Mike Williams

IBM Distinguished Engineer, Hybrid Cloud Architecture

IBM Global Technology Services

BA, Computer Science, State University of New York at Oswego

Mike has been at the forefront of many key transformation initiatives, including a first-of-its-kind virtualization management solution for IBM Systems and hybrid cloud solutions within IBM Services. His innovations have been critical to the design and development of the IBM Services Platform with Watson.

Work hard and play until it hurts.

What makes you excited about your job?

My father introduced me to the idea of “building things,” and software engineering, which allows me to build digitally. The most exciting component to my job involves the brilliant people I’m building things with, especially with people younger than me. Balancing their enthusiasm and willingness to experiment with the experience I’ve gained over 30 years keeps me passionate about my job.

One of our IBM Practices — “restless reinvention” — has always resonated with me. This idea of constant change and iteration — experiment, try, fail, succeed, move forward and don’t be stagnant — has always kept me excited about not just my job, but about being an IBMer.

The idea of constant change and iteration — experiment, fail, succeed and move forward — has always kept me excited.

What does being an IBM Fellow mean to you?

Being an IBM Fellow is an incredible technical achievement but being a Fellow is a culmination of a career’s worth of projects, partnerships and — most important — people. I’ve had the honor of working for, alongside of, and leading some of the most incredible IBMers. They have challenged me and changed me; they have pushed me to think differently and more critically, to not just be smarter, but be better.

I am an IBMer to my core. My father was an IBMer. I believe in the values and the mission of this company. I believe that what we are doing is changing the world and will continue to. Being a Fellow is about helping to guide the company with technical leadership to ensure we leave both a legacy of projects and assets that benefit the world, and a generation of technologists who can foster and create the spirit of innovation the world requires.

What is your life motto?

“Work hard and play until it hurts.” It’s a spin-off of the advice my father gave me; “work smart, not hard.” Working hard (and smart) is important, but you also need to find time to get away, clear your mind and “play.” Sometimes when you’re “playing” you actually learn more about yourself — and your work — than you realize.

For instance, I have two older sons and a younger daughter. My middle child and I are very “left brain” and mechanical. Thinking through problems with him is like thinking to myself. My older son is the total opposite. He writes and reads in ways I never could. When I experience life through his perspective, it helps me reframe some of the problems I’m grappling with. And my daughter — while she’s only eight — reminds me every day of the power of seeing things through new, fresh eyes.

If you were hosting a dinner party, who would you invite — and what would you cook?

I do know that I would host it in my home and invite people who are the masters of their craft, who view the world in ways that I would have never considered. It’s exactly this mindset that drew me to my wife. She’s an incredibly talented musician and while she and I don’t always understand the intricate details of what the other does, we both appreciate the passion, expertise and leadership we each have.

As far as menu? You can’t go wrong with something from the grill!