IBM LetterheadSeven weeks ago I was let go from my position as a Senior Consultant at IBM’s Global Business Services. Due to the company’s shifting needs and the current economic environment, shedding consultants is not an unusual thing, though it does not make it any less frustrating for those affected. When I left, I wrote what I thought was a quick and sufficient goodbye note to all of my coworkers and clients. I did not think much of it at the time, but the volume of response I received was pretty overwhelming and I am still receiving replies to the original note. Many made the comment that the way I had written had an unusual quality of being professional yet with a personal tone and detail that made it more memorable. I suppose I could consider it a prototype of a post for this blog.

Some have asked if I was angry with the situation. Disappointed, maybe, but not angry. I think anger is a necessary emotion, but best reserved for times when we are the victim of some grave, deliberate injustice. It is an unbelievable drain on our energy and takes a toll on us and the people around us. IBM, frankly, wasn’t worth it. I choose to take the memory of the best things and elevate that, rather than continue to mull on what went wrong.

The letter is a little rough around the edges, but I thought the message clear enough to merit repeating here:

Dear friends,

As some of you already know, this will be my last day at IBM, due to a lack of project opportunities.  As I compiled contact information for all of you this morning, I was overwhelmed with so many good memories of the experiences I have had here, and am immensely proud of the work we did together.  To all those who went to extraordinary lengths to help me identify new opportunities for billable work, especially Tim Fain and Dave Zaharchuk, my gratitude has no bounds.

I have learned so much from you.  My understanding of and respect for the expansive role of the US Navy has been fundamentally transformed.  Most folks (fortunately) do not have to worry about the incredible risk and danger of Naval operations, the sacrifices made by our service men and women, and the unassailable skill with which they execute missions.  I hope IBM can continue to help them do it even better.  Learning IBM’s approach to business process modeling and tools like Component Business Modeler and WebSphere Business Modeler were terrific additions to the methods I studied in graduate school.  Working on projects and proposals for our economic development offerings and helping to build out a Plant Location International tool was a unique opportunity to use data to help cities, states and companies make far-reaching strategic decisions.  Discussing the future of Michigan’s economic competitiveness with the governor’s team in Lansing, the creativity and enthusiasm in the room reaffirmed my faith in the ingenuity and resilience of America.

Tending to my own resilience, the next few months are shaping up to be rather action packed.  My search for new work has shifted from planning to active pursuit, though the wheels are rolling on a few interviews already.  I am applying to contribute on some pro-bono, Corporate Social Responsibility strategy work though the NY/NJ Net Impact chapter this spring.  I plan to finish preparations for and take the LEED Green Associate examination by the summer.  I will spend a few weeks in mainland China and Hong Kong.  Min and I will have a second, informal wedding for all of the family who could not come to the US last year.  I will also be able to go along as an observer on her site visits for some of First Solar’s projects there.  We had not planned to move back to Asia just yet, but considering the energy with which China is hauling the rest of us out of our economic meltdown, it cannot hurt to be a little flexible!

So I have come to the end of this chapter of my professional life, and eagerly await the beginning of the next.  I leave you with the wish that you stay happy and healthy until we meet again.

Michael Vito