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Blog | I Am A Mainframer

I am a Mainframer: Tina Tarquinio

By | December 16, 2021

In today’s episode of the “I Am A Mainframer” podcast, Steven Dickens sits down with Tina Tarquinio, Director, IBM Z Product Management. In this podcast, Tina discusses her journey with the mainframe, advice for those just starting their journey with the Mainframe, and where she sees the Mainframe going in the future.

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Steven Dickens: Hello and welcome. My name’s Steven Dickens, and you’ve joined us today for the “I Am A Mainframer” podcast. The podcast is brought to you by the Open Mainframe Project at Linux Foundation collaborative project focused on bringing open source to the mainframe platform. I’m joined today by a dear friend, a former IBM colleague, doesn’t need that much introduction but I’ll do it anyway, Tina Tarquinio. Hey, Tina? Welcome to the show.

Tina Tarquinio: Hey, Steve. Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Steven Dickens: This one’s going to be a fun one, I think. So Tina, I know you very well. We used to sit down the hallway from each other. We’ve got kids the same age. We’ve hung out. But just for our listeners, just get us orientated. Tell us a little bit about your background, what you do for IBM right now. And we’ll use that as a jumping off point for the rest of the call.

Tina Tarquinio: Sure. I have what I tell people, I think is the best job at IBM. I am the product management executive for the IBM Z product family. So you would recognize our products as z14, z15 in the marketplace and several models as well as IBM LinuxONE. So my team is responsible for bringing those to market. It’s exciting. We work with amazing brilliant engineers and amazing brilliant customers. And underneath what we all use every day, usually is a mainframe that’s making it secure and reliable. And so, it’s really exciting work. I am a New York native. I think the Hudson Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and my family and I live here. I have two kids,s and I think that’s a good starting point.

Steven Dickens: I love your Twitter bio. You may have changed it but, I make mainframes, and I just love that because I think it captures… There are so many parts to your job, and I know, and we’ll spend some time on the show here going through the various processes that make one of these amazing boxes coming the market. But I think that’s the key part of your job. You lead the team that makes mainframes, and that’s such a key… It distills it down for me. I think it’s a great description.

Tina Tarquinio: Actually, if you were able to slack with me at work, you would see my status making the world great one mainframe at a time.

Steven Dickens: I Remember that now. I remember that. So we’ve talked about making mainframes. We joked about it a little there. Unpack what that means. We’re coming towards the end of z15. Now you guys have launched the Telum Processor, so there’s a new box coming sometime soon. Tell me what making mainframes means. Because I think I know that from sitting down the hall from you and being involved in the process, but just for our listeners who maybe don’t know what goes into one of these boxes, the four or five year journey that it takes to get one out the door. Just go through the process for us if you would.

Tina Tarquinio: Sure. So at any given time we are working on two or three systems, right? And of course we are managing and supporting our clients in market technology. At IBM we actually design our proprietary chip technology. So we work with the fabrication partner but we design the chip technology. So in August we introduced the Telum Processor, that’s our next generation processor, and that work starts really early, right? So for z15, we started that work four or five years ahead of when we actually announced and introduced. And in order to do that effectively, I have what we call obsessive client feedback loops, right? We are very fortunate to have amazing customers that work very closely with us. We have six customer councils focused on different aspects of the offering. Where we are, like I said, obsessive about getting feedback. And so, around 2015 we had a transformation.

We introduced offering product management at IBM as a true discipline. We brought design thinking to the table and agile development. And if you look at that, that’s the magic combination that brought us Pervasive Encryption on z14. It brought us System Recovery Boost on z15 and the other magic sauce is our Stack Wide View, right? So we accelerate at the chip, at the operating system, at the metalware, at the application level. And it takes a lot of teams working at once but that’s really what makes the system perform the way it does. And then depending on market trends we’ll focus on encryption or scalability AI, but we have some table stakes and that is security, reliability, serviceability, and our clients depend on us for that. And so, we’re always raising the bar on those including also sustainability.

So our power footprint, which is really becoming front of mind for our clients lately. And then we look at what’s happening in the market and accelerate for those points. So that’s why we saw the introduction of z15 with System Recovery Boost and compression on-chip. And then for zNext we’re doing the same thing. Looking at where can we accelerate. So in the Telum announcement we talked about accelerated AI and you’ll see that come to market. But that’s really how we operate. And so, we did that for 15, we’re doing it on zNext and now we’re starting the discussions on the design of the chip for the next next which can be mind boggling and overwhelming to be moving at so many different lanes. But it’s really exciting because you’re really like creating the future of the offering.

