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Highlights—March 28, 2015

  • Minneapolis StarTribune:

    IBM losing touch with values that bred success. By Lee Schafer. Excerpts: One of the notable innovations of technology giant IBM may be the creative language it’s come up with to describe what happens when people are told they’ve just lost their jobs.

    It’s called a “resource action.”

    It can be a verb, too, like hearing at the coffee pot that five IBM technical writers were just “resource actioned,” or even “RA’ed.”

    Unfortunately for IBMers, one of the things the company is best known for now is all the resource actioning it’s been doing.

    As of earlier this month, IBM had just over 75,000 employees, or “resources,” in the United States. That’s down from 134,000 only 10 years ago and well over 200,000 in the 1980s. This figure is according to Alliance@IBM, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America. The company itself long ago discontinued its practice of disclosing its U.S. staff count. ...

    The erosion of the employee base has been devastating to some well-known IBM towns, such as the company’s birthplace, Endicott, N.Y. There the payroll is down to 700 from a peak of 11,000. The story is similar in nearby New York towns, like Poughkeepsie. ...

    What happens with this big company matters here in Minnesota, too. Another of those well-known IBM towns is Rochester. ...

    The current worker count there is 2,677, said Lee Conrad of Alliance@IBM. That’s down from 3,224 in 2012 and about 4,200 at the end of 2008. Conrad added that he’s not sure how many of the current Rochester workers are IBM employees, vs. temporary or contract workers.

    Rochester has been an IBM town since 1956, and in the early 1990s, IBM Rochester peaked out at about 8,100 employees in 3.6 million square feet of space. But the Rochester operation’s area of focus has become less central for the company. ...

    Watson had succeeded his dad as CEO in 1956, and he described just three key IBM beliefs, beginning with what he called the most important, “our respect for the individual.” ...

    And as he explained in his lectures, executives who hoped to see their company endure had to be prepared to change just about everything — except the core principles that were important in building the company in the first place. Of course here that means respect for the individual. ...

    IBM’s future from here looks to be challenging, as older businesses decline and new lines of business struggle to take off. IBM certainly can’t guarantee a job when there’s no guarantee of enough business to keep a person busy, in Rochester or anywhere else.

    But it’s also not too late for the company to go back to core principles.

    A great place to start would be banning the word “resource” from ever being used to talk about the people who come to work there.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • Interesting pattern developing...large companies lose their way and shed employees. CEOs receive bonus payments, stock prices experience short term gains, and the laid off stop buying things like cars and houses. Those solid values that were the essential foundations to the implied social contract that employees used to be able to rely up have vaporized just like the future employment prospects. Question for the leaders of local businesses: What kind of employees do you expect to be hiring in the next few years? Do you think these future employees will have even a shred of loyalty?
    • It's ironic that these days corporations are called people, but employees are called resources.
  • MarketWatch:

    Credit Suisse sees years of painful transition ahead for IBM. By Sue Chang. Excerpts: International Business Machines Corp. may be in worse shape than the market thinks. In Credit Suisse’s “32 Contrarian Stock Ideas” report published on Wednesday, Big Blue is the only stock that analysts used “alarming” to state their case why investors need to steer clear.

    “We find alarming evidence of underinvestment and internal dissatisfaction which suggests in almost all scenarios IBM is set for a painful multiyear transition,” wrote analyst Kulbinder Garcha.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • IBM treatment of its employees is so bad that the company can not recover. In the long run this is more important than their success or failure with their financial engineering efforts. For this reason alone, I would not hold their stock.
    • IBM products are lousy, customer support has become nut, IBM didn't take care of employees well, outsourcing too much now let IBM directors sing outsourcing song!
    • Credit Suisse is right and both Morgan Stanley and Warren Buffet are wrong. I spent 20 years in IBM pre-Gerstner. I was one of the "wild ducks" given wide latitude. I was even the ghost writer of responses to the Board questions that the CEO/CFO could not answer. Occasionally, for complicated Qs that one Board member - a professor at Jet Propulsion Labs - used to ask, I was asked to present in person live with flip charts. There was one golden rule. Credit for success belonged to my boss. Failures were solely mine. If I made the Company money I was given an "Attaboy Award", not quite a pat on the back but a check for $15,000 or actually $7,300 after taxes were deducted. The individual tax burden was quite heavy at the time.

      I once made the Company $110 million in one single transaction. I went short the Argentina Peso in 1981 just months before the peso collapsed — a massive $200mm equivalent position. It is chronicled in an article I wrote published in the Harvard Business Review March 1983. For this I received just one Attaboy Award — not a percentage as Wall Street rewards its executives.

      All this changed when Gerstner came on Board. He was a quintessential "financial engineer" — all window dressing for Wall Street analysts. He did quite well. When he "retired" and passed the baton he had accumulated over $200 million.

      Gerstner adopted the following approach:

      • Employees were treated as simply commodities ” more than 100,000 were either let go or forced into early retirement.
      • Since this would inevitably result in lowered morale, he chose to buy small startups aggressively to "buy innovation".
      • He sold off all of IBM's assets. During my tenure at Treasury we had a huge portfolio of prime real estate all over the world — like 590 Madison in New York. He sold off this more than $1 billion building for under $200mm.
      • The cash was used for acquisitions of both startups as well as the company's stock. It was not long before a healthy net book value turned into a stark negative $20b plus.
      • He steered the company into a service business and to make sure costs were low; he started to outsource to India. I was there when IBM closed its India operation in 1977. Not only did Gerstner restart it BUT he built it into the largest operation — not just within IBM but also in India. Last year it employed about 150,000, more than 35% of the global workforce.
      • Any employee that could be put on contract was put on contract. Many employees in the USA are on contract.
      • Expenses were slashed to the bone. I used to travel business class to Asia. My counterpart today travels to Beijing cattle class on Delta via Atlanta on a contract rate. Too tired to be of any use when she lands in Beijing.

