Saturday, May 15, 2010

Small World

Last night, at a bubble tea and karaoke social, I met a friend of a friend. The world is so small. Or is it that my "social group" is getting smaller and well defined. Very interesting meeting.

I started reading Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? Inside IBM's Historical Turnaround. It's written by Lou Gerstner, who "rescued" IBM in the early 90's when the company was about to collapse. It seems like there's this network of top American CEOs and they all know (of) each other. The guy writes pretty honestly about his days at IBM as an incoming CEO. He had a lot of good people working for him and I feel like they can all write their own versions of how they rescued IBM. At one point, he writes about how the technical team successfully moved their mainframe technology from bipolar to CMOS technology (I'm sure this means a lot more to CS techny people out there). If they hadn't been able to pull that off, their mainframe stuff, most of their profits, was dead. He dedicated a little more than half a page to this, and then goes on to write about the meetings with other executives. I was a bit appalled. Seems like the engineers are not appreciated even in a technology oriented company. Or is it that what he does, company restructuring, financial management, and customer relations, are what's actually important? I guess you can't have one without the other. But which one do I want to do? Can I have an engineering background, have a satisfying engineering career, and become a CEO? Or will I always be a technical advisor? Project engineer? Would I be satisfied being the head of my specialty (geotech) in a global company?

My group at work is getting a summer intern who is starting in a week (on the 24th). I was about to say that this has never happened to me before, having another intern come in as I was leaving. But I think this sort of happened at ebmud. Well back then, it was more like the group had 2 interns.

1 comment:

yalu said...

Yeah I was surprised too when my book mentioned that engineers aren't valued. Coming from a technical school it seems the opposite.

I don't think that's the point he's trying to make in the book though. He's obviously writing a book about a company turnaround as a CEO - his audience is going to be other prominent professionals, many of whom would be outside his field. I think he realized technical discussions wouldn't get his message across.

I do think if you want to be a CEO (not of your own startup) it is really helpul to go back to get an MBA. That's why you see all these thirty somethings doing it. But you probably don't have to to be a dept head