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    Highlights—December 9, 2006

  • Bloomberg News courtesy of the Los Angeles Times: Russia accuses IBM of theft. Excerpts: Russia's Interior Ministry accused executives of IBM Corp. on Thursday of stealing money from the country's $57-billion pension fund.
    IBM local executives conspired with others from the pension fund and two software companies to rig auctions and embezzle some of the 1 billion rubles, or $38 million, allocated to the fund for new computers, the ministry said on its website. It didn't identify the executives or say how much was stolen.
    "A number of pension fund executives responsible for conducting competitions to purchase equipment entered into a criminal agreement" with executives at IBM and software companies ZAO R-Style Co. and ZAO Lanit, the ministry said.
    Russian investigators raided IBM's Moscow offices Wednesday, the company said, as part of a national crackdown on corruption ordered by President Vladimir V. Putin.
    The accusation comes a month after IBM announced plans to expand into 20 more Russian cities.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Health Plan Increase" by "ibmmike2006". Full excerpt: Just received the new IBM retiree enrollment. $193 a month for an HMO and $897 a month for me and my spouse. I checked with my current employer and for Blue Cross and Blue Shield for me would be from $24 to $88 a month. What this tells me is that IBM has decided NOT to contribute to retirees medical insurance or put damn little in the plan to supplement retirees medical plans.
    AHHH, Randy McDonald, how can you sleep at night? I guess you have plastered above your bed....$5,000 a day retirement, $5,000 a day retirement, $5,000 a day retirement. Probably similar to Sam's...$22,000 a day retirement, $22,000 a day retirement, $22,000 a day retirement.
    I guess those signs are better than a sleeping aid and clears their conscience on this latest "take away" from those who can only gripe, complain, and then die.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board post by "dave49_98". Full excerpt: Old MacDonald sleeps well at night, because unlike you he doesn't have to pay for healthcare, now or in retirement.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board post by "dr_bendoveru2": IBM on Barron's Cover - Terrific Article. The New IBM. By Leslie P. Norton. Excerpts: A quiet revolution is under way at International Business Machines, and it's being led by an unlikely revolutionary: Chief Executive Samuel Palmisano, an IBM lifer who few thought would so radically depart from the blueprint drawn by his predecessor, Louis Gerstner, when he took the reins at Big Blue in March 2002.
    In its most recent quarter, software accounted for a fifth of IBM's revenue and, surprisingly, for the bulk of its earnings -- some 40%, up from 29% five years ago. Under Palmisano, IBM is reinventing itself again. It's shed its disk-drive and personal-computer businesses to focus on less volatile operations with fatter margins, and has boosted productivity by slashing costs and spreading facilities around the globe.
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, "ctman1452" comments on the Barron's article. Full excerpt: The market's disdain for IBM shares dismays Palmisano. "We have a top share in servers and Linux, No. 1 in blade servers, which is a huge growth area -- analysts say the worldwide blade market can grow from $2.2 billion in 2005 to more than $11.2 billion by 2010 -- No. 1 in supercomputing, No. 1 in SOA, where the blurring of software and services is evident. We're No. 1 in middleware." And he declares: "IBM is a stronger company today than it was four years ago, with stronger margins, solid cash and earnings." You don't need a computer to know what that trend could do for IBM's shares.
    I'll buy the more stable part since IBM it is so diversified by product and geography.
    However as to growth of revenue I disagree and there is just so much you can reduce costs to maintain margins.
    They still have a way to go in cost reduction with cheap labor arbitrage so that is a definite plus for several more years until that runs out of impact.
    However the best brains in IT go to companies like Google not IBM and IBM has created such a poor work environment that it's only considered a resume builder by most young people. Lou cut the heart out of IBM; his most enduring legacy by far along with shorter term financial shell games.
    IT in general is so globally competitive today with whole countries using it as their national mantra so that even a hugh company like IBM is having problems differentiating itself with more of its segments are becoming commodities.
    And then there is the infamous IBM bureaucracy that seems to always rejuvenate itself no matter what happens to business basics or dictators like Lou.
    Also financial engineering can take you so far too and they have just about run out of legal ideas in that area.
    My bottom line is that they will never set the IT world afire again and have lost forever most of their leadership to others.
    They will muddle along for many years but they are like the glaciers of the North and South...melting away in a sea of global competition they will never dominate again.
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, "dave49_98" comments on the Barron's article. Full excerpt: Services was the savior, now it's not. Software is the savior. If IBM is so well positioned and so great, why is no insider putting his money where their mouths are? When Sam and Mark and some others buy, then we can talk about opportunity.
    As far as software, Indians are saying "who needs IBM?" One Indian firm doing SAP direct said IBM bills no less than 150 and we do it for 90.
