, AIM, IM, or Tivoli).
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading? In grad school, I had to read super dense technical papers, so I haven't done a lot of leisure reading recently. The last book I read for pleasure was probably Ken Follett's "A Dangerous Fortune."
What are you doing to make the planet smarter? I'm giving IBMers their time back. By ensuring that computers do as much work as possible for people, we remove burden from people's shoulders so they can use their time better and ultimately be more effective in work and life.
How do you grow your technical skills? I'm always reading. I read lots of technical journals and technical blogs. I also play with lots of code, and I'm often disassembling things.
How do you prefer to find answers to your questions? Google!
Any other fun tidbits of information about you, your job, or RCS that you'd like to share? When I was working in Lexington, I would bike 13 miles a day each way to get to work in the summertime. I'm going to see if I can bike once a week to work in Littleton from Cambridge! Wish me luck...
Today we are delighted to spotlight Wendy Toh. Wendy is RCS's new Vice President responsible for managing the worldwide client support organization for the Rational division in Software group. Born in Malaysia, Wendy moved to the United States in the early 1980s, graduated from the University of Florida with a BS in Mathematics and Computer Science, and subsequently started her career with IBM. She has some serious and long work days in her role as VP, but gets through them all successfully by following her personal mottos, as you'll find out below:
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? I joined in January 2010 as the Vice President of RCS. I am excited about this new role and looking forward to meeting the team and working on making 2010 very successful.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? I've been working at IBM since 1989 and in Rational since 2006.
Have you had any other roles in Rational? Yes. I've been the development director for the Enterprise Modernization Tools & Compilers (EM&C) team as well as the Enterprise Architecture and Analysis Design Construction (EA/ADC) teams. I've also been an executive sponsor for the Rational China Development Lab working with Charles Yan. Finally, I'm the executive sponsor for both of the Research Triangle Park Asian and Women's Diversity Network Groups.
Describe a normal day for you. I arrive between 7:30AM and 8AM and catch up on emails. Typically I have 7-8 hours of meetings scheduled each day. I prefer to leave the office around 6PM to go workout or take a break. I am usually online in the evenings 2-3 days a week to catch up on email. Like many of you, I also take late calls from home. Finally - I travel quite a bit - probably about 50% of my time - to visit our clients. I plan on getting to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Sydney in April, followed by a visit to Bangalore, Stockholm, and Amsterdam in May, before I head to Orlando for Innovate 2010! This doesn't include short trips that arise suddenly due to critical situations.
What type of gadgets do you use? Blackberry Tour, Kindle, iPod, MacBook
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without? My Blackberry Tour cellphone
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support? The people!! Even when it's stressful most folks keep their sense of humor! I also like the fact that we can make a positive impact on our clients in helping them get productive!
What are you passionate about? Enabling people to reach their full potential while maximizing their contributions to IBM and IBM customers.
How do you define success? Being joyful and happy in all aspects of my life. While I do put a lot of time and energy towards my job, it's my family and friends that keep me grounded. I also believe we must succeed by living and working by a consistent set of core values that reflect our personal beliefs and ethics.
Any other fun tidbits of information about you, your job, or RCS that you'd like to share? I enjoy sports and music very much. I'm a big Florida Gators fan (that's an American college football (not soccer) team for those of you who live outside North America :-). Some artists on my iPod playlist: Pink Martini, Dwight Yoakam, Trisha Yearwood, George Strait, ABBA, Chris Isaak, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, Dwight Yoakam, Reba McEntire, Frank Sinatra, The Mavericks.
Here are the mottos I live by:
1. Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug 2. Fake it 'til you make it 3. Work is what I do in between vacations
What have you planned for your next vacation(s)? Weekend getaway in New Orleans at the end of March, then a 12-night Mediterranean cruise in the summer...woo hoo!
Meet the Peeps is back and better than ever after a nice respite! This week, we we have the pleasure of speaking with Kim Ruggari. Kim is another one of RCS' many passion driven people, intent on improving every aspect of the business as she can manage. As the Asia Pacific GEO Executive for RCS, she gets to do just that! Read on to see just how diverse her background is as well as her passions and interest outside of work. Plus, if this is your first time reading this blog, be sure to check out our past interviews here.
