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.