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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—June 26, 2010

  • TechEye: IBM accused of fraud Law. Aspen Project was a sham, Devon says. By Mike Magee. Excerpts: A case started in a Pennsylvania district court in which IBM and several of its employees are accused of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act. The case was brought by Devon IT and its European subsidiary and alleges that IBM's hardware division, known as the System Technology Group (STG) defrauded the company of $12 million it had invested in blade technology. Individuals named along with IBM in the case are Thomas Bradidich, Bernard Meyerson, James Gargan and Rodney Adkins. ...

    Devon alleges: "The RICO defendants used a substantial portion of Devon's investment money to inflate the earnings of other projects with other business partners, or for some purpose other than the projects involving Devon. While leading Devon down this road of deceit and as part of their scheme, the RICO defendants improperly included the funding provided by Devon on the financial reports of STG, thereby exaggerating its performance."

    IBM is alleged to have entered into development agreements with investment partners "with no real intention of completing the development of the projects...To keep the scheme alive, the RICO defendants must continue bringing in new development partners so that money invested by the new partners can pay their obligations to prior development partners".

    The so-called Ponzi scheme and the individuals named in it were in 2008 and until February 2009 under the direction of former IBM senior VP Robert Moffatt. "Moffatt was recently indicted and plead guilty to securities crimes in connection with his position as an officer at IBM, and as the head of the STG division," the filing alleges.

    "Over a five year period through numerous meetings, telephone calls, emails and letters, the RICO defendants promoted this enterprise to benefit themselves and IBM through illegally obtained funding and related investments that were procured by deception, artifice and fraud. By fraudulently enticing Devon to enter into the one sided contracts... the RICO defendants could guarantee that they would meet their division's aggressive profit requirements and then use those very agreements to mask and shield their liability for this racketeering enterprise," the filing continues. Devon wants damages from IBM and the other defendants.

  • WRAL-TV (Raleigh): IBM Triangle execs named in $100M racketeering suit. Excerpts: A Pennsylvania-based information technology partner of IBM (NYSE: IBM) is suing the technology giant for some $100 million, alleging a Ponzi scheme and racketeering. In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Pennsylvania on June 16, Devon IT accused IBM and several senior executives by name of misusing $12 million that Devon invested in two IBM projects. ...

    The suit cites four IBM executives by name. Two of them are based in the Triangle, IBM confirmed. The four are:

    • Thomas Bradicich, vice president of Systems Technology at IBM, who lives in Apex.
    • James Gargan, vice president of Demand Programs, is listed as a Research Triangle Park-based IBM employee.
    • Bernard Meyerson, vice president of Innovation, who lives in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
    • Rodney Adkins, IBM’s recently named head of the Systems and Technology Group, who lives in Greenwich, Conn. Adkins replaced Robert Moffatt, who left IBM after being implicated in an insider trading scandal.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of Forbes: Indiana faces $1.2M food stamp sanctions from feds. By Ken Kusmer. Excerpts: The federal government has levied a $1.2 million penalty against Indiana's human services agency for miscalculating food stamp benefits at a rate more than one-and-a-half times the national average last year, state officials learned Thursday. Indiana is one of four states facing financial penalties for poor food stamp performance during the federal fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30, according to letters sent to Gov. Mitch Daniels and others. ...

    FSSA anticipated the penalty, disclosing in its lawsuit against fired welfare intake contractor IBM Corp. last month that it expected it to be as high as $2 million. FSSA spokesman Marcus Barlow blamed the mistakes on Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM and said the state would attempt to recover the penalty in its lawsuit.

    "This is just one more piece of evidence that they were failing," Barlow said. IBM spokesman Clint Roswell said that's up to a judge and jury to decide. "The FSSA's excuse concerning the reported deficiencies of the food stamp program is - as in other of the state's claims - not based on the facts, as IBM will establish in court," Roswell said.

    FSSA and IBM sued each other in state court last month over Daniels' decision last October to fire IBM from its 10-year, $1.37 billion contract to privatize eligibility intake for food stamps, Medicaid and other welfare benefits received currently by about 1.2 million Indiana residents. Democratic House Speaker Patrick Bauer, who also received a letter, has persistently criticized Daniels, his administration and the decision to privatize welfare. "They've shown a callous disregard for people who through no fault of their own cannot provide food for their families," Bauer told the AP.

    IBM and its partners introduced call centers, document imaging and other technology to the welfare application process but clients, their advocates and lawmakers complaining of improperly denied benefits, lost documents, dropped calls and other problems.

