So, this is my Blog, my thoughts / feelings / ideas. You may comment if you like. If you attack me, I come back at you with reckless / racist / suicidal abandon. If you compliment me, I thank you. If you don't ever visit again I don't care. Other than that, just enjoy what I write, or not.

LIU - Look It Up!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Blissfully unemployed

So, as previously posted, my previous employer eventually made me a mutual separation offer, and I accepted. Monday 10 September was my last working day, and all I had to do was go in to the office to return my laptop, 3G card, and my access card. Done. By 11 am I was out of there.
I was employed by the big American International IT company - IBM for 16.5 years, and was now actually glad to be going.

The previous Friday we had gone for farewell drinks at a local pub with some of them who worked with me. Was a nice afternoon, but didn't go on too late. Monday I did the returns and left. So what was missing? Well, for 16.5 years every time someone was leaving, one of them who worked with him / her, or the department manager, would have a whip around for donations to get them who were leaving a parting gift. Well, didn't happen for me. No matter, it's the thought that counts!

Another thing that everyone who leaves does is send out a final farewell letter, usually 2 lines basically saying "It's my time for change / to go. It's been a pleasure working with most of you. thank you for everything. Maybe we will meet again." And sometimes they give their new / personal email address in case anyone wants to get in touch with them after they have left.

I decided to do it differently. Below is my farewell letter. I sent it to quite a few people, but mostly them who I got on with during my stay with the company.

To those who I missed out of the list above -

I suppose the time for this email will come for all of us at some point.
Mine has arrived.

Dec.1995 I joined IBM as a contractor salesman for ITS. I had to have 2 interviews, the first with the person who would be my manager - Klaus Bohm, and the second with Ann Roberts! I was nervous for the interview with Klaus, I was scared sh*&less for the interview with Ann!!!! My foot into the door was that I had a mechanical engineering background, and a good relationship with, and knowledge of the mining industry and had successfully run my own sales company for 7 years. Needless to say, I never got the chance to "work" the mining groups, apart from a few calls when
they happened to be in my "space"!
I clearly remember the day I was called in after the 2 interviews, to be told my application had been successful, but I would have to cut my hair if I wanted to join IBM!! (I sported a thin pony tail at the time). By June 1996 I was made a permanent IBMer - another exciting milestone. I also
clearly remembering chatting to the other guys, and being shocked to hear that some of them had been with IBM for 15 and more years. Some of them from when they left school / varsity! My comment then was "Don't you know there's another world out there?" Little did I know I would become one of the long timers! Now, 16.5 years later, its time for me to take my leave.

So what has happened in this time:-
On average, 8 new white shirts a year = 128 white shirts - I have always kept to the original IBM dress code, smart, presentable, a good impression on the clients of a professional company (and person). I also worked my way through an average of 3 suits a year, and 4 pairs of smart pants a year!!
For the first 10 years, I only wore white socks (some of you will remember this) - that is 12 pairs a year - 120 pairs of white socks! (The wife was seriously glad when I stopped that!) - and I destroyed 2 - 3 pairs of shoes a year.
I have worn the same cufflinks, every working day, for all these years - "Gold" plated IBM, which I bought for myself, and have worn out 2 IBM gold tie pins in the same time. (REMEMBER TO CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THE ANNUAL CASUAL DAY!)

I signed my first deal in my first week with IBM! - and to think I still didn't have a "log on" name / password at the time. Back office support in those days was the read deal - and there is another story in my relationship with "back office" in those early years, when no-one wanted to be my support person - Adri van Tonder will remember that!
I started out on green screens, and as soon as I learned how to use them, we got laptops (those first one's were seriously heavy), and then cellphones came in (the first ones were large, heavy Nokia's, with pull out antennae, and a battery big enough to start a small motorbike!!!) I still have that cellphone number. All IBMers that have 082570.... were of the original first rollout for cellphones.