    Look, HP has passed IBM by on organic growth while Sam tries to buy growth, and he still can't keep up.
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, Bob Sutton comments on the Barron's article. Full excerpt: If a high tech company can't grow revenue its falling behind not even staying even and that is the story of IBM now for almost a decade...nothing but a chop shop and financial shell game since then.
    If you want a great company you must attract and retain great people. This company treads its people like disposable "on demand" employees. You think the people in MS and Google feel the same about their company?
    Do you think the Indians and Chinese who are getting American jobs now relate to an American company long term the way we did at one time? Just more resume polishing and extracting experience and tech knowledge and they will then form their own Indian and Chinese companies that know exactly where IBM's weaknesses are.
    This company is on a death spiral; in the end I say they will do the ultimate chop shop and sell the pieces either one at a time as their "profits time out" or or as a whole in the future as they hit another crisis.
    Other than execs who got cheap options show me anyone who has made money on this stock recently.
    And lets not forget the profit drain these execs have built into the system with their greed; the first major company to go belly up from the "top down".
    They will be writing books in the future about using IBM as a "Good Bad example" of corporate governance.
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, "jonatha1" comments on the Barron's article. Full excerpt: IBM does not develop software anymore. Santa Teresa is a maintenance shop for mainframe cash cows.
    We acquire it, then maintain and "enhance" it to death. See Lotus, Tivoli, Websphere, Rational, and 10 or 15 other smaller acquisitions in the past 12 months...
    This is a much cheaper development model than the old one - why spend $2 billion on a failed attempt to port OS/2 to the PowerPC (for example), when you can let the market sort out the winners and losers and just buy the winners?
    If you're a topnotch developer coming out of college, you don't apply to IBM. You apply to an innovative startup or small company that hopes in 5-10 years to be bought out by IBM.
  • WashTech News: New Job Offshoring Updates. Excerpts: The latest search to find out the who, what, and where of Corporate America's rush to send jobs overseas has uncovered approximately 69,000 additional American jobs offshored since October 2005. IBM currently leads the pack; it plans to ship over 43,000 American jobs to India and other cheap labor countries by the end of 2007.
    Most numbers are a best estimate; the actual number of jobs lost overseas is probably much higher due to the lack of federal or state laws requiring corporations to disclose the number of jobs they ship overseas or the locations of jobs lost or the countries to which the jobs are shipped.
    The media and the politicians should learn an important lesson from the 2006 elections: working Americans are deeply concerned about losing their jobs to a cheap overseas workforce. The concept of fair trade not free trade finally demonstrated some of its potential power. Most of the Democratic challengers who won recognized the growing anger and fear demonstrated by workers who watch tax-subsidized American corporations ship hundreds of thousands of American jobs overseas to cheap labor countries like India, China and the Philippines.
    Despite the recent election results, however, the way Congress does business will probably change at a glacial pace. When it comes to opposing Corporate America, neither the Congress nor the President has ever demonstrated much courage. A basic rule of politics remains: if a corporation spends a lot of money on lobbying, campaign donations or both it will get what it wants.
    For example, corporate leaders in offshore outsourcing of high tech jobs annually spend huge amounts on lobbying Congress to support their issues. From 1998 through 2005 Boeing spent over $69 million on lobbying, Microsoft spent over $55 million and IBM spent over $48 million. For information about how much money corporations spend on lobbying and campaign donations, as well as information on individual campaign donors, check out: www.opensecrets.org.
  • Dr. Dobb's Portal: Analyst: IBM To Employ 100,000 Workers In India By 2010. By Paul McDougall. Excerpts: The top analyst at IT consulting firm AMR Research says IBM will double its staff in India to about 100,000 workers within four years. "To reach its target of adding 1,000 new employees every month [in India], the company sorts through 60,000 resumes and conducts 10,000 interviews" as part of the effort to hit the 100,000 mark, AMR chief research officer Bruce Richardson wrote Friday on a blog covering his recent trip to IBM facilities in Bangalore. [...]
    IBM employs about 300,000 workers worldwide, with about half of those located in the U.S. India already represents IBM's largest workforce outside the U.S.
  • Washington Post: Delta, Pension Agency Reach Settlement. By Harry R. Weber. Excerpts: Delta Air Lines Inc. and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. have reached a settlement over some key issues related to the carrier's request to terminate its pilots' pension plan. [...]
    The airline has said it needs to eliminate its pilots pension to successfully emerge from Chapter 11, which it hopes to do by the middle of next year. Termination of the pension plan would mean the PBGC would take over the pilot pension and pay the pilots' benefits up to a maximum limit, in many cases less than what they were expecting under the company plan. The agreement disclosed
  • Wall Street Journal: The Retirement Lies We Tell Ourselves. The biggest -- and most risky -- assumptions that people make when planning for the future. By Glenn Ruffenach. Excerpts: We asked financial planners, educators and economists across the country to share with us some of the most risky assumptions -- or outright lies -- that people are crafting as they approach retirement. The thinking usually goes something like this: "I might not be in the best shape when it comes to planning for later life, but that's OK because..."