  • Wall Street Journal: IBM Sues to Block Oracle Management Hire. By John Letzing. Excerpt: International Business Machines Corp. has sued to block the hiring of one of its former managers by rival Oracle Corp., underlining the growing competition between the technology giants. IBM sued 31-year veteran manager Joanne Olsen earlier this month in New York, alleging that her plan to join Oracle would violate a noncompetition agreement. IBM alleges in the suit that Ms. Olsen was a part of an "elite" group of managers at Big Blue. "Ms. Olsen knows specific areas that IBM is targeting for growth and specific companies that IBM is considering acquiring in those areas," IBM says in a complaint filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Westchester County.
  • IBM Pension and Retirement Issues: New Loophole? By "bits_bytes_and_bugs". Full excerpt: The rumor mill has been very active. I'm hearing the following: The change will be announced this week unless there is a snag of some kind. IBM has found a new loophole in pension law that another company has recently, successfully exploited. Employees on the Prior Pension Plan will be materially hurt. Employees affected will have until year end to decide - if they leave/retire before year end, they get the full current pension, if they stay, they will be subject to a reduced pension. Lower levels of management are very concerned about losing experienced and skilled resources en masse, particularly since any backfill must come from unskilled GRs. Does anyone know what the loophole is?
  • IBM Pension and Retirement Issues: "Re: New Loophole?" by "hokeyiu". Full excerpt: No...unless it is the exploitation of the Normal Retirement Age (65) in the US. As you may know, IBM announced a similar program in the UK. IBM is exploiting the Normal Retirement Age and issueing cash balance starting amounts that assume retirement at 65 and discounted back at a 'reasonable rate' which is interpreted as average corporate bond yields...as opposed to the 30 year US bond yield they had to use 5 years ago. This higher discount rate is lowering the starting balances and increases the risk of employees even making it to their vested pension they have now...at age 65! Plenty of folks on this board are very well versed on this issue. Remember...IBM is doing this because they can!
  • IBM Pension and Retirement Issues: "Re: New Loophole?" by "Tom". Full excerpt: This rumour seem's like a no-brainer to me - if you view it from a corporation who's only interest is in maximizing profit by reducing expenses - regardless of whether it destroys an employee or destroys a country. For absolutely no cost the corporation can:
    • force out the highest paid workers (experience is of no concern)
    • pay no severance pay to any worker
    • incur no unemployment benefit ramifications
    • incur no layoffs counts reported to any government
    • drastically reduced salaries (I'm sure they plan to rehire any essential employees at half salary)
    • no medical costs - the retirees will now be on the retirement medical plans even if they return to IBM.
    • no 401K match or catch-up for the retired employees

    So basically they will remove all older workers at no cost and, forget forever about any workers they do not need; hire back the any workers they do need at half price with no benefit costs; have the capability to remove any rehired workers without a moments notice, with no severance pay, and with no layoff implications.

    It's analogous to you deciding to reduce your family budget - killing your kids is an advantage in every single cost analysis (diapers, food, clothing, insurance, college, ..) but has the drawback that you lose you kids - a part of you. IBM does not consider workers as family - or anything of value. Therefore, killing off the kids in the company is a no-brainer.

    I could be wrong - but this sounds like the best plan ever as a way to reduce expenses - as it costs them absolutely nothing.

    The only hope is in organizing and not agreeing to a rehire back on at the company's terms instead of your terms. The best path would be to hire in as a contractor or full time employee at a competitor.

  • Editor's note: IBM has a long history of "screwing" its employees of earned pension benefits, with actions taken in 1991, 1995, the infamous 1999 cash balance conversion, and later on the elimination of even the cash balance plan for new employees, and the freezing of contributions to employees still in the original pension plan. Many North American IBM employees are unaware that IBM has also been "screwing" its employees elsewhere in the world, where labor laws are weak, including Australia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Whenever and wherever it's legal, IBM has reneged on decades-long promised made to its employees in order to drive up profits, and enrich its executives. The following article from January, 2010, is a transcript of comments made by members of the British parliament in reaction to IBM's action to end its "final salary scheme" (equivalent to IBM U.S.'s "traditional pension plan, but more generous). The article is particularly interesting in light of the rumors that IBM will eliminate its traditional pension plan for all remaining active IBM employees that are still eligible for it, and for the biting sarcasm that our British cousins are so good at!

    They Work For You.com: IBM Pension Scheme. Westminster Hall debates, 13 January 2010, 4:43 pm . Excerpts: Sandra Gidley (Romsey, Liberal Democrat) I am delighted to have the opportunity to raise this matter today. Given the number of hon. Members in the room for a short debate, it is a pity that we could not have had a longer one. I have received representations from the hon. Members for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner), for Croydon, Central (Mr. Pelling) and my hon. Friend Lorely Burt, who have expressed support for what I am about to say. Many other hon. Members and I have received large numbers of representations as a result of IBM's proposed changes to one of its pension schemes. The proposals have particularly impacted on workers in their 50s, who had carefully planned their retirement. Many of those employees feel aggrieved on two levels. First, they feel let down by IBM, which made certain promises about pensions a few years ago and is using the changes to force workers to retire earlier than planned. Secondly, they feel aggrieved that the Government's pension law does not provide them with sufficient protections.

