5 Ways To Become An IBM Champion (Oct 15 Deadline)


GreaterIBMers, are you a technical expert or educator who actively blogs, speaks at conferences or events, or authors books or magazine articles?  Or do you know someone who does?  If so, we invite you to learn more about the IBM Champion program.

Nominations are open through October 15, 2013 –  we’d love to see Greater IBMers nominated for this program!

5 Ways To Become An IBM Champion

An IBM Champion is an IT professional, business leader, developer, or educator who makes exceptional contributions to the technical community and influences and mentors others to help them make best use of IBM software, solutions, and services. The IBM Champion program recognizes these innovative thought leaders and rewards these contributors by amplifying their voices and increasing their spheres of influence.  An IBM Champion is not an IBM employee. IBM Champions can live in any country.

Here are five ways YOU can become an IBM Champion:

1 – Evangelize and advocate for IBM
  • Speaks at conferences, user group meetings, IBM events
  • Uses social media channels to help spread the word about IBM solutions and increase positive sentiment towards IBM
  • Helps IBM share specific messages around launches and announcements
  • Work within their own company or their customers’ companies to encourage continued use of IBM technology
  • Help customers make the most of the IBM technology that is installed (use of expanded features, broader adoption, and more)
  • Explores ways to reach outside the current community sphere to reach new audiences.
  • Partners with IBM about how to become better evangelists
2 – Share knowledge and expertise
  • Participates in online forums, answering questions and sharing expertise
  • Shares expertise through instructional videos, podcasts, interviews, and other support/teaching sessions
  • Shares knowledge via white papers, Redbooks, wikis, and/or wiki articles
  • Provide feedback and suggestions on IBM certification exams
  • Provide feedback and suggestions on product usability and documentation
  • Participate in usability activities to improve IBM products
  • Helps IBM improve on products and solutions by actively participating in beta programs, usability studies and other types of research
  • Organizes or connects people in their network to find support for issues
3 – Help grow and nurture the community
  • Uses social media channels (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Connections, podcasting, and others) to drive awareness to community topics and events
  • Starts, leads and/or participates in local user group meetings and events
  • Participates in community webcasts and meetings
  • Helps mentor new community members and drive them to community sites
  • Guides community members so they know how to leverage information in the community (that is, help new people know where to go for help)
  • Participates in or leads activities to encourage sustained community activity and contributions
  • Implements new and innovative ways of growing the community
  • Communicates honestly, openly, professionally, and respectfully (for example, keeps private conversations private or complies with NDAs)
4 – Expand reach across the IBM portfolio
  • Finds ways to expand customer adoption of broad set of IBM capabilities
  • Integrates solutions across the IBM portfolio
  • Leverages IBM’s breadth of technologies to augment brand specific products
5 – Present feedback, both negative and positive, in a constructive and professional manner
  • Provides feedback in appropriate forums such as a design partner programs, or private discussions with target IBM contact who can affect or implement changes
  • Reaches out to appropriate contacts within IBM to share criticism or suggestions using clear concise, professional language
  • Any challenges, issues or problems you wish to resolve with IBM should be discussed with the appropriate IBM personnel in a private venue. Sharing frustrations in a public or social venue on issues that may reflect negatively on IBM, business partners and/or negatively impact revenue streams is not appropriate.

Nominations will be open until October 15th. The announcement of the new set of champions (including renewals) is currently planned for late November or early December.


– Posted by Julie Yamamoto, Program Manager, The Greater IBM Connection

The Skills Gap: U.S. Requires a New Educational Model for Economic Growth, Says IBM’s Stan Litow

Linking educators and employers is key to economic recovery and maintaining American global competitiveness

by Stanley Litow, IBM Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs and president of the IBM International Foundation, in U.S. News and World Report

Author Stanley Litow

Although the latest U.S. employment numbers are trending positively, there remain deep and systemic issues that have made fuller economic recovery elusive. Chief among these is the disconnect between the availability of skilled workers and the tens of thousands of good jobs waiting to be filled. Our understandably intense focus on restoring full employment in the current down-cycle economy has led some to relegate education and education reform to the back burner.

But we do so at our peril. The fact of the matter is that a redesigned and stronger educational system is essential to a sustainable economic recovery. We do ourselves—and future generations—a disservice if we fail to acknowledge this critical relationship.

Teachers and administrators say students are more focused with the shorter week, but critics are skeptical.

Recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education indicate a significant increase in high school completion rates. That would have been great news had it happened more than 40 years ago, when a high school diploma still was either a ticket to a middle-class lifestyle or meaningful preparation for postsecondary education. In 1970, nearly 75 percent of people with only a high school diploma were middle class. But that’s ancient history in a world where the time between generations shrinks every year. In less than 10 years, fully two thirds of all middle-class jobs will require postsecondary education or training. Workers with only a high school diploma—including the 75 percent of community college students who fail to complete their associate degrees—will have few opportunities to earn more than poverty wages.

