Susan Dennis (susandennis) wrote,
Susan Dennis


My new IBM job bore not one teensy weensy bit of similarity to my original IBM job. This time instead of working out of my house and reporting to a branch office - max 50 employees - once in awhile, I was working at a 5,000 person manufacturing plant. We had two product lines. Half the plant made banking machines - ATMs. The other half made dot matrix printers.

I was part of a team of about 12 people who were all about communications and mostly internal communications. We were charged with making sure all of the employees had all of the information about the industry, the company and the plant and our products that they needed.

In my first job, I learned some about the corporate culture. Like dress codes. For men. Women didn't have any - hahahha - really, we didn't. The manufacturing workers were exempt but anyone not inserting tab a into slot b, who had a penis, was required to wear a white shirt and a navy or black suit with a necktie - solid or striped only please. There was a guy I worked with once though, whose wife made him a bunch of ties that were totally within guidelines (dull and boring) but when you lifted them up, the undersides were wild - psychedelic or toys or wild patterns. His ties were giant IBM crowd pleasers.

(That dress code, by the way, lasted until the late 80's. I was working in California when they started casual Fridays. Most of my guy friends were royally pissed. They now had to have 3 sets of clothes - Monday-Thursday suits, Friday casual clothes and weekend jeans and t-shirts. Plus now, on Fridays, they had to get up early to make time for clothes selection decisions. It was an issue. And said issue amused those of us of the female persuasion quite a bit.)

All new communications employees got shipped off to Armonk,NY for a week to learn how to do things the IBM way. It was really fascinating and a great time to meet people you may well be working with in the future. This is my 'class' picture.

I'm on the seated row, third in from the right. There was one other person from Charlotte in the group and the rest were from all over the country. I actually did end up working with many of them during the next 15 years.

In many ways, the IBM culture which was beyond interesting. The standards - and this was years before 6 Sigma - were very high. Typos (and I am the Queen of Typos) were anathema and not allowed. Quality in all things was king. I had great lessons to learn.

Oh and their clean desk policy. Every piece of paper at IBM had a classification. The lunchroom menu had the least security. The info on unannounced products had the most. And every piece of paper was labeled with its classification. At the end of the work day, nothing with a classification was allowed on your desk or in an unsecured drawer. And they checked. There was no worse way to start your day than to come in to see, in the middle of your clean desk, a security violation. You had to walk the march of shame down to the security office to retrieve whatever it was. Your manager was notified and your employment record blotched. It was horrible. And they were serious.

The plant had a computer system but our offices were still a year away from even word processing equipment when I started there. So it was all paper all the time. The mailroom guys were the busiest of all and, in fact, before I left that job, the mailroom delivery guys were replaced by mailroom robots - little trains who beep beeped throughout the office hallways and stopped at every secretarial station. The secretaries got their mail and hit the 'go' button and off it went. Quite fun.

My first job was writing an distributing bulletin board notices. This sounds trivial but I assure you it was like writing a daily newspaper and then doing the paper route yourself. Everything - every bulletin board notice - yep, even that cafeteria menu - went through two rounds of edit/review. Every single day. It was a hard job but I learned so much about good writing and fast turn around and no mistakes. Plus, I got a lot of exercise.

To Be Continued
Tags: tbc
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