Thursday, October 13, 2011

Working with IBM: Business Lessons in Daily Life

One of the subjects that I have never regretted and am most thankful for taking before I entered medical school was Business & Management. I took the course along with 6 other subjects when I was in International Baccalaureate in MARA College Seremban from 2005 to 2007. I still remember how my lecturer at that time, Puan Kartina would make the subject very interesting with her ‘in-between stories’ that somehow may seem not related to business management at all, but were very interesting indeed. It was soon I learned that as well as in medicine, the lessons from business management apply not only in the workplace but also in living daily life. Maybe that is why her stories were always related to her life, but has business lessons in it. 

If it weren’t for Business and Management, I wouldn’t think I would be able to play the leadership role I hold today. Even after I’ve graduated from International Baccalaureate, I crave for business lessons and would always always always visit a bookstore every time I go to a shopping mall to get my hands on a new business book. Right now in my house, my bookshelf is already full of those kinds of books that I had to buy an extension to it. A few of my all-time favourites was: Built to Last and Good to Great by Jim Collins, Onwards by Howard Schulz, The Starbucks Experience by Joseph Michelli, The Innovation of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo, Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney, The Big Idea by marketing guru Donny Deutsch, Blink, The Tipping Point and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Narcissistic Leaders by Michael Maccoby, Doctor in the House by Tun Mahathir Mohammad (you might not think this is a business book but it has a LOT of lessons about doing business in Malaysia), Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff about Money by the late Richard Carlson, and…oh, I am not a book promoter, am I?

The most interesting thing I find in these books was the story of the business companies as a whole and the gritty people inside them that unfolds the story of success. I love reading about how the companies were started, how determined their founders were despite various setbacks, the ups and downs of companies, how they were burnt to the ground and then rise from the ashes, the passionate people that make things happen by teamwork, and the life and death of the prominent figures in business. Each and every company has their own stories, as told by the people inside them, but all in all, the stories shaped the way I think about leading an organization and leading my own life. 

Apart from the story of Apple, Starbucks, Google and Sony, my favourite story was about IBM, the International Business Machines. I sum up their company as extremely innovative. Just recently, IBM has passed Microsoft to become the world’s second-most valuable technology company. Although their products were not as publicized as Apple’s iPad, iPod or iPhones, that’s only because their products work silently in the background. They are like the timid guy in class who makes things happen in the background and end up being a revolutionary. Their components powered our cities, lighted up our skyscrapers, mobilize our LRTs, powered the MRIs and CT scans we doctors use every day and even enable you to read this very text I am writing. I have always imagined myself working for a big international companies, just for the sake of imagination, but of all things, I would have never ever guess that I will ever work with IBM someday, at least not until I am working. Who would have thought that the day came when I am still a mere student? I had the chance to work with them when they approached my medical student organization, SMMAMS, where they wanted to collaborate with us making their IBM Smarter Planet Healthcare Week a reality. This morning I received a thank you email from them. It goes like this:

Subject: Thank You SMMAMS for All Your Help
Dear Lutfi, Hsiao-Hui and all those at the Society of Malaysian Medical Association Medical Students (SMMAMS),

Firstly, we would like to thank each and everyone one of you for supporting IBM Smarter Planet Malaysia and for your participation during the Healthcare Week. Without you, the Healthcare Week would not have been the success that it was. Thank you.

With the help of you, the SMMAMS students and the few hardworking souls who helped run the Healthcare Week contest, we have increased the traffic of the IBM Smarter Planet Malaysia Facebook and Twitter webpages. We had a jump of over 50 ‘likes’ in the span of 1 week and an increase of users who came across the webpages by the hundreds.

Your participation has helped spread the values of a Smarter Healthcare not only amongst Malaysian but to others from a far. To add, your involvement is the impetus to future technological progress of a Smarter Healthcare and ultimately, to a Smarter Planet. Please find attached a copy of the infographic for your keeping. I hope you have found the information useful, we shall be following up with the winners to give them the prizes. Again Hsiao-Hui and Lufti, thank you very much.

We will be in contact with you when we have future projects coming up that you might be interested. Keep in touch.

Best Regards,

Conrad Bateman
IBM Malaysia

Before the event, me and my IT director, Ms Hsiao Hui Yeap had a 'business negotiation' with one of the people from IBM over dinner. I find the people in successful business their face light up with passion when talking about their product that you have to wonder if they were really trained to do just that or they really have that passion in their hearts. Working for a big company such as IBM was an eye-opener to me. I have mentioned before that I am interested in doing Public Health and management of the health system in Malaysia where I believe needs TREMENDOUS help by applying business lessons. I pray that someday I will be able to do something about the healthcare system in Malaysia, and make it smarter. But I guess even if I don’t get to, I might just apply those lessons in real life, in any organizations I am in, in family (a family itself is an organization, isn't it), and if everything else didn't work, I might just end up saying, ''I am not a businessman, I AM a business, man!''


Anonymous said...


Mardhiah S said...

Hi Lutfi,

I'd like to share few links. I thought you could relate to the author of this blog (this came into mind when I read your post):

Also, his TED talk:

P/s: My friend Izza mentioned you in her status update and that's how I got here.

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