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? My current role is Asia Pacific GEO Exec. for Rational Client Support, reporting to Wendy Toh. I've had this role since January 2007. I am based in Sydney, Australia, and locally report into the Australia Development Labs ("ADL"). Asia Pacific covers many languages, cultures and countries - which makes life very interesting and challenging. For those that would like a Geography lesson, AP GEO includes: Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan (GCG), Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam (ASEAN), as well as India, Korea and Japan.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? I've been with Rational since November 1998. I was the 7th person employed by RCS in Asia Pacific (#1, and #6 are also still in RCS by the way)
Have you had any other roles in Rational? Most people don't realise that that I started with RCS as a bit of an all-rounder (I guess today you would call it "Operations"). Not long after I joined RCS, Rational moved its licensing to FlexLM, and thus began a slew of licensing PMRs a week: Yes! I also inherited the role of sole Licensing support engineer - those were the days - phew, busy!!. In addition to the Operations function, I organically became the Licensing team manager. Around 2003, I was asked to manage the DevTools team, then in 2005 the RPM, CC and CQ teams. I finally moved to the AP lead role January 2007.
Describe a normal day for you. I don't really have "normal" days - every work day is different. They range from 7 hours to 18 hours of never-ending fun, frustration, challenge and excitement. My days are NEVER boring, although some days I pray for a little boredom. It depends on how many Critical Situations we have open, what meetings are happening and how many are scheduled outside of my local business hours (I particularly love the 5am MORs during Winter )
Do you have an "on the job" hero? If you could "follow" anyone for 24 hours, who would it be? Glenn Wightwick, Distinguished Engineer and Director of the ADL.
Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use? I've long argued with my friends that I am NOT a "geek", on the basis that I am not a technical person. I'm now realising that my friends win this argument. I have just about every household gadget you can name. Someone, please save me from the Home Shopping Network! What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without? I'm currently going through a "smoothie" stage, so I'll say my Stick Blender.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support? Ask me on a good day, and I'll tell you my team are the BEST! I love being around so many people who are so diverse, and ensure that each day is different.
What are you passionate about? Of course my friends and family - but I have to be honest here and say really good food! Sydney's has AMAZING restaurants, with Chefs who have almost reached rock-star status. I am working my way through the Top 50 with one of my closest friends who shares my passion.
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading? The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I'm having trouble getting started with it. How do you prefer to find answers to your questions? I am a Google junkie, my home laptop is always running, and I'm forever googling questions that pop into my head. How are you using social networking today? You can usually find me logged into Facebook. Its such a great way to keep in touch with my friends all around the World. I haven't caught the Twitter wave. I had a Blog for a while, but found I could not prioritise time for it (I am a frustrated writer).
Any other fun tidbits of information about you, your job, or RCS that you'd like to share? "Gung-Ho" and "Who Moved My Cheese" are 2 books that will ALWAYS be on my professional book-shelf.
In lieu of a "Meet the Peeps" post this week (due to vacations, holidays, etcetera) I thought I may wax philosophic for a moment about "community"and building connections.
Within Rational Client Support, we have been driving various efforts to help build our network of communities both internally and externally facing. Some of these initiatives have been more successful than others, but in every instance I have found some level of personal and professional growth because of the people I have connected with as a result of my involvement in each of those spaces.
In particular, the "Meet the Peeps of Rational Support" series has given me opportunity to connect with far more people than my typical day job would normally keep me in touch with. And that's a bit of the point of this series; to bring a face, an authentic voice, and connection to the real people who work everyday to make Rational Support what it is. So often we are all buried with work behind our monitors that the human connections between client and organization can be easily forgotten. "Meet the Peeps" is our simple attempt to bring that human connection back into frame and remind us all that while we are a business, we are also a community of people with a common thread that binds us.
So what does all this mean to you? If you're an IBMer it means you now have a name and a face to professionally connect with, and we all know professional connections are a great thing! Of course, if you are one of our external clients, it means there ARE real people here with a single goal of helping you resolve problems, to help you find solutions or answer questions, or simply assist you in any other way we can. It means you have a direct connection to the people who can help. It also means you are a part of a larger community of people in your same position; clients who are out in the ether, looking for information to help you in your own jobs... and if you stop to think about it, that is a very cool thing when realizing the potential for community-sourcing solutions!
Now (I can hear you asking yourself) where else might you find us? I am sure you know about our Twitter and Facebook presence (and obviously our blog here) but did you also know Rational Support has a Youtube channel or a regional Twitter account for Rational Support India? And those are just the accounts we 'own'; we also play on LinkedIn groups, and of course on developerWorks in some of the various product communities all with the intent of sharing knowledge and building community for both clients and IBMers alike.
While some of the tools may indeed be a passing fad only to be replaced by the next big thing down the line, the overall concept of what they do is as universal a truth and critical to the future as you can find: bringing people together and enabling them to build relationships and connections with people and companies. If you aren't playing in the social spaces popping up all over the internet, you're likely missing out on highly valuable and useful information that can help drive your professional as well as personal goals to success.
So jump on in, join the conversation, and get connected! .