Steven Dickens: I know what you mentioned about design thinking there, I’ve been through that as a product manager in IBM, but I know you’ve been one of the leaders at the absolute forefront of that within the said business and within IBM more generally. So, IBM talks about design thinking a lot but for our listeners who maybe aren’t IBMers just double click on what that term means, design thinking, you talked about obsessive feedback loops from customers, but just really expand on that thought for a moment.

Tina Tarquinio: Sure. And that’s good. And I’m sorry I assumed everyone knew. So design thinking is really about designing for a user experience outcome and not designing for a technology feature or a line item. It’s really about, “What do we want the user to be able to do when we’ve done this?” And so, there’s a really defined process. We have a team within IBM and then within Z that are really outstanding at this and it takes our users. And so, we have personas, right? So in Z we look at the personas as an application developer, assistant programmer. I think we have a library of 50 personas now. Security, as well as storage management. So we have all these personas and we look at what are they doing today? And so, we interview them, “What are your paying points? What would you like to be able to do?”

And then we get to as is. And then we say, “Okay. In a perfect world to be, what would you like that to look like?” And then we try and map. What can we do? What makes sense for us to do? Where will we get the biggest outcome? And we’re always looking for the who, what, and the wow. So who what personas can do what and gets to a wow. And so when we get to the wow, we really hone in on refining it over and over. And we work with user researchers, which are our design thinking counterparts. Sometimes we need front-end designers depending on the product area. And then we iterate showing them wire frames, here’s what we’re thinking and we get their feedback there.

And it doesn’t stop at the actual technology. We also get their feedback on how we talk about it, right? So for System Recovery Boost, right? The concept of saying instant recovery, right? We share the messaging with them, “Does this resonate? Does it the first time or do we have to explain it?” If we have to explain it probably needs more work. So we do that at the technology level and at the messaging level to make sure that we’re really being impactful on both fronts of that.

Steven Dickens: I see, especially with the mainframe. I think that would surprise a bunch of people. It’s a speeds and feed time platform. There’s obviously the processor component. When the box comes out, there’s loads of benchmark data. Talk me through the reaction you’ve had from customers as we’ve gone through with z14 and z15. I know you’ve been instrumental in bringing those products to market either as a product manager or leading the team as the exec. What’s been that reaction from customers as the IBM teams look to just really pull them into the process a lot more actively as co-collaborators, co-creators?

Tina Tarquinio: Well, as you can imagine, right? For something so critical in their enterprise, they’re happy to give us feedback. Sometimes getting them in the right frame of mind, right? They’ll just say, “It should just work this way. Or I don’t like what it does now.” And you have to really… What I’ve learned is you have to get good at asking the right questions. And so, that all happens upfront once we get to the right questions. And a lot of it’s getting them comfortable and understanding who each of their stakeholders are. And usually the first round of interviews you end up just… You really generate another set of people you need to go talk to, which is great. And so, initially we had to get them on board that, “It’s okay if you lead us to other people.”

And now we used to ask for Sponsor Users, which are these clients that are with us for the whole journey. And now we hear them saying, “Are you looking for Sponsor Users?” “When can I sign up?” Or, “I want to be a part of that.” We have one specific council that is aimed at this co-creation, it’s called the Z Design Council. And it’s a very curated list because it’s not just our largest or our highest revenue generating clients. It’s the ones that either have unique environments, or they really do want to co-create for the whole life of a program. It’s an investment of their time. But I think most of our clients really enjoy starting with an idea and then you see it come to life. Just like I think any one of us would. I think if someone asked me to co-create one of my favorite things I’d be all in on it. So they really enjoy it. And we’ve always had great relationships with them and they’re always eager to give us feedback, but this opens the door even more.

And it really has shifted us from looking at just line items or just queuing up our fees, which we could do for days, but it really is shifted to making their job easier or more impactful, I think on the other end.

