IBM Corporate Service Corps: Denied

I’m way behind on my LJ posts so this update is past-due by at least two weeks.

I wasn’t accepted for this round of the IBM Corporate Service Corp. According to the post on the intranet there were several thousand (~5,500) people that applied for just a few (100) slots.

That’s ok though, this year may not have been the best time for me to go anyway. I do plan on reapplying for the next round.

IBM Corporate Service Corps

Today I applied for IBM’s Corporate Service Corps. Think Peace Corps but for computers instead. To quote the original IBM press release last year:

This program will provide leadership development experiences for IBMers, exposing participants to the 21st Century context for business – diverse cultures, policy environments and societal expectations. IBM will team with non-governmental organizations to place small groups of employees from different countries and business units together, outside of the office structure. They will build relationships and work on some of the world’s toughest problems, such as enhancing global economic opportunity and access to education resources. The Corporate Service Corps will be global from the outset: Approximately 600 IBM participants over the first three years will be drawn from all over the world. Project destinations will be in emerging and developing countries.

The program would be 6 months in total but only a month of that would be out of the US and in the destination country. The other 5 months would be part-time work in preparation for leaving and for debriefing once the in-country assignment is over.

The pre-reqs were reasonably high and they aren’t accepting that many people so we’ll see if I get selected. Preferential treatment will be given to folks who are already involved in volunteer work and while I listed DP and my sign language interpreting for Gateway the last several years I’m not certain if that’s what they’re looking for.

For the initial phase only three locations were listed as options and you were to rank them in your order of preference. My order was: Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa. Who knows, maybe my non-existent Russian will get some use?

The application deadline is February 15 and the coordinators are hoping to let folks know a month after that who has been accepted. Nothing to do but wait!

2007 PBC Rating: 1!

Two years in a row! :)

I just got off the phone with my manager and received the news about my 2007 Primary Business Commitment (PBC) results: I got a 1, again!

For the uninitiated: At the beginning of each year, IBM employees write down their goals for the year and put them in the PBC tool. At the end of the year employees write up how close they came to achieve those goals and submit them to management who reviews them. Also at the end of the year management gets together and rates employees according to how well they did compared to their peers. Ratings can be one of the following

  • 1 – Extraordinary
  • 2+ – Exceeded Expectations
  • 2 – Solid Performer/Met Expectations
  • 3 – Needs Improvement
  • 4 – Your Ass Is Getting Fired

Because PBC ratings are tied to bonus payouts, the number of 1s and 2+s are limited – generally at a 3rd line manager level.

My manager’s writeup makes me sound much more important than I really am but I sure sound good! I was a bit concerned how my relocation would impact my PBCs for this year. As a telecommuter I feel that I never really know how my peers and management team feel about me. Maybe it’s because I rely so much on nonverbal communication (can anyone say sign language?) and that’s completely absent.

In short: yay me!

Before you get too excited and think “hey, IBM just pre-released great 2007 earnings, it’ll be a good year for bonuses” remember that you’re applying logic and reasoning to the bonus process that does not exist. Besides, I’m told that while IBM did well, Tivoli did Much Less Than Well although I guess we’ll see later this week.

ITIM 5.0 in the news

As mentioned previously, ITIM was released to manufacturing (RTMed) last week and yesterday was made electronically generally available (eGA). Yay!

Several news reports have been released. None of them mention the better performance with V5.0 (probably because we don’t give out specifics without a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) so they’d have no data they could share to back that up).

ITIM 5.0 RTMs!

I realize that subject line makes very little sense to non-IBMers, let me translate:

IBM Tivoli Identity Manager version 5.0 released to manufacturing last night just before midnight EST!

That may still not make much sense to some folks, so let me break it down further:

The project that I’ve been working on for almost 2-years was finally released last night on schedule!

This is a huge thing due to the size of the project, the size of the team, the aggressive schedule, and that few of us are still sane after the two years :)

This release has a lot of “firsts” that I was directly involved in that will positively impact our customers:

  • First time to have team members in all four US time zones. The joke is that I moved to Denver specifically for this reason. [Ok, this one doesn’t impact our customers but it’s a fun fact.]
  • First time to have a hardware sizing tool available at release instead of 90 days after release. This is vital as without a sizing tool our customers just have to guess what kind of hardware they need for their deployments.
  • First time to have a Performance Tuning Guide available at GA (general availability – about 5 days after RTM) instead of 90 days after release. This is important for customers with medium to large environments as well as the IBM Service team who is helping them deploy the version. [Well, technically we aren’t going to hit GA but rather 1.5 weeks after GA. Still that’s better than 12 weeks!]
  • First time to release an internal-only document for Support and Services highlighting some known rough spots in the product so they can guide customers around them.
  • And best of all: it’s the first time that product performance and scalability have been an integral focus of a release from the design phase. In all past releases performance and scalability have been, literally, the very last thing looked at just before we release. I’m unable to say in a public forum just how much faster the product is without all of you signing an NDA. Just trust me that It’s Faster and It Scales Better and that’s a Very Good Thing for our customers and for me!

