Tag Archives: goals

It’s all about the Goals! – Gus Parkhouse

Is anybody really 100% sure about their exact goals? I know I wasn’t – during 2016 a new goals measuring system was introduced at IBM. This new system showed the five areas we’d be measured against and it was up to me to decide what targets I would set. This was a new and more efficient way of having ever-evolving goals that are continually relevant to the work or tasks I’m doing.

My goals needed to be evaluated against 5 key pillars, and I used them as self-set targets or milestones which, in order to attain these goals, I had to meet. When setting any of these goals it gave the option to set a status message. The status options were closed, completed, on-going and on-track. These options helped to track the status of each target, and whether I needed to set new goals or develop the older ones to be relevant.

I wanted to have challenging goals that would stretch my knowledge and ability, and would put me out of my comfort zone. I will be using this method to set my goals for 2017 and in order to help me develop further. It also helped dramatically with my educational needs as it allowed me to forecast what education I might need to meet a set goal. For example “Complete ITIL foundation by the end of Q2”. This pushed me to complete the course and also had a specific time deadline. Once this goal was completed, I added a small explanation of what I had achieved as well as a copy of the certificate, and then updated the status to show my manager what I had achieved and to keep him up to date with my progress.

As it was a new system, my goals were very specific in the areas I was comfortable in but slightly more ambiguous in other areas. The new system did allow me to update my targets so that if they started off vague but then became more and more specific I could change them which helped me to tailor my targets in order to get the most out of my development and continue to push myself.

For 2017, I’ll be setting goals that range between my apprenticeship work and account work, as this will help me to track both of these, but will also provide my managers with an up to date view of my current progress. I’m sure you will all be happy to know that my targets will also be in the SMART format as I find this to be the most effective method.

I have found that having goals that are always evolving is a lot more beneficial compared to static targets that do not change over the course of the year. In the future I will be using this method as I feel that at times it has been challenging due to time constraints, but I have also reaped the benefits of this such as education, personal development and also helping me track my progress along the year with a visible trail to measure it against.

If you have any questions then please contact me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/profile/preview?locale=en_US&trk=prof-0-sb-preview-primary-button

Gus Parkhouse.

My opinion of the IBM Degree Apprenticeship – Megan Murray

Hello!

For my blog this quarter I decided to cover my opinion of the Degree Apprenticeship Scheme… and as a painfully honest person it’s always a little bit scary to voice your opinion on anything; let alone when your employer and people responsible for your future career will be reading what you have to say!

A summary for those of you reading who may not be aware of the scheme – the IBM Degree Apprenticeship is a part time degree over 4 years in Digital & Technology Solutions (Computer Science and Business essentially), and we attend Queen Mary University of London twice a week during term time and work at IBM for the rest of the time as normal employees. This year was the first year of the scheme and after a couple of weeks of exams the first year of uni will be complete!

The first opinion I guess I’d have to give is that it is hard work… you get plenty of uni students who struggle and they’re often not even having to balance going to work for one of the biggest tech/business companies alongside it all! It can be stressful and difficult to keep up with everything you’ve got going on, plus depending on your background, the content can be tough to get your head around, especially if you’re trying to learn stuff for work at the same time! Thankfully though IBM really are very flexible with it all and if you’re struggling, there is always something that can be done or someone who can help, but resilience definitely goes a long way.

The second thing is the number of opportunities to do something else in addition to your ‘everyday’ apprenticeship, it’s astounding! For me I wanted to fully focus on university and getting through first year until I really got involved in anything else, but I can’t wait to start to get stuck in to some other events and opportunities that are open to apprentices.

Thirdly, it’s massively rewarding… even more so because it is difficult. Whether it’s passing a mid-term or handing in a piece of coursework, or doing something to really help your team, or taking part in some Giveback. You are praised for what you do achieve, and supported in what is more difficult. The apprenticeship scheme at IBM is recognised and you are appreciated. It’s difficult not to be proud of yourself when everyone is telling you how much you should be when taking on a degree and work at the same time!

Finally, because it is a central reason why many people take apprenticeships, it’s undeniably a huge attraction not having to pay your uni fees and get in all that debt. They’re covered by the Government and IBM, plus you get a salary so technically you almost get paid to go to university, plus you get tons of real world experience and knowledge too… and that’s pretty sweet whichever way you look at it.