Steven Dickens: Yeah. I think that’s… I’ve seen some of this transition when I was at IBM, I’ve watched you guys go through and been involved in the process myself. I think it’s a huge pivot for how IBM’s been bringing products to market. And I think it’s… What will this be now? The third generation of the mainframe that goes through this process. Maybe, I know you can’t talk too much about it, and I think most people can guess there’s a new box coming next year. You guys did something different with Telum coming out as a processor. Talk us through just giving us a snapshot into what it’s like at this point through a cycle. Where are you? There’s a box coming at some point next year, say as much over as little as about that as you can obviously. But just give us a view into this part of the cycle. I think we just spent some good time on the early part of the cycle. Give us a view of where we are now. I think that’ll be really fascinating for the listeners.

Tina Tarquinio: Yeah. So I want to comment on two things, the seasons program goes through and then I also want to talk about the announcement we made with Telum and I… Everybody always asks me, “Why did we name Tulum Telum?” So I’ll make sure I get to that.

Steven Dickens: Oh. I didn’t ask that question but I want to ask that. So go for it. Yeah. Please get to that one.

Tina Tarquinio: So if you think about this, I tell product managers that come into the team, right? They’re seasons, right? So in the beginning of a product we do this, let’s think about what we could do. If we had all the resources in the world, like you have this dreaming invention, innovation period, where you’re exploring everything you could do and it gets refined. And then you go from that dreaming phase into the, “Okay. Let’s actually size all of that work with what we have available and prioritize.” And then you go through that season and the next season is, “Okay, let’s start to build it and make it.” Which is exciting. I used to work on the test floor and there’s nothing like when you first power on a new mainframe, it’s just like this buzz of energy.

And the last season is you go to market. And there’s different teams that participate in each of the seasons. I think my job is the best at IBM because I’m in all of the seasons. And so, this go-to-market is really where you’re the engineering work and the execution is full steam ahead. And now you’re thinking about how do we talk about it? When do we launch? What’s the key messaging? Because IBM doesn’t necessarily have product specific marketing, right? You won’t ever see a mainframe on a billboard no matter how much I would wish. So it’s how do we work within IBM marketing and who do we talk about? What customers are we going to have on stage with us? What’s digital launch? And what are the taglines, right? So in z14 we had 100% encrypted, 100% of the time. That took a lot of work to distill down to just those four words.

And so, right now we’re in the season of, “It’s time to go to market, let’s flex all those muscles.” And so, externally it’s all the things I just talked about. Internally it’s getting our sellers ready. So how do we educate them? How do we give them the right collateral to create proposals to talk to their clients? How do we make sure that the sales plays are aligned? How do we… All of that internally needs to support the external launch, right? Obviously we’re building these to meet business goals, right? So that’s where we are. We’re gearing up this huge go-to-market phase. And I know you’ve participated in launches. It’s so incredibly exciting.

Steven Dickens: There’s an adrenaline rush for the next few months for sure.

Tina Tarquinio: There really is. And all of the things you talked about or put in PowerPoint start to come to life. And it’s really exciting. Like any other thing, all of the things you didn’t put in PowerPoint or problems you didn’t envision also come and you deal with that. IBMers are truly exceptional at figuring those things out. And so, even when there’s problems, right? There’s the thrill of solving it. And so, if you think about our technology has been designed, we announced that in August, right? That was the IBM Telum Processor. And we did something different. We don’t normally go to HotChips from IBM zPower. Our power systems always go to HotChips. We don’t normally go and if we go it wouldn’t, excuse me, it wouldn’t be before the system announced of which the processor’s going to be in.

So we did something different. This time we had our distinguished engineer CJ, Christian Jacobi, talk about Telum at HotChips. And it was really a chance to focus on our technology innovation. HotChips is not a sales conference. It’s not a marketing conference. It is a technical conference. And it was an opportunity to showcase our depth of technology and working with IBM Research and the true innovation. So in addition to the accelerated AI on the chip, which got the headlining act, the whole chip is redesigned. New cash design, everything. So it’s really quit the new frontier. Actually, there was a press release that said it was the new frontier of cash design, right? So it’s really cool. And it gave us a chance to focus on that. And parallel in the industry, chips are having a moment, right? Either the shortage of chips or the M chip at apple like, “What a chip talk.” And they’re all named. And we don’t name our at IBM Z normally. But never wanted to call [crosstalk 00:16:57]

Steven Dickens: I’ve got to admit Tina, that one did catch me. I’m like, “Oh, they gave it a name.” So, I’m going to play the role of the listener because I know you’re the person who can give me the answer. I’ve been on the inside coming up with names for things in the past with LinuxONE and Emperor and Rockhopper. So I know that that is a challenge within IBM, let’s just call it that.