Please excuse me while I do the engineer’s happy dance for about a week.

IBM releases salary adjustments

Today IBM released the result of this year’s salary plan (ie: raises) to the masses. I had high hopes since we (IBM and Tivoli) had such a great 2006.

This year the bucket that my team’s salary adjustments came from (at whatever level that is determined) wasn’t all that big to begin with. To complicate matters more, IBM decided to focus on adjusting folks Market Reference Point (MRP)1 this year at the expense of rewarding their top contributors. What this means is that everyone that was below 100% of their MRP had a good chance of getting something to get them closer to 100%. After the MRP adjustments were determined, that money was taken out of the bucket and whatever was left was to give Performance raises based on your PBC rating. Performance raises are generally handed out to folks with a PBC rating of 1, 2+, and often 2. This year the money remaining for the Performance raises was so small that they were only able to give Performance raises for people who made a 1 and some of the 2+s.

Overall my odds were pretty good. Moving to Denver decreased my MRP to 88% so I could expect an MRP increase. In addition I received a 1 for 2006 so I was expecting a decent Performance raise as well.

Based on what I received the bucket must have been microscopic in size. I really can’t complain – I still have a job (layoffs occurred within Tivoli just last week) and received at least a small raise. Still, the number pales in comparison to my previous salary adjustments. My manager also said that my percentage increase was the highest at my second-line manager’s level which makes me happy (see, even though the number is small they do still like me) and sad (geeze, that’s the best IBM can do for their employees?). Oh well – it’ll be enough to cover Benjamin’s college books.

[1] MRP is based on three factors: band, location, and the pay range given those two criteria. If, at a given band and location, you have an MRP of 100%, then you are in the dead center of the pay range for that band/location pair. If you have an MRP of 80%, then you are paid 80% of the average pay at that band/level. Denver has a higher cost of living than Austin (Denver is at the IBM “national” level and Austin is at the IBM “regional” level) which bumps the 100% MRP mark up by $9,600/year going from Austin to Denver.

A Redpaper: I’m published!

At last, I was involved in writing a document for IBM that has my name on it! I’ve been the person responsible for writing and releasing the IBM Tivoli Identity Manager Tuning Guides for many years now, but since they are really a roll-up of information from a variety of sources, including myself, none of them have any names on them.

Over the past several months I’ve been involved in writing, contributing, and proofing a Redpaper titled Performance Tuning for IBM Tivoli Directory Server. The document came about as a ‘meeting of the minds’ of several IBMers who work with ITDS on a daily basis. My main contributions are sections 6.5 through 6.9 and the corresponding scripts referenced therein. These are the same scripts that we’ve been releasing with the ITIM tuning guides for quite some time now but were seen as useful enough to reach a broader audience. In addition, section 2.4 (and subsections) were based on some early versions of my scripts that were later enhanced by other IBMers. The other authors had no idea until our first meeting that the 2.4 scripts were initially created by me :)

The Abstract of the paper was taken straight from the original introduction which I wrote most of. What I find particularly funny is that the current text is a rewrite of an early draft from the other contributors. After trying to make sense of it during the first review, I threw my hands up in the air and rewrote the whole thing. While I am far from a good writer, I am apparently better than any of the other contributors (likely due to hanging out with mbock, jonobie, and quindo who aren’t allowed to find errors in the doc now that it has been published :).
Abstract behind the cut

2006 PBC Rating: 1!

Earlier this morning I had a call with my manager and received the news about my 2006 Primary Business Commitment (PBC) results – I got a 1!

For the uninitiated: At the beginning of each year, IBM employees write down their goals for the year and put them in the PBC tool. At the end of the year employees write up how close they came to achieve those goals and submit them to management who reviews them. Also at the end of the year management gets together and rates employees according to how well they did compared to their peers. Ratings can be one of the following

  • 1 – Extraordinary
  • 2+ – Exceeded Expectations
  • 2 – Solid Performer/Met Expectations
  • 3 – Needs Improvement
  • 4 – Your Ass Is Getting Fired

Because PBC ratings are tied to bonus payouts, the number of 1s and 2+s are limited – generally at a 3rd line manager level.