    • "I'm going to work in retirement." [...]
    • "My home is my safety net." [...]
    • "I can live on 70% or 80% of my pre-retirement income." [...]
    • "My taxes will go down in retirement." [...]
    • "I'm comfortable with debt." [...]
    • "My spouse is taking care of everything." [...]
    • "I'm going to get an inheritance." [...]
    • "I'm going to get a pension -- and it's safe."
    • "I won't need long-term care."
  • Chicago Tribune: An all-service help desk. Companies offer employees a range of concierge conveniences. By Barbara Rose. Excerpts: When Katie Carow arrives at Northwest Community Hospital around 8:30 a.m., the director of planning pulls her car into a turnaround, unloads a bag of toys and clothes from her trunk and drops the unwrapped gifts at a concierge desk before parking her car. The presents, gift wrapped with bows and tags, are ready for pickup at 2 p.m. or 6 p.m. [...]
    Four percent of human resources professionals responding to a recent survey said their companies provide concierge services, according to the Society for Human Resources Management. Twenty-three percent said they make it easier for employees to mail packages and buy stamps by providing postal services. Thirteen percent offer dry cleaning. Two percent offer photo-developing drop-off and pickup. [...]
    At PriceWaterhouseCoopers' office in Philadelphia, a "Great Place to Work Committee" sent an e-mail to employees announcing a concierge service "to help you meet the demands of your everyday lives" from December through April 30. Services range from food and gift shopping to party planning. Another of the firm's offices partnered with the U.S. Postal Service before Thanksgiving to offer on-site passport renewals.
  • New York Times: Outsourcer in Chief. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: According to U.S. News & World Report, President Bush has told aides that he won’t respond in detail to the Iraq Study Group’s report because he doesn’t want to “outsource” the role of commander in chief.
    That’s pretty ironic. You see, outsourcing of the government’s responsibilities — not to panels of supposed wise men, but to private companies with the right connections — has been one of the hallmarks of his administration. And privatization through outsourcing is one reason the administration has failed on so many fronts. [...]
    So what happens now? The failure of privatization under the Bush administration offers a target-rich environment to newly empowered Congressional Democrats — and I say, let the subpoenas fly. Bear in mind that we’re not talking just about wasted money: contracting failures in Iraq helped us lose one war, similar failures in Afghanistan may help us lose another, and FEMA’s failures helped us lose a great American city.
    And maybe, just maybe, the abject failure of this administration’s efforts to outsource essential functions to the private sector will diminish the antigovernment prejudice created by decades of right-wing propaganda.
    That’s important, because the presumption that the private sector can do no wrong and the government can do nothing right prevents us from coming to grips with some of America’s biggest problems — in particular, our wildly dysfunctional health care system. More on that in future columns.
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • New York Times: National Health Care? We’re Halfway There. By Daniel Gross. Excerpts: When Democrats assume control of Congress next month, they may be dusting off some long-dormant proposals on how to deal with the growing disconnect between health insurance and employment. From 2000 to 2005, the proportion of workers aged 18 to 64 with employment-based health benefits fell to 70.6 percent from 74.5 percent, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute. A record 46.6 million Americans lacked health insurance last year; of them, more than 82 percent lived in households headed by someone holding a job. [...]
    While the administration may oppose government-run health care in principle, the government’s role in the vast health industry has been expanding. By various measures, the United States is about halfway toward a system in which the government and taxpayers fully fund health care. And trends are pushing the government to become more involved each year. [...]
    Viewed strictly in terms of dollars and cents, the government already accounts for more than half of the nation’s health care spending. Mining data from the National Health Expenditures Accounts, Mr. Selden found that public expenditures on health care — Medicare, Medicaid, military health care and federal employee benefits — accounted for $888 billion of the $1.96 trillion spent on health care in 2004. Adding in the aforementioned subsidies, and premiums paid for public-sector employees, the total comes to $1.2 trillion, or 61 percent. [...]
    The government spends money as if there were a national health insurance program. In 2004, government spending on health care equaled 9.6 percent of the gross domestic product, compared with 6.9 percent in Canada, which has a single-payer universal health care program, said David Himmelstein, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. And yet some significant components of federal support are not efficient methods of providing health insurance to the people who most need it. Higher-income workers are likely to have higher rates of coverage, higher premiums and higher taxes, all of which means that the tax break for compensation disproportionately helps the well-off. “We’re paying for national health insurance, but we’re not getting it,” Dr. Himmelstein added.