Today we spotlight Laurel Dickson-Bull. As a certified Project Management Professional, Laurel has her hands in a number of different programs at the leadership level, as you'll find below. But don't be fooled, she also has her hands in numerous hobbies and projects outside of work as well! Read on to learn more about Laurel's work and interests, and maybe you'll have something to chat about when you run into her during her numerous VoiCE events or other program collaborations!
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? I am a Client Programs Manager, which means I run beta programs, Design Partner Programs and VoiCE Events.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? I have worked for IBM 7 years. I like to say I am "heritage Rational", but the fact is I worked for Rational only two weeks before the IBM acquisition.
Have you had any other roles in Rational? My first job in Rational/IBM was as the Globalization Program Manager for ClearCase and ClearQuest. This was before we started using the IBM Globalization processes. I managed the release of the first Japanese version of the products, fondly remembered by some as "McKinley-I".
What are you currently working on? I am currently running a managed beta program for Rational Focal Point, a Design Partner Program for Rational Focal Point and Rational Project Conductor, setting up a Design Partner Program for Rational Insight and helping with the 2010 Workbench for CLM beta.
Describe a normal day for you. I'm up at 6:00, walk the dog, make sure the kids are out the door, then drive 5 miles to work at the Littleton, Massachusetts Lab (I know I AM lucky to have such a short commute!). My work day consists of planning meetings with the product teams to set up client programs and monitor feedback. I spend a good deal of my time answering client questions, meeting with clients and preparing for client meetings. So I am on the phone a good deal. I love my headset! I collaborate a lot with the other client program managers in my team to improve our internal processes. We recently created a "process wiki" to document and share all of our team's processes, as well as a database to manage all our team data and metrics.
What project are you the most proud of? I have had a lot of great experiences since I have been in the Client Programs team. Probably my proudest accomplishment is helping to grow the team. Managed beta, open beta, Design Partner and VoiCE (Voice of the Client Event) have become household words in Rational. Last year, I was fortunate to lead the first VoiCE events in China and Germany. It was a pleasure to build VoiCE from scratch in those geographies and to get to know the local marketing teams and the clients. Plus, I love to travel.
Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use? I do like gadgets, but I tend to loose them. I had an iPod Nano (twice) that I loved, but alas, I lost it (twice). I haven't replaced the second one...
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without? Is a car a gadget? I cannot imagine my summer commute without my 1995 Miata convertible.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support? I like working with the customers and connecting them with colleagues who write, test and support our products. I also think the senior management in Support has a good sense of humor.
What inspires you in your work? My current team inspires me. They are hard working, smart and inventive. It's amazing how the Client Programs team has grown in the last two years - from a small US team of three to an international team of nine. We expect to run about 30 beta programs and nearly 20 Design Partner Programs in 2010.
How do you define success? Doing what you love, loving what you do and then watching your kids do it even better.
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you? I like too many things... it's hard to get really good at anything. Right now my hobbies are community volunteer activities, gardening, reading, and I am learning to oil paint. My father painted, my sister and brother also both paint... I guess it was inevitable!
Do you have any big plans for the future? I visited my son in Barcelona, Spain this spring. The Dali museum was unreal (actually, surreal). I adored the architecture of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona: ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoni_Gaud%C3%AD ). My next trip I expect will be to one of the national parks next summer.
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading? I just finished "The Unnamed" by Joshua Ferris. It was a strange book, but thought-provoking. I am currently reading "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". It's a good summer read.
What future technology would make your life easier? I would like to be able to use a transporter like on Star Trek. That way if we have extra food left over after a company barbecue we could send it immediately to hungry children anywhere in the world. I like to imagine that technology will help with things like that in the future.
What are you doing to make the planet smarter? I am sending my three children to college! They should be smarter when they graduate.
How do you prefer to find answers to your questions? I Google a lot. I visit Google news. For work-related things, I tend to SameTime or phone people. I am not shy about that. I think using the phone is underrated. We need to email less, talk more. How are you using social networking today? I use Facebook to keep up with family, friends, colleagues. Also Linked in for professional connections. I tried Tweeting for awhile, but I got bored with it. I use Lotus Communities extensively.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Paying my last tuition bill. Probably in another position at IBM, hopefully leading and growing a team. Working on the side as famous oil painter (ha!).
Our last interview before IBM Innovate 2010 is with Kelly Smith. Kelly is Rational Support's social media guru and Knowledge Activist, as you've likely already seen. You can meet Kelly at the IBM Innovate 2010 Support Cafe' (agenda here) where she'll be talking about Support 2.0 specific to communities, social media and knowledge sharing in RCS. Kelly will also be roving the Innovate floor both live-tweeting, photographing, and blogging the conference here on the NFRS blog. Read on to learn more about Kelly, and stay tuned here for here words from the Innovate floor. And if you missed them, check out our previous interviews with other presenters and RCS peeps!