    It might be helpful to the Minister if I provide a little background. In 2003-04, many IBMers with a final salary scheme agreed to increase their pensions contributions by 50 per cent. There was much unhappiness about having to do that because the company had taken a pensions holiday for several years and also took funds from the final salary plan to fund the new defined contributions plan. In 2006, further changes were made to the defined benefit plan and there was a clear attempt to move workers to an enhanced defined contributions plan. Workers who did not transfer were effectively punished because they were told that only 67 per cent. of future salary increases would count towards the pension. That makes something of a mockery of the fact that it was supposed to be a final salary plan.

    Although there was some unhappiness, the company ultimately managed to sell the scheme by promising that funding would be available until 2014 and that there would be no further changes until that date. Let us fast forward three years to 2009, when, seemingly out of the blue, IBM announced further changes. Employees were understandably unhappy that IBM proposed to close the final salary scheme, although there has been an acknowledgement from some that that is the way many company pension schemes are going.

    There was also concern about the timing of the consultation, which was over the summer holiday period when many people were taking a break, and there was a feeling that the consultation period should have been extended. In the annual report from the pensions trustee, the trustee stated

    "The trustee feels that the Company has not lived up to the Trustee's expectations"

    in asking to change the plan and the scheme so soon after the changes made in July 2006. That is quite a telling and unusual statement. Unfortunately, to add insult to injury, IBM made some hard-hitting changes to the early retirement terms and conditions and that has had a significant impact on workers who had planned to retire over the next few years. The scheme was that any employee retiring early would have 3 per cent. deducted from the pension for each year they are under the age of 60. That effectively compensates for the fact that a person will be receiving a pension for a longer period of time. For example, someone retiring at 54 with an estimated pension of £20,000 would have it reduced by 18 per cent. to £16,400. ...

    Much of the correspondence received has been rather emotive, for example:

    "In short, IBM is a very wealthy and very successful company, even in the midst of the credit crunch. It's not a question of IBM not being able to afford to fund its pension scheme, it's a matter of IBM, choosing instead to give the 'saved' money to its shareholders."
    ...

    Stephen Pound (Ealing North, Labour) On the subject of chief executives, Sam Palmisano, the chief executive of IBM in America has just seen his pension increase by $20 million to $40 million. Does the hon. Lady not find that difficult to justify? ...

    Jim Cunningham (Coventry South, Labour) There is something more fundamental to the matter-I declare an interest, as I know someone who works for IBM-because many such pension schemes, when we look at their origins, are subject to wage negotiations, and it is the over-50s in particular who will be hard hurt by that. For example, sometimes pensions were negotiated to offset a wage increase and additional holidays. The concern is far more fundamental, and if there was ever a group of people entitled to get their full pension without changes, it is that group of workers. ...

    Sandra Gidley (Romsey, Liberal Democrat) Yes, I do. In some respects, the fact that IBM has so many employees who have stayed with it loyally is testimony to the sort of employer it had been. Those employees have now reached their 50s and do not feel that they have been treated well after the time, investment and professionalism they have devoted to the company. ...

    The scheme is really rather clever, and there are concerns that other companies might look at how IBM has managed to handle a large number of job losses and that the manipulation of the early retirement discount factors might become a commonplace mechanism for avoiding redundancy payouts. If the Government are serious about workers' rights, I urge the Minister to investigate that aspect of the problem and take steps to ensure that manipulation of pension scheme terms is not used by companies as a way of avoiding redundancy payouts. ...

    Christopher Huhne (Eastleigh, Liberal Democrat) What is clear from what is happening is how the company is using the pension scheme to encourage people to leave early. In effect, it is loading the costs of what would normally be picked up in a voluntary redundancy scheme on to the pension fund. Does the Minister agree that that shows that the legislative framework is not adequate to protect people in pension schemes from such behaviour, and what does she intend to do about it? ...

    David Cairns (Inverclyde, Labour) My hon. Friend says that she is not in a position to speculate on IBM's reasons and she is right about that. However, when some of us met IBM we were told that this change was made because of the comparatively poor performance of IBM UK and Ireland. Yet in his final missive to workers issued yesterday, Brendan Riley said that it had been a privilege to lead one of the best performing parts of IBM UK. So there is a clear inconsistency in the message that IBM is sending out: either it is a poor performer or it is a good performer. I am afraid to say that the reality is that hon. Members are right. Whether the Government can do anything about this, I do not know. This is redundancy on the cheap: that is what IBM is up to.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Interesting..." by "celticht32". Full excerpt: Just found this out... and have confirmation from another sources inside as well.. "ISSW is unable to fulfill about one third of their contracts since they don't have enough people (too many RAed). Bench is pretty much zero and most consultants have already reached their target utilization for the year! ISSW has also had a very hard time finding good contractors (remember ISSW folks are supposed to be la creme de la creme so contractors should upheld this very high standard!). Great job IBM and ISSW management in particular. Keep up the good work!"

