by Teri Soken
IBM Development Director
Dear Teri –
As I look back on our career over the last 35+ years I’d offer you (and me…grin) the following observations: a) Hard work does pay off b) Variety will offer you a much broader basis for your future career c) It will be hard to balance work and home life, but worth it d) Focus on customers and customer satisfaction will always be key. Let me tell you more of why I say this.
Hard work – there is a saying that in the long run, it pays off. I believe that. It works best if you like the work you do and feel you are making a difference. Hard work should focus on results, not just hours at the office tho. And believe it or not, it won’t all be ‘office’ hours… in your future you’ll be working from remote locations and home… the technology will grow as the workplace definition shifts. Embrace that… you’ll get your first passport at 40, and never look back. Who would have predicted how the travel will change tho. Those days of arriving late and walking on the plane will be long gone you’ll find. Expect to use that time waiting for catching up on email, other reading, etc.
Variety – as you go forward, you’ll be offered many career opportunities… consider them all and take the ones that are good fits for you to build upon your current skills but also stretch you. You’ll get an opp to do hardware installation planning where you’ll learn first to work with IBM as a vendor. You’ll manage a world wide customer support organization where you’ll learn the value of working with customers and building high quality products. You’ll, manage a business line including sales compensation (a while new art for you) as well as build business cases for where to invest to get the right return and where to shift invest to grow new business. You’ll work to set up new business offices but also work to downsize them… seeing the various aspects of making sure the business is profitable. You’ll work with a variety of people and want to make sure you observe all of them to pick something from them that you respect and want to emulate. These will help you be a better rounded executive and bring balance to your decisions and choices.
Balance – speaking of balance, you’ll want to invest in your education but still stay connected to your family and friends. And building on this, you’ll want to select an employer that you respect… both the brand and the people of that company will be important to you. You’ll work long hours and thru many weekends as you build your experiences and support your teams as they work the weekends. You’ll remember you respected that in your bosses and apply it to how you work. Remember tho that at some point you’ll want to start your own family, and some jobs will not work while you are at that point of your life. Be honest with yourself and your manager on what works… do not take on something you are not willing or able to do well. That will be important and lay foundation for your next set of jobs, and help you be satisfied on the choices and opportunities that come your way.
Customers – speaking of satisfaction, you’ll want to build on your work early on at a customer service desk. Taking care of your customers will remain a key element to the business successes and yours as you go forward. You’ll learn that a satisfied customer will generate 5% more revenue for your company then an unhappy one, and that a dissatisfied customer who is lost will take 5 times more effort to win back. If you listen to what the customers are saying and factor it into decisions, you’ll end up with better products and better results.
I hope this quick note helps you… and that you enjoy the ride as much as I did. Not all fun, but some great friends and memories along the way