IBM Announces 11 New IBM Fellows

Video: 50th Anniversary of the IBM Fellow Program

IBM is a great place to work because there are so many smart people.  And the best of the bunch are called IBM Fellows

The IBM Fellows program was founded in 1962 by Thomas J. Watson, Jr., as a way to promote creativity among the company’s “most exceptional” technical professionals. The following year, the first appointments were made and the tradition has since carried on every year. The Fellow honor acknowledges an IBM Researcher’s important contributions and industry-leading innovations in developing some of the world’s most important technologies.

Recently, IBM announced a record number of eleven scientists to the 2014 class of IBM Fellows.  The 2014 IBM Fellows have influenced a broad array of technologies in the following areas: Brain-inspired cognitive computing, security platforms, computational science, cloud computing, business database and analytics, and high performance, enterprise storage technologies. IBM Fellows have a history of pushing the boundaries of science and technology to deliver improved solutions for constantly changing, global business needs.

The 2014 IBM Fellows represent a microcosm of IBM’s diverse global research and technical community. Their backgrounds vary—from a village in southern India to the holy city of Jerusalem to a small town in central Kentucky.   However, from different starting points, today these 11 leaders in their respective fields have reached the same destination…they are now IBM Fellows.

Congrats to the new IBM Fellows!

Bring Your Own Device: A 2013 HorizonWatching Trend Report

The past year has been characterized by the consumerization of IT for most businesses, and the rising popularity of smartphones and tablets entering the workplace continues to intensify.  The BYOD trend refers to the enterprise policy of allowing employees to use their personally owned devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets) to access enterprise information and applications.  In 2013, companies will need to have policies and solutions in place to ensure cost-effective, productive and efficient bring your own device (BYOD) workplaces.

2013 Trends in BYOD

  1. Number of Devices: Many workers today are carrying three devices: Laptop, Tablet and Smartphone.
  2. Diversity of Devices: Different manufacturers and different operating systems.
  3. Increased IT Responsibilities: IT departments ramp up to handle Mobile Device Management and Security requirements
  4. Best Practices / Case Studies: As BYOD programs increase, demand will increase for industry-wide best practice and case study documentation.
  5. Geographic Differences: BYOD programs need to be customized by geographic region.
  6. Moble Device Policies: Enterprises develop guidelines/standards for employees to follow
  7. Mobile Workforce Training: Leading edge organizations develop and provide mobile device and mobile app trainings as part of their BYOD program
  8. What’s the ROI of BYOD?: With the increased Mobile Device Management requirements, look for CFOs to evaluate whether BYOD really saves any real money

BYOD Trend Report

Head on over to Slideshare where you can download my report

Enterprise Mobile Computing: IBM Websites, Social Sites, White Papers and Reports

mobility It’s hard to talk to an enterprise customer these days without getting into a discussion about Mobile Computing. Every day more and more mobile devices are being shipped to enterprise workers, who are increasingly using these devices (instead of laptops and desktops) in order to perform their daily business activities.

Mobile is a key part of the new computing platform going forward.  IT leaders need to be out in front of this disruptive shift and understand how it impacts the way work is done at their company.  Some key mobile technology sub-trends to watch in 2013 include Voice Search, Voice Assistants, Location Based Services, Gaming, Event-Based Marketing, and Augmented Reality.  And within the next few years we will see innovations in Mobile Video and 3D Mobile Internet.   For a view into potential applications five years for now, see the recently announced IBM 5 in 5 predictions.

All this has implications for IT skills and business processes throughout the organization.   CIOs and IT leaders will want to understand how mobile fits into their organization’s unified communications strategy as well as the enterprise-wide collaboration and social business strategy.  The increasing use of Smartphones and tablet computers as personal and business tools has brought organizations and their employees new levels of productivity, flexibility and mobility. However, their use is a double-edged sword, bringing with it new levels of complexity to IT management and security.

To help you learn more about the enterprise mobile computing trend, the following is a list of IBM websites related to Mobile computing trend.  Included are links to IBM websites, social sites, and white papers/reports. 