    I find this amusing.. I was RA'ed.. then brought back as a contractor...now the division I worked for (ISSW) doesn't have enough people to fulfill most their contracts. I found out that GBS is even worse than ISSW...talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face and short sightedness.

  • The Economic Times (India): IBM to set up 75 centres of excellence in 60 cities. Excerpts: Technology giant IBM today said it will set up 75 new Centres of Excellence (CoE) at engineering colleges across 60 cities in India, which will train students on various softwares. The locations for the 75 new CoEs will be selected from among the top 300 engineering colleges in the country and will span 20 states, IBM said in a statement. Last year, IBM had set up over 75 such CoEs across Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, among others, it added.
  • SmartMoney: 10 Things 401(k) Providers Won't Tell You.
  • eWeek: The 50/50 Rule for H-1B Visas Could Lead to More U.S. IT Jobs. By Don Sears. Excerpt: A recent CIO.com article on how one Indian outsourcing company is watching pending visa legislation shines a light on the challenges faced when economies go sour, politicians become more protectionist and growing businesses expand their foothold in the United States, yet have a large foreign-worker presence here. A rule known as the 50/50 rule in a piece of 2009 Senate legislation (as well as a clause in the House in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform ASAP Act of 2009) seeks to balance out the numbers of foreign workers and U.S. workers in companies that employ more than 50 U.S.-based employees. If a company is using H-1B or L-1 visa workers or both, the legislation would limit the number of those workers to no more than 50 percent of the company's U.S.-based workforce.
  • Boston Globe: Deflating credentials to land a job. Some see gain, others risk in underselling. By Katie Johnston Chase. Excerpts: After hearing from several potential employers that he was overqualified, high-tech salesman Joe Collins of Medfield worked with a recruiter to come up with two resumes. One emphasized revenue gains and the number of people he oversaw as a manager; the other omitted those details, concentrating instead on his hands-on sales experience. Collins, 55, figured that someone looking to fill a routine sales job might review his more high-powered management experience and assume: “He’s only going to hang around until he finds something else.’’ As the tight job market forces the unemployed to apply for lower-level positions, more job seekers are “dumbing down’’ credentials, wiping graduate degrees and high-level experience off their resumes, recruiters say. Applicants say the idea is to get hiring managers to at least look at their resumes, instead of figuring someone with extra qualifications will demand a bigger salary or leave for a higher-level opportunity once the economy turns around. ...

    Former Web analyst Nicholas Carroll, who was laid off from his consulting job for IBM in 2008, is such a believer in dumbing down resumes that he dedicated a section of his 2009 e-book, “The Layoff Survival Plan,’’ to it. In the section titled “How to Downgrade Your Resume for a Tight Job Market,’’ Carroll recommends taking titles down one peg, from director to manager, from manager to specialist. Carroll removed his bachelor’s degree in technology management after he lost a job as a website developer during the dot.com collapse of the late ’90s in order not to appear overqualified for blue-collar work, and he didn’t stop there. During an interview for a management position at Econo Lube ‘N Tune, “I deliberately hesitated a quarter second before every answer,’’ he said, and at one point decided to fake a “faint look of panic.’’ The morning after the interview, he said, he was offered the job. “Somebody finds out you know that much more than they do, they get nervous,’’ Carroll said. ...

    People are so focused on getting back into the workforce that they are setting aside not just complete work histories, but their egos, to go after the kind of position they may have had years before. Unemployed Denver science educator Nancy Hansen removed her master’s degree in ecology and her two Fulbright scholarships from her resume to send a message to a potential employer: “I don’t want you to think that because I have a great resume I’m above doing the work that is here.’’ Hansen is still not getting many callbacks from the museums and schools she has been applying to, but at least she’s not hearing the dreaded “overqualified’’ word anymore. If she is asked about her education or work experience in an interview, she said, she will tell the truth.

  • 9-News (Denver): Man loses unemployment benefits after dipping into 401k. Excerpts: LONGMONT - After 32 years at IBM, in August of 2009, Bob Jackson was laid off and looking for a job. "I never dreamed I'd have to have unemployment some day," he said. Jackson has been looking everywhere, including retail and home improvement stores, for more than a year. He hasn't gotten anywhere.

    In November, Jackson filed for unemployment and received two checks. As part of the rules for receiving benefits, every two weeks, Jackson had to call into what is called a CUBLine (The Colorado Unemployment Benefits Line.) The automated line goes through a series of questions unemployment benefit recipients answer. During one of the calls, Jackson was asked if he'd taken out a distribution from his 401k. He said he did, $10,000 to pay for his son's college.

    "We had a commitment with the college my son goes to be able to pay the family portion and when I got laid off that had been a major concern for us," he said.

    Jackson said after being laid off and before applying for unemployment, he took more than $230,000 of his 401k he's earned over the years at IBM and reinvested it. Most of the money was put into an indexed annuity, which he can't touch for ten years. About $51,000 went into a liquid IRA. Jackson said he put it there so he could pay for his son's school. After signing up for unemployment benefits, Jackson took out $10,000 to pay for college tuition. He said other than paying taxes, he was not penalized for taking the money out of his fund because it was for higher education.