      The Business Plan implemented by Gerstner is now more than 20 years old. It is very long in the tooth. Any wonder that IBM is at the end of the runway? IBM has plenty of competition in "cloud acquisitions" and therefore must settle for third best that a Google or FB do not want. Rejects. Its NBV is so negative that share buybacks no longer are viable. AND India wages are rising sharply so layoffs have begun — in India.

      I wish Mme. Rometty a lot of luck. She is going to need it. At some point in time, the Sage is going to wake up from his Heinz stupor and wonder about his single large investment. He may well decide to puke it out — at $125. Buy high, sell low...the Buffet way!

    • The situation at "Big Blew" can be compared to a dinosaur stuck in a tar pit: thrashing around, making a lot of noise, but inexorably sinking deeper into the darkness. Ginny and Crew will get their $Millions, leaving whosoever is left to turn out the lights. IBM's "Cloud" is turning out to be nothing more than "Smoke and Mirrors". I pity the employees more than the investors!
  • Seeking Alpha:

    IBM Spends $70 Billion To Retire $45 Billion Worth Of Shares. By Josh Arnold. Excerpts: It's no secret that I'm not a fan of IBM as the company's management continues to sit idly by as Rome burns. Part of my frustration with IBM is the fact that management appears to have no other ideas for growing EPS other than continuing to buy back tens of billions of dollars in stock. While I've made it clear that I like buybacks, they only work if the underlying business is stable, at a minimum. Buybacks executed on a share price that is in decline simply makes things worse as it means shareholder money was spent buying shares that were more expensive than the current price. IBM has executed this folly to perfection in recent quarters, so in this article, I'll take a look at IBM's share repurchases to try and quantify exactly what the company has spent and the results it has achieved. ...

    IBM has spent an almost unbelievable amount of money on buybacks in the past, and the last five years have been no exception. The numbers we're talking about here are staggering; the average annual expenditure on buybacks has been $14 billion. That's an incredible sum of money to continue to throw at anything with that kind of longevity. That would be why IBM's share count is so far reduced from its former levels. ...

    Overall, has IBM's buyback program had the intended effect of reducing the share count? Yes, of course, and in a very big way. But when we peel back the onion and look at how it achieved its goal of reducing the share count, the picture isn't so rosy. IBM has, by my calculations, "lost" about $15 billion of shareholder money buying back stock at higher prices than it could have today, destroying shareholder value in the process. Imagine if IBM had returned the $70 billion earmarked for buybacks in the form of dividends; I reckon IBM shareholders would be much happier campers at this point. IBM has made it clear it has no other ideas for growing the stock price, so these buybacks will undoubtedly continue, but make sure if you're a shareholder that you understand how the company is spending your money.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • “Not the Same”

      Current Employee — Anonymous Employee.

      Pros: IBM offers decent benefits and the ability to work from home. Great people to work with. Decent compensation.

      Cons: The company seems to be lacking a clear vision. Layoffs are occurring in some cases twice a year. Along with that, the company is doing a lot of offshoring. Lack of training.

      Advice to Senior Management: Upper management needs to consider some of the decisions they are making and consider some of the downstream impact.

    • “Great team, still a good place to be at”

      Current Employee — Operations Manager.

      Pros: Smart IBMers around you, flexible work time, fair compensation, good career opportunities, easy to move to new fields.

      Cons: Perks practically non-existing, performance evaluation is very much from last century. Much focus on managing the cost side e.g. freezing travel and education budgets.

      Advice to Senior Management: Stop transforming for the sake of transformation. Figure out what needs to be done differently first, then move on to changes. Fill the term 'putting the client first' with real content.

    • “The Blind Leading Blind”

      Current Employee — Project Manager in London, England (UK). I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: You get to work with some great people who are committed to doing what is best for IBM. Extremely knowledgeable and professional people that make working at IBM almost a pleasure.

      Cons: However, that level of commitment ends at senior management, as all they are concerned with is protecting their own jobs, without rocking the boat for higher management. When you look higher then the only concern is for share holders. No thought at all is given to their actual workers. IBM is a manufacturing company, that has changed to a services company, but is still being run by a board with manufacturing blood running in their veins.

      Advice to Senior Management: Rather than running the company into the ground through knee jerk reactions and redundancies, do what's best for the company once in a while, rather than what's best for the share price. Employees have seen nothing positive coming from the board for years now. If you have nothing to offer, then don't roll out processes and procedures just for the sake of it.

      Invest in giving your workers tools that actually work, rather than forcing tools on to them that are not fit for the job. Many employees will testify that it is becoming almost impossible to deliver services to customers with the internal tools and processes that we are being forced to use. Add to this the ridiculous number of redundancies that have taken place over the last few years and it's a wonder that IBM can still afford to bid for new work

    • “A good company to start at and get experience to kick start a career.”