IBM Websites 

  • IBM Portal: 
    • Why Mobile Enterprise – Overview of the importance of the mobile enterprise trend
    • Why IBM – tabs for “Build & Connect”, “Manage and Secure”, “Extend and Transform” and “Events” that provide information about IBM’s focus on the mobile enterprise trend as well as resources and events to learn more.
    • See it in action – Case Studies of companies that have implemented mobile enterprise solutions
    • Offerings –  Offerings categorized under “Build & Connect”, “Manage and Secure”, “Extend and Transform” and “Mobile Services” provides information on IBM offerings in the mobile enterprise market
    • Developer Resources –  Information for mobile app developers
  • IBM Services: 
  • IBM Software
  • IBM Research:  Research Mobile Computing describes IBM Research and it’s focus on mobile computing
  • IBM Press Kit:  IBM and the Mobile Web  provides background information and press articles

IBM Accounts on Social Platforms

IBM White Papers

Consumerization of IT / BYOD: IBM Websites, White Papers and Reports

byod Business Professionals are in fact consumers.  And consumers today have more choice, more flexibily, and more options in the devices that they use to access the Internet every day, including smartphones, tablets, and personal laptops.   Consumers are using these devices to access the new applications and social networks that they use to connect with each other for both personal and business reasons.  As that technology spills over into their professional lives, the line between the personal and the professional is blurring.

It’s no surprise that Business Professionals want to use the same technology at work as they use at home.    However, while consumer technology offers some great potential benefits for the business, it also represents added risk in terms of security, privacy, and compliance.  So IT leaders need to strike a balance between the desires of users and the requirements of the enterprise.

IBM has a bunch of content available to for you to learn more about this trend.  Below you will find links to the most current IBM reports, websites, and social accounts related to the social business trend.  The reports and sites listed below are all hotlinked.  If you see something that is missing, let me know and I will revise this post.

BYOD-Related Websites by IBM

BYOD-Related Social Media Sites

BYOD-Related IBM White Papers and Reports

BYOD-Related IBM Presentations

Yankee Research: 2013 Mobile Predictions

Yankee I attended the Yankee Research annual 2013 Mobile Predictions webinar yesterday.   Four analysts presented a total of ten predictions during the webinar.  The overall message was that the mobile ecosystem, which includes devices, applications, networks, mobile transactions, etc., will continues to grow in 2013.  There is an ever-increasing global consumer and business demand for mobile capabilities and the providers in the mobile ecosystem are all trying to meet that demand.  The market is by no means mature so there is lots of disruption as providers try to deliver products and services that are valued in the marketplace. 

The following four mobile industry experts from Yankee Research provided their thoughts on the top ten predictions for 2013

1.  Operators will lose US$1 Billion per month in voice/messaging revenue in 2013.   Yankee says that changes in mobile offerings, customer behavior and the mobile industry in general will result in a significant drop in voice / messaging revenue.  However, Yankee says that fortunately the loss will be offset by a boost in data and that going forward, winners will be those providers that launch their own apps that focus on data streams.

2. By year end, all mobile operators will be either “digital lifestyle solution providers” or a “digital value bit ‘mover’ providers”.  Both strategies are valid but ruled by different dynamics and Yankee believes that providers must pick one or the other strategy.  For Digital Lifestyle, the market will start segmenting as providers offer mobile solutions for different types of people who have different needs.   Winners will be big global players and startups that develop creative approaches to generating incremental revenue.  Losers will be those providers that don’t realize that they need to act now to carve out new business units.  Also, operators that kill margins with high marketing and device subsidy costs will be on the loosing end.

