Tag Archives: communication

Networking, Is It All It’s Cracked Up To Be? – Gus Parkhouse

In my first few days at IBM it seemed to be one in every five words was “Networking”, now that I’m a year in I can see why this was emphasised so much. I know working for a tech company you’re probably thinking why is computer networking so important to IBM and why does everyone keep talking about it? Although computer networking is important as connects components and nodes this blog is all about social and workplace networking. I’ve started to really see the benefits from good networking and constantly growing my network, these benefits are;

–     Opportunities

  • Connections, Knowing people in different places
  • Advice
  • Positive Influence
  • Confidence
  • Friendship
  • Add feedback

Through speaking to my line manager I have found many opportunities such as moving from an account in London to one closer to my home in Manchester, allowing me to spend more time with friends and also allowing me to be more sociable outside of work without having to stay in rented accommodation. Without knowing who to approach this would have been a lot more of a strenuous and time consuming task. It also helped me to know who to approach with certain aspects of work, for example Cognitive computing, as I found that just knowing one person in this area was positive  as it helped to open up doors to other members of that team and eventually help progress an extremely tricky task.

Since starting as an apprentice in IBM and building a great network of apprentice architects in one base location, I have now moved to the other side of the country and don’t have the pleasure of seeing apprenticeship colleagues on a daily basis anymore. But this hasn’t stopped me from networking with them, it just changed the ways in which I do it. Face to face turned into instant messaging, phone call, text messages and e-mails. I still ask this network the questions that I feel would defy the quote “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” and they’re happy to help. I went from working in an office with distinguished engineers to working from home for 3 weeks, during this time I had to call upon my network for the majority of information needed. I found working remotely from home a very big challenge as I was getting minimal human interaction which is the opposite of what I had the week before. I also created some new connections in this period with the Chief Architect of the new account I was heading on too. My new network connections into the architects team came in incredibly handy when joining IBM and learning what was vital to learn and what could wait.

When I had settled into my new account and had started to settle in, I was advised that a new Deputy Chief Architect was joining the account. When he arrived on the account I took the time to sit down and have a chat with him that eventually turned in to going to grab some lunch to get know more about what he had previously done and what he was expecting of me, but also a less work-related chat about what he was interested in that turned into him becoming a mentor for me and helping me with architecture and learning.

On the new account I have been able to expand my network further in a very short amount of time as I now work with such a vast team, this networking has helped me to expand my knowledge and get involved in a lot more tasks. This ever expanding networking has been great for helping my confidence in meetings with both the client and senior members of the team as they are there to reinforce the information I’m putting forward. Not forgetting to mention the social benefits of being involved in a mixed team, and all of the networking I have taken part in has helped me to develop my LinkedIn profile and help create a strong virtual network.

At the beginning, I won’t lie, I was very skeptical of what the hype around “Networking” was but now after just a year I can see that this is and will always be a massively important tool throughout my career. I would now say I agree with the old proverb “It’s not what you know but who you know” and can see where it possibly came from.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, feel free to message me on LinkedIn for any questions. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/gus-parkhouse-288855101)

Gus Parkhouse.

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What Is Expected of IBM Apprentices – Jenny Taylor

It’s over a year now since I wrote my first guest blog on this Forum and I’m delighted to report that in that time, the IBM apprenticeship programme has gone from strength to strength, achieving unprecedented success in terms of winning external awards on both an individual and an overall programme basis. My admiration of our apprentices remains at the highest levels.

I’ve now been asked to return to write a second blog on “What is expected of IBM apprentices”. I see this as a question in two parts: what attributes do we look for in potential recruits to the programme and then, what do we expect of our apprentices once they have joined IBM.

In terms of recruitment of apprentices, we understand that many school-leavers may not have a wealth of work experience which they can list on their application form.  However, we do know that there are other skills and personal characteristics which they should be able to write about and our application form is tailored to these “competencies” as we term them. These are Adaptability, Teamwork, Effective Communication, Self-motivation and drive to succeed, Initiative and creative problem solving and Client focus. Additionally, we ask applicants to tell us why they are motivated to apply for the role and give them a chance to provide us with any extra information they feel is relevant.

We don’t mind from where examples of these competencies are sourced, and in fact the greater variety of scenarios we see on an application form, the better. So, examples could be taken from part time employment, school and social activities, volunteering and charity work, Scouts and Guides, sporting achievements, Duke of Edinburgh award projects or hobbies.  It’s also worthwhile remembering to write about and include inherent digital expertise. All millennials have grown up in a digital world with apps and technologies being second nature to them, so here is an opportunity to capitalise on these skills and show us exactly how valuable they can be in the workplace.

Equally important is to know about IBM and what our most recent achievements are.  It’s vital to us that any potential apprentice demonstrates a passion to want to work for IBM and some knowledge of our business. There’s so much information available on line about IBM, it’s easy to pass this part of the test.

Once inside IBM, we understand that new apprentices will lack specific skills, so initially we are looking for enthusiasm and an appetite to learn.  We can train apprentices in our systems, processes and knowledge specific to a role, so interest and a willingness to learn and work hard are all that is required………and that is what I see from our current apprentices on a daily basis.

I’m delighted to observe that our apprentices have demonstrated that they possess all the requisite skills and knowledge to succeed in IBM, both through their high success rate in apprenticeship qualification and also in achievement of promotions to higher professional levels in IBM.  We are very proud of them.
Jenny Taylor