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Spotlight: Nir Kaldero, IBM Champion

By Isaiah Brown posted Tue November 17, 2020 12:02 PM

Nir Kaldero is a four year IBM Data and AI Champion based out of New York City, the Head of Data Science & AI at Neoris, and the author of Data Science for Executives: Leveraging Machine Intelligence to Drive Business ROI. In our conversation, we discussed the power and uniqueness of the IBM Champions Community and his hope for the future of digital business transformation.

Isaiah: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today, Nir. Let me start by asking, what does it mean to you to be an IBM Champion?

Nir: To me, being a Champion is being part of a big community with like minded people, sharing ideas and thoughts, and partnering both together and with IBM. Overall, I can say I'm very proud to be a Champion. I'm involved, like many others, in similar programs at Google and Microsoft, but to me, this group is unmatched by any other, except maybe Facebook's. Unlike some other companies that fluctuate in their interest in partners over time, IBM takes it very seriously, and has an incredible manager in Libby who does an amazing job developing and keeping close relationships. Every time I have a conversation with IBM and other Champions, I feel like we burst through another ceiling and accelerate towards solving problems that may have given us fits individually.

Isaiah: What are you most looking forward to as an IBM Champion this coming year?

Nir: I'm looking forward to continuing to be an influencer and to maximize my use of IBM's platform to disseminate and project my ideas to the world. Events like THINK serve as great opportunities to get to people - when I published my book a year and a half ago, THINK served as a fertile ground for me to have enriching conversations with people about some of the ideas I was putting forth

Isaiah: How would you describe the IBM Champion community?

Nir: This program is truly something unbelievable. Every time I dive in, I'm amazed by the level of integrity, collaboration and empathy on display. That empathy, care, and friendship is why I'm proud to be a part of this program. Like I said, I've been affiliated with a number of similar programs, but none of them are like this.

Isaiah: What is something new you've learned from a fellow IBM Champion?

Nir: I learned how to better position and sell technology - and not just IBM tech. Because of my interactions with other Champions, I'm better equipped to leverage pre-packaged tech to quickly generate wins for enterprise clients.

Isaiah: What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an IBM Champion?

Nir: One obvious thing is to really try to understand how to leverage IBM tech to make an actual business impact. Try to deeply understand how to weave and utilize IBM platforms to generate quick wins. Once you get that down, you inherently start highlighting the true power behind IBM tech, and you standout. Additionally, you must be provocative in the sense of releasing new ideas into the world. Be a thought leader. I'm a Champion not just because I sell IBM tech and have 500 people under me who do the same, but because I take the ideas that arise from that partnership and share it with the world to make people more successful. You have to have the desire to be around other thought leaders and feed off of their passion. Sure, some of the partners who sell the most might become a Champion, but anyone can become good at sales. A Champions is more.

Isaiah: What technology trends are you currently most excited about?

Nir: Overall, I'm really excited about the advancements in NLP with the rise of GPT-3 and I'm also very excited about some of the recent advancements in Deep Learning coming from the world of AI Architecture. These are the "sexiest" trends, but underneath that, what really excites me are companies beginning to fully understand that without tech, they don't have a future. In recent years, the digital transformation journey for many companies has accelerated as they begin to leverage data and their tech environments in much more productive ways. In all honesty, the tech for their transformation is the easy part, but making it a priority within a company is the difficult part, and what really is exciting to me is seeing more and more leadership embrace this process.

Isaiah: What kind of things are you working on?

Nir: Recently, I've been helping one of the oldest companies in the world learn how to leverage their data and tech environments to generate millions of dollars. In short, making an industry incumbent a digitally intelligent enterprise.

Isaiah: What is the coolest thing you learned this week?

Nir: This week I've learned the increasing appetite, eagerness, and support for digital transformation at a multibillion dollar enterprise leader. Though individuals in companies like these may have already been onboard, I've been really encouraged to see the amount of support in the market, and people becoming increasingly willing to listen to the fact that digital transformation can decide life or death in today's world. A year ago, I had to fight to get this message across but now, people come to me. Because of COVID, companies are dealing with more digital assets than ever before, and the the tide is turning towards figuring out how to maximize them instead of resisting change.

IBM Champion nominations for 2021 are open until November 30th.