What a pleasure it was to meet Sebastian! He was recommended to me as a technical whiz with Python™ skills par excellence, but he impressed me just as much with his infectious, happy energy, his thinking on the advancement of society and technology, and how he chooses to spend his time sharing his passion for electronics and software with children and adults at his local community center. Sebastian hails from a close-knit village in the Ruhr Valley — perhaps that’s where he learned how to be effortlessly generous. Like all of you, I am constantly learning — not just about business or the next turn of the blade in machine learning, but about life, empathy, and leadership. More and more this year I’ve noticed the difference positive leadership makes. Sebastian, though a very young man, had much to teach me on this score.
When you walked into this room, you brought with you a burst of energy. I felt more positive as soon as we started talking — and I am already a very positive person. How do you do that?
By believing in a cause. Positivity is what we all need in life, and in business. If you are stretching yourself you’ll inevitably encounter failure and distress, but you have to stay positive. If we are talking about a group of people having a positive attitude, it doesn’t matter where you come from, or how old you are, it only matters that you all believe in the same cause.
What is the cause you believe in?
At work, it’s the team. We are all working on IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator for z/OS, and I’ve never experienced a team that is as close together as this one, even though we are working on so many different parts. That’s the great aspect. When it comes to designing a new feature, we have to congregate and think about lots of different use cases. It’s not a simple product. Although we consider ourselves as writing “glue code”, we have to take special care with every little aspect and think through the consequences of potential failure. If I make a mistake in programming or designing a feature, it has a heavy impact on customers, and I know intimately what that can feel like from when I was in a customer-facing situation.
“Seeing someone learn and advance, and become an expert themselves, it’s the best thing that you can see. It lays the groundwork for society to advance.”
You started your career not long ago in customer support and now you’re a developer on a critical analytics product for large enterprise. What was it like, for a social person like you, to make the leap from facing customers to facing an Integrated Development Environment (IDE)?
It was natural. I did it using communications, and deep technical knowledge. I studied computer science at university, as a lot of people who work at IBM do, but we specialized in intercultural and international communications. We learned to communicate with passion and dedication, and to have empathy for other people and their needs and demands. My job in support was to understand the customer’s vision, and to show them that we at IBM are great partners to them. I also have deep technical knowledge, so now, knowing the architecture and where to expand it, that’s just awesome. But the foundation is the clients. They put so much trust in us that we have to give back to them.
Are you just as intensely involved with life outside of work?
I’m interested in hardware, not just software: I love to lay out printed circuit boards and teach children how to solder and how to programmatically control it. It is a great balance to the complex software of my work life. With hardware, you can achieve simple things, like making an LED blink, and it makes children crazy with excitement.
You volunteer with children?
Absolutely! And adults. It’s great to see people learn and to share your knowledge, because sharing is what advances all of us. It helps me to find ways to explain what I know in different words. And, seeing someone understand what you just said, seeing someone learn and advance, and become an expert themselves, it’s the best thing that you can see. It lays the groundwork for society to advance.
For such a young person, you speak profoundly, and you are involved with noble causes: sharing your time and knowledge to move society forward. It maps exactly to what you do at work: using empathy and knowledge to advance the product. What do you do for downtime? Or is it all uptime?
Oh no! I love to do things with my friends. I am a baking enthusiast, and I frequently come to work on a Monday with lots of cookies and a big cake to share. I can relax if I bake. I love going to movies with friends and playing board games — that’s a great thing — and walks in nature. Nature helps me find my inner point of …
That is saying a little too much I think, but some peace, and calm.
Name: Sebastian Muszytowski
Home Town: Ruhr Valley
Currently Working On: IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator for z/OS
Favorite Programming Language: Python™
Top 5 Movies to See with Friends:
1) Hedwig and the Angry Inch
2) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
4) Little Miss Sunshine
Sebastian’s Favorite New York Style White Chocolate Cheesecake with Blueberries
200 G WHOLE WHEAT COOKIES OR AMARETTI BISCUITS
100 G BUTTER
250 G WHITE CHOCOLATE
100 G CRÈME FRAÎCHE (OR HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM)
600 G CREAM CHEESE
1 TBSP VANILLA FLAVORED SUGAR (OR VANILLA EXTRACT)
100 G POWERED SUGAR
A HAND FULL OF WASHED BLUEBERRIES
0) PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO 180°C OR 350°F
1) CRUMBLE THE COOKIES (EITHER BY HAND OR IN A FOOD PROCESSOR)
2) MELT THE BUTTER (SHORT 10 SECONDS BURSTS IN THE MICROWAVE ARE FINE FOR MELTING. GIVE IT A GOOD STIR AFTER EACH 10 SECOND BURST. BE CAUTIOUS SINCE BUTTER IN THE MICROWAVE CAN BECOME A HUGE MESS IF YOU HEAT IT TOO QUICKLY.)
3) PUT SOME NON-STICK BACKING PAPER INTO THE BACKING TIN OR USE SOME BUTTER OR NON-STICK BAKING SPRAY TO COVER THE AREA OF THE BAKING TIN.
4) COMBINE YOUR CRUMBLED COOKIES AND THE MELTED BUTTER AND PUT IT IN THE BAKING TIN TO FORM THE BOTTOM OF YOUR CHEESECAKE.
5) PUT IT IN THE OVEN FOR ABOUT 10 MINUTES AND LET IT COMPLETELY COOL. (HINT: YOU DO NOT NEED YOUR OVEN ANY LONGER – YOU CAN TURN IT OFF ;-))
FOR THE YUMMY CHEESECAKE FILLING:
1) CHOP UP THE CHOCOLATE IN SMALL PIECES AND MIX IT WITH THE CRÉME FRAÎCHE (OR HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM)
2) HEAT IT AND STIR IT UNTIL IT COMBINES (I RECOMMEND SHORT MICROWAVE BURSTS OR A DOUBLE BOILER TO DO SO)
3) IN ANOTHER BOWL MIX THE CREME CHEESE, VANILLA SUGAR (OR EXTRACT) AND POWERED SUGAR UNTIL IT IS WELL COMBINED
4) SLOWLY ADD THE CHOCOLATE-CREME-FRAICHE MIXTURE INTO THE BOWL WHILE YOU CONSTANTLY STIR.
5) ONCE IT IS COMBINED (DO NOT OVER-STIR!) PUT IT ON TOP OF YOUR COOLED CHEESECAKE BOTTOM, FLATTEN THE TOP AND LET IT SIT IN THE FREEZER FOR A WHILE.
1) PUT SOME OF THE WASHED BLUEBERRIES ON TOP OF THE CHEESECAKE TO MAKE IT LOOK EVEN BETTER. BE ASSURED THAT IT TASTES EVEN MORE DELICIOUS WITH THEM!
2) FOR AN EVEN BETTER EFFECT YOU CAN GRATE SOME LEFT OVER WHITE CHOCOLATE (IF THERE IS ANY) TO MAKE THE CAKE EVEN MORE ATTRACTIVE.
Dinesh Nirmal – Vice President, IBM Analytics Development
Follow me on Twitter: @dineshknirmal
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