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? My name is Kelly Smith, and I am a self-proclaimed Knowledge Activist for Rational Client Support. I do knowledge sharing, knowledge management, collaboration, innovation, electronic support, communities, hack day, and anything else shiny I can get my hands on.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? I've been working for Rational since 1997(!)
Have you had any other roles in Rational? I started out doing testing on the Rational Rose 98, and 98i releases. I've subsequently been in test, development and client support, all for IBM Rational.
What are you currently working on? See above. Plus, you may not be aware, but Innovate 2010, the Rational Software Conference, is coming up. I'll be there, taking pictures, blogging, tweeting and talking about electronic support, and support 2.0. You can follow along here or on Twitter. I call tweet-up!
Describe a normal day for you. I'm definitely a morning person, so I use my early morning time to make progress on my projects – which are varied and wide-ranging, dealing from internal collaboration enablers, communication, social networking, knowledge management and electronic support – before the parade of meetings starts. I love working on strategic initiatives and making things better.
What project are you the most proud of? I think I'm most proud of the work we've done to adopt Knowledge-Centered Support best practices in Rational Client Support … building a robust knowledge base of our collective experience to date for our support engineers to draw on; encouraging and enabling our engineers to work content in the PMR workflow, and making our knowledge business agile. KCS is a journey, not a destination, and we are far enough down the road now that we are realizing the benefits of KCS, in both our organizational efficiency and in your ability to find the answers you need. I love to see a plan come together. Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use? I love gadgets, especially Apple ones.
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without? My iPhone. I use it for EVERYTHING – email, web surfing, GPS, social networking, watching movies, reading books, playing games, and I love the utility apps: I have a spirit level app! Tellingly, my FATHER has just gotten his first smartphone and is rapidly becoming a convert to the technology.
How do you define success? Making a difference. Go big, or go home. In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you? I am a serial hobbyist. I am interested in EVERYTHING. Well, almost everything. I recently taught myself how to knit socks and how to tat. Sadly, I've only produced one pair of socks.
What tools / skills have you acquired that you feel are vital to your success in this field? Key to success here or anywhere is a healthy curiosity and desire to make things better. Seth Godin's Linchpin Manifesto (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/files/thelinchpinmanifesto.pdf) says “yesterday's innovation is today's standard”. Be curious, embrace change and uncertainty and be sure to sit in the driver's seat!
Have you worked on any projects that you feel were exceptionally exciting for you? IBM's Hack Day, of course.. Hack Day is EXACTLY the kind of thing I love... grass-roots innovation and being just a little subversive.
Do you have any big plans for the future? Well, I've already met my major life goal, which was to get the children out of the house before I died. Oh, you meant in my career? The best career advice I've heard recently is “do your best every single day, and your career will take care of itself”. And I think that's true. My career has taken me down some very interesting paths that I would have never considered as part of a life plan, but the opportunities appeared because of results I was able to achieve. So I focus on the work at hand, but remain open to new possibilities.
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading? Ha! My current nightstand books are Galileo's Daughter, by Dava Sobel, and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, by Walter Isaacson. However, these have both been on my nightstand for MONTHS. The problem with reading material on my nightstand is that I rarely get through more than a page or two before falling asleep. I should finish both by … oh... 2012. On the coffee table is Blindness, by Jose Saramago. I hope to finish that soon.
What is your favorite technology that fizzled or failed to live up to the hype? Well, it's probably just me, but while I love the GPS capabilities of my smartphone, I'm not really interested in sharing my every move with the world at large. I don't get Gowalla or 4Square, and in fact, I don't really care if you are the mayor of Peet's Coffee in Lexington. Of course, that could also be because the only places I'm likely to be mayor of are my own house and the IBM Mass Lab.
What future technology would make your life easier? A replicator (a la Star Trek) to make dinner for me.
How do you grow your technical skills? Stay curious!
How are you using social networking today? On a personal level, surprisingly enough, not as much as I used to. Not sure why, but this (http://www.productiveflourishing.com/launch-fatigue-and-how-not-to-be-an-infomercial/) might have something to do with it.
How could you see yourself using it in 5 years? I'm not sure. I was a bloggers' blogger until twitter and microblogging came about. I joined Facebook rather late in the game. The playing field keeps evolving … all I know is I'll be playing along! Are you a blogger in the blogosphere? ... Are you a YouTuber? ...Are you an Author? .... Do you Tweet? … I've had a personal blog since 2006 and have been tweeting for several years as well. My resume is on LinkedIn, and I'm on Facebook. I've also launched this blog, Notes from Rational Support, and helped establish Rational Client Support's web 2.0 presence: we are @RationalSupport on Twitter, IBMRationalSupport on Facebook, and IBMRationalSupport on YouTube.