According to The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the United States currently has 29 million middle-class jobs that require at least two years of postsecondary education or training, with an additional 14 million jobs coming online over the next 10 years. These current and future jobs span industries such as healthcare, information technology, business, professional services, and office and sales support. In addition, many of these jobs offer entry to lifetime careers, especially for the 30 percent of community college graduates who go on to complete their bachelor’s degrees.

It is clear that education is firmly linked to economic growth. But simply funding education without reforming it is a mistake. To achieve education performance results that are meaningful in today’s economy, we need to commit to both support and innovation. We need to retool our school systems to enable businesses, educators, and communities to collaborate on strategies that leverage diminishing resources to the greatest advantage for our young people.

Two initiatives that have the potential to maximize educational performance and create solid economic value are career and technical education (CTE) and a new approach to professional apprenticeships. Implementing these programs via deep collaborations across businesses and education systems at all levels could refocus billions of dollars of current funding on innovative solutions to the challenges facing our young people in the 21st century, and offer larger numbers of them a ticket to opportunity.

Today’s CTE programs replace what we used to call vocational education—now an outmoded model. Twenty-first century CTE programs must emphasize public-private partnerships between educators and employers, and ensure that school curricula are academically rigorous and economically relevant. Working together, educators and employers can structure course content and classroom experiences to create a seamless link between education and careers. One such partnership is the collaboration among the New York City Schools, The City University of New York, and IBM on New York’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), a grade 9-14 school that confers both the high school diploma and an associate degree in technology. Now entering its second year, P-TECH is achieving exciting results that are both replicable and scalable nationwide. The core concepts of this initiative are embodied in the U.S. Department of Education’s Blueprint for Education Reform.

Adopting a new approach to professional apprenticeships enables us to link education to employment in another important way. In Enterprising Pathways: Toward a National Plan of Action for Career and Technical Education coauthors IBM and Opportunity Nation suggest repurposing Federal College Work-Study funds (currently about $1 billion that provides on-campus wages for nearly 1 million college students) to help pay salaries for off-campus jobs that are directly connected to the students’ academic majors and intended careers. Replacing “cafeteria work” with meaningful professional apprenticeships with a built-in funding source, these new-model work-study jobs could be in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors. But these jobs must be designed to build skills, not just provide funds to pay tuition; they can and should do both. The distinguishing characteristics of these jobs would be the opportunities they would offer for college students to learn relevant skills to advance their learning and careers.

Working together to connect education to careers, educators and employers will help millions of our young people prepare for both higher education and meaningful lifelong employment. The United States has a distinguished history of adapting educational requirements to evolving market demands to maintain a competitive and stable economy. America enacted historic initiatives that increased mandatory education from eighth grade to high school, and later enabled broad access to higher education via the GI Bill. Both were education initiatives that fueled unprecedented economic growth. Just as we did in the past, it is now time for us to invest our efforts and resources in new educational models that will grow the skills of our young people and strengthen America’s global competitiveness.


What steps do you think should be taken first?


Educating Tomorrow’s Adults: One Teacher’s Journey

Here Jamillah Seifullah – a teacher at New York’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) – shares her perspective on the importance of teaching her students to be critical thinkers and lifelong learners. Jamillah Seifullah

Teaching Lifelong Learning Skills
The role of educating young people is no longer the sole responsibility of the classroom teacher. As educators, we often try to teach 21st century children with 20th century methods. This often does not work. I have spent many weekends modifying and reworking how I differentiate content, infusing technology, inviting experts into my classroom, and setting up the physical space I teach in to discover what will work best for my students.

I have always included projects in lesson planning because that is my background. As a mathematician, I know that the application of theory lies in physics and engineering. Modeling is the most important aspect of students’ demonstrating understanding.

This year, I have been looking at how to teach through using projects rather than having projects be supplemental to a lesson. The current project in my Algebra 2/Trigonometry course at P-TECH is to build a Ferris Wheel. The students began the project on paper with sketches and equations, and are now constructing a model of a Ferris Wheel from cardboard, toothpicks, skewers and a simple motor. As I could not find a project to match my vision, the students started with the basic instructions and will have to design and figure out the best way to make this work with some input from myself and a fellow Ph.D. candidate from NYU Polytechnic, who comes in to help with Robotics.