    But when he admitted to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment he'd taken the money out, his unemployment benefits were cut off. Jackson later learned it's against the law in Colorado to take any money out of your 401k for one whole year if you're receiving unemployment benefits. The language is on the front page of an application Jackson signed in order to start receiving his benefits.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM IT Specialist: (Past Employee - 2008) “Nice sounding place to work, but no fun.” Pros: Sounds impressive when you tell people you work there. Cons: Everything else. Specially how they expect employees to invest a minimum of 10% of additional unpaid additional time just so that they can bill their clients extra and have the employee absorb 'admin' time. Advice to Senior Management: It would be nice to treat your employees as if they had Union representation.
    • IBM Anonymous in Bangalore (India): (Current Employee) “IBM Bangalore Software Engineer.” Pros: Flexibility to work, work from home, reduced working time options available. Documentation of work is considered very important and so there is a lot of scope to learn the environment or about the project for the new joiners. Cons: Salary or pay package is very much less when compared to peers at any other IT companies, the joining salary may be higher than other companies like Wipro, Infosys but the hikes are very small and sometimes zero percent and very ambiguous that we sometimes see ourselves paid lesser than the person who enters the team with lesser experience and qualification/skills. Communication to HR is only through Managers, so Managers' decision is final. Not much onsite opportunities and performance recognition is very rare. Advice to Senior Management: Communication to HR should be transparent, policies should be made more flexible. Salaries should be kept into consideration and employee satisfaction to work should be given primary importance
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “IBM. It's Better Manually. Yes, indeed.” Pros: Allows to learn about the inner workings of a giant corporation. The technical side is of definite interest. Due to it's size, its employee base is akin to a society in itself, with all types of psychological profiles to be assess, probed, appreciated, or less appreciated sometimes.

      Cons:

      • Company is kneeling besides its former glorious shadow. A company that sustains itself by playing with its portfolio, merging with successful enterprises, is definitely not in line with the innovative spirit that one usually associates with such a glamorous brand name.
      • Does not understand the basic principle of an innovative and efficient company: the employees are the best assets.
      • Uses its former reputation to easily acquire (or should one say "trap") any type of HR, in order to under-utilize their skill-sets.
      • Baseline employees are tools to be used and dumped when broken.
      • Creativity is stifled by political bickering. Enough said.
      • Note that ways of stifling creativity are actually considered as being "better business practices" among employees, and presented as such in high management meetings.
      • An "afraid of change" mentality.
      • Bureaucracy paperwork pervades every single little action that one attempts to take.
      • Short-term fulfillment over long-term investment.
      • Hefty pyramidal hierarchical construct. Layers and layers of management ensure that ideas from the baseline are drowned in the political glue.
      • Excessive human division between those who are supposed to work in the same company.
      • No ROI for innovation. Used to have some, but not anymore.
      • Employee benefits are cut without warning, with the recession as an easy excuse.
      • Meager opportunity for career advancement, unless one is ready to play the political game.
      • Meaningless overwork caused by incredibly poor HR practices.
      • It's better manually. Literally.
      • Being a suck up is rewarded, to stand one's ground is punished.
      • Employee morale is at an all-time low.

      Overall, the big blue ship is sinking. Here is Nostradamus' pickle of the day: "in a very short time frame, the most innovative minds will tend to swim away from it as fast as possible, to avoid being sucked in the oblivion of meaninglessness".

      Advice to Senior Management: Why bother? It won't be heard. The above list details pretty much what management should know and try to improve.

    • IBM Marketing Manager in Raleigh, NC: (Current Employee) “The "IBM" of yesterday is gone.” Pros: It's a good place to work for a few years. You'll meet some great people (not the managers). The benefits, although each year there are fewer and fewer, are still pretty competitive. You can work from home (just know it will be 24x7 including holidays, weekends and vacations). Cons Don't expect long-term employment, especially once you reach 50 (your days are limited once you hit that birthday). Morale is very low due to the constant lay-offs; most people are scared for their job and I think that once the economy turns around, more people will voluntary move to a more secure company. IBM doesn't really innovate anymore, they just buy more companies. That yearly patent count contains some pretty ridiculous patents! The matrixed organization brings a lot of frustration and confusion as managers fight for budgets and/or control of a project. Yearly reviews aren't always fair since a manager has to give a proportionate share of bad and good reviews, even if everyone on the team did a fantastic job. The dollar amount for raises and bonuses are purely up to the manager, it's not tied to performance (it's supposed to be, but that stopped a few years ago). Each year, you'll lose a little bit more of your benefits, especially retirement benefits (which only a few get now anyway). The company is making record profits, but you wouldn't know that because they don't seem to "have the money" for raises and bonuses. And as for "spirit," it's like's morale, it's low. You don't even get a Christmas card, Christmas bonus or cheap holiday party anymore. Long hours, there are no 40 or even 50 hour work weeks (that work/life balance is just a marketing ploy) anymore, it's more 60+. This is because too many people were laid off. So, like I said, it's good place to plan to work for a few years, new college students love it, but then get out -- take your experience to a place that actually will reward (financially and emotionally) you for it. Advice to Senior Management: Stop laying off people (and outsourcing American jobs to India), start motivating people in a positive way, put some action to that work/life balance. Respect your experienced workers.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “IBM - clerical work.” Pros: Work Life balance. Semi retirement will easily have lots of time in hand to pursue other interest. Cons: Work with minimum challenges Repeated changes in process with minimal result. Advice to Senior Management: Give more work ownership to employee rather than running like a factory.
    • IBM Advisory Storage Specialist in Phoenix, AZ: (Current Employee) “The Audacity of Politics.” Pros: Lots of smart people that, for the most part, work with you and share. The largest R&D in the industry. More patents than all competitors combined. Customers never say "what was your company's name again?" Unbelievably broad product sets.