Ah, Friday at last! As you've come to expect, our latest interview is below; this will have to last you for two weeks though, as we will be taking a break next week for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday (during which your humble authors/editors will be out of the office and likely up to our ears in house projects, and stuffed to the gills with turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, and dressing, not to mention the pies).
But what luck luck we have! Today we are honoured to feature Danny Mace, our Director of Rational Client Support Strategy and Business Programs. As a new addition to the RCS family, Danny has been busy getting up to speed with the various teams and business challenges. Of course I doubt it will take him long at all, as he isn't exactly a newcomer to IBM as you'll discover in his interview. If you find yourself in need of more interviews next week, take some time and look back on all our prior interviews this year, because as Danny notes below, the people of RCS are indeed exceptional! Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? Director of Rational Client Support Strategy and Business Programs. I have a wide range of projects from WW Client Programs, AVP, Support Planning, Support Business Intelligence, and Tools. How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? 20 years at IBM, but only 3 with Rational.
Have you had any other roles in Rational? Yes. I joined Rational as a 2nd line development manager in the Enterprise Modernization space. After that, I worked as a Technical Assistant to Hayden Lindsey who is the VP of EM, ADC, and EA Development in Rational. What are you currently working on? Getting on board in RCS
Describe a normal day for you. My normal day is a full day meetings while worried about how to answer all the email! While this can seem boring, I love interacting with teams in person and on the phone. I would be happy to ban email and Instant messaging!
Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use? Serious gadget person. If it plugs in, I usually want one I would have to credit my iPhone as the best gadget of all time for me. I use it throughout the day and night
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support? I'm still learning the parts of RCS, but clearly the people are joy to work with and exceptionally talented! What are you passionate about? My passions are driving positive change in an organization, and working with my team to make them successful. I get frustrated when my time is taken up by daily operations, and I work hard to make time for setting future directions and strategies.
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you? My 'non-work' passion is my family. We enjoy each other through active events, occasional travel, and quiet evenings at home.
Have you worked on any projects that you feel were exceptionally exciting for you? I've always been attracted to startup projects and teams. I love helping IBM start a new business or product and especially creating a new team from scratch.
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading? I have Scientific American, Discover, and Mac Life on my night stand. Yes, I am a technology geek
What is your favorite technology that fizzled or failed to live up to the hype? I was sure IBM was going to conquer the personal computer world with the Power PC and a new operating system we called Workplace/OS. 10 years ago, we had the technology to run Mac, Windows, and OS/2 all on the same platform at the same time. After a series of challenges, the Power PC platform succeeded while the Workplace/OS operating system was shelved. The combined product was never release to the world.. In the end, Microsoft and Intel had their heyday
Any new technologies that you think are about to break into the big time? Mobile computing is in its infancy, and I think it will be a serious investment for software developers including Rational in the future. I think we are going to see more than 50% of the current desktop computer market disappear in favor of a mobile computing platform (like the iPhone). How do you grow your technical skills? As an executive, my technical skills have drastically faded since leaving the technical ranks. I learn best in a hands on environment, but my current role doesn't allow me the time for hands on activities. As a substitute, I get my technical knowledge by talking and learning from experts during meetings and 1-1's. I just have to ask a lot of questions!
This week's interview spotlights Jim LoRusso. Jim is a guy with multiple talents: Not only is he a successful support engineer, but also an accomplished musician, sports enthusiast, and software tools developer. Read on to see how broad his interests fall and likely how this breadth of skills has contributed to his successes thus far. Don't forget to checkout our archive of previous interviews while you're at it!
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? My name is Jim LoRusso. I’m a 23 year old, sports loving, guitar-playing, computer savvy Software Support Engineer for IBM. I work as a TSE on our Rational Testing Tools support team, troubleshooting products such as Quality Manager, Functional Tester, Performance Tester, etc.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? I’ve been with IBM for over 2 years now. I started as an intern while I was studying for my undergrad at the University of Hartford. I worked as a Search Effectiveness Analyst helping to identify and improve the accuracy of search results delivered by IBM's w3 intranet. After analyzing data we gathered, I would occasionally write software automation tools to help improve our efficiency.
What are you currently working on? Currently I troubleshoot client issues with IBM Rational’s Testing Tools.
Describe a normal day for you. On a normal day, I field and assess calls from clients who have issues with the Rational Testing Tools. I then attempt to resolve these issues using technical knowledge, and troubleshooting skills. Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I usually eat lunch.
Are you a gadget person? I like gadgets, but I probably wouldn’t consider myself a gadget person.
