After a stint as a US Navy pilot, the IBM obit states, Akers joined the company in 1960. His 33-year stint with IBM culminated in his appointment as its sixth CEO in 1985, following three years as president.
Pros: I can honestly say that many of the best people that I have ever worked with were from IBM.
Cons: Do not get comfortable doing what you are doing...you will be asked to do less with more. You will inherit other projects and not receive backfill for people moving onto newer projects. It demonstrates that leadership generally is not able to balance the product portfolio or make decisions about what is important.
Advice to Senior Management: Ditch the 2015 plan and chasing shareholder value over all other things. Break the culture of sycophancy. Stop encouraging people to switch jobs every 2 years...no one invests in a maintainable business because they know it will not be their problem long term.
Pros: It used to be a great company. It has great staff at consultant level.
Cons: The leadership is simply woeful (especially UK GBS). The views, feelings, and opinions of staff are simply not considered (that is the truth, no matter what they say). Business is going from bad to worse. They over-complicate things, lack innovation, fail to recognise real talent. The Peter Principle rules in IBM, people are promoted to their level of incompetence.
Advice to Senior Management: Get out. Bring in new management who are competent to lead this business. Just because 3% of the work IBM does is world class should not blind you to the 97% of average and poor work delivered.
Pros: Salaries are slightly above average, good medical insurance and some other benefits and compensations.
Cons: It was a mess; the Remote Support Department that they have in Cairo is a real disaster. Managers are so not helpful; work is so not challenging and trivial. And, worst of all...really WORST of all...is the HR department. I have never seen anything like this. I was shocked, how tedious and lazy and annoying, and lazy, and oh the "bureaucracy"!...for god's sake they still have a paper archive!!!
If I were the HR manager there, I would have fired at least 10 of the HR department.
Advice to Senior Management: Please provide more tutoring on the career path, and help get employees needs met; facilitate the tedious process.
Pros: Huge company, lots of projects and areas, interesting people, contacts with people from all over the world, important customers being supported, access to online training and support, top material to learn, a brand still valuable.
Cons: Currently, IBM seems to have lost respect for its own people. Dismissals without any reason, a bad performance rating program (personal business commitment), salaries being held from fair readjustment, low salaries for juniors/newcomers, bad/expensive food in the cafeterias, end of many amenities for the employees, end/reduce of benefits, a bad year profit bonus, lack of clear strategy, excess of bureaucracy, lots of spreadsheets to fill, lots of not-integrated applications to access, a bad work climate, strange inside politics, managers protecting their friends, extreme arrogance when dealing with complaints from employees, extreme pursue of keeping a good market image even when things are clearly not going well, lack of gratitude to the good employees, a company driven by numbers.
Advice to Senior Management: IBM needs to be founded again.
Pros: When I worked there, IBM was understanding about work/life balance.
Cons: Low pay, and you are required to take your laptop home every night and basically be on call.
Advice to Senior Management: Lighten up. The people from Armonk need to be diversified in Accounting. When I worked there, Armonk took away every little thing that made work fun, like replacing the coffee machine with those pods. That has to be a lot more expensive plus they taste horrible. You had to buy your own needs, like adding machines and ergonomics went out the window.
Pros: Great people in the rank and file, solid brand in many respects, leading technology, very good benefits, global reach.
Cons: Rank-and-yank HR processes, senior leadership disconnected from reality, lack of investment in services and solutions, stifling bureaucracy.
Advice to Senior Management: Spend less time and money on the marquee science projects like Watson, more investment and attention to the core businesses. Foster innovation, let us take risks.
Pros: Just about the only pro is the benefits are decent and they are very flexible about working from home.
Cons: They only match 401k at the end of the year; if you leave before the end of the year you don't get your match. No career growth opportunities. No training. No bonuses. No raises. Constant layoffs, always wondering if you will be hit by the next one.
Advice to Senior Management: Stop treating employees like slave labor. Pay a decent wage and offer training and advancement opportunities.
Pros: Good life-work balance. Working from home or flexible schedules are never an issue. Generous personal time off policies. Opportunity to play with cutting-edge tools. Great environment to learn about business, marketing, and technological trends.
Cons: Working under the cloud of imminent layoffs, in spite of how well one's job performance is, or how much revenue one's project generates, is demoralizing.
Inconsistent professionalism of 1st line and 2nd line managers. If one has a good manager, things will go better. But if one has to report to a manager who is self-serving and paranoid, the IBM experience is horrible. One does not have a choice in a manager. Lots of reorganizations and mini-reorganizations.