In summary, I guess my opinion is that if you’re willing to put in the hard work and dedication then this scheme is a really good option. It’s rewarding, comes with plenty of opportunities, gives you the chance to learn loads of new stuff and kick starts your career… I don’t think anybody could say that isn’t a good choice.

The tranquility of a data center! – Lewis

WHHHHUUUURRRRRRRRR!!!!! No my keyboard isn’t broken that’s what I can currently hear as I write this blog for you all from inside one of IBMs UK headquarters data centers in North Harbour.

I’m here with 2 penetration testers from a 3rd party, escorting them through the data center and assisting them with tests to ensure our system holds up its accreditation for the next year. As I sit here fingers crossed they aren’t finding too many vulnerabilities that I will later have to re-mediate, it gives me a chance to think back on 2015 because it’s that time of year again… the PBC period (Personal Business Commitments: essentially the end of year appraisal process for ALL IBM employees).

One thing that my new manager highlighted to me when I left foundation to become a full IBMer was to think about what your wow factor was. Naturally in such a large pool of people all of whom are skilled, motivated and ambitious standing out in moderation’s is difficult. So what are my wow factors for this year?

I have taken ownership of my first network! All be it the smallest of those our account manages but a network none the less. In particular this has been a great opportunity to improve not just my networking skills but architecture as well. There are a number of things I simply hadn’t thought about before as a network engineer which this account has forced me to step up to and boost my knowledge. It has also greatly helped with my ability to make technical judgments and decisions independently. The lessons I’ve learnt here I’m sure are easily applied to other accounts and will stay with me throughout my career.

Also I have become a Cisco Certified Network Associate. A great achievement both for my CV and for IBM. This certification is a milestone of a competency in this area and can lead to many more deeply technical qualifications.

I could continue on with a few more highlights but there is something else I’d like to mention in this post which I believe will make IBM a more appealing place to work for any potential apprentices. As technology moves on so has IBMs appraisal process! Next year the appraisal process will move to quarterly discussions with feedback coming on an adhoc basis rather than the usual end of year rush to get it all done. In addition to this they are removing the “bell curve” for ratings. This is where a set number of ratings are available and the demographic must fit within this, which can see those deserved of higher ratings fall short simply because they couldn’t award any more of that rating. In the past this had been my biggest “rage against the corporate machine”. I believe the new approach to performance is more progressive and motivational for employees. No one is 100% sure on how this will affect the ethos and feel of the company however the process was created with the input of thousands of IBMers from all geographies and am looking forward to 2016 with a fresh approach!

Finally thank you all for reading this year! This is my last post so see you all in 2016!

Signing out in style – Craig Wilkinson

If you remember at the beginning of the year, we ran a mini-series on Goals and Ambitions, and every Apprentice blogger provided a breakdown of their goals for 2015, 2020 and 2025. If you don’t remember, then refresh your memory by looking at the goals I’ve set myself for those years here.

Since we are coming to the end of the year, I thought it would be a perfect time to reflect back on the year and give an update to the progress of my goals I’d set for 2015.

Just as a reminder I set the following goals:

By the end of 2015, I would like to have achieved the following goals:

Passing my driving test (hopefully at the third time of asking)

Completed all compulsory Apprentice education to a high grade

Be more confident in my abilities and self-belief

Achieved an industry-standard qualification in Testing and Infrastructure

Become more productive and less ‘leaving things to the last minute’

Being part of a high profile giveback project (this blog hopefully) and with that, meeting more IBM and Client senior management