Tina Tarquinio: So it was never-

Steven Dickens: Give me the backstory. Give me the backstory on Telum.

Tina Tarquinio: So it was really good that HotChips had a date because we had to have it done by the date. So we knew the capabilities of the chip. And so, we actually crowdsource. So within the engineering community, right? We have the chip design community, we have the system design community, we have z/OS community, we have the product management community. So we actually crowdsource and we said, “Here are some guardrails, but suggest names.” And so, we got hundreds of names. It was really some brilliant ones. And so, we have code names for our systems internally and we have had a series of Greek god and goddess names that are code names for the overall project.

And so, the next processor code name was Artemis. And Artemis is a Greek goddess and she is known for hunting with the javelin and Telum is actually a Latin word for the spear or javelin. And so to us it really represented precision and forward-thinking which is what we believe zNext is. And it was a play on words with Artemis, which we all… I think we all really love our code names. And so, it was actually submitted by one of our crypto engineers. And so, it was a double whammy that it was from one of our engineer community. We ended up coming down to a couple of just two names.

And so, and the voting meeting was me, my boss Barry, my peer in development and Ross. And so, Ross let us all vote before he said, “Good. I was going to use my 200 votes on that one.” So we all really-

Steven Dickens: He’s got a majority vote that he didn’t have to exercise. That’s fantastic.

Tina Tarquinio: Yeah. So, and it was really exciting. And then once we had the name it really just seemed perfect. And it got a lot of press, which was really great again to highlight our innovation. And then just earlier this week, it was announced as an honoree at CES and the event will take place in 2022. So it’s just been really great to do things like that that are like for the first time for us, right? Going to HotChips, naming the chip, having the CES honoree. It’s really been exciting. And we haven’t even announced a system yet. So [crosstalk 00:19:45]

Steven Dickens: As an outsider, as our listeners know I’ve gone from IBM to a research firm now we covered it. And I’m what is it five months out of IBM now? So I know you guys really well and I was cheering from the sidelines going, “That’s a great thing to have done. I’m really glad.” Because I know there’s such a focus on delivering the system and rightly so. But this gave you a chance to grab the microphone ahead. Talk about the innovation that’s going on in the chip. And I think… I don’t know whether CJ and his team get the credit that they deserve for purely the chip design.

We cover Intel, we cover Qualcomm, we cover AMD and Invidia and those guys and I think they get a disproportionate amount of credit for the amount of research that they do. Maybe it’s the right amount of credit, I don’t know, for that chip innovation. But I never think IBM gets the credit that… And I don’t think you’re seen as a systems’ manufacturer, not a chip manufacturer that makes systems that go in it. So it was really good to see from the outside, I think. And the Telum Processor, as you say, getting all the press that it deserved.

Tina Tarquinio: Yeah. It was awesome. It was really exciting. So I think our experiment was successful and CJ and I were not laughed out of the room. So we will-

Steven Dickens: That’s a bold move. That’s a bold move.

Tina Tarquinio: Well we thought that they were either going to love this idea or say, “No. Go away now.” So they really loved it, which was great. So we’ll be back. I’m sure.

Steven Dickens: Fingers crossed for CES, right?

Tina Tarquinio: Yeah. That’s so exciting. I’ve never watched it so closely in my whole life. So I’m really excited and it’ll be fun. So I’m excited.

Steven Dickens: So I think you’ve had a fantastic… So let’s maybe pivot. We’ve talked about design thinking. We’ve talked about your role in your leadership within IBM. The show’s called “I Am A Mainframer”. I know you’ve got a background in the platform for a long time. Talk us through a little bit and orientate the listeners on that journey. So let’s pivot from the IBM speak for a moment and talk about your journey coming out of college, getting into IBM, the journey you’ve had through the platform and just frame that for me a little and give some of that… Because we’ve got a lot of younger listeners to the show who are maybe at the early part of their career and maybe can’t associate with, how do you get to be an executive in IBM from coming out of college at 22? So join that dots up. Right.

