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My Transformative Experience at IBM TechXchange Conference: A Guide for New IBM Z Professionals


My Transformative Experience at IBM TechXchange Conference: A Guide for New IBM Z Professionals

Attending the IBM TechXchange Conference was nothing short of an enlightening experience for me. As someone who is new to the IBM Z ecosystem, the conference offered a plethora of opportunities for learning, networking, and personal growth. My experience at this event was so meaningful that I felt compelled to share it—especially for those who are new IBM Z professionals like me. Here's a brief rundown of the key moments and how you can get involved in this vibrant community.

SUNDAY - Day 1: Starting Off With a Bang

Meeting IBM Champion Mentor - Janet Sun

I was fortunate enough to meet Janet Sun, my IBM Champion mentor, on the very first day. The mentorship program is part of the New to Z Mentoring initiative, which pairs newbies with experienced IBM Z professionals. Janet offered valuable insights into how I could grow within the IBM Z space.

Janet Sun & Jade Walker at IBM TechXchange 2023

Global Connections

From IBM Champions to business partners, I met people from all around the world—Barcelona, Germany, Canada, you name it. It's remarkable how diverse and inclusive the IBM community is.

IBM Champions 2023 at IBM TechXchange 2023

New IBM Products & Services

Day 1 was also about getting introduced to the latest IBM products and services. These introductory conversations that I had with seasoned IBM Champions were eye-opening, and it was awe-inspiring to see how IBM is shaping the future of tech.

Networking with Senior-Level Professionals

The chance to speak with senior-level professionals provided a unique learning opportunity. Their advice was invaluable for someone like me, new to this expansive IBM Z ecosystem.

MONDAY - Day 2: Expanding Horizons

Open Mainframe Summit

The Open Mainframe Summit gave us insights into mentoring through summer internships and promoting diversity in tech—values that I deeply resonate with.

Jade, Sudharsana & Steven at Open Mainframe Summit 2023 
Elizabeth Joseph & Jade Walker at IBM TechXchange & Open Mainframe Summit 2023

Z-Day Promotion at the Sandbox

While handing out flyers to promote Z-Day (October 18, 2023) at the Sandbox area, I stumbled upon several people whom I might not have otherwise met. These interactions were engaging and opened doors for future collaborations.

Welcome Sandbox Block Party & Content Creation

We partied, but we also created content with other advocates. It was a great way to unwind and network at the same time.  View my LinkedIn post for video highlights of the event: Sandbox Block Party Video

Sandbox Block Party at IBM TechXchange 2023

Meeting Tech Influencers

This was a bonus—getting to meet other tech influencers and discuss upcoming trends, challenges, and opportunities in the tech landscape.

TUESDAY - Day 3: Building Community

IBM Champions Group Picture (Shown Above)

Taking a group picture with other IBM Champions was a memorable experience. It truly emphasized the sense of community within the IBM ecosystem.

Sessions & Friendly Atmosphere

The sessions were incredibly informative, and what struck me the most was how friendly everyone was. It's as if everyone wants you to succeed—there was a genuine sense of community.

WEDNESDAY - Day 4: Wrapping Up

Closing The Skill Gap Session: A Meeting of Minds at M&T Bank

One of the standout moments from the conference was a session focused on "Closing the Skill Gap"—a topic of vital importance in today's tech landscape. What made this session particularly impactful for me was the opportunity to connect with Gary Fusco, the Senior Vice President - z Mainframe Platform & Middleware Engineering and Operations at M&T Bank. As it turns out, not only do I work at M&T Bank, but I'm also a part of the ZDP (Z Development Program) there. Gary is an advocate and champion for the ZDP Program, making this connection even more special.

The session provided a forum to openly discuss challenges and solutions related to the skills gap in the industry. The dialogue was enlightening, but the cherry on top was witnessing Gary acknowledge the success of the ZDP Program at M&T Bank. It's one thing to be part of a program and another entirely to see that program receive recognition from senior leadership in a public forum.  This moment not only underscored the program's impact, but it also filled me with pride for having been a dedicated member of the ZDP Program for the past two years.

This session was a testament to the unique opportunities for professional development and networking that the IBM TechXchange Conference offers. It was a gratifying experience to witness the success of a program I'm involved in and connect with a senior leader in my own organization.

Gary Fusco & Jade Walker at IBM TechXchange 2023

Social Opportunities Abound

The conference had a wealth of social opportunities that encouraged meeting people you didn’t know and making deeper connections. This was invaluable for networking and professional development.

Getting Involved: Next Steps for New IBM Z Professionals

New to IBM Z Community Hub

If you’re new to IBM Z, this is where you should start. The hub offers a plethora of resources to get you up and running.

IBM Champions Program & Badging

Join the IBM Champions Program to be recognized for your contributions and earn badges that highlight your expertise.

New to Z Mentoring

I can't stress enough the value of having a mentor in this journey. The New to Z Mentoring program pairs you with seasoned IBM Z professionals who can guide you.

Attend the Next IBM TechXchange Conference

Trust me; you don’t want to miss this. Mark your calendars for the next IBM TechXchange Conference.

So there it is—my transformative journey at the IBM TechXchange Conference. If you’re a new IBM Z professional, I strongly recommend getting involved in these programs and attending the conference. The IBM Z community is thriving, inclusive, and incredibly supportive. It's a journey you'll want to be part of.