Not giving up on my gym regime

Started travelling to different places in the world

So where am I at with these goals? Let’s start with the first one…

  • No, I have not yet passed my driving test but I still plan to pass before the year is up!
  • I have now completed all the mandatory Apprentice training, and to add to the cherry on top, I also recently received the news that I had completed my apprenticeship! More on this later.
  • I feel that as I have progressed through the apprenticeship, I learn more as the months pass by and become more experienced, and with experience you naturally become more confident at what you do and as a person.
  • As for achieving an industry-standard qualification in Testing and Infrastructure, these are currently still pending so these plans will likely take me into 2016. I’m in no rush, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been training; just last month I had completed my ITIL Foundation Certificate in Service management, and I am currently in the process of completing my CompTIA Security+ training.
  • I feel as I’ve moved roles and gone on to a role that’s kept me busy, I’ve naturally become more organised. And, if I’m honest, if I left things to the last minute in my role, I’d likely be in trouble.
  • My big giveback project for this year has been to focus on this Apprentice blog but I will cover this in detail later on in the post.
  • I most definitely have not given up on my gym routine. In fact, these days I generally feel a lot fitter, don’t get tired as easily and my family have noticed changes too. Not to mention going to the gym is a good release after a long day at work. (It’s not always fun and games)
  • I’ve definitely broadened my horizons in regards to holidays this year; in March I went to Tenerife and in September I ventured across the pond to spend my 22nd birthday in New York. Next year, I am heading off to Barcelona and Portugal and have plans to go to the Maldives.

So while I may not have definitively achieved all my goals, I’ve made great progress towards them, and for the ones I have achieved they are significant milestones for me in my life and my career.

One significant milestone is completing and passing my apprenticeship. This means that I have now been officially recognised for all the hard work I have done over the two years I’ve been on the apprenticeship.

What does this mean now?
Passing the apprenticeship now frees me up to start working on Career Framework, where I will begin to put together my promotion case so I can transition smoothly into the business. Passing my apprenticeship also coincided nicely with celebrating my second year at IBM which means that I have exactly one year left in Foundation to get promoted. It also means I have one year left to get qualified in as much as I can.

On top of achieving my goals, and passing my apprenticeship, I am also immensely proud with the progress of the IBM UK Apprentice blog. If you are an eagle-eyed follower of the blog, you’ll see that I’ve been around on the blog for a while and have made a number of good posts. I have also been working with a few of the authors behind the scenes as part of the IBM UK Apprentice Blog Administrator team.

At the tail end of last year, we set our agenda for 2015 to be the year we really start getting the momentum going and do what we can to increase our readership. I set myself the task to research into ways of improving the end-user experience for our readers as well as improve things behind the scenes for the other authors. You may have noticed some of these changes in the form of the search bar (we didn’t have one before), the tag cloud (the bigger the word, the more popular it is), author accounts and general Search Engine Optimisation as well as other minor cosmetic changes. I have also had the privilege of implementing a streamlined publishing process which allows us to get great content out faster and at the best times for our readers.

As I am responsible for the Blog site, I also see all the stats. And it’s looking at the stats that makes me proud of the work that the whole of the Apprentice Blog team have done this year. Compared to the same period last year, we more than doubled unique views (people reading our articles) and we are on track to double unique visitors (new people reading our articles), not to mention our content reaching over 60 countries around the world. This is an impressive achievement and exceeded the expectations we set ourselves at the end of last year. You see why it’s good to set S.M.A.R.T goals?

With all these achievements over 2015, it got me thinking about my goals and what I wanted to do over 2016. The next year, being my promotion year, looks to be my busiest yet and I look to focus and prioritise training and education as well as my day to day role.

It is these goals I have set myself that made me decide it best that I take a step back from blogging duties, so I can really focus on performing to the best of my ability.

From this moment on, I will taking a backseat role on the blog and look to drive our gathering momentum from behind the scenes. While I wont be blogging, I will, however, be taking over from Oliver as co-owner of the blog with Avtar, and we have some great ideas lined up for the team in 2016.

On that note, I feel it’s high time I wrapped this show up. It’s been an absolute pleasure writing for the blog and I’ve received some fantastic feedback as a result so I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks to you for staying awake throughout my ramblings! I will now leave you in the hands of our great authors who I am confident will continue their great work.

Signing out…

Craig Wilkinson

To Foundation and Beyond

So you have decided to take the plunge. You have read through all the great blogs on this page which has given you one conclusion – the IBM Apprenticeship is where you see yourself. After looking through all of my blogs it hit you that you want the same thing, so you’re welcome.

Assessment centre arrives and you pass through with flying colours, nothing is going to stop you from getting to the sweet life. First day on the job and your excitement threatens to boil over as you begin your career. You’re meeting Managers, Clients and other Apprentices and start to feel at home. The 3 years you have in foundation will not be wasted as you attend courses, work on multiple accounts and build your network. You may even be inclined to write about your experiences on the IBM Apprenticeship Blog. Impacts that you make to your clients are meaningful and acknowledged to the point that your are depended on as if you don’t have the tittle of ‘apprentice’.