3.Small cells will stumble.   2014 will be a better year than 2013 for small cell providers.  Tariffs influencing end-users to avoid mobile broadband for video will strip much of the economic rationale for extensive small cell deployment in the near term, calling into question expectations for rapid market uptake.   Suppliers need to expand their focus on standards.  Operators should continue to experiment with small cells.   Winners will be large scale firms that can handle both macro and micro offerings like Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawai and Nokia Siemens Networks.  Losers will be smaller firms like Pure Wave and ip.access

4.  At least one operator will launch turbo-boosting service in 2013.  Data and analytics will drive new offerings.  As more operators look to real time analytics tied to network data to speed the creation, delivery and monetization of unique product and service bundles, they will begin to learn from customer expectations and be able to track monitor and respond to any change.  As a result they will embark on new services, such as turbo-boosting, enabled by insight drawn from the advanced analytics.   Winners will be vendor who can enable real-time data analytics like Nokia Siemens Networks, Openet, Medio Systems, Amdocs, AT&T, Verizon and Orange.   Losers will be firms like Teradata, Oracle and SAP who don’t have real-time analytics capability

5.  By year end Google will start subsidizing Mobile Payments Credit/Debit Transaction Fees.    Expect some shifts in the mobile payments industry in 2013 as Google enters the mix with it’s strong advertising capabilities.  In 2013, Google needs to find ways to entice merchants to accept its mobile wallet solution.  Paying merchant transaction fees (from it’s advertising revenue stream) could prove to be very persuasive.   If this does happen, it will disrupt the current payment ecosystem.  Winners will be Google.   Losers will be current providers PayPal, LevelUp, Square and Isis who can not scale up.

6.  A cloud based mobile payment system will see a significant data breach in 2013.   Criminals are waiting in the wings waiting for the right opportunity to exploit mobile.  So far attacks have been muted only due to the lack of scale.  Yankee sees a perfect storm in 2013 caused by ubiquitous Smartphone usage, 24×7 connected devices and consumer naiveté.  Yankee predicts at least one of the major mobile payment schemes will fall prey to a successful hack.  Yankee says the victim will most likely be a cloud player since it presents criminals with them most lucrative risk/reward ratio.   Winners will be the criminals (at least in the short term).  Losers will be the consumers, merchants, and the payments industry overall.  Consumer education will be key to overcome this threat.

7.  More than 50% of Companies look to the cloud for their mobile app developments.  Cloud continues to be an important trend.  Yankee says that demand side pressures and supply-side innovations are accelerating enterprise deployments of mobile applications in the cloud.  Next year, Yankee expects the majority of enterprises will be deploying their applications using software as a service (SaaS) as opposed to on-premise software.  Winners will be companies with mobile strategies in place, cloud app providers, and mobile cloud platform providers and developers.   Losers will be enterprises and vendors without a cloud strategy.

8.  Microsoft Windows store will abandon 70-30 split and registration fees in 2013.  In 2013, competition between the app storefronts will turn red hot and Yankee expects Microsoft will be a big player.  Yankee says Microsoft will entice developers to its store by breaking with the standard app store-to-developer business terms.   Winner will be MS, Losers could be Google and independent app stores. 

9.  2013 will mark the first year that Android Smartphone market share will decline in the U.S.   Stronger competition from Apple, MS, and even RIM will result in pressure on the Android market including devices and developers.  Yankee says growth in the Android marketplace will slow and even decline in 2013.  Winners will be Apple & MS.  Losers will be those in the Android ecosystem.

10.  In 2013 M2M Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO)s will feel the squeeze as operators get serious about machine to machine (M2M) market.  As Tier 1 operators ratchet up their attention on M2M networks to help drive new revenue, specialist MVNOs will feel the heat as they evolve from friend into foe.  Expect some smaller MVNOs to be acquired.   Winners will be the larger scale firms like AT&T, Verizon, Deutsche Telkom, Sprint, Orange, Vodafone, China Mobile and Telefonica.  Losers will be the smaller upstarts like Aeris Communications, CrossBridge Solutions, M2M DataSmart, Numerex, Wyless and Kore Telematics

A more detailed report is  be available from Yankee Research.  Registration for the report is at http://web.yankeegroup.com/report2013predictionsregistration.html.  I’d also recommend checking out the Yankee Research blog at http://blogs.yankeegroup.com/ for mobile ecosystem insights and news.

HorizonWatching 2012 Trend Report: Mobile Computing

I’ve prepared another HorizonWatching Trend report…this one is on Mobile Computing.  I have posted a deck to Slideshare (see embedded deck at end of this post).