      Cons:

      • Promotions and "Resource Actions" (IBM's fancy term for layoffs), are seemingly based on political alliances
      • Like all large tech companies, end-of-quarter frenzies where you are asked to push your customers into buying something before the quarter ends even if it is not in THEIR best interest
      • My manager visited me twice: once to lay out new territories and, the second time to lay me off.
      • IBM apparently has about a 12-24 months 'attention span' when it comes to storage. They wander in and out of markets faster than any company I've ever seen. Example? They announced a new line of NAS products a few years ago. I bought in and sold a solution to a large health insurance company in Phoenix, assuring them (because this is what I was told) that "IBM is in the NAS business for the long-haul." Within a very few months IBM dropped this product line and aligned themselves with NetApp. While not necessarily a bad thing to be aligned with NetApp (and not necessarily a good thing, either), how many companies come out with new products and push them hard for 6 months, then give up, deferring to a superior product from a competitor?
      • When I was laid off my manager did not have accurate revenue numbers for me. He ignored a $400,000 sale then, when I told him about a $1.5 million deal that was going to close the next month, he didn't seem interested in knowing about it. Why? You'd have to ask him but in my opinion it is because he made his decision based on politics and didn't want to be 'confused with the facts.'

      Advice to senior management:

      • Stop reorganizing your sales and technical sales forces every January, then again in July. You are allowing yourself to be confused about the difference between the words 'nimble,' 'flaky" and 'irrational.'
      • If you are going to make changes, make them in the mid-level manager level. Political alliances, aka the good old boy (or girl) network, keeps the same people in the same or similar positions forever. What that means is that their employees are treated like animals that eat their own young; these managers do whatever it takes to keep their job, and surround themselves with a group of people who will defend each other to the death even when what they are saying or doing is very wrong.
      • For gosh sakes, have someone come in and teach you how to run a sales organization. If I had .05% of the R&D money that you have wasted over the years on developing what were truly excellent products, and that you gave up on because your sales force didn't sell enough of them, I would be a billionaire. Other companies can sell MEDIOCRE products and you can't sell terrific technology? I repeat: find someone who can teach you how to run a sales organization. Unintelligent decisions are made every year on what products sales personnel will be 'paid on.' One year System x reps are paid for DS3000's, then next they are not. then the next year they are. Why not simply pay them a different level of commission for products that you want to 'de-emphasize' rather than completely stop paying for that product?
      • I have never worked so hard in my life for a company only to be thrown under the bus. I made my quotas, was a loyal, team oriented player, and was very knowledgeable about my products. Why wasn't that good enough? And why do you allow managers such as mine to dishonestly represent my revenue production so I didn't rock his boat on a decision he had made on incorrect information? Let me emphasize, I was NOT fired. I was 'selected for the Resource Action.' How sick is that?