      Current Employee — Applications Development Specialist in Baton Rouge, LA. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than a year).

      Pros: The company pays for an excessive amount of training. The experience provided from working with the company is priceless.

      Cons: The company has issues keeping the employees on project due to many new hires having little to no experience. As well, there is no room for growth and pay is below market average. Most stay for a year at the longest to get the experience and training. Managers have a hard time keeping qualified employees. Another issue is regardless if you work 40 hours a week or 500 hours a week you get paid the same. Some spend much of their time working getting paid little.

      Advice to Senior Management: Good luck, wouldn't wanna be in your shoes.

    • “IBM cares about customers, not employees.”

      Current Employee — VMware Technician in Columbia, MO.

      Pros: Over 20 vacation days starting out. Resume builder. Offers some training. Talented coworkers. Good networking opportunity.

      Cons: Upper management is very disconnected from the hands-on techs. For the majority of my time here, my team was not allowed to hire anyone, regardless of how many people left. Contracts were signed for millions of dollars to determine what my team supports, without any consultation of us whatsoever. This led to unreasonable demands from the customers that we could not meet. Management would always side with the customer.

      Advice to Senior Management: Protect your most valuable asset; your employees. Grow a spine when it comes to contract negotiation. Instead of begging for customers, focus on keeping good employees focused on supporting good customers.

    • “Essentially, liquidating its assets...”

      Former Employee — Computer Programmer in Rochester, MN I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: Worked at IBM for over 30 years. It used to be a wonderful place to work, with talented people and best of breed hardware/software. It no longer is that company and the best that can be said of it is flexible work from home and somewhat flexible work hours. Pay/benefits are average.

      Cons: Company used to be run by engineers, but now is run by the finance department. Minimal investment in its people and R&D over the last 15 years and everything is now spent on stock buybacks. Most of the experienced and talented people are now gone. The existing set of customers are really paying the price with the current product set and services now offered. It used to be that having IBM on your resume was a good thing... I'm not so sure anymore, as it was harder and harder to get good college talent to come to IBM.

      Advice to Senior Management: Quite frankly, resign. This is/was a technology company that needs to be first run by real engineers that have a vision for the future. In the long run, nobody really cares what the stock price will be 13 weeks from now. Existing management is destroying a once great company.

    • “Project Manager”

      Former Employee — Change Manager in Beaverton, OR.

      Pros: Great pay and benefits. The company is generally very stable.

      Cons: Big, slow, bureaucratic. Get ready for the grind, as it takes many layers to make basic decisions.

      Advice to Senior Management: Get lean! I think this company could be extremely profitable if it got rid of the bloat. Like most bureaucracies, the company limps along because it is hampered by middle managers who are more concerned about their own status than the viability of the organization.

    • “14 Years”

      Current Employee — Operations in Research Triangle Park, NC I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: Helpful in a crisis, good to excellent benefits, many valuable learning resources, clean work environment, a very good cafeteria, good vacation benefit, credit union.

      Cons: Poor work/life balance, poor morale, no loyalty, moving everything possible to offshore, regularly furloughs contract workers, no raises for years, demands too much from employees with no compensation for extra work.

      Advice to Senior Management: Show some loyalty to your people, stop destroying morale by only concentrating on the bottom line, stop demanding perfection and instead encourage team work and positive practices that minimize problems.

    • “Systems Administrator contractor: bad experience”

      Former Contractor — Senior Systems Analyst in Calgary, AB (Canada). I worked at IBM as a contractor (less than a year).

      Pros: IBM Global Services pays a competitive rate if you have the skills they require. Also, there is the option to work remotely depending of your team/department.

      Cons: Lots of red tape, very heavy processes oriented to the point where you are practically blocked to perform a task to your best ability if not 100% aligned with their process/policies. People working at IBM for a long time are incompatible with the rest of the IT world as they learn to do things the "IBM way". If you cannot handle absurdity and high stress, do not apply with this company. (It is the McDonalds of IT).

      Advice to Senior Management: Take an early retirement, there is more to life than Big Blue.

    • “Accelerating the race to the bottom for employee satisfaction.”

      Current Employee — Project Manager in Manchester, England (UK). I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 8 years).


      • You can work at home, depending on fickle first line management.
      • Some knowledgeable people to work with and interesting projects if you're one of the chosen ones.


      • Extremely limited promotion opportunities.
      • No pay rise for most people. I've had one raise in 8 years for only 1.5%.
      • Cronyism rules the roost. PBC process puts you in competition with your peers. Used as a management tool to drive people out of the company.
      • No job security. Constant resource actions and whenever possible the replacement with cheaper off shore resources (You're not a person in IBM; you're a tool).
      • Management by buzzword. It looks like "agile" has been added to the dictionary. Sadly, agile isn't something IBM can claim to be. Bureaucratic describes IBM.