  • Wall Street Journal: Amid Fight for Life, A Victim of Lupus Fights for Insurance. Lost in U.S. Health-Care Maze, Her Coverage Was Ended As Her Illness Worsened. Skipping a $2,000 CT Scan. By Jane Zhang. Excerpts: Bristol, Tenn. -- On her 32nd birthday just over a year ago, Monique "Nikki" White had such severe pain from lupus, a disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue, that she couldn't open her presents. Three weeks later, as skin lesions spread over her body and her stomach swelled, she couldn't sleep.
    "Mama, please help me! Please take me to the E.R.," she howled, according to her mother, Gail Deal. "OK, let's go," Mrs. Deal recalls saying. "No I can't," the daughter replied. "I don't have insurance."
    In the morning, she had a seizure and had to be rushed to the hospital anyway. Doctors found that her kidney had failed, her liver wasn't much better and her intestines were perforated, a symptom of pancreatitis. Those can be life-threatening side effects of lupus or of a drug she was taking. Her rheumatologist prescribed it in June, telling Ms. White to return every four to six weeks and undergo a CT scan so that he could check for signs of infection or organ damage.
    But Ms. White didn't go back. In July, she received a notice that she was being thrown off the Tennessee Medicaid program, known as TennCare, which launched an ambitious expansion in 1994 to cover people like her. Now, it was being scaled back because annual costs more than doubled over 10 years. [...]
    Many Americans have health insurance, and 47 million don't. But lots of people are in a messy middle -- sometimes insured by employers, sometimes by government, sometimes not at all. Ms. White was left without health insurance just as her disease took a turn for the worse. While battling to stay alive and going from doctor to doctor, she had to navigate among government programs, private insurance rules and hospital charity.
    Her case illustrates how arduous the American health-care system can be, even for an educated person in a middle-class family. Unique among developed countries, the U.S. delivers medical care through a patchwork of public and private entities, paid for by another patchwork of public and private insurers. Coverage is tied to the workplace or to intricately crafted government programs. For some, the system can offer more flexibility and better health care than that offered by national health regimes, but others can get lost in the tangles. [...]
    On April 29, her mother found her lying in a pool of blood in her hospital bed, bleeding that Dr. Cuffe says was caused by infections and perforated intestines. On May 1, Ms. White asked her mother where she was going to be buried. About 10 days later, Ms. White had a stroke. Doctors say it wasn't a surprise; lupus patients are prone to blood clots. Ms. White managed to sign a Mother's Day card on Sunday, May 14. But at 3:20 p.m. on May 28, her heart stopped. A few days later, Dr. Morris's office staff read her obituary in a newspaper. "She would have survived longer had we been able to provide care the way I wanted -- do the proper monitoring and adjust the medicine accordingly," he says. "It's a sad situation all around."
  • USA Today: $44,000 a year for health insurance? By Julie Appleby. Excerpts: Hundreds of entertainment industry workers in California and New Jersey who buy health insurance as a group are being hit with a rate increase that will raise some family-plan premiums to more than $44,000 a year. Insurer Cigna will raise rates for members of the group, which includes some in the Screen Actors Guild, an average of 82% in California and 65% in New Jersey next year.
  • Physicians for a National Health Program: Transparency in Health Care Insurance. By Kip Sullivan, Z Magazine. Excerpts: Comedian Jon Lovitz used to do a skit for “Saturday Night Live” in which he played Tommy Flanagan, the pathological liar. Lovitz’s character was always telling tall tales that made him look good. When a tale would become so outrageous even he suspected he was about to be exposed, Flanagan would stop for a moment, then, with a huge grin, he would blurt out a new fib and proclaim, “Yeah, that’s the ticket.”
    The health insurance industry is proving to be a master at the Jon Lovitz routine. For a quarter-century the industry and its apologists in business, politics, and academia told the public managed care would solve the health care crisis. When even diehard defenders of the industry realized in the late 1990s that managed care had flopped, the industry came up with a new excuse to justify its existence and to distract public attention from real health care reform. Of the several names bestowed on the new excuse, the most faddish is transparency in health care. “Yeah, transparency, that’s the ticket.”
    Like “health maintenance organization” and “consumer-driven health plan” (to name two other misnomers coined by the insurance industry and their hangers-on), “transparency in health care” is terribly misleading. The phrase evokes glorious visions of a world in which...
New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comments 12/07/06: IBM's Plan. If an individual's job is not external customer facing, Offshore it. That is the strategy, and their models are built on that strategy.-Anonymous-
    • Comments 12/07/06: May not be a surprise to anyone, but the rumor is that PSD is gone to Ricoh very shortly. -Anonymous- Alliance reply: We have heard also that Ricoh just wants the customer base, not the IBM employees.