Tina Tarquinio: Right. And I think if someone had told me 22 years ago I might not have believed them. Maybe 10 years ago, but I don’t know about right out of college. So I went to college. I was a math and comp sci double major. I went to Albany. I had a physics minor. I was a math-science geek through and through. And joined IBM, not thinking I would be here super long. My then-boyfriend now-husband had another year in college and I thought I’ll work at IBM, I’ll live at home, save some money and then we’ll figure it out. And I joined IBM as a microcode programmer working on power systems actually. And so, I wrote code for HPC systems and we would-

Steven Dickens: I won’t hold it against you Tina. Don’t worry.

Tina Tarquinio: I know. It was short-lived. And then from there, I went to the… And so, when I first joined, and this is always a lesson I tell people is, when I first joined whoever the newest person to the department was got the crappiest job of being the system administrator for our development and test systems. And so, I arrived and next thing I know, I got a binder full of what to do when something goes wrong. And I got a cable polar up floor tile, polar upper, like a suction cup to pull floor tile. And I was like, “What is this for?” Well, it turned out that you need to go yank some cables around when you’re the system administrator. And it turned out that I loved it. I loved going up and playing with the system.

I loved that I could solve it. And so, my next job was working in the benchmarks’ center and we built systems and we did bakeoffs. We do Oracle empowered DB two one power. And I loved it. I could work with customers, but it wasn’t production, and sellers were fun and it was really great. And I worked for someone and they said, “You’d make a good manager.” And I thought, “Sure, I’ve been here five minutes. Why not?” And so, I went from this world where I was working entirely on power systems and I became the manager of the Z Hardware Test Floor. And my first mainframe, I joined in July for a September GA. I remember I’m the test manager. So it was crazy. And I was like, “Oh my God, what? I should go back to my old job because I don’t know what I did here but I should go.” But I loved it. Again, it’s so exciting and you’re solving problems and-

Steven Dickens: I’m going to stop you. I know what the mainframe test floor looks like.

Steven Dickens: But just if you’ve not done the Poughkeepsie factory tour, just give the listener a view of what that is. I’ll give you a run-in. It’s the most amount of mainframes you are ever going to see in one place.

Tina Tarquinio: Right. I was just thinking, you measure the footprints in probably hundreds and not only do you have whatever system you’re testing to get out the door next, but you also have the previous generation for interoperability. You have systems that are running for development. You have the chamber, which we call shake and vibe. So we put the system in there and test it for earthquakes. So it’s massive. And it’s a raised floor, right? So there are tiles raised up because underneath is all the cables, the IO cables and everything. And the networking room is both overwhelming and beautiful all at the same time. And there’s a central room where everybody operates from. So it’s not like offices, everybody works in the center area, which is great. It’s very communal, but it’s loud because of all the machines and the test floor we don’t put the doors on because it’s just in our way.

And so, it’s loud, it’s windy and it’s a little, if you’re not from there, it’s definitely overwhelming. And it was to me. And like I said, I joined about two months before z9 GA and thought like, “This is crazy town.” But it was really fun. And I really loved it. And I stuck around for z10, in the beginning of z196. And so, I had been there about three years and I thought it was time to do something new and it was heartbreaking to leave. And I went to the z/OS side of the house and I learned about z/OS. And I worked on, as a manager, I worked on z/OS 11, 12, 13, and the beginnings of when we reversion two. And then I had a couple of kids in there and I thought working motherhood full-time management job was a good way to get sent to the crazy house.

So I took a staff job, which was really my first experience with learning how our customers operated, right? So my staff job was all about leveraging the lab. And so, it was connecting our SDSMs and technical system matter experts with clients who needed either help or POC or something. And so, you really started to understand like how a client didn’t just implement our technology but how they planned. And they were… It was a whole different way than at IBM. And I did that for a little bit and I realized if I really wanted to make it to the next level, I had to think about how would I get there? And I have this blue paper in my office, I wrote out like, “Here are all the ways I could get to the next level.” Like, “Pick your path.”

And I went to the new technology group, which is the group that runs an early support program. So if any of our clients have ever been in an ESP or a Beta program, it was the group that run that. And it was my experience working on pure systems, part of which is divested now and storage. Which was really fascinating. And then I had always wanted what we then called, like PDT jobs. I’d always wanted the product management job. And Kathryn Guarini hired me to work on product management on… At the time we were aligned to mobile analytics, security and Cloud. And I came and I was the mobile product manager. So I got a little bit closer, but I really wanted one of those system product management jobs. And so, I set my sites on the ZR-1 which I either wanted a big announcement, like a high-end system, or I wanted ZR-1. ZR-1 had so many amazing things in the design that I knew that was the one I wanted.