Through no fault of their own, many IBMers are trapped in a dead-end project or job role that quickly becomes obsolete.
Many managers are not supportive of the career development of their team members.
While many IBMers are professional, others are defensive, paranoid, and uncooperative, and for good reason. IBM software group does not produce anything. IBM is in the business of acquisitions and then shoe-horning the acquired business into the IBM way of thinking.
Lay-offs, or "resource actions" as they are euphemistically called, are cruel and illogical.
It is very difficult to transfer into another project. Too much paranoia and overprotection.
The employee evaluation system ("Personal Business Commitments" or PBCs as they are "affectionately" called) is ridiculous and a political game. I would not be surprised if managers simply throw darts at a board blindfolded to determine the top contributors and the low contributors.
Advice to Senior Management: Eliminate PBCs. They are worthless. They encourage dishonesty and discourage collaboration. I am saying this as one who was consistently a "solid contributor," and received a few "2+" and a "1."
Be straight with your employees. Executives sound more and more like dishonest politicians. Trust me. IBM employees can see through the lies. You cannot expect employees to continue to do more and more, with less and less. My team was devastated by layoffs in 2013, even though new sales was off the charts. Exasperating the problem, dissatisfied and frightened employees decided to leave, and they were not replaced. And yet, we had to pick up the workload from those who were laid off or who left voluntarily. And what was the thanks we loyal employees were given? "Sorry, no bonuses, no raises, and no promotions."
Our peerless CEO declared that she and her executive team would not receive any bonuses, but yet they cash in stock options worth in some cases multi-millions of dollars. Do you realize how insulting and demoralizing that is? And then you have the gall to eliminate coffee and even plastic eating utensils from the employee kitchen. It is embarrassing that an IBM employee cannot offer a visitor or a customer a cup of coffee.
Pros: Depends on the project or the client, but hours are generally flexible. There are a lot of good and smart people to work with.
Cons: Pushing to make our numbers and it only gets worse every year, this year they demand we work certain weekends and are pushing for hours so much that we must average 50 hours per week over the whole year just to make up for vacation and holiday time off.
Every year we lose something, they adjust something that takes money away from us and saves IBM money. In 2013, they moved the 401K match payout from payday to a lump sum at year end, and we missed out on all that interest.
They moved the date raises are given to next year. They also decided not to pay out the bonuses they've paid every year since they started the program. No raise in 5+ years and I have much less to show for it.
There is a major push to outsource most of the work over seas and only have about 15% of employees in the U.S. With so few U.S. employees, I get the sense that we are way too top heavy with management and all the overhead that comes with it.
Advice to Senior Management: Labor laws overseas don't allow for all the free overtime you get from U.S. salaried employees, plus those employees are not as effective and don't generate the revenue you need. There are way too many levels of management that are unproductive and are a fixed overhead that we can't continue to support. Cut half your management team immediately and you'll see major decreases in costs.
Disclaimer: A lot of what I'm writing below of course depends on the work area and management chain. But I found this to be fairly pervasive policies in IBM in my 9+ years with the company.
From talking to manager friend, this is IBM's way to eliminate the non-top-performers without having to fire them, as part of its direction of reducing US manpower.
Advice to Senior Management: Management must keep in mind that it today's world, which is saturated with brilliant companies that hire top talent, IBM must remain competitive to attract great talent and hold on to it. In the meanwhile, we're seeing the opposite trend, where great people leave IBM for other companies, be it because of a more competitive package, dropping morale and many other reasons.
Pros: The knowledge database and learning opportunities are countless. You can have access to an immense amount of courses, webcasts, teleconferences and others sources of knowledge, by doing a few mouse clicks. The managers tend to incentive you to get certificated and/or get graduated in your area of expertise. Overall, this is the place to get experienced and learn.
Cons: The metrics systems are everywhere, and sometimes they do speak in your place. The "freeze" situation (where the company doesn't hire or promote anyone) may hold your career plans for a few years.
Advice to Senior Management: Upper management team should participate and be more open for employees opinions.
Pros: Having IBM on your resume looks nice, medical benefits are good, really is trial by fire so you really have to learn quickly.
Cons: Forget everything they've ever said in onboarding or while talking to executives. IBM's primary goal is their bottom line and to them people are disposable. They do a poor job of selling and writing contracts and the workers bees have to deal with the repercussions of undersold contracts and not enough projects in the pipeline for when we hit the bench. Compensation is terrible; you will not make the market value for your skillset unless you come in at that rate and the possibility of ever achieving that rate is slim to none otherwise.