What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately? Apparently, flying car production could start within three months. Check it out.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support? I really enjoy the different challenges I encounter each day. There has yet to be a day where I haven’t encountered a new problem to be solved. Because the products are constantly being updated, you rarely see the same issue twice. What inspires you in your work? I’ve always been a very persistent problem solver. If I can’t figure out why something isn’t working correctly, it usually intrigues me, and drives me harder to identify the root cause. What are you passionate about? Outside of work, I’m very passionate about music. I’ve played guitar for about 5 years now, four of which were with my nationally signed rock band, Last Place Victory, and now with the R&B project Rove’. I’m a song writer and composer as well. What tip or trick would you like to share with the class? Everything happens for a reason, so always stay calm and confident when something goes against you. Other people’s perception of you will often generate confidence in yourself. How do you define success? Happiness
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you? I enjoy playing guitar, writing music, and playing sports. When did you first become interested in music and sports? I’ve been an active musician for about 5 years, and I’ve been playing sports since I could walk. What tools / skills have you acquired that you feel are vital to your success in this field? The ability to analyze the path of a problem as it relates to the overall design of the product, rather than looking at specific symptoms and possible causes. Essentially, I’ve found it useful to work backwards from the symptom and create a figurative road map of where the product came off track. What message would you give to a TSE just starting out in Rational Client Support? Never be afraid to ask questions, no matter how simple you think they might be. Having a great understanding of the foundation of the product will help you far more as a troubleshooter than most of the advanced topics you’ll learn.
What specifically drew your interest to become involved as a Software Support Engineer? I’ve always had a strong passion to be a problem solver, and this allowed me to do it professionally.
Have you worked on any projects that you feel were exceptionally exciting for you? As an intern, I wrote a program to automate testing of our “Did You Mean?” function in IBM's intranet search.
Do you have any big plans for the future? I’d like to do some traveling. I’ve never been out of the country, so I’d like to see other parts of the world.
If you were stuck on a technology deprived island, what single technology could you not live without? Probably the cell phone. I can’t see how people used to operate without our primary form of communication.
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading? Catch-22 by Joseph Heller… It’s not actually on my nightstand, by I’m answering more in the spirit of this question, rather than the literal.
What has been your biggest surprise you have witnessed in the technology industry? Most medical technologies including surgeries really impress me. When I’m developing a new process or program, I only have to worry about breaking a piece of software, which I can make a backup of anyway. Essentially, I have as many shots to get it right as it takes me. Medical professionals are dealing with peoples lives. They pretty much have to do it right the first time they ever try.
Any new technologies that you think are about to break into the big time? It looks like flying cars are getting close to hitting the market. I can’t believe this hasn’t gotten more coverage.
What future technology would make your life easier? Definitely teleportation. I can’t count how many times I’ve wished someone had invented that.
What are you doing to make the planet smarter? Working at IBM for starters But also, developing my technical skills will help me engineer more efficient software, ultimately consuming fewer physical resources. It’s a small step, but when deployed worldwide, can have a profound effect.
How do you grow your technical skills? I try to take part in every training session I can attend. I also plan on returning to college to earn my Master’s degree in the near future.
How do you prefer to find answers to your questions? I like having conversations with people face to face.
How are you using social networking today? I use social networking sites to keep in touch with people I haven’t seen for a while.
Any other fun tidbits of information about you, your job, or RCS that you'd like to share? I sit in the Littleton office. If you are an IBMer, feel free to look me up on BluePages and swing by.
First and foremost: Thank you all! You've spoken up, told us who you are and where you find value in our social business outlets. You even gave us some actionable comments which we've taken to heart! We've collated your replies and analyzed the results....
And WHAT was it you told us? Well, for starters, you find a lot of value in this here blog. You also told us you find substantial value in our Youtube channel! Less so, and not surprisingly, you find Twitter and Facebook of lesser value. You also specifically asked for more Youtube videos, and to make them version specific. Lastly, you asked us about adding a LinkedIn channel, and pointed out MyNotifications as a great information tool as well.
To date, we've used Twitter and Facebook to signpost high value content (some of which we source directly from MyNotifications), while Youtube and the NFRS dW blog have been home for more rich content creation as well as highlighting the top bits. We'll be continuing in this fashion, but with some slight shifts in how we manage the various channels.
You may have already noticed some of the changes coming down: we'll be focusing more on blogging the really great content, and won't be tweeting/Facbooking so much of the content you can already get by setting up a MyNotifications subscription We still intend to post available releases and fixes to both Twitter and Facebook, as well a sign post some of the other bits of great content coming out of other blogs and communities, we just won't be cultivating those two channels quite as much.
Instead, we are shifting our social business focus to provide much more rich, deep, and valuable content via this blog as well as through our Youtube channel. We have a few projects up our sleeves which we are working behind the scenes to roll out in ways which will prove beneficial for you all.
