Today, I am delighted to bring you the first in a regular series of interviews with some of the very interesting people in Rational Client Support. This week, we'd like you to meet Jason O'Donnell, a seasoned blogger and social networker, and one of the regular contributors to this blog. Jason has some unique insights on IBM, being “acquired”, and knowledge sharing. Learn more about him in the interview below, and don't forget to visit his profile on My developerWorks!
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support?
name is Jason O'Donnell and I am a Knowledge Manager for IBM Rational
Client Support. Of course that neither tells you who I am nor what I
do, so I trust the rest of these answers will help you get to know me
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational?
I've only been part of IBM Rational since April 2008 when Telelogic was acquired. In that short time, though, I have learned more and challenged myself further than than I ever expected from roughly 18 months of service!
Have you had any other roles in Rational?
yet, but I expect my career with IBM and Rational will present me
with many new opportunities! Prior to coming into Rational, I was
working in Telelogic as a TSE supporting the Synergy and Change
products and moving towards a knowledge engineer type role creating
and editing our FAQ/Technote content. When Telelogic was acquired, I
was brought into Rational Client Support early on as a Knowledge
Manager to assist with the integration of the support websites and
What are you currently working on?
I am currently focusing on Web2.0 and Social Media initiatives (such as Twitter and Facebook), as well as contributing to the Notes from Rational Support blog on developerWorks. I'm also a co-cordinator for our internal Knowledge Champion Consortium which focuses on KM related projects, tooling enablement, and knowledge sharing.
Describe a normal day for you.
Like many people in IBM and Rational Support in particular, there are no real 'normal' days for me; each day comes with its own unique challenges and curve-balls. Generally speaking, however, my days start at 5:30am with a pot of coffee so I can at least be conscious by the time my 6am meetings start. Some social media multi-tasking and email purging goes on in the mornings as well. After a slew of meetings, I'll take lunch at my desk and do some of the solid work in my afternoons when the East Coasters have all left for the day.... then bed time around 10pm to be fresh for the cycle to begin again the next morning.
What project are you the most proud of?
role in the Telelogic acquisition and integration efforts would have
to stand out as the single project I am most proud of. It was very
difficult at times, and I saw my share of failures, but I also saw
far more successes. My integration work not only taught me a lot
about project management, but it also taught me about self confidence
and how much I really could accomplish.
If you could "follow" anyone for 24 hours, who would it be?
Alton Brown. But only if it is during filming for one of his "Eating on Asphalt" episodes. Following Alton would provide me time to enjoy riding my motorcycle, eating great food, and picking apart the brain of the man I consider to be the Thomas Dolby of food!
Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use?
but only if the gadget serves more than a single purpose. I dislike
uni-taskers. And yes, I stole that from Alton Brown. Mainly all my
gadgets are on my motorcycle and specific to safety on long trips. Of
course, like any good geek, I am easily distracted by anything bright
and shiny on the market, luckily my wallet keeps me in check, most of
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without?
My iPhone. It keeps me connected to all my friends and family! Used more for the email and social media aspects than the actual phone portion, it has found a spot very close to my heart and passions.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support?
part of the acquisition rollout meetings, we were told how many great
opportunities there are in Rational, and IBM as a whole. I'll admit
to being skeptical at first... but I have since changed my tune; my
favourite part of working in Rational Client Support is my ability to
drive my own career success and focus my efforts where I can best
engage and assist our clients, both internally and externally.
What inspires you in your work?
problem solving is the most inspiring thing I find; I love the
challenge of an interesting problem, the research and development of
a solution, and then the rush of a successful implementation.
What are you passionate about?
My passions run the gamut depending on the day... right now, I am passionate about improving Rational Client Support's ability to reach or clients and help them solve issues through innovative use of social media. Tomorrow, I will likely be passionate about food, wine, and whiskies... if the weather is above 40 Fahrenheit, I'll probably be passionate about road trips on my motorcycle too.
What tip or trick would you like to share with the class?
You want tips and tricks? That's easy: follow us on Twitter and Facebook, you'll see all our tips and tricks feed through there! ThAs for my 'personal' tips&tricks, I really only have one: transparency and clear communication is the key to success in any endeavor, be it in your career or personal relationships.
How do you define success?
success for me is living a life of contentment without regrets.
Professional success is being able to find that perfect work/life
balance where neither hobby nor work encroach on the other, and yet
still allow the time to enjoy both.
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you?
Recently, my 'spare' time has been taken up with my wife as we renovate our 1947 Dutch Colonial Revival home, though I do also tend to take long road trips on my motorcycle (typically weekends of over 1k miles, some closer to 2k). Both my wife and I enjoy the culinary arts, cooking at home or dining out, along with wine tasting in the burgeoning Willamette Valley of Oregon. I also help run a small but global group devoted to whiskies tastings and appreciation.
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading?
I am halfway through "Roadshow" by Neil Peart; just before
that was "Ghost Rider" by the same author. Both books are
very interesting to me as they allow that direct insight from a
celebrity's point of view, as well as providing some very well
written travelogue surrounding his travels on his motorcycle across
the US, Mexico, and Canada.
Is there any technology that you think should get more respect and adoption but does not?
I have to come clean right out as an Apple enthusiast. I love my Macs and wish they'd get more respect. I'd be overjoyed to see a world where I don't have to be an apologist, but can just be a fan.
What is your favorite technology that fizzled or failed to live up to the hype?
Apple Newton. WAY ahead of its time. We, as a society, needed the
baby steps before we could really appreciate the Newton for what it
How do you prefer to find answers to your questions?
really depends on the question... With all the tools available to us,
I tend to tailor the tool to the question. So, if my question is
related to my motorcycle, I'll go to my favourite forum specific to
my model. If, however, my question is ore general and something I
haven't researched before, I'll typically start with Google. For
work, however, my preferred method is simple, and something I have
been evangelizing professionally for the past year and a half:
knowledge reuse! I set up RSS feeds and inbox archives as well as
search our internal tools to discover if my question has been
How are you using social networking today?
I started out using social networking to stay in touch with friends and family after moving 1k miles away from them all. Recently, however, I have also become more involved in using social media as a way to encourage conversation and help our clients get the information they need when it is most useful.
How could you see yourself using it in 5 years?
foresee using it in similar ways as today: both passive and active
connection with friends and family who live far away, as well as
using it in business as a way to consume information and still engage
in dialog with clients and companies. Really, it all boils down to
communication, and that will always be how I use these tools.
Are you a blogger in the blogosphere? ... Are you a YouTuber? ...Are you an Author? .... Do you Tweet? ...
do host a personal blog of my own with sporadic entries typically
about life in general, as well as being a major contributor to my
whiskies tasting group blog. I am also on Twitter both personally and
personally, and I contribute to @RationalSupport
under the ^JO tag). I have aspirations of being a proper author, but
I found out during the 2008 NaNoWriMo
(National Novel Writing Month, 50k works in 30 days) that I am
decidedly -not- a fiction writer, even though I successfully
completed the challenge. So for now, I will stick with random
blogging and mild tech writing to scratch that itch.
What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
For the most part, I watch my Facebook and twitter feeds, but still keep an eye on Slashdot, webBikeWorld, and any other odd sites here and there that pop up in my tweet stream.
What publications / websites do you read / visit?
recently begun following Mashable.com
to keep my thumb on the
social media pulse in the non-corporate streams. I've also started
to keep up with the more corporate centric side of social media too.
(Both have twitter feeds of course, so I didn't mention them