Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Story …. – Avtar Marway

Let me tell you a story…
When I was in high school, I had a friend who would pay no attention to learning all because they didn’t have their mind set on anything in particular, other than having fun. This friend went through the 1st year of GCSEs with this mind-set and got the worst grades of his life. He got G grades in subjects such as Geography and shocked everyone who was learning the subject. We didn’t even know that a G grade existed and neither did he! At this point in time, he was given very low target grades for the subjects he was studying and that’s when it hit him…
This person is now studying Dentistry at one of the Top Universities in the UK and he is one of the most dedicated, hardworking people that I know. This person exceeded their target grades hugely and that’s because they set their mind on what they wanted to achieve. He gave himself many goals that he wanted to achieve and he made sure he worked enough to meet and exceed those goals.
He proved that anything can be achieved if you set realistic goals that relate to something that you want really bad.
He aspired to be a dentist and, after realising he was wasting his chances during GCSE’s, knew he had to work hard to achieve his goal. I am glad to say that he met those goals, even when others weren’t as optimistic.

Why am I telling you this? Why should you care about this person? I chose to tell you this story as I thought this would be a good introduction to today blog topic, goals and aspirations. In this blog I’m going to be telling you about my 1, 5 and 10 year goals and aspirations that I have for my life, my job and my career.
By the end of 2015, I would have hoped to have achieved and obtained:
• Motivation for the gym and to gain weight (This will be a hard one!)
• Chelsea FC to win the Barclays Premier League
• All compulsory IBM apprentice and foundation education
• Further understanding in testing and infrastructure
• An industry-standard and well known qualification in Testing and Infrastructure
• My own car, paid for all by myself
• Experience in travelling to places all over Europe and the world (This goal is going well as I’m currently on holiday in Barcelona and plan to go Amsterdam soon)
• Experience in SAP (System Applications Products)
• Job Satisfaction
By the end of 2020, I would have hoped to have achieved and obtained:
• Promotion out of the foundation and apprenticeship scheme
• A reputation for previous work completed
• SAP knowledge in many areas
• Experience of travelling and staying in the city that never sleeps
• Experience in skydiving and mountain climbing
• A chance to work abroad
• My own house (this isn’t realistic but it is something that I would like to work towards)
• Once again… Job Satisfaction – Life can’t be lived without happiness
• The ability to help other apprentices and foundation employees with the experiences that I have obtained
So, I think having goals in 10 years is good but they aren’t really that realistic as anything can happen in 10 years! However, a few goals that I would have hoped to achieved and obtained are:
• My own house (if I haven’t had it by 2020 – hopefully I have)
• A family and a child/children maybe?
• A great salary to provide for my potential family and to those in need
• A great reputation for work that I’ve completed and people I’ve worked for and with as well as being an expert in a field that I enjoy
• A list of reliable contacts and friends all over the world
• Last but not least, job satisfaction!
So in My Life, My Job and My Career… these are my goals and aspirations. As unrealistic as you may think they are, I feel that they are things that motivate me to work and try harder in everything I do. They give me a purpose to wake up every morning and go to work and they’re things that I want to achieve. I hope that the objectives that you set yourself for this and upcoming years are met and you do whatever it takes to achieve them.
If you’ve got any questions or queries, feel free to Tweet Me @AvtarMarway or message me on LinkedIn “Avtar Marway”
Enjoy your year and make the most of it .

2015: The Final Hurdle – Tom Cope

Hello, It’s me Tom.C. I’ve been on this Earth for 19 years and retrospectively that’s not a long time, but damn where have the last 2 years gone. The IBM apprenticeship is three years in length and this year; 2015 will be my last on the program. In September I’ll be thrown into the business to move on to bigger and greater things. That leaves me with ~15,897,609 seconds… ~15,897,608, ~15,897,607. I should really stop over thinking this and start making the most of it. My resolutions for 2015! Everyone’s got them so I would like to share mine with you.