  • From the General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 12/01/06: I was hired to work 40 hours per week for about $1000.00, or $25.00 per hour. Now, I'm on average working 60 hours per week for nearly the same 40 hour per week pay. Per hour I am now paid, $16.66 per hour! I earn $8.33 per hour less now! What I earn per hour is what matters to me! Not some oddball IBM title. I recall years ago rumors about IBM cutting pay and they say it never happened... well it really did, didn't it! The IBM pay con is on us! When is enough enough? IBM execs must laugh about the dummies working longer and harder...for less money!!! HaHaHee. Click of their champaign glasses!!! We are nuts to put up with this..Time for contracts? I'd say so! -More4LessZip-
    • Comment 12/01/06: I Work at IBM East Fishkill NY and management is trying cross training in various facility maintenance positions which involves working weekends. Work involves working with chemicals and treating chemical and liquid manufacturing waste. Workers are finding that problems have arisen regarding health and safety as most people have little experience or knowledge regarding working tasks which is a insult to a professional and experienced long term worker. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 12/04/06: I wonder if Sam Palmisano ever reads this message board? He should, he'd learn a few things about the IBM company. What a fool Sam Palmisano is. He must have a hard time looking in the mirror each morning knowing how many employees he has screwed and how many employees hate his guts. Count me in on that employee group. I hope Sam Palmisano rots in HELL! -Joe Alliance-
    • Comment 12/09/06: Why is IBM seeking a engineering job position on Yahoo for a recent college graduate with a BS when there are internal employees that more then meet these qualifications?? One thing that can be said about being represented by a CWA Union would be job protection and first consideration from hiring within! -Anonymous- Alliance reply: Exactly!
    • Comment 12/11/06: The disconnect is the HR bulls*** that gets fed to the masses and the message first line managers/second line managers have to give to the troops. PBC skews are a perfect example. On the employee website it clearly states that skews are not mandated. Skews are mandated and first line managers are held to the fire. A VERY FEW individuals dictate what goes on and what the rules are.-Anonymous-
  • From the Pension Comments page:
    • Comment 12/09/06: Why am I not surprised that Russia is accusing IBM of pension theft! It's already happened and continues to happen in the USA. The IBM cash balance plan is a prime example of how to steal future promised benefits from a pension plan. For IBMers in Europe and Australia who have a pension: BEWARE that pension theft could have happened or could be happening soon as well. For all the relatively new IBM's now in India, China, Brazil, etc. who might have a pension: BEWARE. It's probably happening or will be happening soon there too. Do something about it to protect yourselves. Your retirement benefit future is at stake. -international_pension_watcher-
  • IBM employees on employee raises
    • Comment 12/01/06: Salary = 60k in 2005; Band Level = 7; Job Title = Advisory I/T Specialist; Years Service = 9; Hours/Week = 45; Your Gender = M; Div Name = IGS; Location = East Coast; Message = Let go in 2005 with 9 years of service, got 60% raise outside. What I wish I knew then: if you aren't getting the raises and bonuses your peers are year after year, it is time to look for something else and jump ship! Don't wait for them to dump you to get that great job with less stress and more pay. Go look now, apply, what is the worst that is going to happen? -burned-
    • Comment 12/07/06: To 'Ex-IBMer': I left early this year after I couldn't take it anymore. I was never at home, never saw my kids and was never appreciated by my employer. I would get phone calls while on customer site hassling me to do extra work - as I was 'only going to be in a hotel room on my own that night'. It was unbearable pressure. I was even made to work my notice in full at a customer site 300 miles from home! I couldn't even organize any leaving drinks with my co-workers as I was so far away. The best of it is that IBM UK no longer conducts exit interviews to find out why you are leaving (or at least that's what I was told). Unreal. -Sick as a parrot-
    • Comment 12/07/06: I left IBM 1 year ago and couldn't be happier. IBM - Incredible Bad Management. Since leaving I have received a 15% raise and had time to get reacquainted with my family. Since 1 year has passed, I'm eager to start recruiting some of my former coworkers to join me. -Finally Free-
    • Comment 12/09/06: To Finally Free. I agree with you. I was in the same situation at IBM and left and now feel the same way. I cannot tell you how many other people I know that left IBM have said the same thing. Sam Palmisano just doesn't get it. He doesn't understand people and human behavior. Employees are not things like the computers he makes. He must respect people and respect their human rights. IBM=Incredibly Bad Management. You hit the nail on the head. -Anonymous-

Vault Message Board Posts
Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. Some sample posts follow:
  • "If soooo unhappy - why stay?" by "SouthRoute55". Full excerpt: I have been a consultant with IBM-UK for 2 years now, I came over from ACN. I haven't met anyone who is really happy at IBM, the ex-PWCers(not many left) are soooo bitter and constantly reminiscing about their good old PWC days, last year most were complaining that they haven't received a salary rise for 3 years (I gather last year most got a salary rise.) The deep bluers are even more miserable, and sincerely despise the PWCers cuz they think they get paid twice as much as them.