      Advice to Senior Management:

      • You can't turn a company around when you treat employees the way IBM has been doing.
      • Placing shareholders, management renumeration then in equal last are customers and employees is no way to ensure IBM lasts another 100 years. I keep hearing that IBM is too big to fail, I sadly no longer believe this.
      • Drop the PBC system. It's flawed and you know it. Look at the evidence! Sadly the system is now so broken my second line sent a generic list to cut and paste into 2015. Sadly this won't make any difference as you sort the ranking out behind closed doors without SMART objectives so CRONYISM is rife.
      • Explain the renumeration package of out CEO. No one understands how poor performance can be rewarded in this way.
    • “Devoid of strategy”

      Former Employee — Anonymous Employee. Pros: Some excellent people work there, but they are getting harder and harder to motivate. Cons: Leadership is in the toilet. A blatant disregard to recognise the realities of the world. Advice to Senior Management: When you treat your employees as though they are only coming to work for the salary, then that will be the case. At least, until at some point, they won't come in any more.
    • “Great Coworkers — Questionable decisions by upper management”

      Former Employee C Systems Engineer.

      Pros: Great folks working there — highly motivated, great skills, pretty effective 1st line managers. OK salary and benefits. Great customers.

      Cons: Lack of defined direction for the company. Too much "financial engineering" at corp level. Required "administrivia" gets in the way of time spending with your customer.

      Advice to Senior Management: Quit trying to cut your way to meet profitability goals for the company. Invest in your people and free them from non-essential tasks that keep them away from the customer. Quit the maniacal focus on quarterly results and focus a little bit more long term.

    • “Software Sales”

      Current Employee — Anonymous Employee. Pros: You get to work with very smart, capable people and they invest in training. The income potential is outstanding. Cons: Terrible CRM. IBM's only response to problems seems to be laying off people.
    • “Mostly great people but frustrating infrastructure”

      Current Employee — Senior Consultant. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than a year).

      Pros: Ability to define your own career path. Flexibility to work across consulting groups and industries. Virtual office presence allows you to work from home every Friday.

      Cons: Lack of structure can make it difficult to network. Terrible performance appraisal process — charge hours over emphasized and client service under emphasized; very difficult to separate from the pack.

      Advice to Senior Management: Add additional structure to practice reporting, formalize mentoring program, rework employee review program to identify top performers, rework compensation structure to increase rewards for top performers

    • “The company is truly a leader in innovation and was a good place to gain experience in Information Systems technology.”

      Former Employee — Anonymous Employee. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: The company has some of the best innovation and exceptional colleagues that are dedicated to the company and their co-workers. Most are willing to help in any way to make you successful.

      Cons: The company continuously transforms to satisfy Wall Street, impacting employee moral and results in continuous layoffs. Company puts profits over people far too often resulting in significant loss in intellectual capital.

      Advice to Senior Management: Get back to a long term focus. Start valuing the employees and trust that they will take care of your clients. Wall Street will be better off if the company is more stable.

    • “Great company to be a part of, but mismanaged by department heads. There's no cohesive direction by management.”

      Former Employee — Anonymous Employee. Pros: Solid company; can work independently with minor interference. Cons: Top-level managers don't communicate effectively with mid -level management. Advice to Senior Management: There needs to be more accountability with upper management.
    • “A little depressing working at IBM.”

      Current Employee — Anonymous Employee in San Jose, CA. Pros: Decent benefits, nice people, still a lot of interesting projects going on. Cons: Constant layoffs and reorgs. The company has gotten cheap on training, travel, conferences, even monitors. Many people do not feel they have a long term future at IBM.
    • “I worked as an SE intern in Cairo's office.”

      Former Intern — Software Engineer Intern in Cairo (Egypt). I worked at IBM as an intern (less than a year). Pros: The mentors were helpful; they tried to help in every way they could. Cons: No perks, absolutely nothing, even coffee you needed to pay if you wanted a cup! Advice to Senior Management: You should really look into your internship programs because they give a very bad impression to potential future employees!
    • “Left during the stock plummet of 2014”

      Former Employee — Manager of Technical Support I worked at IBM full-time (more than 3 years).

      Pros: If you like large companies with lot of processes IBM is for you. Depending on the department you'll get to work with some of the coolest and newest technologies. If you work for one of their cash flow businesses that support all the new research it's a good job.

      Cons: Downturn in hardware sales across the company impacted all employee's compensation. Even though on the the software side there was great growth. Lots of processes that require lots of people to complete; buying a box of pencils takes way too much energy and time.

      Advice to Senior Management: Two things. 1) work hard to make sure your teams are appreciated. Lobby hard for funds to do so. And, 2) Press hard to fix the broken processes.

    • “Used to be a great company”

      Current Employee — IT Program Manager in Charlotte, NC. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: They support work-life balance by allowing working from home. Some of the technology is amazing. They support some of the biggest global companies in the world.

      Cons: Continuous cutting of people makes getting anything done very difficult. There has been brain drain for years losing people with valuable experience. The former priority of "respect for the individual" is gone. It seems the only focus of the company is to try to delivery to the stockholders by lowering costs, but the customers are not receiving the support they need from the skeleton crew remaining.

      Advice to Senior Management: Rediscover that people make the company work, not stockholders.

    • “Not a great place to be a strategy and change consultant”

      Former Employee — Strategy and Change Consultant.

      Pros: I was on the road constantly and often was living outside the US — which for me was a great way to see the world.

      Cons: Most of the work that was done was focusing on selling their software, not really focusing on the strategic issues. I was often told to lie to clients about the amount and type of experience I had to get on projects as IBM's priority is to maximize revenue and they do so by pitching staff at a higher level than they actually are.

      Advice to Senior Management: Train and provide support to all leaders. There are many poor ones who continue to generate revenue in deceitful ways and take advantage of their staff.