Firstly I would like to complete some certifications. I am currently a Certified Redhat System Administrator (which was by far one of my favourite courses) and I would like to get my Certified Redhat System Engineer. The course is booked, so now all I’ve got is the exam (wish me luck). Next up is the CompTIA Security+ Qualification. Security+ is an industry recognised certification which covers everything from encryption to network security. It’s all done from this cool website which adapts based on how you answer the questions, which is great because you can skip over the stuff you already know and go for the new interesting parts first. I’m about half way there and then I can go for that exam.

Working in a security role really changes your outlook on IT, I always find myself thinking of new ways to bypass security measures. So much so I found a security hole in one of my scripts! I wrote a simple bash script to exploit this hole and voila it worked! I then rewrote a section of the script to defend against this type of attack. I found the whole experience quite fun. I was talking to the project SME and showing him how I performed the exploit and he said I should think about becoming a PEN tester, who’s job it is to do what I just did. Find security holes on a project and write a report about them, so the business can help patch the issue. He recommended I go on a Ethical Hacker course and if I pass I would get a “Certified Security Testing Associate (CSTA) qualification” which is approved by “CREST”. I was all in for that so I sent of a course request and I was approved today. I’m really looking forward to it.

Next up learning. I would like to try some Windows based technologies this year. It’s all well and good falling in love with the soft glow of a black and green command line but sometimes you’ve got to close Putty and use a GUI. I use IBM’s TDS (now re-named to SDS) which is a type of LDAP server. Think of it like a massive phone book, you can quickly search for someone’s name and get their number. But in my case, quickly search for their username and check their password. Windows has its own version called Active Directory or AD for short. Because everyone use’s Windows as their work station I have done some work integrating AD into Redhat Linux so that you don’t need to keep re-typing your password to access a Linux box. Good fun but I would really like to learn more about AD, it looks really cool.

Another point on my New Year’s Resolutions is Social media. IBM has a real focus on “Growing a Social Presence”, so I want to do the same.  If you’ve ever been interested in connecting with me here how:

  • Twitter – @copethomas : My various 140 char comments about work, life and my desk cactus.
  • LinkedIn : My Jobs within IBM, Qualification and (hopefully more) Certifications
  • My Website : Built from scratch in the Style of a Old Fashion terminal screen

I hope to work on my “Social Presence” writing more blogs etc. You can find my blogs on my Linkedin.

My Final resolution is one a bit closer to me. I am continuously making things at home. Arduino Robots, Minecraft Mods and applications in Java/C++. Most of these get back benched and placed in the dark abyss knows as “The Archive” (a black hole folder on my desktop). Sounds a lot like a Doctor Who episode checking… nope not there but “Temple of Secrets” or “The Ark in Space” are cool names. My point is I never truly finish a project, either I’m to paranoid about “perfection” or I think of some other project and go “oooh lets do that!”. Then the current project gets thrown into the folder and the cycle continues. The only exception to this is my “Conference Call Bingo” game. Which I made in a weekend. I have now published this game and you can find a blog post about it on my Linkedin. I want to do more projects like that and share them. So that’s my final resolution, more projects and more sharing. If I do get another project out I will be sure to post it on LinkedIn, here and my personal website.

So there we have it. My plan for 2015. To think it took 2940 sec to write this. Which leaves me with ~15894667 sec to complete the ABOVE! As I said got to stop thinking (or writing) about it and get on with it. So that was me Tom.C, see you in the next one!

Defining aspirations – Josh White

I’m not going to rely on luck anymore, I need to define my career goals and aspirations.


Like myself, have you ever felt like you are just drifting through life without any real direction as to where you are going or where you want to be? It’s fine to do that for a while but now has come the point where it would not be wise to do that anymore. If I don’t know where I want to be in 5/10/20 years time how will I know how to get there?

I have been in IBM for just over 2 years now and have picked up some good skills and met some great people. I have 1 year left in Foundation and I need a plan.