    One question, if people are so unhappy why do they stay around? I mean surely there are other consultancies to work for, also all consultants have access to clients, most clients would employ consultants just like that (this is especially true in my sector FS- most IB are targeting to recruit consultants. So my question again- why stay at a company you are so unhappy working for? life is just too short !!
    As for me coming from ACN believe it or not I am finding the culture at IBM at least 100 times better than ACN, however the money is 100 times worst - though basic salaries are similar, the extra perks are really bad at IBM, hence my only problem at IBM is the money - the answer is easy!! find an employer who is willing to pay me what I think is my worth !! no need to turn into an old bitter and twisted basta*d!!
    IMO if you are so unhappy so negative at one place then its time for you to move on !! no need to become so miserable and make everyone around you so miserable !!
  • "Why is it bad at IBM?" by "IBM or no?". Full excerpt: I am graduating in May and I have an offer from IBM GBS as an Oracle Consultant in SCM. I've been reading these boards, and it seems like IBM is just an overall terrible place to be. If so, could you maybe give some examples to a senior in college would be able to understand.
  • "A year in the life of a new hire" by "band6er". Full excerpt:
    I started with IBM GBS not too long ago as an undergrad hire like you, so let me give you my perspective on the life of a Band 6. It's probably very different than the older guys on here will give you. It's kind of a long narrative, so bear with me.
    At first when you start out, things seem great. They fly you out to On Boarding, you get an impressive looking corporate card, a brand spanking ne...er, refurbished, laptop in a shiny black IBM BCS laptop bag (which is their way of branding you Fresh Meat). They give you free booze and a nice dose of the kool-aid for 3 days. You get business cards, learn how to book travel and do your expenses. You're big time now, an IBM consultant. No more Ramen Noodles for you.
    Then they send you to boot camp, where they lock you and your fellow college grads in an IBM Learning Center for 2 weeks. They feed you a heavy dose of food, booze, and more kool-aid. You learn "Core Consulting" skills which you won't use in your day-to-day job. However you'll spend your nights hanging out with people your age and make some new friends. This will be the most fun you'll ever have at IBM.
    After you say goodbye to your new friends, which you may or may not ever see again, they might send you to the ERP training of their choice for a few weeks. This is still a pretty good experience, but most of what you learn will go way over your head because you haven't seen how it applies to the real world, and you may also never use this information again. This will probably be the last time you get any training at IBM.
    Now the real world begins...
    You may languish on the bench for a few weeks/months, or they may put you on the first available project that needs some "assistance," regardless of your skill set. This will be the last time you hear from your management in your sector until the annual review process.
    Your first project will probably be in some hick town in the middle of nowhere and thousands of miles from home. Nobody will acknowledge your existence at first since you bring nothing to the table and you're more of a burden on them than anything. Your team lead will be one of the following:
    1. Someone fresh out of India whom you can't understand, doesn't know what he/she is doing, has no leadership skills, and doesn't care about you or your career growth.
    2. Someone who is way too busy with their 20 daily meetings to give you the time of day, or give you some work, let alone any advice.
    3. Someone who is barely older than you and will just dump off the b!+ch work that his/her boss gave him onto you.
    4. Someone who is currently interviewing for other jobs or leaving any day now and doesn't give a crap about the project or you.
    5. Someone who is old enough to be your grandparent and thinks you're some punk kid out to take his/her job, and who is too jaded to care about much of anything.
    They will give you a fancy sounding title like "Documentation Specialist," "Test Analyst," or "Project Management Assistant." Which basically mean you're the guy who does the work no else wants to do. If you're not a technical person, they will make you code and write specs for software you don't understand. If you are a technical person, they will make you file TPS reports, schedule meetings, plan team outings, and create countless documents/spreadsheets that no one will ever read. You will do this for months, maybe years, until you leave the company or the project goes over budget and they decide to "use more Global Resources." If you last 6 months, then maybe the PM might actually learn your name. If you make it to a year, then they might let you look a customer in the face from time to time.
  • "A year in the life of a new hire (Continued)" by "band6er". Full excerpt: In the mean time you rack up hundreds of flights and hotel stays as you're travelling back and forth every week, without absolutely no stability in your life. The travel is fun at first, but it gets very old after about a month. After your 12 hour days, you come to a small, empty hotel room where the only thing left to do is order room service and go to sleep. Of course, they can always call you at any time of the night. Since you're a consultant, you can't have a life outside of work and you're basically on the clock 24x7. Besides, your teammates in India are busy working right now, so why aren't you?