I made Hundred Percent club several times - Malta, Morocco, and Lisbon, and the last one was a pin and certificate (They stopped the trips - cost cutting) - I made Top achiever - a week in Avignon, France, with my spouse, for closing a big deal with Vodacom - at that time the biggest ITS deal ever!!!! The stories that I could share about those trips. Needless to day "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"! Mark Harris will recall coming back to the Gala Dinner venue in Morocco, only to find that Yogesh Ranchod and myself had taken over the DJ desk, and were spinning disks, with a bottle of wine in each hand (who needs glasses) at 6 am!!!!
I closed the first and second biggest Cisco deals for IBM SA soon after IBM became a Cisco partner - Clover and Anglo Gold (Denis Charnock still suffers because of this!!)

I have been in ITS, as a salesman, for all of the time I have been with IBM. Maybe I should have moved around, into STG and or SWG. That might have made a difference in my career, but service is the hardest sell, and most challenging, and that is what kept me there. I have seen service offerings come and go, and reincarnations of some under different names! Probably the best "division" in ITS is BCRS - not because that is where I find myself now, but because it's a specialised field, and has it's own offices away from the Park, which is today a serious challenge to get to because of traffic!

I have survived several Country General Managers, including Sal Faso - "The Hatchet Man", probably my favorite CGM would be Mark Harris - as he had a big influence on many of the decisions I made, and because he truly had an "Open Door" policy! Best mentor - probably Pieter Kruger - I learned most of my stuff (IT related) from him, and lots of my "attitude" (as it has been called) is probably due to him. He has become a friend... Thank you Piet!
Best "out of country" executive - I have had the pleasure of working with many very professional people, and people like Dan Cohen, Allen Downs, and most notably, Mike Weston come to mind. Thank you guys for you support. One of the ITS managers used to threaten us with Mike Weston. She would say "if you don't do this, then maybe you should go on the call with Mike!" Until one day I did meet him, and realized that the demon that had been painted of him did not exist !! in fact, the total opposite - he's a very supportive executive, who you can call on late on a Friday, and get a fast track OMDT release done - and he does not mind! Thank you Mike!!!
Favorite international support person - Rosa Hofer - she's a real lady, very professional, and nothing was ever too much for her! Thank you!

I survived cancer - lost a kidney, but managed to save my bladder with 6 operations and chemo - (the alternative would have been a bag taped to my side.....), and have been clean for more than 10 years now. (REMEMBER TO CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THE ANNUAL SHAVE-A-THON!)
I survived a potentially deadly motor car accident in January this year - no thanks to the drugged out driver of the other car! Considering the mileage I have covered during my stay with IBM I have been luckier then most.
I survived multiple sales managers - none of which need to be named - none stand out really, each had their good and bad - no wait, some had only bad......, other than to say that good business AND people managers are a scarce breed in IBM, and my current manager, Chris Lucier, is the first I have had in the 16.5 years that is a good business AND people manager, apart maybe from Pieter Kruger, who, in those days, knew and understood that salespeople are motivated by reward!

Probably more incredible is the fact that my marriage has survived 16.5 years of IBM!!! Married 23 years this year, and still on honeymoon!

I have learned many valuable lessons, made some incredible friends, had some great people as mentors, and done some successful mentoring of my own. I've challenged the system, pushed back, led from the front.... In this company you get to play in all of the roles at some time or other. The main thing is to learn from each one of them, and put the learning to good use.

Finally, I  now want to go into a field where I can add value to humanity. I want to be able to see the results of what I do, feel it, touch it, and know the impact on the lives of those people who will be directly positively affected by my actions. And I can make that happen - either via another company who does just this, or on my own, but the opportunity is out there, now. And, you don't have to be Bill Gates to do it!
So, to all of you who receive this email, thank you for the value you have brought to my life, and my time with IBM. I wish you good luck, and happy selling (or sales supporting).
We might meet again - somewhere, you never know.