2/3 years ago when I leapt into working life after my A Levels I thought that if I worked hard in whatever job/role I had I would get recognised for that hard work and promoted. I found out the hard way in my previous role before joining IBM. I had a role which meant that I was being relied upon heavily to perform as no one else was able to do that role and there was a lot of attention on myself because if I did not do my job well it would have a big impact on the company. It was nice for a while to have that pressure but I came to realise that my hard work was not getting any recognition apart from a few team member of the month awards. My next step up would be to move to Team Leader or Assistant Team Leader but there was no one to take over my work so I was stuck. That is when I decided to take a step down and join a new company (IBM) and also take a cut in salary, but I could see what potential moving had for me and instead of walking down a narrow alley way I now had a whole city to wander around (sorry for the cringey analogy).


So, now I have a city to wander around I need to decide where to go. Once I know that I can figure out how to get there.

What do I enjoy doing? What don’t I like doing? What things are important to me in life? These are the sort of questions I need to ask myself. I may not have all of the answers now which is OK but the more people I speak to and the more skills/roles I can touch on whilst I am in Foundation at IBM the clearer my goals and aspirations will come. I don’t want to make some up just for the sake of it, they need to come naturally to me.


Like I have said at the start of my post, it has been easy for me to sit back and see what comes my way but I need to step outside of my comfort zone now.


I hope this post inspires you to do the same if you are in a similar situation to me and if you have already been here feel free to give me some hints and tips to help me along the way.





Happy reading, Josh.

Long term goals and IT don’t mix? – Lewis Davies

Can we really set long term goals in the IT industry?

One of this year’s first posts was from our very own Oliver Pope-Mostowicz reflecting on his ambitions and goals over the next one, five and ten years.  While it’s great to set ourselves goals and targets it’s not very often we reflect on things we didn’t intend happening and how big an effect they can take on our careers and lives.  One thing I’ve learnt since joining the IBM apprenticeship is the importance of staying flexible and agile, and as scripted and corporate as it sounds; change really is the only constant.

We always say I’d like to be in this place in 5 years time but how often do we compare that back to where we thought we’d be 5 years ago.  I’m betting a lot is different and the targets you set yourself back then are no longer relevant or have changed significantly since. Why?

Let’s call it chance.  No one wants to plan a career on it but often this is can be one of the most influential things in deciding how successful we are. It’s chance that I heard about the apprenticeship through an old college friend, the very fact I’m writing this is in some way due to chance.

So what are my one, five and ten year goals?

1 Year – Graduate the IBM apprenticeship and continue to build my networking knowledge and perhaps take a JNCA (Juniper qualification)

5 Years – To have worked on a variety of IBM accounts in technical roles and be promoted to band 7 and pushing for band 8 if I am not already!

10 Years – Who knows!

You may think it’s shying away from pushing myself to have goals that are broad and brief.  However recently I came in to a fascinating theory. The teachability index.  The index compares on a scale of 1 to 10 peoples willingness to learn with their ability to accept change.  The 2 figures are then multiplied to give an index for example a 7 and an 8 would give a score of 56.  Since learning this it’s become so apparent that colleagues of mine who I would consider to be successful people are (know it or not) displaying a high teachability index.  This leads me to think that it’s not perhaps hitting a goal that creates successful people but more an attitude and drive to learn and try new things.  If this is correct, success regardless of what industry they choose to work in will almost always come as a by-product.

Of course I’m not going to go the rest of my career without attempting to hit targets such as delivering certain projects in the short term however I hope to keep an open mind to new ideas and technologies. As I mentioned the rate of change in the IT/technology industry is so high.  When I speak to some of my more experienced IBM colleagues some of them can remember loading 3ft wide disks that had 256MB of memory in to huge server rooms, now are working in cloud architectures that are instantly scalable.  Two technology areas in particular I will be keen to see progress are IPV6 which will create a truly open and connected world and wearable technologies.  All these technologies will bring with them their own challenges and that’s what we as IBMers are here to fix!