As for LinkedIn, Rational Software announced our own group a few weeks back. We in Rational Support have begun playing in that space, and encourage you all to do the same. We hope to grow our individual presences there, but also intend to be more involved in the other Rational groups around the site.
Of course we wouldn't have any of this actionable information if you all hadn't provided such great feedback. Thank you, one and all, for telling us how you think we're doing! But this wasn't your last chance to leave feedback: you have opportunities every day to ping us on Twitter, Facebook, or here in the NFRS comments to let us know what you like or dislike, what you want us to change, and of course what you want us to keep doing. We can never get enough feedback! So, thank you all for helping us with our social business survey and thanks in advance for future feedback...
Today we are excited to spotlight Sean Logue. As the Business Intelligence manager for RCS, Sean has his hands directly in guiding the organization's ability to adjust and adapt to the changes in Rational Client Support's business space. But don't think for a moment that just makes him a boring metrics guy, as you'll see from his interview below Sean has a diverse and telling list of people whom he admires and even some impressive writing talents! But don't stop there, checkout some of our previous interviews too!
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? I manage the Business Intelligence team for WW Rational Support. We provide the metrics and analysis that is used to help make intelligent business decisions for the area.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? I started with IBM right out of college back in 1989. So, I’ve been working here over twenty years. I moved to Rational about 2 ½ years ago from Tivoli, another Software Group brand.
Have you had any other roles in Rational? No, but I’ve managed pretty much everything over in Tivoli. Software Development, System Verification Test, Globalization, Information Development, Performance Test. Basically anything that has anything to do with software. I’ve also been a team lead, project manager, and technical writer. But, I’ve never flown a helicopter, so there are still a few opportunities left.
Describe a normal day for you. I’ve stopped trying to plan my day in the morning before it starts. When I try to do that, I’m invariably disappointed. One of the basic truths of a first line manager’s job is that it is extremely reactive. Each day is defined by that urgent phone call that came in at 9:00, or the concerns raised in a 1x1, or that sametime from the VP. The really great thing about this, though, is that every day is different, so they don’t all just fade into a sea of monotony.
What project are you the most proud of? Last year I was proud of our dashboard, because it really went a long way toward giving a clear, high-level picture of the state of the organization. That made it valuable to the executives, but wasn't as valuable to first and second-line managers. This year I'm extremely proud of the scorecard, because it brings the same, clear picture, but can be zoomed into whatever role you are in. So, it is useful for TSEs, first-lines, second-lines, and, yes, even executives. Do you have an "on the job" hero? If you could "follow" anyone for 24 hours, who would it be? I don’t really want to follow anyone, as that might get me arrested. I don’t have a single hero, but I can say there are characteristics of people that I truly admire. For example, Dale Hobill has tremendous KT skills, and can reduce any problem to rubble in mere minutes using a carefully placed SA. Johnny Scarborough is one of the most genuinely kind people I’ve ever met. And Kelly Smith is the only one in the area unique enough to get all of my jokes on the first try. Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use? Oh, yes. I’m typically an early adopter, too, though I’m trying to hold back and buy version 2 from now on because it is cheaper and less stressful. I love my iPhone 4, and really don’t know what I did without it. I’ll never buy a car without a good GPS system. I have so much remote control equipment that I’m a certified installer. I really like AV equipment in general, and I love the trend to tie them all into a network.
Any new technologies that you think are about to break into the big time? I’ve been very surprised at how quickly we are moving away from physical media. It is very clear to me that movies, television, music – even books -- are now easier to handle if they exist out on a cloud, and not in real life. I’m a big book and DVD collector, but even I can see that they aren’t going to be around much longer.
How do you grow your technical skills? I surround myself with experts, ask lots of questions, and, most importantly, I listen carefully and ask follow-up questions to make sure I truly understand. How do you prefer to find answers to your questions? Google. What we did before this is a mystery. How are you using social networking today? I’m an active participant on Facebook, but I use it mostly for friends and family rather than work. It is amazing how it can be used to create and maintain connections to so many people,
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you? Here’s something very few people know about me. I’m a top 500 Amazon reviewer. (I used to be top 250 but I haven’t written enough reviews lately so my rank went down a bit.) I have written hundreds of reviews. I do it to keep my writing skills up. My first job at IBM was as a technical writer, and I did that for seven years before moving on to other things. Writing is still one of my passions.
This week we are back in the Littleton office to chat with Phil Wall. As the Rational Client Support Knowledge Management Team lead, Phil has a big hand in our KCS (knowledge centered support) program, but don't let that fool you... he's not just a techie geek, he also has a serious love for hands on work like welding and construction as you'll find below.
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support? How long have you been working for IBM and Rational? Have you had any other roles in Rational? What project are you the most proud of?