The slides provide an overview on the Mobile Computing trend.  In the deck you will find summary information about the Mobile Computing trend along with many links to additional resources.

The Mobile Computing gold rush is in full swing. The “train has left the station”. It's hard to talk to an enterprise customer these days without getting into a discussion about Mobile.

In 2012, the shipment of smartphones and tablets is expected to exceed that of traditional personal computers, including laptops. Enterprise CIOs want to use these personal mobile devices to give better access to their internal data and processes for executives and employees, as well as enabling better purchasing and support services for their customers.

Complicating the CIO’s life are a number of factors:

  • employees who wish to use their own devices and applications at work,
  • executives and board of directors who want to use their own devices and applications at work
  • the wide variety of devices used,
  • legacy applications written for a standard desktop screen,
  • application level and device management,
  • cost controls, and
  • maintaining security across the infrastructure.

Some key technology subtrends to watch in 2012 include Voice search and voice assistants, Location Based Services, Gaming, Event-Based Marketing, and Augmented Reality.  On the horizon are applications like Mobile Video and 3D Mobile Internet.   All this has implications for business processes throughout the organization.   CIOs and IT leaders will want to understand how mobile fits into their organization’s unified communications strategy.

The slides provide an overview of the Mobile Computing trend.  Summary information about the Mobile Computing trend is provided along with many links to additional resources.   The slides are meant to be read/studied and the links are there for you to continue your learning.  You may want to view the slides in slideshow mode so you can easily follow the links.

Check out my other HorizonWatching Trend Reports…hope you enjoy them.

IDC Health Insights: 2012 Health Industry Predictions

Earlier this week, I attended the annual IDC Health Insights Predictions 2012:  Health conference call.  

This was a global predictions call that covered the entire Health Industry, including health payer, provider and life science sectors.  The team identify major global trends that will impact the has scheduled other prediction calls going into more detail on topics specific to payer, provider and life sciences.  There are also other calls coming up that focus on health industry related predictions in both Europe and Asia.   

Leading this conference call was the IDC Health Insights Group Vice President, Scott Lundstrom.  Also on the call were 8 other members of the IDC Health Insights analyst team

Summary

IDC says significant changes are transforming components of the Health Industry value chain driven by a focus on patient safety, cost containment, quality improvement, and regulatory compliance.  Key topics of importance to business leaders will be EMR and EHR for providers, connected health, healthcare industry reform, and the life sciences value chain. 

Overall, IDC list 5 major technology themes

  1. Reform
  2. Analytics and Big Data
  3. Cloud
  4. Mobile
  5. Social

IDC is hot on themes 2-5 throughout all of its predictions calls.  

The IDC Health Insights Ten Predictions for 2012

The 2012 predictions list below was sourced from the conference call slides.

  1. EHR. “The Majority of U.S. Providers Will Use an EHR by the End of 2012”.
  2. ACOs. “Successful Accountable Care Organizations Will Emerge from Private or Public-Private Initiatives” 
  3. Re-Branding for Care. “Health Plans Rebrand: Care is the New Core”
  4. Integrated Strategies. “Integration of Payment, Clinical Performance and Outcomes”
  5. Analytics for Pharma. “Pharma adds "Actionable" to Analytics in 2012”
  6. Analytics for ACOs. “The Next Mountain for ACOs to Climb Will be the Development of an Enterprise Analytic Framework Including Clinical Analytics”
  7. Outsourcing.  “Outsourcing Best Practices Shift From Vendor to Partner”
  8. Mobile. “Bring Your Own Mobile Device Gains Popularity, But Security Risks Abound”
  9. Communication Strategy. “Second-Generation Communication Strategies Emerge”
  10. Social. “The Next Generation of Consumer Engagement will Leverage Consumers’ Social Graphs”

For More Information

IBM: 2011 Technology Trends Survey Results and Report

image Last month, IBM released it’s 2011 IBM Tech Trends Report, which is one of the top reports I suggest you read about tech trends going into 2012.  It’s a great report because it’s developed from a survey of more than 4000 IT professionals from 93 countries and 25 different industries. 