    At the end of every quarter, they have a bunch of All Hands calls for each of the 10 dimensions of the IBM matrix that you're part of. You might actually remember to dial into one or two. There, the bigwigs come out and tell you how great last quarter was, but that we also need to boost the bottom line through higher utilization. They will discuss corporate news and strategies, and how to sell more work. Things that have absolutely nothing to do with your actual job. You begin to wonder why you wasted your lunch hour to call into this garbage.
    Then, the annual review and goals period starts, the alphabet soup. You begin getting "friendly" reminders from management to do this and that. You try to find time in your day to do fill out these pointless forms that you don't feel like doing. Finally, the night before it's due, you struggle for hours after work trying to explain how your filing of 56 TPS Reports and submitting your expenses on time is helping to grow the business. Then you set these lofty goals for the following year, without knowing where you'll be in 2 months, and which you will forget about the moment you hit Submit.
    In a few weeks, your line manager, who you've never met, and the leadership, who never heard of you, will meet to discuss your performance, which they've never seen, and assign you a rating that will determine your bonus and raise. None of this really matters since you're getting a 2 anyway. You might get a slight bonus, enough to buy you a new suitcase since your old one is worn out already. You might even get a slight cost of living increase in a few months, not exactly gonna break the bank though.
    Finally if you're lucky, you get rolled off the project. You think, "Well I passed the first one. My hazing period must be over." Well, there's another project that needs "assistance" and your RDM says it's better to go there than sit on the bench. It's just more of the same in another hick city. You're doing mindless paperwork, or some tedious and mundane tasks, or you're basically a glorified secretary. This cycle continues on and on
    Finally, you think, "Maybe I should try to find a project that I find interesting myself." You look on the online system, and realize that all the good jobs require actual experience (technical, managerial, industry, etc), but all you've been doing this whole time is mindless paper work that you hate and that's all you qualify for at this point.
    By now, you forgot everything they taught you in training and most of what you learned in college. Besides people only look at what you did recently, and that's completely worthless. So now, not only are you stuck on bad projects, you can't even use your IBM experience to find a job elsewhere, unless you're good at making something out of nothing. You start to hate your job just like everyone around you, and you have no motivation to do good work. The place where you work feels like the movie Office Space, except you're the guy in the basement who's looking for his stapler. Since you're a consultant, they'll always give you the worst cube, if you're lucky to even get one. You're completely depressed and you keep wondering if this is all there is to life.
  • "A year in the life of a new hire (Part 3)" by "band6er". Full excerpt: Even if you are given some hint of responsibility on your project, it will be incredibly hard to succeed. Everything you do has to go through 3 levels of management and get special approval before anyone does anything. The people from other teams that you rely on will either be too busy with other work or won't care. All the discussion will be on the process and the responsibilities for doing something rather than getting a solution. Lastly, you will have 5 different managers that need constant status updates, which will take up all of your time and not leave any time to do actual work.
    Rant Over...
  • "A sincere thanks" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: It is a shame that this board doesn't have a "stick" function, as your post should remain in view indefinitely. Not only was it accurate and well-written, but it is quite compelling as well. My compliments - you obviously have a very bright future in this industry!
    There is nothing that I can add to your story, except to say the following:
    1. It is not this way at other companies.
    2. Worklife issues aside, what it means for the typical recruit is that you will walk away from your IBM experience with almost nothing in the way of skills to leverage in your career, and that should be your most important criteria in choosing an employer.
    3. You will develop bad habits and an unfavorable work outlook that will take time to shake off later on.
    4. Salary trajectory is a compound finance function - every dollar that you don't get in raise in your first few years will lead to significant lost earning power in the future.
  • "The Positives" by "band6er". Full excerpt: After that long rant, I figured it would be fair to give you some positives about IBM.
    1. You could end up one of the very few lucky ones. The stars could align and you could get a good manager and/or team lead, and get on a good project where you like what you're doing and people actually care about your career. In order for that to happen you have to be very lucky, very motivated, have a very outgoing personality, and don't mind kissing some a$$. It's rare, but I have seen it happen.
    2. The money is decent. It's better paying than most jobs you could get out of college, and the benefits aren't too bad.
    3. It can be a good name on your resume, especially if you want to do something in IT, and you can make bullsh!+ work seem impressive.
    4. The perks are not THAT bad. Everyone here seems to think they're terrible, but if you've never seen anything better and you're right out of college, it's a good deal. The hotels I've stayed at have usually been average to good. You can usually get direct flights if you live in a hub city, and the travel arrangements aren't bad if you know how to work the system. Per diem is certainly a lot more than what I was used to in college. Best of all are the airline miles and hotel points you earn, in my opinion. You really have to learn how to maximize that.
