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It’s IBM Champion nomination season – that crisp, exciting time of year when experts in IBM technology evaluate what they’ve done over the year and nominate themselves and others to become IBM Champions. As the person who manages the IBM Champion program worldwide, folks hear from me about the program, its benefits and why they should connect with IBM Champions. I’m constantly enthusing about the value of the program, both to IBM and to the Champions and their organizations. But what I have learned is even more valuable for those trying to decide who to nominate for the program is for everyone to hear from the IBM Champions themselves.

So please meet IBM Champion James Sobieski. James is a database expert, an IBM Champion since 2014 and an IBM Gold Consultant since 1998. James consults internationally on DB2, ETL, Netezza, Master Data Management and Big Data projects. While at IBM, he worked at NASA’s Mission Control Center systems and the IBM DB2 Toronto Lab benchmarking team. He also tells really bad (but funny) jokes, although I think we can take what he has to say about the IBM Champion program pretty seriously.

View from an IBM Champion, James Sobieski

The IBM Champion program is, first of all, recognition of one’s accomplishments in evangelizing around and assisting people in making use of IBM software, services and solutions. As IT professionals, it’s imperative that we keep growing and developing our skills and knowledge to stay relevant and able to contribute. I’ve looked to many mentors and technically skilled persons both inside and outside of IBM to assist me at various points in my career.

And so one of my core beliefs has become that I will be successful if I help others be successful by sharing the knowledge and experience I’ve gained. An IBM Champion does exactly that. They influence and mentor others about the benefits of IBM solutions. They stay abreast of technology and contribute innovative thought that leads others to success in getting the most out of their IBM solutions.

Being an IBM Champion


IBM Champion, James Sobieski

IBM Champion, James Sobieski

The recognition of being selected as an IBM Champion is both personally and professionally rewarding. As a professional, it provides potential customers a level of confidence that I can help them. Being an IBM Champion sets a high standard to which I work hard to achieve. Personally, it is rewarding to know that others believe in me. It also sets a standard that I strive to live up to, but when one follows the traits of an IBM Champion – thought leadership, mentoring and buying into the customers goals as my goals – a team success becomes plausible and predictable.

As an IBM Champion, I have been invited to partner with customers to solve many interesting problems and that is personally rewarding to me. I may not have had the chance had it not been for my badge as an IBM Champion. John Elway made many fourth quarter comebacks in his career. If he had not had the recognition as a champion, he never would have had those opportunities. It is only with great opportunity that great achievements can be made. Being an IBM Champion can open up great opportunities.

An IBM Champion gains access to many knowledgeable resources and learning opportunities. At World of Watson, it provided me access to the DB2 Development and Management team. I have been invited to briefings on the product futures as well as asked to share with IBM, product features that our customers would find useful. Throughout the year, the IBM Champion team, both IBMers and non-IBMers, make themselves and opportunities to learn new technologies and industry directions available to other Champions who in turn can share this with their customers and coworkers.

Becoming an IBM Champion

Getting to be an IBM Champion requires planning and hard work. Understand your strengths and look for ways to share those with others. This includes during your day-to-day work but also evangelizing the benefits of IBM solutions via social media, talking at conferences, YouTube videos or podcasts, local users groups, blogging online and activities in your day-to-day job. Some Champions have even written books on IBM products. Sounds like a lot of work, I know. I keep a “How to do things” folder on my laptop. As I do new tasks or pick up new products, I jot notes in these folders about how and why I did things. This folder has become a knowledge base from which I can post blogs or create presentations for customers, coworkers, conferences and user groups.

It’s also not all about you. There are thousands of people contributing to the worldwide knowledge base about products. Sharing what you have found useful from others is often a faster way to assist others rather than reinventing the wheel yourself on how to do something. Becoming a research automaton is one way to become a go-to person for those with whom you interact, physically and electronically. Networking with these sources of information, probing their experience, expanding it with your input, developing a personal relationship network helps those sources become better sources and will help improve your recognition in the industry.

So, if you believe in yourself and are ready to be a Champion, or you know someone that is, I encourage you to nominate yourself or that person. If you think you’d like to be a Champion but are not quite ready, set that as a goal and become the Champion that is inside of you. Get active in your IT community, network with other Champions and follow through on your dream. This time next year, you can be ready to nominate.

Learn more about the IBM Champion program

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