In the past, teachers had a clear idea of where their students were heading. There was a small pool of professions from which they could choose. These days, our challenge is to prepare all students for a future we cannot begin to perceive, and for careers that have yet to be created. In essence, teachers are called upon to educate “Elroy” – the inquisitive boy character from the popular 1960s cartoon called The Jetsons. The Jetsons takes place in the year 2062. Despite the show’s depiction of a robot-controlled world as utopia, I wonder what life will really be like for our students 50 years from now.

P-Tech students at work on a group project

Today’s 10th graders will be near retirement age in 2062. Will we have educated them to be successful in the world that lies ahead of them? The only way to accomplish that feat will be to teach young people more than simply how to test well. We need to teach our students to be lifelong learners who employ critical thinking in pursuit of their passions, interests and careers.

My background is very similar to the path of our students at P-TECH. When I went to a specialized STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) high school, my mother was unable to help me with my math homework after seventh grade. My mother
was my first teacher however, and an excellent one. She instilled in me a love of learning and creating. Many of our students, for various reasons, do not have someone like my mom in their lives. Therefore, we who take on the job of “educating Elroy” need to go beyond teaching content and recall that we teach people. What kinds of global citizens do we want to help shape?


Before I became a teacher, I was a software engineer at a major telecom company. I began my college experience at Borough of Manhattan Community College and after completing my degree, I transferred to The City College of New York – a four-year CUNY school. As I completed my undergraduate degree, I looked into what fields were lucrative for a bright young math major. Computer programming and the back rooms of analytics and technology on Wall Street were two that interested me. I was made an offer in both fields. At P-TECH, students take the content courses any New York State high school student must take, but they also take Workplace Learning where the soft skills of an information technology (IT) career are taught. Our school is STEM focused, giving them a competitive background for any field they choose to pursue. I wish P-TECH existed when I was in high school. As the kids say, I would have “killed it!” It was not until much later in life that I realized STEM had given me unique options.

I remember being at an awards dinner while I was an undergraduate. We were seated by department, and since no one else showed up for mathematics, I was sitting at a table alone. I am sure I presented a sad picture. I looked around, considered my options, and was determined not to waste the opportunity. I randomly sat at a nearby table, and immediately felt intimidated. Here I was, a young black woman from the South Bronx, sitting at a table of important business people from backgrounds that I assumed were nothing like my own. Although I was outside of my comfort zone, I started talking to the man next to me. It turned out we went to the same high school! He introduced me to his wife Christine, who was a vice president at a major telecom company. I charmed her with my wit, and she told me to call her. I called, but she never called me back. Nevertheless, I was determined to succeed. I knew this was my chance for a real shot out of poverty.

I had left my illustrious job as a cashier at J.C. Penney to go to college when I found out
I was going to be a mom. I was on welfare and took out a small student loan to live. I was the oldest of six children, the first person in my immediate family to go to college, and responsible for helping my mom financially. My dad was a drug addict and out of the picture. I was determined, and called Christine the telecom executive for months. She finally called me back with three offers, and I began a paid internship shortly after that.

During my internship, three men who worked near me took me under their wings and mentored me (shout-out to mentors!). They taught me about stocks, how to invest 16 percent of my pay in my 401(k) every week and forget about it (Thanks, Dave!), and how to dress to be taken seriously. I also was advised to wear my afro “normally,” which meant straighten it (Jim, I forgive you). Whenever I told someone what I did for a living, they would respond: “You don’t look like a software engineer!” That response made a huge impression upon me, as I was one of only two African-Americans in my department, and the only African-American woman for a while.

One of my mentors informed me that the CEO was a City College alumnus and that he had spoken to students there recently. My mentor half-jokingly said I should contact the CEO, so I did via email. The CEO responded that he wanted to meet me. I was horrified. I emailed Christine, and requested she coach me for the meeting. The CEO was a white male millionaire for goodness sake, running a Fortune 500 company! The CEO and I met for 45 minutes, and it was amazing. He told me that he had grown up in The Bronx, and that he’d beaten up nerds like me in school. He was very down to earth. I left that meeting with a new perspective on building relationships and making sure to have the skills to take advantage of new opportunities.

I also left that meeting with the CEO’s personal support for me to go anywhere in the company I wanted. I chose Information Technology. With the CEO’s recommendation, I was hired as a computer programmer. I was in the IT department for eight years before leaving to pursue what I believe is my purpose: educating our youth. Knowing that IBM has created a partnership that affords a similar experience to so many students, and that I am a part of having this model be successful, brings my work full circle.

Jamillah Seifullah is a former software engineer, landscape architect and mother who teaches at New York’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH).

Related Resources:

Infographic: “Do the Math”: How a STEM Education Is a Formula for Success

Low-Income Students, STEM Education, and Post-secondary Success

How I Attracted Nearly 300 Kids to AP Computer Science

Design-Based Learning: A New Paradigm for STEM Education