    5. If you can manage living at your parents' house and not get a place that you'll never be at anyway, you can save a lot of money. You really don't have many expenses with this job otherwise. You can save up to buy a house or put a dent in your student loans.
    On the other hand. If you ever get put on the bench or are on a project where you mostly work from home (It does happen), then it will feel like high school all over again and life will get miserable. Plus, if you keep using the constant travel as an excuse to not move out, pretty soon you'll realize that you're in your mid 20's and still live with your parents. Pretty depressing thought.
  • "In all fairness" by "wonderaboutibm". Full excerpt: Let's face it: the Barron's article was rather glowing about IBM and its immediate prospects. Interesting that the IBM mgmt rather freely admitted helping in the crafting of the article -- if not in the actual writing, in providing most of the input.
    Those who consider us posters here as nattering nabobs of negativism will no doubt seize on this "evidence" of the wrongness of our thinking.
    So, in all fairness, we need to open the board to a frank pro and con discussion of what Barron's was saying. Certainly they tended to submerge doubts about IBM performance, but they did not ignore them, either.
    This is the first press article on IBM I have seen that pins so much hope on the non-services arms of IBM. Guess we wont' be hearing as much from SP about being "services-led."
    And of course I love the business about many quarters' worth of margin improvements in services, and especially I love that there was no discussion of the methods used to increase those accounting margins.
  • "Services-led" by "colokee". Full excerpt: The article was very telling. For several years, IBM publicly harped on its services business. Now software is the focus. Watch history be rewritten!
    Has Sam officially given up on GBS? Does this article mark a turning point?
    On another note, I'm surprised we still have the semiconductor business. I often heard the semiconductor division referred to in the same general terms that we talked about the PC business - right before we sold it.
  • "You got it!" by "wonderaboutibm". Full excerpt: Yes, the article is indeed very telling, not in its IBM boosterism really, but in the change in emphasis. We are indeed no longer apparently "services-led." My bet is that that term will join "on-demand" in the dustbin.
    And scratching below the surface, we didn't see any explanation why our P/E ratio is below our competitors, or that this low P/E ratio might be anything more than "frustrating."
  • "Software now (again)" by "midwestman". Full excerpt: Former PwC/IBM... Looks like to me that IBM is admitting defeat in services... Also like the inference that services needs to sell blue product unlike their competitors. Peroxide Queen got some press ooverage...how does this incompetent witch survive?????? Also noticed comments about margin improvement... Not mentioned: We are proud of our services quality (because they can't be proud). I only have the online version..how many pages of advertisement did big blue buy for the powder puff piece?
  • "Senior Management? (calling ABC)" by "colokee". Full excerpt: How does GBS Senior Management survive? How does GR get so many opportunities to succeed when the rank and file suffer for her missteps? What keeps Sam from cleaning house? ABC --- can you shed light?
  • "The close but no cigar strategy" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: Throughout GBS, we consistently deliver services that are one step down the value chain from what we represent in the sales cycle.
    For instance, when we sell a transformation project that is purportedly driven by functional and operational expertise, we deliver an ERP slam, staffed with offshore clueless tech-heads from the land of enchantment.
    When we sell a technology & application architecture diagnostic project, we deliver a rubber stamp of an IBM BPO recommendation.
    When we sell a process diagnostic, we deliver a roster of consultants that are strong on organizational change methodology, and devoid of any advanced understanding of the function that they are trying to assess.
    When we sell strategy work, we deliver hackneyed, boilerplate transformation recommendations for application and technology improvements, not business strategy.
    Everything is labeled and packaged to be more sophisticated and more value-packed than what we deliver. IBM is first and foremost a marketing company, and that is the mission of marketing - to make the customer believe that they are getting more than the competition can deliver for the same price.
    However, in the case of IBM, we take it a step further. We make the customer believe they are getting more than we can actually deliver, because we have royally screwed up our high-value delivery capability with the exploitative and deceptive HR policies. It is a vicious shell game, and the shell with the pea under it is always the one that we just left behind.
    Now this deception works in the recruiting process the same way that it works in the sales process. Don't be fooled - we do not do strategy work, as that is generally considered to be at the top of the food chain, and as I said, we are always one step lower than what we say we are. Max - 1 has to be less than Max.
    Now if you don't mind working in the poor man's version of strategy, and can put up with being screwed over with compensation, project assignments, and career opportunity, then come on in!
  • "Wow" by "pork". Full excerpt: The fact that we can actually sell strategy work and deliver hackneyed, boilerplate transformation recommendations for application and technology improvements, not business strategy. Says 1 of 2 things; either our sales teams are the best in the business and could probably sell water to a drowning man or (and this is even scarier).
    The SVP and C-level resources that are funding these projects and making the vendor decisions are complete morons who don't even go as far as to check a reference. Take your pick.


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