    • “It's a man's world”

      Current Employee — Marketing in Raleigh, NC. Pros: Had a great manager and team. Cons: Men get greater visibility and therefore, move up the ranks much faster than women. Advice to Senior Management: This is the 21st century. Women are smart, talented and, most of all, are capable of making decisions in a timely manner. Give the girls a chance to succeed.
    • “Good company if you like big and international projects”

      Current Employee — Managing Consultant in Madrid (Spain). I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 3 years).

      Pros: I was working previously in Deloitte Consulting, and I think that the kind of projects that IBM has are more interesting. International projects, and big IT projects. Good allowance per diem + 4* 5* hotels.

      Cons: Travel if you don't like it, but I have colleagues who has requested not to travel and IBM is flexible with this.

    • “Disappointed”

      Current Employee — Anonymous Employee. Pros: Health insurance, vacations days, salary and if your manager it's good with you, you can grown in the company. Cons: There are many locks when you are trying to change your project. If you are part of support, you're going to have a bad time.
    • “Exchange admin”

      Current Employee — Anonymous Employee. Pros: It's a shame...it's a shame...it's a shame...it's a shame. Cons: IBM should take care of their staff.
    • “Long hours, helps who you know in the hierarchy.”

      Former Employee — Computer Programmer. Pros: Can learn a lot of new technology. When not traveling, more flexible schedule. Employees are extremely intelligent and you are part of a team when you're on assignment. Cons: Considering the amount of hours you have to work a week, between traveling and on-site work, the compensation is not that great. Advice to Senior Management: Give more career guidance; not just during review time.
    • “Jury out”

      Current Employee — Anonymous Employee.

      Pros: The team members will push through to get a job done and deliver exceptional results. Some of the smartest people I have worked with during my career. If you are aligned politically you can flourish but if you say the wrong thing to a manager you are done.

      Cons: Very low morale. Some very good employees have not had raises in years but the significant toll on morale is due to the threat, and delivery, of monthly of layoffs. As a manager told me, "It's not what you know, it is who you know". Managers move up and the "worker bees" are being let go. Last week two of the best performers I have known were let go. Perhaps it is because they were well paid and over 50.

    • “A business that spends more time fighting internally of who is responsible for what than actually accomplishing work.”

      Current Employee — Windows Systems Engineer in Columbia, MO I have been working at IBM full-time (more than a year).

      Pros: The overtime was nice when it was available.

      Cons: There are yearly ratings for each person in each team. Each team has a bell curve. You can be a hair lower in experience or progress compared to your peers and end up being graded poorly. Which results in no bonus. This is a very unfair system.

      Depending on what account you work on, you could be applied to no overtime, on-call rotation, and in the cross fire between teams. Again, there is more arguing of who does what and whose problem it is than actually going ahead and doing the work. Just about every little adjustment requires a change that can take anywhere between 24 hours to a week to be approved before you can do said change.

      Moving up in the company can also be very difficult. At the time I came in and later laid off, openings on my account were non-existent. Those with experience mostly held their jobs.

      Training was non-existent and you learned as you went.

      Last, the company seems to be laying off people at random. Regardless of how much you worked or not. You can have a really good or average PBC and still be laid off.

      Advice to Senior Management: Management needs to stand up to upper management in decisions. Lay offs are not the answer to all the problems.

    • “Good Work Life Balance”

      Former Employee — Senior Consultant in New York, NY. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 8 years.)

      Pros: IBM offered flexible work hours. The hours were long and there were no boundaries (i.e. 6a or 11p meetings on the same day are the norm); however, generally I could carve out time in the day to be there for my family. The work at home environment allowed me to have more flexibility if a child was home sick.

      Cons: No growth potential in the US. A strong focus on outsourcing minimized opportunity for growth within the US.

      Advice to Senior Management: Understand that a diverse work force is the best work force, and a diverse work force means you have a strong career path and potential within all of the countries you do business in.

    • “Agile? I think not!”

      Current Employee — Senior Software Engineer. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 8 years).

      Pros: There is a good deal of knowledge to be gained since there are some really intelligent people working here. However, there are also a bunch of over-educated, not so intelligent folks here as well.

      Cons: Trying to become "Agile" in their development methodology will only work if they have their teams on the same continent, maybe even in the same time zone. It is very difficult to be agile when one piece of the product is waiting on work that is in a time zone with 12 or 13 hours difference. Only then to find out that the APIs you thought were locked down changed in the middle of your night, now your code does not work and it is your issue to deal with. But there is no buffer built in to allow for this so you need to spend all hours of the evening fixing this and working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.

      Advice to Senior Management: Stop throwing out buzzwords and treating people as if they were just plug-and-play pieces. Don't assign a project to somebody and then ask them why they haven't completed it in a day, when they explained they don't even know that piece of the technology yet.

      Oh, stop having these stupid layoffs when you know we are hurting for human resources to do the job.

    • “Big Blue is a great place to work!”

      Former Employee — Regional Manager in Costa Mesa, CA I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: IBM really has what they are doing "down pat". For a big company I was always impressed by how smoothly their internal systems worked and that they really tried to help employees when they needed it.

      Cons: In order to advance in the company managers have to work in all different parts of the business so they can understand them. This means you will get short-term managers popping in on a regular basis who don't understand the part of the business YOU are in so they can learn. Some of these are good, some not so good.

      Advice to Senior Management: Consider a model where someone can advance without having to "travel the globe."

