IBM Fellow Namik Hrle: For new ideas, always look outside

namik_hrle_140x140Namik Hrle
IBM Software Group, Information Management
Distinguished Engineer – Information Management
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Now that he’s become an IBM Fellow, Namik Hrle has just one thing left on his bucket list: make the mainframe sexy.

“My passion is the IBM mainframe. No matter if it’s been around for 50 years, it still leads the pack by a lot in its availability, capability and scalability,” said the good-natured Namik from his office in the IBM Boeblingen lab. “We know it’s essential for transactional processing, but I’d like to make System Z the natural habitat for a new brand of applications in business analytics, cloud and mobile.”

If you gave the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator a paternity test, Namik would be revealed as the father. He invented the technology, led it through development, and has personally evangelized it to dozens of clients around the world.

“The Accelerator turns the DB2 into a hybrid database that can run both transactional and analytical workloads on System Z,” Namik explained. “It allows customers to exploit legendary mainframe capabilities for their business analytics applications—and makes the migration very easy, a few days, not weeks.”

A native of Bosnia, Namik grew up in the city of Banja Luka with three passions: soccer, mathematics, and playing bass guitar in heavy-metal bands. “In my younger days,” Namik laughed, “I was a head banger.”

After studying mathematics and computer science at the University of Zabreb in Croatia, the future Fellow started his IT career in Sydney, Australia, before settling in Boeblingen, where he officially joined IBM in 1998 after working as an independent contractor developing IBM software.

Holder of numerous patents, outstanding technical achievements, author recognition and corporate awards, Namik is known as IBM’s ultimate authority at the intersection between enterprise applications and information management technologies. He is a sought-after expert by customers, IBM sales, marketing and technical support teams—and a frequent speaker at industry events.

“I work with clients constantly—hundreds of interactions per year, from a short call to long email exchanges to client visits,” Namik said. “They are always my best inspiration.”

Namik Hrle in his own words

What do you look for when you’re hiring?

The capability to innovate, to think out of box, the ability to take risks. I like those kind of folks. Not the people who are trying to come up with reasons for not doing something without actually giving alternatives. Very often, you don’t have time to think, through every single turn. You have to take a risk, you have to go forward, adjust as you go. Especially in this market—things are happening too fast to see that all t’s are crossed and i’s dotted.

Where do you find your best ideas?

Trying to resolve a challenge, pain point that a certain client of mine has. I can’t think of any major thing I thought of, fought for and managed to deliver that wasn’t directly tied to a very concrete challenge facing a specific client.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

My wife and I are movie freaks. Woody Allen movies, European cinema. More independent films than blockbusters. We have a daughter who is finishing her doctorate in biochemistry, and a son in the second year of medicine. Spending time with them is what I am always looking forward most.

What was the last book you read?

A biography of Leonard Cohen, the Canadian singer/songwriter and poet. I also read a lot of authors from the part of the world I come from who write in the South Slavic languages.

What’s on your playlist?

I gave up head-banging music. Unfortunately, I mellowed big time. Some softer stuff from my era, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Santana … jazz and classical music are also regularly on my playlists.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

I do like tasty food and, as it usually goes, if it’s tasty, it’s not particularly healthy. I don’t exercise as much as I should. I wish I’d do something on that front. I could still play some soccer, but it would not be a pretty sight.

How would you like to be remembered?

I like to be remembered by my kids as somebody who was always there for them when they needed me and who enabled them to accomplish their dreams. I try to help my relatives in Bosnia as much as I can. That’s very rewarding irrespective of whether they’ll have that memory of me.

What does it mean to be an IBM Fellow?

I know some of the active and retired Fellows. To have a privilege to join their company is just tremendous. Most of these folks are such big figures and personas, it’s unbelievable. I am honored to be in the same league. I am flooded with various feelings and sense of pride is there as well, but that is dwarfed by the feeling of being humbled by this honor.