My name is Phillip Wall and I am the Knowledge Management Team Lead within IBM Rational Software Client Support. I'm 28 years old and about to be 29 in November living and working in Easter Massachusetts. I have been with IBM Rational Software for the last almost 7 years (7 years in February 2011) and I have been in the Information Technologies field for the last 12 years in total even while still in High School and Shawsheen Valley Technical High School in Billerica, MA where I studied Electronics.
Within Rational I have worked in many teams, project teams and have held a few titles in my tenure. I started out as a Technical Support Engineer supporting Rational SoDA and Rational Project Console. This was a welcome change over the job I left in Varian Semiconductor of Gloucester, MA where I was working as a Electro Mechanical Assembler installing and calibrating Ion Implanters on the third shift.
I started in Rational one year after its acquisition by IBM and quickly progressed from a Technical Support Engineer to a Escalation Engineer working with development engineers to prioritize and rectify complex issues and defects that were reported by my client base. As I progressed into the Escalation Engineer Role Engineer. After being in the Escalation Engineer Role for a while, I think almost a year I heard of a new team starting up called the Information Development team. After putting my name into the hat I was selected as one of the members of the New Information Development Team.
Our Charter was to get knowledge into the Knowledge Base and to clean up the existing Knowledge to conform to our content standards... Fast forward three and some change years and you have the Knowledge Management Team were I am now the Team Lead.
Currently the Knowledge Management Team is tuning our Knowledge Centered Support methodology, our Social Media strategies and our Metrics Reporting vehicles.
Currently I'm working with the IBM Cognos products to develop Knowledge based reports and metrics to better guide Rationals investments in KCS and in our Knowledge Base.
Getting KCS into IBM is one of the projects I'm most proud of. It's taken almost three years to get KCS a foothold into IBM, but now Rational, Information Management, and Cognos are running KCS programs to better serve our clients with the knowledge they need and seek from support. We are getting KCS into the IBM organization but its had to start off as a grassroots effort.
What are you currently working on? Currently I'm working on developing a new Cognos Insight Dashboard to help the Rational Organization better "see" how our investments in Knowledge, Knowledge Management and Knowledge Centered Support.
Describe a normal day for you. HAHAHAH A Normal day? As a team lead I never have a normal day... Whether its getting tasked with a special project from my manager or its issues or opportunities presented to me by my teammates no two days are the same. Its always a craps shoot to what I'm going to be hearing or working on. Do you have an "on the job" hero? If you could "follow" anyone for 24 hours, who would it be? HHHmmm Stalking.... um, I don't really have the want to stalk some one but I do look up to people in Rational one of which is Dale Hobill. A mover and shaker, Dale is always working on something new, fresh, and important. Its Dale's personality that I look up to the most, he's a very straight forward and with the right company, a blunt person.
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without? We live in a Gadget time I couldn't live without my BlackBerry and all the apps yes blackberry has apps just like you iPhone owners. I have too many gadgets, whether its the Ooma VOIP phone or the neatdesk scanner or the vtech direc 6 phone that links my cell phone in using bluetooth I love my gadgets.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support? The People! I love the People! Honestly I work work with many many good people.
What are you passionate about? My passion is all around doing the best job I'm capable of in all the random situations I'm thrown in... My second passion is learning and teaching..
What tip or trick would you like to share with the class? Its not a necessarily a tip or trick but its a saying I try and live by: "Wisdom comes from Fools and from Sages"
What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately? New advancements in graphene
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you? Owning and operating my own construction management and general contracting business. I also do allot of buying and selling of equipment and tools through eBay and Craigslist I love fixing and building all sorts of things, from trailers to snowblowers to computers and java coding.
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading? The Welders Handbook
How are you using social networking today? I'm using it to maintain my professional network via LinkedIn and Facebook. After all, it is who you know, not always just what you know. Keeping a great network is a key to success.
If you were stuck on a technology deprived island, what single technology could you not live without? Electricity, its a keystone to many of the technology we depend on now...
How do you define success? Success is relative. It all depends on what you are looking to get from what you are putting into it. Achieving goals, meeting goals, or even defining new goals based on the fruits of your labors.
Rational Support was very busy at Innovate 2011 this week! Lots of great
conversations and sessions - Take a look back at this week's blog posts from Notes from
Rational Support and our friends at IBM Electronic Support for all the
Of course Innovate wasn't JUST for the attendees! If you weren't able to make it out to Orlando this year, you can still reap some fabulous benefits from the conference through our blog posts, but especially through the IBM Rational Livestream feedsfor the conference! Take some time and check out all the great keynote presentations we recorded and hosted just for you! I think you'll find some fabulously useful information there! Notes from Rational Support blog articles: