My Job


I was laid off from a 13 year career at IBM on October 31st.  I wasn’t able to write about it until now, because I needed some time to sort out my feelings.  Mostly, I haven’t had time to write because I’ve been frantically looking for a new job.  Now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I realize that there are some positives in being laid off.  Here is my story:

On the evening of October 30th, I had just returned from an award trip in Europe with some of the most brilliant Web 2.0 minds in IBM.  When I landed in the US, my Blackberry inbox told me several colleagues had been affected by this latest round of “resource actions”.   I went to bed that night unsure of my fate.

The next morning, Friday, I called my manager to inquire on my status.  He told me he had a trip planned to see me on Monday.  I immediately knew there could be only one reason for him to do that, so I requested to be informed on the phone.  Things were a blur from there.  I listened to the standard HR speech as to why I was being resourced.  Documents would be sent overnight to my home.  I had 30 days to find another position in IBM.  My departure date would be December 2nd.

In the month and a few days since then, I have realized that this resource action wasn’t all bad.  In retrospect, I think the universe had been trying to tell me I needed a major change it my professional life.  I hadn’t been the same Laurisa for sometime, yet I wasn’t being aggressive enough to take charge of my own destiny.  Since I didn’t listen to the small hints, something drastic had to happen.

So overall, I am going to say the resource action has been a positive in my life for the following reasons:

  • It was time to move on:  The group where I was at for the last few years had recently started going in a direction that I didn’t feel best suited my strengths.  Work was getting increasingly competitive.  I was being asked to do things I didn’t have the skills or interest to pursue.  All the signs were there for me to move on yet, somehow, I thought it would get better.  I had just begun to look for a new position inside the company and I had a few options I was going to pursue after first of the year.  The resource action made me put my job search in high gear.
  • Amazing out pour of support: My network of contacts inside and outside of IBM have been tremendously supportive of my job search.  I wrote an internal blog post explaining my situation and asking for help.  Within hours, I was contacted by IBMers from every corner of the globe offering assistance, support, and kind words.  People sent me job leads, wrote recommendations for me on LinkedIn, and sent me messages of encouragement.  That type of support made me feel valuable at a time when my professional self-esteem needed a boost.
  • Great social software use case: Not that I wanted to be a guinea pig for this use case, but I feel that this journey has demonstrated the power of social software both inside and outside the firewall.  So many people, (that I never even knew existed!) contacted me to say how sorry they would be if I left because they had been consumers of the content I contributed to our internal blogs, social bookmarking, and social file sharing repositories.  These individuals never had never posted a comment, nor had ever contacted me in any way, yet they were benefiting from my social capital.  Wish I could calculate the ROI on that!Also, through my contributions throughout the years to social repositories and social networking sites, I had built up a strong reputation and personal brand.  People knew exactly what I did, my style, my personality, and the quality of my work.  This made it easier for me to get my name out there and for people to feel comfortable recommending me for a position.

I am happy to report that on my final day of employment, December 2nd, and after a 3rd and final reschedule of my exit interview, I received a job offer to stay within IBM.  It really came down to the last minute!  I am very grateful to the many people who worked to keep me inside the company, and I hope this new position is exactly what the universe had in mind for me.

Note: Originally published June 23 on IBM internal blog

A couple weeks ago, I traveled to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico to deliver a Lotus Connections adoption/user training workshop.  The customer currently has their PoC environment up and running, so the account team asked me to come in to teach their early adopters how to get the most out of Lotus Connections.  The customer selected 7 people to attend from various lines of business.  The plan is for these attendees to sow the seeds of social software adoption within their groups.

Penny eats sushi

I used the “Getting Started with Lotus Connections” presentation as a guide to take them through hints and tips for using each of the 5 services.  During the session, they used their PoC system to populate their profiles, create their own blogs, use an Activity, set up Communities, and import bookmarks from their browsers into Dogear.  Along the way, I shared with them my personal experiences using Lotus Connections and IBM’s history and success stories with Web 2.0.

I told them how well populated Profiles, with both professional and personal information, can help you advertise your expertise, and build connections with others in their organization.  Here are some things I learned about them from the information posted that day.

  • Josue – has children ages 2 and 5 (just like me)
  • Rocio – says people (outside of Mexico) sometimes assume she’s a man because her name ends in an “o”.  Having a profile with a picture will remove this awkwardness
  • Marimar – enjoys Lost and Hugh Grant movies (just like me), and is an Office expert
  • Alex and Wendy – both tagged themselves with “starbucks” (not like me, I never drink coffee)

A couple of the use cases the customer came up with during brainstorming:

  • Wendy currently sends out a high visibility monthly newsletter.  People respond to her with questions and comments via email, which she keeps track of, responds to, and incorporates into future issues.  This is a very static way of exchanging the information and they wanted something more interactive.  I explained to them how this could be accomplished more effectively with a blog.
  • The team in Monterrey frequently has visitors from around the world who need recommendations on where to stay, restaurants, directions to the offices, etc.  Of course, most of this information already exists on the Web and inside the company.  I recommended a Community to collect these links.  They can also use forums to ask questions and get personal responses from the Monterrey based staff.

So, how is social software like sushi?  For lunch, we ordered in from a local sushi restaurant.  One of the rolls had the following description:  Chicken, avocado, cream, jalapeno, breaded and fried.  I joked with the customers, “That sounds more like a taco than sushi.”  They went on to tell me that the sushi in Mexico is very, well… Mexican.  The sushi was served with jalapeno salsa, salsa de chile verde.  The soy sauce came in 2 types:  regular, and with lime juice.  Mexicans eat most everything (tacos, fruit, drinks) with lime and chile, so I shouldn’t be surprised that sushi has been Mexican-ized.

Ok, getting back to social software adoption – the same way that sushi has been transformed, made unique, taken its own form and identity depending on the culture of the people serving and eating it, so too with social software adoption.  I don’t think any two companies, or even people within those companies will use social software in exactly the same way.  Each individual can use it according to their own needs, requirements, and comfort level.  People add their own unique perspectives and talents (flavors) to the business use cases or applications in order to make it more easily adopted by the larger population.

Next steps for this customer is to continue moving forward with Connections, Quickr, and a Notes 8 upgrade.  (And consuming more sushi and Starbucks too!)

I’ve been blogging internally at IBM since early 2007.  Its given me the opportunity to get familiar and comfortable with blogging – sharing my ideas and opinions instantaneously with an audience of thousands all around the world.

So why go external now?

  • I’ve seen other IBMers extend their reach outside the firewall and go on to fame and fortune 🙂
  • I’m about to go to the Web 2.0 conference in Berlin and I want a place I can point new acquaintances to, in much the same way I do with my IBM colleague
  • I really want to share my ideas and experiences with our customers and partners.

I plan to blog on my favorite topics of Lotus Connections, enterprise social software, how to drive adoption in the enterprise, and general adventures as an IBM Tech Sales Specialist and working mother of 2 trying to meet all the constant demands on my time.