Summary: 

The IT professionals surveyed identify adoption drivers and inhibitors around important emerging trends such as Analytics, Cloud Computing, Mobile, and Social Business. 

Key findings in the 2011 IBM Tech Trends Report include:

  • Analytics:  Analytics was named as the most in demand area for software development in the future.
  • Open Source:  87% of respondents believe open source and open standard technologies will play a key role in the future of application development.
  • Cloud Computing:  During the next 2 years more than 75%  of organizations will engage in cloud computing.
  • Mobile and Cloud.  Fifty-one percent of respondents cited the adoption of cloud technologies as part of their mobile strategy.
  • Social Business.  Regional cultural differences impact social business adoption. India is highest with a 57% adoption rate, while US is at 45% and China’s at 44%. Russia shows the strongest resistance with a 19% adoption rate.

Top 8 Programming Skill Areas Identified

  1. Application Development
  2. Mobile
  3. Cloud Computing
  4. Database Management
  5. Business Analytics
  6. Security
  7. Software/systems engineering
  8. Business Process Management

For More Information: 

Report:  Get the report and share your thoughts at: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/techtrendsreport

Twitter:  Join the Twitter conversation: #TechTrends

Videos:

Press Release:  IT Professionals Predict Watson Technology To Transform Education Industry

Nucleus Research: Top 10 Technology Predictions for 2012

Back in October, Nucleus Research (Boston) announced its Top 10 Technology Predictions for 2012.  Now that I am well into my trends research for 2012, I thought I’d blog about the Nucleus list.

Nucleus believes there will be an overall increase in IT spending in 2012 as companies start allocating more budget towards technology in order to meet business goals.   However, Nucleus cautions that the European banking crisis and the US budget debate remain as key issues in the overall global economy.

As far as technology trends and themes,  the cloud, mobility, and big data are a few of the trends driving Nucleus's 2012 predictions.  The ten predictions (and my summary) is below:

  1. Productive Enterprise:  The most successful firms in 2012 will be those that integrate technologies like mobile and social software in order to maximize the productivity of employees
  2. The Cloud Changes Development:  Nucleus says that the cloud will make development even more virtual as CIOs will not care where the developer is as long as good code is delivered on time.
  3. SAP Reemerges:  Nucleus expects SAP to leverage recent innovations like mobile device access and cloud delivery in order to create more customer value
  4. Big Beats Best-of-Breed:   Tech buyers are expected to increasingly look to big tech vendors for their solutions as usability, integration and TCO become more valued criteria in buying decisions.
  5. More Ways for All to Manage Big Data:  Businesses will increasingly turn to advanced analytics to draw insights out of the growing mounds of data.
  6. Capital Moves from Labor to Technology:  Given a choice, firms will spend more on technology in 2012 than on labor, hopefully improving the productivity of the existing workforce rather than adding to it.
  7. The Decade of Smarter Software:  Nucleus expects to see more intelligent applications that anticipate, search for, analyze, and push dashboard information to worker’s desktop.
  8. Labor Finally Gets Optimized:  According to Nucleus, businesses will use tools to help them figure out which employees are the most productive, show up on time, create the least scrap, and book the most sales.
  9. Healthcare Investments Increase:  Nucleus says that in 2012 Healthcare organizations will invest in data capture devices and services and electronic records management applications, spurred on by Government incentives.
  10. Renewed Focus on the Customer Experience:  Nucleus expects strong investment in CRM and related applications in 2012, as companies seek to retain their most profitable customers and attract new ones

Predictions 1, 6, and 8 all seem inter-related and could probably have been combined.   Regarding number 9, while I’d love to see a surge in healthcare investments, I believe EHR will continue to have a slow adoption cycle.

For more information, check out the Nucleus Top 10 Predictions for 2012 research paper.