    • IBM Advisory Software Engineer: (Past Employee - 2010) “Global Company Transitioning Development to Emerging Countries.” Pros: Many bright, hard-working colleagues. Access to great technology, resources, and interesting projects. IBM Global Campus. Work at home options. A great place to work 10 years ago. Cons: IBM bureaucracy. Constant threat of layoffs for U.S. workforce is a morale sapper. Work/life balance goes out the window trying to meet project deadlines. Failing to pay for Internet access for work at home employees is bush league. Despite their blather about IBM values, upper management doesn't value employees, only the bottom line. Advice to Senior Management: Keep doing what you're doing and IBM will become the equivalent of a high tech sweatshop.
    • IBM Senior Managing Consultant in Seattle, WA: (Past Employee - 2008) “IBM Consulting.” Pros: Good salary, great brand recognition, innovation is praised and desired. IBM has some of the best benefits I have had as a working adult but their old style retirement package has gone the way of the dodo. Cons: 1. With many outsourcing deals, acquired human resources are thinned out to make projects profitable. So if you did not come from IBM but were acquired, you stand a chance of loosing your job. 2. Too many layers of management. 3. Too many software tools to interface with. Advice to Senior Management: Say goodbye to Lotus and consolidate the various software tools onto a single platform (not Notes). OR make Notes the one stop shop for everything not one of many tools required to be an employee.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “Smart, but not real substance.” Pros: One of the top global brand. Good vision about smarter planet. Good resources to support pre-sales. Cons: There is no real substance behind the Smarter Thing. Once the sales work is over, the availability of good delivery resources is a challenge. Advice to Senior Management: Balance vision and execution. Balance presale and delivery.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Past Employee - 2010) “IBM Going Downhill.” Pros: One of the few things at IBM which hasn't become considerably worse is the benefits package. The health insurance options and the portions the company pays are very good. Cons: Every since Sam took over as chairman at IBM the company has been looking for ways to cut compensation. You are dinged if you live in a low cost of living area, many of us had our pay cut when we went from salary to hourly. Advice to Senior Management: The layoffs due to outsourcing to low cost countries are insulting to the employees who live in the more advanced parts of the world. Morale in North America and Western Europe is at an all time low.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Past Employee - 2010) “Mixed emotions.” Pros: The culture is amazing. People are very kind, collaborative and intelligent. Opportunity to move around. Good work/life balance. Clear strategy that seems to be working. Brand and recognition. Cons: This company is SO cheap. The cost cutting is exhausting. I had trouble getting business cards, let alone software, hardware or training. They even cut back on how often the garbage was removed from the office. Constant RIFs - seems like the company saves its way to earnings success at times and often on the backs of seasoned workers. You have to learn how to stay visible, as it's a very large and complex organization. Sometimes that amounts to a lot of "reporting" to management and cross-functional leaders. Advice to Senior Management: Relax on some of the cost cutting measures and give your highly talented team some training and the resources they need to truly be successful.
    • IBM Project and Program Manager in Southbury, CT: (Past Employee - 2010) “Good place to work.” Pros - Access to cutting edge products and apps through the Technology Adoption Program - Very professional employees - I had a very good experience collaborating with global colleges. Cons - Bonus's and Recognition was tough to come by. - More and more you have to be your own PR person to get upper level managements attention and stay off the list for the next round of layoffs. Advice to Senior Management: You have cut so many people over the years that it puts too much pressure on the existing employees to maintain the level of project work that you still demand. Take a look at this and keep an eye on your employees to ensure they are not reaching burnout.
    • IBM Bus Development in San Jose, CA: (Past Employee - 2009) “company culture.” Pros: You are exposed to the latest enterprise technology. They treat tech people with respect, but others areas are 2nd class citizens. Cons: You can learn things in your area only, you are not encouraged to make changes or take calculated risks. They set so many rules for you to follow, if you don't follow, you get a warming. Advice to Senior Management: Think outside of the box, don't blue wash the new comers.
    • IBM Assistant Manager Operations in Gurgaon, Haryana (India): (Past Employee - 2009) “Feedback for IBM Daksh BPS.” Pros: Tremendous job opportunities if you have the willingness to grow. You will get access to a lot of educational/learning sites. Cons: This feedback is specifically for IBM Daksh BPS and not IBM company as a whole. There is a lot of favoritism that goes behind the stage for promotions at Mid / Senior level positions and not much of transparency is exhibited. Employees are not cared well - there is not much of an employee satisfaction due to which productivity loss is in abundance. Advice to Senior Management: Work for the betterment for the employees / ESAT which will get more productivity and profit in business. Top management is not aware of what is happening behind the stage to get the numbers in place. Frequent dip-checks might help improve the situation.
    • IBM Quality Assurance Engineer in New York, NY: (Current Employee) “IBM, a great place to work.” Pros 1- TIme off 2- Salary 3- Management I really like working there. I'm lowly, but I really like the people I work with and I get treated well. Cons: The hours. I have to work a lot during the week. Advice to Senior Management: Take more time to spend with young people with potential, not just those on the fast track. I've seen so many bright people leave because they don't get attention
    • IBM Project Manager: (Current Employee) “Great advancement opportunities but VERY low pay.” Pros: Lots of opportunities for advancement and working with new projects. Cons: Very low pay. WAY below the market value of your job description. It is especially a problem as you move up to bigger responsibilities and job titles as your pay does not move up to the new job. Advice to Senior Management: We are losing a bunch of people because we do not pay market value for similar roles.
    • IBM Associate Partner in Amsterdam (Netherlands): (Current Employee) “Compliance kills creativity and eats your time.” Pros: innovative, cool technology great co-workers. Cons: too much has shifted on the shoulders of the employee. E.g. too much compliance, too many meetings, admin and calls taking away the focus from the clients and creating an internal compliance culture without applying common sense. Admin support has been removed thus creating hidden costs for the employee. Advice to Senior Management: Try to find the Gerstner Balance between Customers, Employees and Stakeholders. Too many bean counters control the compliance thus paralyzing entrepreneurial behaviour and speed of change.
  • CNET News: When It Comes To Retirement, 67 Is The New 55. By Alan Greenblatt. Excerpt: Looking forward to retirement? You may have to wait a bit longer. Financial pressures are pushing up retirement ages all over. On Wednesday, France, which was the last holdout in Western Europe maintaining an official retirement age of 60, proposed increasing it to 62 by 2018. On the same day, California's Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a deal with four state public employee unions to raise the retirement age by five years for newly hired workers. These moves follow several recent age increases across Europe and among U.S. states. Faced with one of the worst pension shortfalls in the country, Illinois in March lifted the retirement age for new state workers from as low as 55 all the way to 67.
News and Opinion Concerning the U.S. Financial Crisis
Minimize "It is a restatement of laissez-faire-let things take their natural course without government interference. If people manage to become prosperous, good. If they starve, or have no place to live, or no money to pay medical bills, they have only themselves to blame; it is not the responsibility of society. We mustn't make people dependent on government- it is bad for them, the argument goes. Better hunger than dependency, better sickness than dependency."

