Taking stock - bifurcation

I've been quiet journal this week as I've been busy attending a conference in downtown Austin for the top 300 Tech professionals from IBM worldwide, and hosting various guests at the conference, and Darren at my home.

Sunday 7th marks two important dates, one is obvious, it's the Longhorn half-iron distance triathlon, it also marks 20-years since I joined IBM.

I came here to Austin in October 2006, after 5-years on assignment to NY(and as someone just pointed out in an email, 2-years on virtual assignment before that!), on the understanding they'd transfer me permanently from IBM UK to IBM US and sponsor me for my green card. There was a flurry of activity earlier in the year and then they came up with a reason related to my pension why they couldn't continue until after my 50th birthday. Well that has come and gone.

My latest assignment ended last Friday, I'm here legally but no longer formally attached to a business unit. From a work perspective I'm still working on a couple of projects, but I've come to major major fork in the road.

Despite being eminently involved with some of the most important technology at IBM, it seems my business unit execs are all too busy to have noticed that either my 20th Anniversary is here, or that they have not made me a transfer offer, so I don't even have a clue what my potential salary will be, let alone other benefits.

I could make a big fuss about this, and Thursday lunchtime I shook the hand of Nick Donoforio, Executive Senior Vice President, ultimately the top of the food chain for some 100,000+ technical employees, Nick and I know each other well from as far back as '92, I never mentioned my situation and I'm not going to mention it to any of my business unit execs.

That means that unless they actually do something, over the next month or so, I'll just fade away as an employee. I'm not going back to the UK, they have nothing for me to do, and I'm not going to work on another assignment, it is just debilitating to not really be able to plan or work on anything to do with your own future. When I talked to Nick, the first thing he said was I should get myself over to China for a couple of years to work on some exciting projects.

At 50, divorced, apart from a small amount of cash in the bank I've managed to save up this year, a modest pension from IBM UK, I own and have no disposable assets. I have no car, the house here in Austin would hopefully sell for a little more than I owe on it. If IBM can't be bothered to at least recognise these two important milestones, I'm really not prepared to do anything more for them. The strange thing is, over the last couple of weeks I've really become OK with this.

There are loads of things I can still do, I have much to offer on the technology front, I can go see where else I might work, and if IBM notices when I finally hand in my notice, they can bid for my services on the open market, which won't come as cheap. Since the expense people that handle assignments wont pay expenses unless you have a formally signed assignment letter, I won't be getting my expenses paid anymore and hence I think it may be time to start an entirely new phase of my life.

First up, its triathlon time, I'm fit, well and looking forward to Longhorn Sunday!
  • Current Location: Austin, Texas
  • Current Music: Live at Space of Sound(Madrid) - Sasha
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WOW! that's a lot to deal with
Twenty years should not go unnoticed for sure and you've been recognized as an industry leader, if I'm not mistaken. Hope you meet/beat your 6 hour time limit on Sunday! I'll be looking for #185 out on the bike course! (I think I'll be at 969/Blake Manor)
Re: WOW! that's a lot to deal with
that stretch up Blake Manor is the worst on the course as far as I'm concerned... it comes after the long straight and very fast section, essentially a 9-mile time trial... to suddenly be going uphill, even gradually for 1.5 miles is tough!

I'll be whopping on the way down so you know its me coming! Look out for Darren too, he should be either first or second at that point, number 13! See you sunday and thanks for helping out at one of my races ;-)
speechless
(Anonymous)
I'm so sorry, Mark ... I can't believe it. -kellypuffs
Re: speechless
Hey, no need to be sorry. I wouldn't have posted for that, actually I'm having a great time, which is part of the reason I won't do any more assignments! It just makes you re-think things!
(Anonymous)
For those tri folk who read... Mark is a bit of a hero within IBM... passion and drive all the way... for the right reason.... and that is an issue in IBM at the moment.... an issue I also suffer. Our Execs seem to have no reason, right or wrong.

They are destroying so much talent at the moment, it is quite scary. I expect Mark to stay but only on his terms.

IBM could be Google+ by tomorrow if they wanted to.... but we are unbalanced.
(Anonymous)
I'm amazed to read your blog entry. Fascinating.

Now, I know we're not in exactly the same situation, but when I had the freedom to do something new with my life, I moved to Singapore. If you're seriously looking for your next move, then consider AP. I'm not sure about China - if you want to learn the language, then by all means give it a whirl. But China would be a considerable challenge, and I can't tell if you're exactly up for that or not. Otherwise, you can have amazing experiences, fantastic holidays, interesting work challenges, great quality of life, here in ASEAN - all 100% user friendly, but sufficiently imperfect to present you with lovely life learning experiences every day.
I'm happy to offer you my spare room if you want to try Singapore for size!
...and then there's Australia - a close family friend does triathlons in Sydney, and he absolutely loves it. Better than Birmingham/Solihull apparently ;)
Thanks for the offer.

I think I'm just tired of travelling and moving around. I've found a home in Austin, having been promised a transfer here I came looking to settle and I've made friends, have a great house etc. I'm tired of not being able to make plans for MY life as a consequence of having to do things for IBM.

Thanks again for the kind offer. Maybe I'll take you up on it, but actually I'd rather stay here.
(Anonymous)
IBM appears to have lost sight of its core principles and its people. I too work for IBM and feel that while it should be the best place in the world for free-thinking techies with a track record for high quality delivery, actually the straight jacket keeps pulling tighter, the barriers to innovation and progression higher, and the compensation (financial and social) keeps reducing. I have only been here 8 years but thinking to move as well. Good luck and all the best whatever. Regards. R. Whyte.