So when the 3 years is done and you have given yourself a head start in your career, what’s next? What happens now? Lets have a look at some people that have left foundation and have pursued their careers further.

Two people that I believe to be great examples are Hayley James and Manuela Doutel-Haghighi. Hayley was one of the first apprentices to join IBM Foundation back in 2010. During her 3 years in the scheme she has won the National Apprentice Award in 2014 and came runner up in 2013 to a fellow IBMer Sadie Hawkins. In an interview she did last year at the awards evening she expressed an interest to one day being a CEO at IBM. Now that she has moved out of foundation she has continued to work towards that goal as well as any others she wishes to achieve. Whist working as a Release Manager at one of IBM’s largest account, she still takes time to help new apprentices and graduates with on boarding including myself when I joined a year ago.

Manuela Doutel-Haghighi was an IBM Graduate in 2001. She is currently a Complex Projects Executive for Global Technology Services (GTS). Having developed a talent in outsourcing business, after the graduate programme had ended she then had the opportunity to occupy a role that would expand the business as part of IBM’s Growth Market Initiatives in South Africa. Upon returning in 2010 she was given more responsibility as an Account Executive for 100 companies in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Like Hayley, Manuela has also helped new graduates into IBM as an Early Professionals Manager (EPM)

These are two shinning examples of how you can take advantage of what IBM offers. Hayley has used her time to build eminence both within IBM and across the UK, as shown by her awards. Manuela has taken her acquired expertise to help IBM across boarders on large scale and demanding projects.

What I find most important of all is both women have not forgotten the path they took to success and have always been willing to build on IBM’s early professional schemes and help anyway they can.

Please take the time to find more people that have succeeded beyond the scheme and hear their story. Plenty of former Graduates and Apprentices have stories to tell. What will your story be?

Joseph Barry

Goals and Ambitions – Guest post from David Stokes, Chief Executive, IBM UK and Ireland

And so our first blog series comes to a close.  And what a great run it’s been.  We all hope you have reflected on your own successes in 2014 and have given yourself some ambitious goals for 2015 and the rest of your career.  Let us know if you chose anything to do with Apprenticeships – we’ll all help out in any way we can to make sure you reach your goals – and we’ll certainly let you know if we achieved ours by the end of the year!

Now, to close out this first series in style, have a read of the below – guest written for us by David Stokes, the Chief Executive, IBM UK and Ireland.  David has long been a supporter of the Apprenticeship scheme and has attended a number of events to inspire and congratulate the Apprentice community.  his words below give a good idea of his goals for IBM and the industry in 2015, and he also gives us some advice for making sure being an Apprentice is as fulfilling as it can be.  Check it out!

Our industry is changing at an unprecedented rate and scale, and our company is transforming to lead in this new era – the digital era. We have made significant progress to date and in 2015 our transformation continues.

Technology has been a source of great innovation for decades, playing a key role in improving the way we live, work and increase efficiency and productivity. Today we are witnessing the confluence of many global technology shifts – in areas such as big data, cloud, social, mobile and security. The convergence of all of these shifts is hugely disruptive to the way we do business across all industries and sectors.

IBM’s long standing history of innovation has meant that our clients have and will continue to look to us and demand the best of IBM; the technology and the expertise to help them operate efficiently and meet the demands of the new era. They will also continue to seek our help to build systems that engage with people in new and differentiating ways, whether they be external clients or their own employees.

To take our company forward and continue to support our clients we are focusing on three areas: firstly, continuing to accelerate our investments in the global technology shifts, secondly innovating within our core business and finally extending our partnerships to drive innovation, which has been the hallmark of our company for more than 100 years.

Our people are particularly crucial to this transformation, both to the business and to me personally. We must continue to invest in building the skills our client’s value most, as well as creating an environment in which innovation can thrive in this digital era.

Apprentices play an important role in ensuring we deliver the best of IBM. Not only do they bring new skills and new insights but a new approach to working. In a highly mobile and knowledge-based business, such as ours, they play an important role in ensuring the effectiveness of our company. I am a strong supporter of apprenticeships and believe giving young people the opportunity to work hard, learn fast and put their skills into practice, on “real-world” projects, will enable them and IBM to succeed.