"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich." From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.

  • Jim Hightower: The Chamber of Commerces Kumbaya Moment. Full excerpt: In the category of "Big news that has gotten little coverage," consider this stunner: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has openly embraced socialism! Not for you and me, of course, but for one of the world's largest and wealthiest corporations: BP. On May 27th, the Chamber's president, Tom Donohue, came out of his Leninist closet to assert his communitarian affinity for corporate socialism: "Everybody is going to contribute to this clean up," Donohue declared." We are all going to have to do it. We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies, and we will figure out a way to do that."

    What a hoot! The guy who earlier this year was screeching in horror against government health care coverage for ordinary Americans, has now flipped over to the compassionate side, demanding that those same ordinary Americans simply must "contribute" their tax dollars to clean up the disaster caused by the greed of a foreign oil corporation. Hypocrisy, thy name is Donohue! Even "Saturday Night Live" wouldn't air a skit this crude.

    BP might be a British outfit, but it's also a member and major funder of the U.S. Chamber, which in turn has been a major backer of deregulating Big Oil's offshore drilling schemes. Thus, it's really no surprise that Donohue's inner flower child would bloom in the midst of BP's oozing oil disaster. And don't you love his "kumbaya" sensitivity, his we're-all-in-this-together social sensibility?

    Let's all sing along with Tom's heart-tugging song: "We are going to have to get the money from the government/ We will figure out a way to do that/ Kumbaya, Lord, kumbaya." Adding to the hilarity, Donohue later tried to retract his socialist stand, but he only came off as a rhetorical contortionist, still leaving taxpayers on the hook for BP's mess.

  • Jim Hightower: Assuaging the Pain of Multimillionaires. Full excerpt: Jon Kyl is a bleeding-heart conservative. Does he bleed for the downtrodden? Or – as Jesus said – for "the least of these"? No, no, Kyl's heart bleeds for those with the most!

    The right-wing Arizona senator practically weeps for the wealthiest two-tenths of one percent of American families that have estates worth from $1 million to $5 million. What causes Kyl's eyes to brim with tears is that these privileged ones will have to pay an estate tax on wealth above a million bucks, unless Congress exempts them from the oppressive burden of helping to shoulder the cost of America's highways, parks, schools, military, water purity, and other public services we all count on. I'm sure that the other 99.8 percent of us share their pain and appreciate the Republican senate leader's deep empathy for multimillionaires.

    How deeply is he touched? Earlier this year, Kyl tried to scuttle an extension of benefits for America's rising tide of unemployed workers, demanding that his favored constituency of superrich families first be given hundreds of billions of dollars in estate tax cuts. He failed in this mission of mercy for millionaires, but he recently came right back with an amendment to derail a proposal to help America's hard-hit small businesses get desperately-needed loans. Forget Main Street, wailed the senator from Easy Street, unless and until we exempt estates worth up to $5 million from the tragedy of taxation.

    How much would Kyl's tax cut for the elites take from America's public treasury? More than $80 billion a year, which is what the 2009 estate tax on these rich ones brought in. But, hey, says the jovial plutocrat, we can make that up by slashing programs that benefit the middle class and the poor.

    See, it’s just a matter of getting your priorities straight. Guys like Kyl profess their love for small business, but they always stay true to the rich.

If you hire good people and treat them well, they will try to do a good job. They will stimulate one another by their vigor and example. They will set a fast pace for themselves. Then if they are well led and occasionally inspired, if they understand what the company is trying to do and know they will share in its sucess, they will contribute in a major way. The customer will get the superior service he is looking for. The result is profit to customers, employees, and to stcckholders. —Thomas J. Watson, Jr., from A Business and Its Beliefs: The Ideas That Helped Build IBM.

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