Most of us strive to be life-long learners, but what does that mean in practice? For some, it means going deeper and deeper into our chosen field, refining our expertise in chemistry, carpentry, or cognitive science. For others, it means always exploring in new directions.
On my recent trip to Krakow, I had the good fortune to interview somebody who does both. Joanna Janusz works as a development manager in our Krakow lab, where she’s risen steadily through the ranks from her first IBM job as a QA Tester. She’s gone deep into data, data tooling, and data governance. At the same time, she’s pushing her learning along new lines: hiking, sailing, and a passionate love of museums.
With your talent and energy, you have a lot of opportunities as Poland continues to grow as a tech center. What excites you about staying at IBM?
That’s an easy one. For me, it’s about the impact of the work. It’s hard to imagine anywhere else where huge corporations, banks, and stores are relying on an offering like our Information Governance Catalog (IGC) product. If you work at a smaller company, they might have one or two big customers. You don’t have the chance to innovate at scale, the stakes for the world and the economy are not nearly as large, and you can’t understand in the same way what the whole marketplace needs.
Tell me about your path from junior engineer to leader.
I spent my first nine years in QA, first as a tester and engineer, then as a lead. I loved QA as a way to learn and understand the offerings. You start to see where customers run into issues, and you encounter so many different kinds of issues, so it’s excellent training for assessing complicated systems — and for patience.
And then for the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve been a development manager for IGC. Data governance is very exciting. I could do data governance for years and not get bored.
How has it been transitioning from an individual contributor to a manager?
Humbling. I still feel I have so many things to learn, but what’s the saying? “If it doesn’t hurt, you don’t grow.”
I’ve heard you’re interested in an advanced technical career path.
That’s true. I’m lucky because I’m a manager, but I still get to be quite technical. That dual path is very interesting to me. I went to school for computer science and always liked math, so I hope I can keep working deeply on the technical side. I’d love to make my way to STSM (Senior Tech Staff Member), while continuing to practice being a leader.
What’s free time look like for you?
I have two small kids who are six and four, and I like to show them the world, whether it’s traveling abroad or just around Krakow. I love just walking around the city, meeting friends, shopping, visiting museums, just enjoying the atmosphere here.
And if I can get out of the city, I like being in the mountains, especially in the summer and especially with my kids. Fortunately, Krakow is close enough to the mountains that we can go, but the south of Europe is also a favorite destination, whether Italy or the south of France. The best is someplace with great nature but also culture and museums —archeology, fine art, modern art. I like it all.
It sounds as though you have a good balance in your life — time learning about art, time with your children…
I think sometimes maybe it means actually letting things overlap. I can take my kids to a museum and I’m being a good parent, but I’m also learning new things while I’m there. And — who knows? — maybe it helps me be a better manager or engineer, or just a better thinker.
Home Town: Krakow
Currently Working On: UG&I new user interfaces
Currently Reading: Maja Lunde "The History of Bees"
Top 5 museums:
1. Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology, Krakow
2. National Museum, Krakow
3. Tate Modern,London
4. Pergamon Museum, Berlin
5. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Dinesh Nirmal – Vice President, IBM Analytics Development
Follow me on Twitter: @dineshknirmal