Culture Plays A Big Part In Social Business Adoption

A couple colleagues recently reached out to me on the topic of how best to implement social business within a mature company.  Some employees seem to flock to the latest collaboration and social technologies on their own.  Most employees seem unsure why they should be using these technologies and how to go about getting started.   Finally, some employees want to avoid social and collaboration technologies at all costs.

The fact is that emerging technologies do get a lot of hype and sometimes leaders decide to implement these new hyped technologies without the proper understanding of the change that will be required in business processes and what the impact that will have on employees.

The bottom line for me with any new emerging technology…whether it is is analytics, cloud computing, or social business is that successful implementations of new technologies must have three strategy elements integrated and in place 1) Technology Strategy (the new emerging applications and tools)  2) People Strategy (changes to skills, organization, and culture) 3)  Business Process Strategy (changes to tasks, activities, etc.). 

Too often I see a focus on the technology strategy too much without a focus on the other two.  It's like a three legged stool….if one or two legs are bad the stool falls down.   The business leader must focus on having the proper people and processes in place and that often depends on the culture that business leader develops and promotes within the organization.  Leaders who give the green light to implementing new technologies without understanding the impact on people and processes, will only see those technology initiatives fail.

So my message and advice is that culture does play a big part in implementing change within a mature corporation.  In my mind, culture change is the responsibility of our business leaders and therefore leaders should not implement new emerging technologies unless they understand the impact on people and processes.

Regarding the topic of implementing social business and the cultural implications of doing so, I’ve developed a list of links for those of you who would like to read up more on this topic.  Enjoy.

For more information on the Social Business trend itself, check out my other Social Business related blog posts

Learning about the Social Business trend: Three IBM White Papers

I’ve written before about the social business trend and it’s impact on businesses (see The Social Business Train Is Leaving The Station Are You On It? and A Social Business Strategy Can Make A Company More Responsive and Agile). 

I believe that the social business trend will have a profound impact on the architecture and design of future businesses.  Business processes will change and that will lead to required changes in application software.  Those businesses that make the successful transition will be more agile, more responsive, and more successful than others.

This post provides links to three white papers found on IBM’s Social Business website.  IBM has been on the forefront of the social collaboration and social media marketplace, learning how to leverage these technologies internally.  These white papers provide a great overview of social business, the potential value of the trend, and the challenges all businesses must overcome to become a true social business.

The Social Business: advent of a new age

ibm soc biz - The Social Business (February 2011) This 10 page white paper written by the Lotus team at IBM Software Group defines what a social business is and what it takes to become one.  It puts forth the view that businesses are entering an inflection point where social computing and social media are about to be fully integrated into enterprise application design.  The table of contents are: 

  • Introduction
  • What does it mean to be a Social Business?
  • What is the value of Social Business?
    • Deepen customer Relationships
    • Drive operational efficiencies
    • Optimize the workforce
  • Preparing for the future
  • The right partner for a changing world
  • For more information

Becoming a Social Business: the IBM story

ibm soc biz - Becoming a social business January 2011)  This IBM-sponsored 14 page white paper was written by IDC’s Erin Traudt and Richard Vancil.  In this paper, IDC provides three case studies that describe IBM's internal evolution to a social business.  The paper then uses the learnings from these case studies in order to provide guidance to other large organizations considering making the transformation to a social business.  

  • IDC Opinion
  • Methodology
  • In This White Paper
  • Situation Overview
  • Case Studies
    • IBM DeveloperWorks
    • From Individual Contributor to Community Manager
    • BlueIQ
  • Future Outlook
  • Challenges / Opportunities
  • Conclusion

 

Jamming on social business

ibm soc biz - Jamming on social business (April 2011) Exploring new approaches for the next era of business.  This IBM white paper provides a review of the key findings from a 72-hour online brainstorming session held in February 2011 between over 2,700 participants from over 80 countries.  This report summarizes the key insights gathered from the all the conversations, comments, and tweets. 

