The man who helped change IBM

What would it be like to be part of one of the most leading and sustainable companies during the most explosive growth in America?

This week I celebrated my 700th episode of The Small Business Radio Show with Nicholas (Nick) Donofrio, who began his career at IBM in 1964. Ironically, I started at IBM in 1981 for the first 9 years of my career. Nick lasted much longer and stayed there for 44 years. His leadership roles have included division president for advanced workshops, general manager of the large-scale computing division, and executive vice president of innovation and technology. He has a new book about his career at IBM called “If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes”.

We discussed:

How Nick started at IBM because of his mother’s influence.

Nick shares stories about his failed first semester at RPI and his poor managerial ratings early in his career (and how these moments changed him).

The risk that then-President of IBM, Thomas J. Watson Jr, took to market the System 360 – the first true commercial computer.

The lingering impact of the mainframe, nearly 60 years later, and Nick’s role in “saving it” in the early 1990s. While others called for IBM to break up, he defended what many saw as a “dinosaur” in 1992.

How diversity was central to the success of his teams and of IBM in general.

Why he guided so many people in his business career and what he learned from them. (He even worked with one of my memorable IBM mentors, Jim Corgel.

How Nick was the first IBM executive ever to have “innovation” in his title and why IBM is still not seen as the most innovative company.

Listen to the full interview on The Small Business Radio Show and join us in celebrating our 700th show!

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Image: Nicholas Donofrio


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