In reflecting on my own career, and my some 25 years in IBM, I can say with confidence that IBM offers an immense range of opportunities to learn; not just about technology but about many different aspects of the commercial world. Each of these opportunities are a chance to grow and learn.

As you look to build your own careers, my advice to you all would be to: always give your best and act with professionalism in everything you do, never stop learning – from your successes and your mistakes, and finally do something you enjoy. I believe IBM offers the opportunity to do all of these, and it is down to you to embrace the challenge.

 

Key Career Considerations – Ryan McManus

In this blog I will be sharing an insight into what factors I will be taking into consideration when setting my aspirations/ career goals/ path.

I should have set some specific aims and goals and have planned my full career out, but I haven’t.  Whether this is because I feel like it is impossible due to the fast moving industry I am in or whether it is a time consuming exercise that will be done and then not followed… I am not sure.

I am still an apprentice and every role I do, every person I speak to, every friend I make could change my career path instantly. Therefore I am taking every day as it comes and putting my full effort in to every task I compete.  I feel that if I don’t put in sufficient effort at this stage of my career, I will miss opportunities to get noticed, learn and most importantly, Network.  I am an apprentice and will take every opportunity to ensure I have as many career paths open to me as possible.

I am not planning to go through the whole of my career without long term goals. I think when my apprenticeship is over I will have to think very hard about the career path I would like to follow.  There are a few things below that will help me determine what my goals and aspirations will be and what career path I will take.

Key Career considerations:

What am I best at – For me, the top factor which will determine my career path and influence what I want to achieve is my skill set. Always play to your strengths. I am not talking about specific things here but high level areas like am I technical or client facing, am I good at sales etc.

Where is the money at – I am not going to hide it, money does drive me. I will have to balance where I want to end up and how far I want to climb; with how much that role impacts my social life/ family (when I have one!).  I will consider whether my industry is where the money lies, whether people at the same level ln the same sort of job are earning the same sort of wage.

Hours– What hours will I have to work in the career path I have taken?  Career paths with constant weekends or nights may be a factor that I will have to take into consideration.

How easy is it to climb – I like responsibility, I like to climb higher to gain more skills and experience. I will be looking for a career path that allows me to grow/ transform and looks to be the future career path for growth and opportunity, not just the one that appears to be doing the best currently.

What is the future – As mentioned above, I will have to think about if the career path or a similar career path will likely to be successful in 20 years’ time. It’s not the end of the world if it isn’t as people change within industries all the time but if you are an expert in the same industries for many years then other career factors like money may be easier to reach.

Job security – I will be looking at how secure my job is likely to be based on the path I choose and how high I want to climb.

 

Long/ short term factors:

Location – My career planning will probably not dive that deep, but in terms of roles –  the location of the roles will be a huge factor to where my career ends up. Do I want to work abroad – will my company enable me to work abroad, do I want to work in a City, do I want to be in a particular location etc.

Mobility – At the moment mobility is not an issue; I work away in different locations and away from home 5 days a week. However when I settle down and have a family, will being mobile start to affect my decisions in my career planning?

Social – The job I’m in, the responsibility I have, the location I am in, the people I work with. Does it offer what I want in social terms? What I am after now may not the case 20 years down the line. I like to go out at night, have meals, socialize with other apprentice/ graduate/ colleagues, play football,  play golf, play badminton etc.

Atmosphere and working environment – When trying to enjoy the role and job you are in – the place you work and the people you are working with. If you don’t enjoy where you work and the types of people you are around then your job satisfaction could be severely impacted.

Social:

I want to go travelling around Europe.  – I need a job with good pay and that will support that ambition.

I want to go skiing in 2016 – I need a job that will allow me to have time off in a particular time of the year.

I need to save for a nice car and a new house – I need a job that pays a fair amount of money for the job I do and the value I add.

 

My key ambition and aspiration is to climb in a company to gain more knowledge/ experience,  get more responsibility and as a result earn more money, whilst at the same time ensuring I enjoy life to the full! I am sure that the things mentioned above will be big factors while trying to achieve that aspiration.

I am a firm believer that you should work to live and not live to work!

Hope this blog helped!