    • “IBM seems more interested in numbers supplied to management rather the job at hand.”

      Former Employee — Technical Support Engineer in Marlborough, MA. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 3 years).

      Pros: Very large company, international sales force, leading edge in some technologies, probably many job opportunities. Working for the name IBM has its own prestige.

      Cons: You are just a number! I have never seen my manager because he worked remotely and we could never have a face to face discussion as issues arose. Large companies have a round about way of coming up with customer satisfaction. They could just ask the customer! Instead they rely on some kind of method that the customer has no direct input!

      Advice to Senior Management: You should have a manager of a group more accessibility and face to face discussions to solve both work issues and performance issues. The system they have in place had encouraged me to seek employment at a much, much smaller company.

  • Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert. This week's topics include:
    • Budget Vote-O-Rama Forces Senators to Take a Stance on Retirement Security, Minimum Wage
    • Senators Harry Reid, Dan Coats Will Not Run for Re-Election
    • House of Representatives Passes Legislation to Replace Sustainable Growth Rate
    • White House Conference on Aging Events are in the West Next Week
    • Florida Alliance Holds Annual Conference in Tallahassee
    • Medicare Turns 50: Continuing the Fight into the 2016 Election
New on the Alliance@IBM Site

Job Cut Reports

  • Comment 03/20/15:

    Band 10 non manager (never have been), 2 rating, 0 GDP. Yep, big fat goose egg. No explanation, had to chase down my manager to ask. Told that "in our organization only 2+ and above got GDP". -Anonymous-
  • Comment 03/20/15:

    To the Alliance — thank you, thank you, thank you for sending your statement to the Senate committee against H1-B visa abuse. The big tech companies have been left too long without any enforcement. It's supposed to get worse in May when the administration will start allowing all spouses of H1-B holders to also work! This will further drive down wages, not only in the tech industry, but in other industries as well.

    It is bad enough having thousands of guest workers already taking American's jobs when there are plenty of "RA'd" American tech workers available, but now their spouses will be competing for those burger flipping, table waiting, and bar tending jobs that are all that is left for many experienced American engineers. And they won't have to pay the original visa holder as much either because now they don't have to fully support a spouse, as now the spouse can work too! We need a union! -Anonymous-

  • Comment 03/21/15:

    Around 10 guys RA'd in our dept (SWG). This time it is very silent and unexpected. No one predicted in Alliance site too. -Anonymous-
  • Comment 03/22/15:

    @You Are Kidding - Your comment regarding non management Band 10's: "in my experience these were the influential types who talked down the union activity and intimidated the gullible into believing that no UNION was needed".

    Speaking for myself as an Band 10/STSM, you sound like a hype hysteria, F.U.D. monger of Fox news. In my position one, and other STSM's/DE's I worked with one does not have any influence as you put forth. The work was purely technical. Battling at times — more frequently than you know with management to do things right.

    To the other person who implied that STSM's are given out like dog treats. Look up the corporate wide STSM requirements on W3. It's an arduous process that requires sign-off by up through your SVP and review by an independent board not associated with your division. Try it, see what you have to go through, how long it takes. After 35 years I got fed up, took my skills, knowledge, experience and walked.

    IBM's been compared to an ocean liner slow to be able to respond vs faster more agile industry vessels. My job required me to work in the engine room so to speak dealing with a rotten hull, unskilled foreign crew members, aging failing equipment, glossy brochures promising a wonderful cruise while the reality was other that was hidden from view. If only Cringley and Greulich knew, if only they knew. -Gone-

  • Comment 03/22/15:

    To -You Are Kidding-, your comments here are divisive and not helpful to our cause. It's not good to generalize. Same with other comments about Band 10's. I'm a Band 10 and I've been in trouble plenty of times for saying what I think, regarding IBM's actions/policies to my manager and other and on any other topic, such as technical or customer related issues. I am not and never have been a kiss-ass; I just work hard, always have. I've been very vocal here under several tags, for years, and yes, I'm an Alliance member and encourage it within the ranks. I know there are several others here on this board just like me, we've heard from some of them. Let's stand together, OK? The Alliance's communications to the US Government on our behalf should motivate *anyone* who is not a member to join now. They are working for us, please join! -Band10NonManagement-
  • Comment 03/23/15:

    RA'd on 3/19, band 8, Systems & Middleware (previously SWG). -Anonymous-
  • Comment 03/23/15:

    UPDATE: Broadridge account decimated. All Unix, Wintel, and SAN resources put on notice that last day is 6/30 and it is time to train offshore replacements. Locations are Jersey City, NJ, East Fishkill, NY and Dubuque, IA. Offshored to India. -Alliance-
  • Comment 03/23/15:

    Cornered into taking voluntary redundancy — unfair PBC, unachievable PIP, non supportive management and no time to look for another role! Stitched up 100% management are spineless, afraid to be human and act like lemmings...their time will come too! Not the company that Mr Watson would have wished for. -A_Lifer_So_I_Thought-
  • Comment 03/23/15:

    "in our organization only 2+ and above got GDP". In some years, IBM announced GDP would not be paid to anyone rated 2 or less. No such announcement was made this year. That means every organization could set their own policy. I'm going to guess the GDP pool of money was small and some organizations wanted to maximize the payout for 1's and 2+'s. I was rated a 2, have 30+ years with IBM, and I received a 1.5% GDP.