The table of the contents of this report reads as follows:

  • The Social Business Jam
  • What is a Jam?
  • Jam insights
    • Building the social business of the future
    • Building participatory organizations through social adoption
    • Using social media to understand and engage with customers
    • What social means for IT
    • Identifying risks and establishing governance
  • Our jamming experience
  • Next Steps

If you are tasked with learning about the social business trend, these three white papers are an excellent resource for you.  More information and case studies can be found at the IBM Social Business website.  For those of you who want to follow the discussion on Twitter, search on the hashtag #socbiz.

IBM’s Celebration of Service: My Service To My Community

Last week, IBM turned 100 years old.  I blogged about my thoughts about the big birthday in my post:  Happy Birthday IBM!! My thoughts as IBM turns 100   In that post I talked about IBM’s three beliefs.  One of those beliefs is all about providing excellent service to customers and others.

As part of our Centennial celebrations, our CEO, Sam Palmisano, asked all IBMers to pledge to volunteer at least 8 hours of community service and then post out on our social platforms about our experience doing community service.  IBMers around the world have been tweeting (search on #IBM100 or IBM and #COS) and blogging about what they did for their service time.  This post will describe what I have done to help my community as part of this celebration of service.

Ever since my daughters entered our local school system I have enjoyed helping out in the schools.  As a father, I have always been in a sea of moms. I have seen very few dads volunteer at schools.  I think all those dads out there are really missing something. 

When my daughters were young, I conducted an “Art Awareness” class for each of my daughter’s Kindergarten – 2nd grade classes.  This was a monthly class that was about 10-15 minutes art education and then 30 minutes of a related art project.  It helped the teachers out a little by giving them a break.  For me, I got tremendous satisfaction out of seeing the artist in the children come to life and even more satisfaction when the students would send me cards at the end of the year thanking me for teaching the Art Awareness sessions.

Daily Herald - Ventrella 19Feb2011The last four years I have been involved in running a career day event at Plum Grove Junior High School (my community’s local junior high school) titled W.O.W Day.  W.O.W. is short for “Widening Our World” and is designed to be a career day event that provides information about careers and practical knowledge to the 800 students attending the school.   The last two years, I have been the PTA Chairperson for this event, coordinating over 30 parent volunteers, 35 career speakers, and working with the school’s staff to ensure a well-run event.  I have probably put in 300 hours easily over the last four years planning for and holding this event.

The event, usually held in mid February, starts off with an assembly for the students.  We find an assembly speaker that can deliver a strong and inspirational message to the students that they can accomplish anything that they put their mind to.  This year I secured Michael Ventrella as a speaker.  Michael won the NBC Biggest Loser Season 9 Title in 2010.  Michael delivered four key messages:

  • Believe in yourself. You can achieve anything.
  • Set goals. Picture how you will feel when you achieve them.
  • Break goals into smaller pieces. Focus on the first small piece.
  • Surround yourself with family / friends that believe you can achieve your goal and can support you

After the assembly, the students are scheduled into 4 consecutive 40 minute career presentations/workshops that they have chosen from a list of 35.  During October – January I seek out and find 35 different career speakers from the parents and communities.  Then I work with those speakers to help them develop their presentations which should help the students understand what the career is all about and what type of experiences and education is required to enter that career.  I’ve learned that students like sessions that are 1) interactive, 2) have things they could touch or experience, and 3) were delivered by a speaker who was upbeat and passionate about the topic.

Here is an example subset of the 35 career sessions we had at this past February’s event

  • Comic Book Artist
  • FBI Agent
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Optometrist
  • Registered Dietitian
  • U.S. Army
  • Astronomy Science
  • Veterinarian
  • Engineering
  • Retail Fashion
  • Guitarist
  • Astronomy Science

Putting on an event like this took a bunch of nights and weekends of planning.   However, I get so much satisfaction knowing I have had a small part in helping our students understand what types of careers await them.  Junior high school is a very critical time in their lives.  The career day provides them with information on some of the many potential careers awaiting them after their school years.   I think the biggest benefit of the career day is that it helps our children understand that even at just 13 and 14 years old, they need to start taking responsibility for their future careers.

So that’s my story of how I volunteer my time back to the community.  Providing service back to the community is part of the fabric at IBM.  It’s part of our DNA.