No Regrets! Staying at IBM Has Been the Best Decision I Ever Made

8 years after joining IBM, Mark Hill was faced with a key decision point in his life: to remain with IBM or join a startup. He decided to stay with IBM and today he has no regret. In this blog, Mark tells us how making that decision was the best and also why he has stayed with IBM all these years.

By Mark Hill

I joined IBM right after graduating from college, going into a technical role creating embedded programming on a new IBM product. As the product was a revolutionary change from prior products, it was an opportunity to completely change the architecture and establish precedents for the future. This was an exciting time and I spent several years with a team of excellent people creating a product, releasing it, and supporting it as customers bought and volumes ramped up.

About eight years later, I was contacted by one of my old college friends. He and a few other people were creating a startup company, and they wanted me to join them. They had vetted some ideas and had some potential clients, and the outlook was that they would ramp up business quickly.

An offer like this is a key decision point in someone’s life and career. My wife and I struggled with what the right decision would be. On one hand I was at IBM, a large company with lots of opportunity all over the world. I was doing well, was recognized by my management team, and saw future potential. On the other hand, being involved at the beginning stages of a startup is a tremendous opportunity, with much greater potential to impact my career and my lifestyle. Of course, there is always greater risk, which would also impact my career and my lifestyle.

After gathering info on both options and deliberating, I decided to stay with IBM. This is a personal as well as a professional choice. Although I hadn’t started a family yet, it was coming soon.

I wished my friends good luck. They understood my reasons and decisions and we remained good friends. I saw their business take off, and I saw my friends flying all over the country to work with clients. They were doing very well. After I did start my family and create my own work/life balance, we lost track of each other.

When the economic bubble of the early 2000’s burst, I worried about the startup company and how it was doing. I have not heard of the company in a long time, so I feared the worst.

IBM as a large entity went through the economic issues and continued on strong. I continued to do well at IBM, going into management and changing from a technical career to a management career. I have gone up the management chain and am now responsible for a large mission and a large organization worldwide. I look back on my decision with no regrets, having continued to have terrific opportunity, recognition and rewards, having the work/life balance that I need, and continuing to have a successful and fulfilling career.

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(L-R: Drew Valentine, IBM VP of People & Culture, IBM Systems; Mark Hill, Program Director, Development, Data Retention Infrastructure; Marilynn Franco, Manager, New Technology Introduction for Storage; taking a selfie in front of the IBM Tucson sign)

Have you ever faced a decision point in your career similar to Mark’s? What factors did you consider and what was the outcome? Share with us on the comments section so we can engage our readers in an active discussion about career turning points.

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