    To the person who wrote, "Why in such a lousy IBM financial reporting year would a PBC 2 even get more than a 0% GDP? Though GDP was based on ROI (return on investment and turning a profit)? PBC 2 means you just made commitments, kinda "average" or middle of the IBM resource pack by band": I guess you have not realized yet that the entire PBC rating system is a TOTAL FARCE? Management is forced to adhere to skews and has limits on the number of 1's and 2+s given. For the majority of employees, the rating has little to do with the employees actual contributions or performance. -FDB-

  • Comment 03/24/15:

    New round of layoffs started today in IBM Toronto Canada Lab. Extent is unknown yet, but five technical writers from the same team that lost two back in February were notified. -Anonymous-
  • Comment 03/24/15:

    Question for those training their replacements (like on Broadridge): is your severance package tied to your willingness to train? I have seen that happen at other companies. Folks, please don't flood the forum with recommendations not to train. That isn't my intent. I am just curious about what is formally or informally demanded. -JOIN THE UNION-
  • Comment 03/24/15:

    To -ANONYMOUS- about voting your shares against the BOD. Your numbers may be correct, but the point of voting against the BOD is not to effect a positive change for workers DIRECTLY through this vote. A large percentage of votes against the BOD and its Chairman raises the profile of the issue in the press and in Congress. See how a large percentage of over 28% nay-voters in 2000 at least caused press releases: http://www.ibmemployee.com/PDFs/WSJStockholderMeeting.PDF.

    So at least a large percentage like this can INDIRECTLY effect a change. Yes, it is a difficult process, but we should be voicing displeasure in some way that hits the media. Joining the Alliance is even more effective if we can get the membership significantly increased. Please join the Alliance as a voting member if you have not already and encourage others to do the same. -LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD-

  • Comment 03/24/15:

    IBM is going to announce a stock buyback at the Stockholder's Meeting in April. What this means for you as an IBM resource? IBM will soon RA more resources (you used to be called IBM employees) to pay for some of the stock buyback. It is like IBM selling out its family to keep the head of household (CEO Ginni and her cohorts, including institutional stockholder investors like Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway) content. It is not right. We need to make this clear to the world. Join the Alliance! Make it known that IBM is doing corporate financial engineering by continually manipulating it's EPS and has so little regards and value for it's best, true product, and service agents: its employees! -IBMUnionYES-
  • Comment 03/24/15:

    Whopping 2% GDP as 2+ in Band 8, SWG. -What's in a name-
  • Comment 03/25/15:

    I recommend to all IBMers remaining, Band 10 and below is just watch your back. I personally was caught in a very nasty game which landed me in the hospital. IBM managers, if they want you gone they will even stoop so low as to accuse you of things you did not do and then lie about it to make what they are saying appear true. They may even 'trick' you into saying negative things about other team managers and team members! It's a very caustic environment! I tried to fight it but the lies went deeper.

    So watch yourselves if you want to remain an IBMer...and most importantly don't ever argue or have a different opinion than your manager. Again, another example of a caustic environment. How do you fix things that are not working if you are not able to debate with a differing viewpoint! Ask yourself, is it worth it? There are many worthwhile smaller companies looking for great experienced people! Good luck to those remaining! -Glad to be Gone!

  • Comment 03/25/15:

    Cuts at Toronto lab that I know of are in Information Management (old SWG), specifically DB2 software, now part of IBM Analytics. Heard of Websphere team being hit too, but unconfirmed. -Anonymous-
  • Comment 03/25/15:

    Each year is different with respect to GDP payouts. I remember one year I had a "1" and nobody got any GDP pay that year. I have received GDP payouts as a 2+ and I have received nothing as a 2+. It is all based on whatever management feels like doing that year. They come up with these abstract definitions of what they will pay or will not pay on each year. -longtimebeemer-
  • Comment 03/25/15:

    RA'd on 3/19 from SWG services in the US. Band 9. I also know that several of my colleagues were put on 90 days PIP. So, I guess they will unfortunately but likely be laid off when the PIP expires. This company is out of control. Glad to be out with my severance! -Anonymous ISSW-
  • Comment 03/25/15:

    IBM just made Forbes best places to work list. It bottomed out at 452 from a list of 500. IBM expects to compete in a market that Google and others dominate. Google came in a number one on that list. I can't see a trove of unhappy employees at IBM so disenfranchised from an organization that is full of company yes-men hardliners who's first inclination is to chuck jobs overseas. Let's face it, everyone at IBM is on standby for the next RA. IBM can't possibly compete having an HR model like that. At best I see this company as a niche, mid-tier firm; a shadow of its former self, marginalized not by what they love to build, but by what they can tear down and take. -Humming Along-
  • Comment 03/25/15:

    On the topic of the Broadridge account being blown apart and its support services shifted from the U.S. to India: That is IBM SO Delivery’s SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), and I suspect has occurred <insert triple-digit number here> times. I was in the thick of two of them, and observed many others during my five years. Damn the contract parameters, the quality of service, and especially the people — because attaining that oh-so-coveted minimal cost basis as expediently as possible (i.e., “shareholder value”) is the only relevant factor. -FormerIBMer-
  • Comment 03/25/15:

    Follow up on lower PBC rating and 90-day PIP. I am a non-manager with many years at PBC 2+. Recently given PBC 3, and placed on 90-day PIP with almost impossible expectations. Expect to be offered a reduced (13 week) separation agreement on day 91. Over 55 years old and over thirty years with IBM. Sad way to end an otherwise successful career. -Anonymous-
  • Comment 03/25/15:

    Hi -Anonymous ISSW-, Any idea how many were laid off in ISSW? Were you on PIP? Good you got severance. There is so much re-org going on; managers are saying they do not know anything and all the names came from the top. No one knows who in the top decided. Any more info is appreciated. Did you hear people on PIP will be laid off eventually? -Anonymous-
  • Comment 03/26/15:

    RAed on 3/25/15 (effective 4/24/15) — Project Manager — Band 8 — Age 59, thirty years at IBM, 2+ for 2014 and past 10 years. Live in North Carolina but reported to organization in California. -Anonymous-
  • Comment 03/26/15:

    @-Anonymous ISSW-. Correct, I am in ISSW (not sure if we are called that anymore with that REORG going on) and I was put on a 90 days PIP with totally unachievable goals. I have already started to look for another job outside of IBM since, as you said, I have no doubt that at the end of the 90 days I will get RA'd, most likely with no severance or a much lower severance package. I am just not willing to wait to see what it is going to look like. For my other colleagues, organize or get the hell out as there is nothing left at IBM. -Another Anon ISSW-
  • Comment 03/26/15:

    Brazilian bad news — GTS — 900 employees gone until 3Q 2015 (300 domestic + 600 gr). The blood bath begins april...layoffs occuring on a monthly basis. The big blue ship is sinking...first line managers will let go as well. -Anonymous-
  • Comment 03/27/15:

    Since some people asked about layoffs in ISSW, I have seen so far four other colleagues getting RA'd on the same date. Three band 9's and one Band 8. The problem with ISSW these days is that rates for services are outrageous and no customer wants to pay these rates anymore. So bench time is becoming the norm. This organization is close to be gone. Once the darling of Steve Mills; where is Steve Mills by the way? I think he is on his way out too. Good luck for the ones still with IBM! Organize now or get the hell out and find yourself a better job. -Anonymous ISSW-
  • Comment 03/27/15:

    Layoffs: two or more last month in IBM Systems (Digital Experience) test department (RTP). More this month. Two layoffs in IBM Systems Digital Experience development department this month (RTP). PureSystems group also had layoffs (RTP). Morale awful everywhere. Product quality suffering due to lack of experienced workers. However, there has been new college hires in many departments in the past month. Why would any college student work for IBM? -Suffering in RTP-
  • Comment 03/28/15:

    Long-time IBM Government customer here; still am. But, these last five years from my perspective have been absolutely horrible from a customer perspective. I have worked with some of the finest talent from IGS services on many projects. On occasion I will reach out to them for Q and A's. Well, just happened I reached out to a long time IBMer in services that was very good at his job; always asked for by customers. Sadly he responded that it was his last day. Same happened to another local CE. All great at their jobs, but from what I understand both were being rated less than favorable prior to being let go.

    Lousy, if you ask me, just plain lousy. Also, the loss of those individuals has hurt me as a customer now left with a less than adequate resource pool for future projects. So from a customer perspective, the demise of IBM by ripping apart bit-by-bit is sad. Sadly in my lifetime, I can see the end of IBM coming. To all those employees keep up the good work. From this customer, you are truly appreciated. -Anonymous-

  • Comment 03/28/15:

    Steve Mills Executive Profile*: Steven A. Mills, Executive Vice President of Software & Systems, International Business Machines Corporation. Age 62, $8,270,052 total compensation as of Fiscal Year 2014. This is amazing; one man can obtain this kind of wealth in IBM, and have the audacity to RA IBM employees in his division. IBM is in desperate needs of a union. This entire management and executive team is greedy and are totally corrupt. -ANA-
  • Comment 03/29/15:

    Would please like this posted to website comments. IBM Dubuque is having another round of layoffs. Reduced from 1101 to approximately 600 in 2/15. Next round of layoffs coming in May/June. RA entire teams including INTEL...supposed to be a "net" reduction of 78 people. UGH! How many lives do I have left? I've survived three rounds of cuts in past 1-1/2 years. PBC's of 2 or 2+ since I've been with IBM for 6 years. Doesn't look good for surviving much longer. -Anonymous-
  • Comment 03/29/15:

    I can remember in the 90's Steve Mills coming to a development lab in Texas and saying in front of the entire lab "we will never close this lab". Two weeks later, the lab was closed. Every IBM manager is like this. All they care about is kissing the as of those above them, no matter how many families below them are devastated. -ihateibm-
  • Comment 03/29/15:

    -Dear Long Time IBM Government Customer-, Thank you on behalf of all of us for taking the time to write in your comments, were honest and spot on. We know it is heartbreaking to witness the rapid downward spiral and inexcusable decline in our service levels to our IBM customers. Respectfully, -Deb Kelly, Proud Alliance@IBM member-
If you hire good people and treat them well, they will try to do a good job. They will stimulate one another by their vigor and example. They will set a fast pace for themselves. Then if they are well led and occasionally inspired, if they understand what the company is trying to do and know they will share in its sucess, they will contribute in a major way. The customer will get the superior service he is looking for. The result is profit to customers, employees, and to stcckholders. —Thomas J. Watson, Jr., from A Business and Its Beliefs: The Ideas That Helped Build IBM.

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