Advice to Senior Management: EXTREMELY POOR MANAGEMENT—since IBM is so quick to lay off, how about laying off all of these poor managers and recruiting new managers who actually add value. Mid-level managers are dismissive, rude, condescending and add absolutely NO value (resource staffing personnel included). Good luck getting an answer or assistance with anything unless you have their boss' boss copied on the email. Good luck on getting funding for training/education expenses. Sure, they tell you they provide assistance but really they don't because there is never any available funding for it.
Advice to Senior Management:
Pros: Large company, many projects to work on. Flexible work hours, liberal work at home policy.
Cons: Was part of an acquisition and during the "indoctrination" process a whole bunch of promises were made. About 10% of which were true. Been there a little over 4 years and have not had one raise, even though they insist on yearly reviews and have been an above average contributor for all 4 years.
Long hours, want to work like a startup but without the same benefits of a start up, i.e. stock options, catered lunches, phone plans.
Too many managers making decisions without consulting the folks who actually do the work. I would go as far as to say the first and second line management is either incompetent or uncaring about the work. Just "ship it" seems to be the motto, regardless of quality. They also manipulate the "defect" rates so as to make the product quality look good on paper.
Advice to Senior Management: Stop managing to the earning per share, drop the "curve" rating system and pay your folks what they deserve.
Pros: Great potential for the future and a lot of great ideas being talked about that could make a very bright future.
Cons: Currently too focused on financials and not growing talent, skills, retention, and reassurance of the overall company direction. The top technical resources are being scooped up by other companies by the hour. The company attempt to pretend they are providing education is extremely too focused on current highlighted technologies, but what the company forgets is that even the latest and greatest direction, like Cloud, requires many other skills underneath to be able to provide and improve on that give area.
Advice to Senior Management: Read my Cons. If the company only concern is what we are delivering now, and what the future of what is being delivered now, they are missing on many other areas that could be the talk of the future. Go back to investing more on R&D. That is was placed this company on the map initially as a technology giant. We are now more of a follower of what other companies are coming up with. I'm a proud IBMer, but I have to be able to be honest of the current situation.
If we’re just going to stick it to the working stiff 364 days a year, we might as well be honest and make it 365.
According to U.S. government data, in the past 12 months the working people of America have received about the smallest share of national economic output since at least World War II.
They’ve been under pressure for decades, but the real free fall has been since 2000.
When you adjust for inflation, real median household income is down about 10% since the start of the millennium and is now lower than it was in 1989. No kidding.
For the past 35 years, the American economy has “persistently redistributed rewards away from workers and toward shareholders,” wrote economists Daniel Greenwald and Sydney Ludvigson, of New York University, and Martin Lettau, at the University of California at Berkeley, in a recent paper. They calculated that this trend, not “rising productivity” or technology, is the main reason the stock market has done so well over that time.
Our grandparents would be amazed at how America treats the working man and woman today. Let us count the ways.
Back in the Middle Ages, the monarchies of Europe used to rank people as aristocrats, merchants or peasants. Aristocrats got treated best, peasants the worst.
Today? Here in America a kid who buses tables pays an effective tax rate of 25% (including the full cost of the payroll tax) on everything he earns, and the rate quickly goes higher.
Meanwhile a tycoon who makes a few million a year from long-term capital gains pays a maximum rate of 24%.
And the kid who inherits a few million dollars from rich parents? No tax at all.
He may be the last of the "old school" IBMers. I worked there when he was in charge. He had no idea what to do about personal computers. He never even touched one and refused to use one in his office. His beliefs were entrenched in the idea that IBM was an international "business" machines (mainframe hardware) company. He really never thought that IBM would be a "consumer" machines company (ICM). They can say all the BS they want about his attempt to 'save" IBM from going down the drain; but he knew the company was doomed.
Gerstner convinced the BoD that Akers was too slow. Akers didn't think so; but stepped down anyway. When the Jackal shows up, you better leave...know what I mean? RIP John Akers. -BlueEyedBlindness-
I also think Akers had none of the arrogance that was Gerstner's modus operandi.
Yes, Akers tried to hold onto the believe that IBM didn't have to change and could cling to mainframe revenue. At least Akers was a man and stepped down.
If Gerstner was still in charge and the BoD wanted to make a change he would be going down kicking and screaming and demanding a lucrative exit package worth at least a $1B.
RIP Jack Akers. It wasn't all your fault: IBM management underneath was sniping at you, as they still do now. And now we see decades later it is not totally his fault why IBM is where it is. -anonIBMer-
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