I’m excited for several reasons. First, and most obviously, it is great recognition within IBM and the Security organization. Second, it increases the percentage of bonus payout I can expect to get assuming IBM and SWG performed well enough in 2006 to hand out bonuses. And third, having a good PBC rating makes it easier for my management team to let me become a mobile employee for our move to Denver as they can see that I’m a solid performer.

Woohoo! :)

Golden handcuffs

My manager just called me about an hour ago and said he was happy to inform me that I am the recipient of an IBM Equity Award. Apparently these types of awards are management-initiated and require the backing of your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd line managers. After a bit of research I discovered that I have received these twice before and didn’t know it! Equity Award is the fancy label IBM gives to stock-related awards which I received in 2003/06 and 2003/12. (Yes, yes, I know that stocks are equities, lay off.) The previous two Equity Awards were stock options. The new award is a set of Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) who’s label told me absolutely nothing until I read up on it.

Apparently RSUs are a way for IBM to give someone actual stock, instead of stock options. They are similar to options however in that they take time to vest. Whereas IBM options vest 25% over 4 years, RSUs vest 50% every 2 years over 4 years. When they vest you are basically ‘given’ that many shares of stock minus taxes and whatnot. IBM very clearly states that Equity Awards are a mechanism to ‘retain truly exceptional people with the critical skills … to win in the marketplace today and in the future’ [courtesy of the IBM internal website], hence the phrase ‘golden handcuffs’. Looks like IBM wants to keep me around for a while. I’m not altogether certain that stock options (or RSUs) would be enough to retain me if I really wanted to leave (’cause its only money and I’d leave it in a heartbeat if I didn’t like what I was doing for work) but I agree that they are an excellent fringe benefit for staying!

A 4-year vesting time oddly coincides with our current 5-year plan which is nice (more on that in a later post).

In actuality I’d rather IBM pony up to the table when it comes time for annual performance reviews and salary adjustments. We shall see.

Travel to Canada

Greetings from Toronto, Canada. I’ve been up here all week long (since Monday morning) for work. On Tuesday and Wednesday I presented a performance and tuning workshop. Overall I thought they went well and I have already received two emails thanking me for flying up to conduct the workshop and saying how the material was exactly what they needed.

On Thursday I met with a customer and answered some of their performance-related questions. They came out with a better understanding of how things work under the covers, improvements in the latest version (which they are working on migrating to), and features planned in the upcoming version currently in the design phase. I received an email from the customer account team saying how much the customer appreciated me coming by and chatting with them.

Right now, I’m feeling pretty good overall about my visit — and that was just the work aspects!

On a more personal front, I arrived in town on Monday mid-afternoon. That evening Jason (a local IBM friend) picked me up at the Hotel and took me downtown Toronto for dinner and a quick walking tour. Tuesday evening I joined several of the workshop attendees for drinks (I had a cherry coke) and dinner at a local Italian restaurant. Wednesday after the workshop was over I joined the attendees again for drinks (two cherry cokes!) and appetizers. Later that night my coworker Steve and I drove downtown and ate at Hey Lucy, a local restaurant. Thursday after the customer visit, Steve and I went up in the CN Tower and enjoyed the view from the highest tower in the world (or so they say). Later that night I joined Jason for a drag show being performed to benefit an AIDS charity organization called (I kid you not) Casey House. Several other Canadian IBMers joined us as well and we had a lot of fun. After the performance Jason, Brad (one of said IBMers), and myself went to the Panarama bar for some drinks (yet another cherry coke, yes I’m becoming a slush). The Panarama bar is the 51st floor of a building in downtown Toronto with an awesome view of the town, including the CN Tower and the waterfront. The bar is at St. Thomas and Bay Street and highly recommended for the view but stay away from their cherry cokes as they are much too weak and the prices way too high.

As far as some misc observations:

  • 104.5 CHUM FM is an excellent radio station if you are ever in the Toronto area. Much like a mix between Mix 94.7, Majic 95.5, and BOB FM in Austin
  • Apparently “Mazda” isn’t pronounced the same way in the US (at least in Texas) and in Canada (at least Toronto). In the US the word is pronounced with the first ‘a’ sounding more like the ‘o’ in Oz. Up here it is pronounced like a long ‘a’ like in master. CHUM FM was having a competition to give away a Mazda car of some sort and it took me several minutes the first time to figure out what the heck they were talking about!

Overall I have greatly enjoyed my visit. I still have the rest of today (Friday) and tomorrow to stay out of trouble before I fly back in on Sunday. Jason has offered to take me on a tour of downtown tomorrow with a focus on unique Toronto architecture at my request. Tomorrow night a few IBMers are getting together for dinner and then to see the Toronto equivalent of Shakespeare Under the Stars – sounds like an excellent end to my trip.