Hey guys, it has been a while since I posted anything on the blog. I’ll try to catch up while reminiscing on my patio and enjoying a stormy North Carolina weather. For the past few weeks my team pitched to 12 IBM VPs, recorded and presented our product demo to our project sponsors, reached our Tier 1 goals (3 Tiers total, tackling our 2nd and 3rd), received new gadgets to play with, and went through a conflict resolution process. Sometime in between I made a quick weekend trip to Portland to attend my cousin’s wedding, and also hosted an Eastern European dinner for the whole Extreme Blue team (with my husband’s help of course).
As we are counting days to our final presentation and demo day at IBM HQ in Armnok, NY the pressure is slowly growing. My tech team fellows have to pull late hours and weekends (i’m glad they are paid overtime) and I offer them any support I can. Extreme Blue internship was set to design a real work environment with all its ups and downs. 🙂 While we were provided with the most resources needed to complete our project the bureaucracy of the giant corporation presented some significant blocks. Luckily they were resolved last week. We were also given a number of tasks (not quite project related) to test and develop our multitasking ability. For example, each Extreme Blue team had to read parts of a certain book (Mavericks of Business) and do a 1 hour presentation to other teams, or we yet have to record a 60 second humorous commercial for our team/product. In short, there is always a never ending struggle with time. Something that we all have to learn to deal with. It could be either planning your meetings better, coming to work earlier to find some quite time, or learning to remove all the background noise and concentrate on your tasks (the toughest one).
Presenting to executives is an amazing opportunity to test your hypotheses and underlying assumptions. The execs that visited us, all come from various areas of expertise such as cloud computing, emerging technologies, or smarter planet solutions among others. After a presentation each VP gets to ask questions, and some of them are quite challenging. Such sessions definitely help us learn more about life at IBM and new technology that it is working on, and also improve our sales pitch. We only have 4 min to deliver it, and each week we make adjustments based on the reaction and questions coming from the VPs. Not only the presentation has to logically capture all features and benefits of our product but also be delivered flawlessly. We are constantly reminded that anything can happen during the presentation and we have to be quick to react and rescue one of our fellows when needed. For example, the other week, when one of the teams was presenting, a VP pulled out his iPad and started typing something, that created some distraction for the presenters, though the VP was taking notes help him remember. Another time, in the middle of our presentation, a VP started asking questions (going against the format we usually follow), it really threw us off, especially because we were trying out something new with our pitch. And finally, going against number 1 rule – never try to memorize every word – one of my team members completely went blank while concluding the presentation (it was the most awkward 15 sec for everyone). It is not all that bad after all, considering that we heard stories about panic attacks happening during such presentations.
As part of my own delivery – a business case for our product and a go-to market strategy – I presented it to my business mentors and sponsors last week. They were impressed with my understanding of the business and my holistic vision of the issue that my team was trying to solve. I was definitely flattered by their comments, though i know if I had more time and more hard numbers my recommendation could have been better. Unfortunately the information we get is never perfect and we have to derive our assumptions from it and learn to live with it. It is important to know when GOOD is GOOD ENOUGH. (another confirmation from my Problem Solving class).
So all 12 of us are heading to NY in 5 days to explore the NYC and then to impress and concur IBM. 🙂 It will be a busy week: concluding the project, preparing a product demo, handing off the code and documentation, preparing for job interviews, producing our commercial, celebrating the end of the project with our project sponsors and mentors, and finally making it safe to NY.
Be on the look out for my final post!