And, as my colleague and buddy Nick Smith, my manager Chris Lucier, and my sidekick, Tshepo Masigo would say - "lets go walk and weigh the pig"!!!


So, I got a couple of email responses, mainly from them who didn't know I was leaving. Not many. Probably the nicest one was this one:-

Hi Wreckless,

Can I wish you all the VERY best and EVERY success in any new endeavors that you undertake, I loved your farewell note and the way you personalized it ...good luck and take care, feel free to reach out ANYTIME - but not later Friday night :-)

Best Regards, Mike

  Like I said in my note, he was a good person, and this can be seen in his response to me. Will definitely keep his cellphone number handy!

So, Tuesday I get up with the Princess, go downstairs, and paint the deck with a sealer! Then I get cleaned up, and make my way down to the offices of my next employer. Start date is actually 01 October, but I figure I can use some time to get to know the products better, look at some of the proposals / quotes that have gone out, etc. While I am there, I'm asked to look through a big proposal, the boss really is snowed under, and would appreciate the help. Speed read the document, mark it up for corrections, and then home.
Wednesday. seal the up stairs balcony. Then, back to the office. This time I recheck the document, ans make more change, and corrections. One thing I did learn at IBM is that the quality of the proposal is paramount! I cannot believe the poor quality that this "typist" passes on to her boss for review!!! No matter, I will train her to do things the right way. This is now a 64 pg + document. It becomes a bit messy reviewing, marking up, checking, and all the time I am adding to it, as I complete more annexures as per the requirements.

Thursday, LuckyL and I went to the Electo-mining show. (LIU). My new boss was also there, and we met up. He asked if I could go in to the office later,as he had left some notes on his desk for the typist to complete, and some stuff for me to check!?!?!?!?! Excuse me, I'm not employed yet!!! But I went in anyway, reviewed the work done, made her correct some of it, again, and then took the whole document apart! I cut it up into relevant sections, and saved each as a separate part. That way you can work on one section, complete it, and move on, without having to wade through 90 pages every time!

The boss - let's call him RB, get back to the office by 7pm. I was still there. I showed him what I had done, and told him that I had incorporated a whole lot of stuff from a previous proposal, which went a long way to answering more of the outstanding sections. Impressed! Then I was off home. By 11pm, I had reformatted all of the documents, so that they at least looked the same, had the same fonts, and font sizes.

Friday morning, took a drive through to the office again. Asked RB for a memory stick, and put all the docs on it for him.Done.

Went home, and then worked through the docs again, picking out the relevant pages where he still needed to add information, or where I had put in a comment where he needs to make a decision. Noted the page numbers and section numbers, put them into an email for him, and sent it off. Now he doesn't have to read through the whole document. He knows I have checked and corrected it. I have completed the required annexures, and can just go to the pages needing input, and do it! Another thing I need to teach his typist.

So why have I done all this? Well, I've proved a point here. I am capable. I can take some of the pressure of off RB. I will change the way he has been doing business! I will introduce a level of professionalism to his business! I will make him understand that he needs me! Done!! Also, I now have the basis for all of my future proposals and agreements that I will need for future business. Just, I want to get it into my preferred format, something I didn't have time to do this time round. I think I'm going to have fun!



Divemaster GranDad said...

To cop a favourite IBM saying....you've added VALUE to the company already!! Good on you...

Wreckless Euroafrican said...

Thanx man!

Bruthafromanothamutha said...

Sad to see you go but delighted you will now be stress free and happier

Wreckless Euroafrican said...

BfaM - thank you. Will be updating soon.

Anonymous said...

Good post! This is the kind of information that should be distributed on the online community. I would like to read more of this.

Wreckless Euroafrican said...

Anonymous - thank you. Not sure what you found to be of value, other than my final time at my previous employer was not, shall I say, the happiest.Suffice to say, they can be a good employer, for them who can live with the mountains of red tape.