Susan Dennis (susandennis) wrote,
Susan Dennis


The new IBM job was in the Real Estate Division. At that time (1986), IBM owned a massive amount of real estate and leased nearly as much or more. It was home hundreds of thousands of employees and more than a handful of hardware manufacturing operations and it was a gynormous financial investment. Keeping an eye on all of that required a whole division of people doing a wide variety of things.

My job turned out to be way different than I was told originally. There was some press but not much. Instead was a really unique set of responsibilities that were mostly fabulous fun.

At that time, IBM had started a new thing. In major cities, instead of building new buildings or leasing already built buildings, they partnered with major developers and together created showpieces. IBM would then lease half or so of the finished building for sales and marketing and would lease out the other half to other businesses. It was a big financial investment as well as a civic statement. At any one time there were 3 or 4 of these being built around the country and 3 or 4 in the planning stages.

I was on a team of people who's job it was to represent IBM in the partnership. I was given two buildings. One being built and one in planning. My job was to oversee the project and make sure that in all endeavors concerning the building that everyone adopted the IBM way of doing things - classy, fair to all, above board in everything, and making a profit.

My first building was what became One Atlanta Center. The architects were Philip Johnson and John Burgee and the building was gorgeous. When I got it, it was maybe 6 months from opening so my work was mainly helping secure the last few tenants and planning the opening. I spent nearly every waking minute in one meeting or another or on the phone. I spent a lot of time in Atlanta. And it was all really fun and interesting.

This beautiful (the photo does not do it justice) piece hangs in my hallway today. (It's what we gave the executives and the other Important People. I was delighted and impressed when they deemed me Important enough to be in that group!)

I spent several high faluttin dinners sitting next to or in between the architects which intimidated the hell out of me. My Mom was an architect groupy so I knew both of them by their reputations. It was just such an amazing opportunity.

My building 'in planning' was yet another amazing opportunity. And the same architects! This one was at 33 Maiden Lane in Manhanttan. I spent a lot more time in New York City than I had in Atlanta simply because it was easier to get to on a whim. The big challenge with Maiden lane was that in addition to all the IBMness I had to watch out for and ensure was happening at all times, the real estate partners were kosher Jews. So every event, in house or for prospective tenants had to be kosher. The little shiksa learned a whole lotta stuff about food rules in a big ole hurry. Fortunately, the guy I was dating at the time was Jewish and had grown up in a kosher home. So at least I had a ready resource.

It was all really fun and really interesting and really fancy. And I had a ball.

I also worked with a really good guy who was quite a bit older and single and loved to travel and hated to travel alone. So we started traveling together. He would give me a couple of choices of places - island resorts and I'd pick one. He would make all the arrangements and hand me my ticket. It was heaven. We spent every Thanksgiving and every Memorial day for several years on one Caribbean Island or another. I paid my own way and we stayed in separate rooms and it was just perfect.

But then one day, my old boss (remember, the Barbra Streisand guy?) called me up and said 'hey, do you still want to write speeches? cause if you do, I have a friend who has a perfect job for you if you are interested.'

That's how I ended up interviewing for a job in Rochester, MN.

To Be Continued
Tags: tbc
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