“I don’t look like your Dad’s IBM”

By Savannah Worth,

I was chatting with my uber driver the other day when I began telling him what I did for a living. I told him I worked as a software developer for IBM, and he was astonished. He looked at my dyed hair, the polka dot leggings I was wearing, and said, “so this is what IBM looks like now! I would never have imagined it!”


I don’t look like your dad’s IBM. No one on my team does.


Savannah Worth 2

I work for a part of IBM called the Bluemix Garage. Bluemix is IBM’s cloud platform as a service, and the Bluemix Garage is its consulting branch. We work with clients to make build apps and deploy them on Bluemix. But we’re more than that. We’re disruptive.


We believe in design thinking, lean principles, and a version of agile known as XP. We apply these tools to every project we work on. However, we also use these methodologies to help our clients uncover better ways to work. We’re never comfortable. We’re always learning, and looking for ways to improve. These are cultural values that drive all we do, and this culture comes from our awesome team.


When I started at the garage a year ago, I was the third developer. Now, we have closer to twenty developers and five locations across the globe. And we’ve got some diverse backgrounds. Some of us are long time IBMers. Others are fresh out of university. And then there are those of us who took a more circuitous route. My own background is in creative writing. We’ve got developers who come from testing, from accounting, from biology. So we have a huge range of skills and interests.


Savannah Worth 3.pngWe’ve got ten developers in San Francisco, counting myself, so we often have two or three client project happening at a time. Every other week, however, our full team–dev, design, and business– comes together for a retrospective. A retrospective is a structured meeting with the goal of gauging the morale of the team and addressing any challenges we might be facing. It’s also a chance to celebrate things that are working well. And sometimes have a beer!


One of the things that came up at a recent retro was that we wanted more skill sharing across our team. We thought we could be doing more to learn from each other, and we all had interests to share. So we came up with a solution.


One of the developers took the action item to organize lunchtime tech talks. And now, we’ve been coming together at lunch, and one of our team members gives a presentation on something they’re interested in. We decided to start simple, with only in-person talks and brown bag style lunches. Then, if these talks proved to be a good use of our time, we could invest in a catered lunch and start streaming our talks to remote team members.


So far, we’ve had talks on typed versus dynamic languages, react.js, css frameworks and animations, and photoshop for developers. We’ve been sharing knowledge from dev to dev, and from design to dev.


These tech talks are just one way we’re continually helping each other to grow at the Garage. Every principle that we teach our clients, we’re practicing ourselves.


The garage is home to me, and my teammates are also my friends. I get to be creative. I get to question. I get to learn. It’s awesome!


To find out more about Savannah and her journey into the world of coding, have a read here. Also, check her out on Twitter!

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What will you make with IBM? ibm.com/jobs



One thought

  1. As a teenager and young woman, I never imagined that I would work at IBM. When I was in 7th grade (a little over 40 years ago) some men came to my school to talk about the “computer industry”. It sounded fascinating! Until they got to the very end when they said “strong math and science skills”. I thought, “darn that won’t be for me!” because those were my weakest subjects.

    When in my 20s, I drove past an IBM campus. There were a number of men outdoors in black suits. “Nope, I won’t ever be working here”.

    When I was in my 30s, a colleague at a telemarketing company said “I just started working for a consulting firm doing hardware call handling at IBM. I think you would be good at it, give me your resume.” I gave her my resume. That was my entry to my first non-technical job working with a consulting company at IBM. IBM liked my performance and hired me away to continue with call handling but now for software support. In spite of my doubts, I had found myself at IBM, figuratively coming in through the back door. Ultimately, my entry at IBM in a non-technical position led me down a technical path which became my career.

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