And so, I really just hunted down John Bartles and won him over. John, for those of you that don’t know John, I adore him. He’s brilliant. And he’s the benchmark of thoughtful, deep thinking and product management. And so, I wouldn’t let him go until, until he agreed it would be mine. And then ZR-1 was… I never thought I’d get a job as good as ZR-1 the product management because it was… For those of you that don’t know it was a new system design. We shrunk the system to a standard floor size. It was the first time we were doing like a major OEM partnership. We were looking at integrating storage. There were so many cool aspects of it.

Steven Dickens: I remember those 19-inch rack conversations. You were really breaking ground with that system.

Tina Tarquinio: Yeah. So it was really cool. And I did so well, I became an executive and they asked me to lead development in z/OS. And I love that. That was really great. I’ve always said every job I’ve had has been the best one yet. I wasn’t sure after ZR-1 that might not happen again but it’s to totally true. And then like I said, I had told people if this job ever opens up, that I wanted to be considered. And then when I got the call about a year ago that the job was mine, it was so exciting but it was all… It was like getting told you’re going to Disneyland. Like, “Oh my God. I’m not ready. I have to park.

Steven Dickens: I think I genuinely think, and I’ve said this to multiple people over the years, that the product manager for the new mainframe is the biggest single product management job in IBM. Because the amount of connective things that come off the back of that single box being launched, that TSS offer for support, the software that comes through as part of that program, that consulting that IBM drives off it and obviously the mainframe hardware revenue and the small box that typically comes a year or so later. It’s a huge, I can’t think of any other program management or product management jobs, even in the industry. And I have got a different lens on this that really pulled together a multi-billion dollar business around a product. Around a physical piece of hardware.

Tina Tarquinio: Yeah. It’s funny when Matt Whitbourne was the product manager for z15 and he… Before he accepted the job he spoke to me and Tarun Chopra who was my predecessor of product management. And both of us said the same thing like, “It is the best job at IBM. And it will seem so crazy at times, but it is the best job at IBM.” And Matt always says like, “You guys were so right.” And we’re like, “We were. It’s the best job.” Because it’s a demanding high stake, high performance job. But aside from that, the view you have of how interconnected everything is, is really like you… It’s just so much learning every day. And you really just keep refining yourself, right? And you have to work with so many people. You influence thousands of people, but you have no line management.

And so, not only does it take somebody who has technical chops, or you understand the technology, you can speak the visionary marketing side, but you also very much understand the business goals and the financial model. And so, to combine those three is very hard. And to find somebody that… Usually the people that take the job have a strength in one of them, and then they grow, they learn the other two. And that’s really where the excitement is, right? And I’m really lucky right now, Kelly Pushong is leading that for me. And she’s done an outstanding job. She has not had the benefit of being able to walk over to say, when any of our DEs in the office, Kelly took the job in a virtual environment and has continued in the virtual environment. And that’s really hard as you know, right? We often would gather in a DE’s office and we’d be piling out and, “Could we do this?” And, “Could we do this?” And on the whiteboard. And I think to really connect and drive the team in this manner is hard, but she’s done an outstanding job.

Steven Dickens: Tina, I think we need to get you back on the show. There’s so much here. Maybe Chris we’ll get Tina back on the show in a few months time once we get into the said next launch, I think it there’s so much to unpack here but I’ve got to be respectful of time and start to pull us towards the end here. So we’ve just talked about your journey coming through the mainframe, your time at IBM, you were joining for a year, and then you’ve stuck around for 22. You’ve got the benefit of that hindsight now, what would you go back and say to your 22 year old self? You’re coming out of Albany, you’re coming out of college, you fresh faced. What would you say to yourself? You get the opportunity to go back. What would you say?

Tina Tarquinio: I think I would tell myself to do the things, right? To join the club, to listen to the podcast, reach out to the person, just whatever your gut tells you you should try like, go try it. And I do that now. It took me a long time I think, to really build and flex that muscle. And now I think it’s one of my strengths, right? I’m known for having a great network and really supportive. But I think it took me a little bit to build the muscle that just said, “Well, just try it, just go do it.” And I had really, really great mentors along the way that encouraged me to lean in. And eventually that became habit for me. But I would start that earlier I think.

Steven Dickens: I think that solid advice. I’ve known you since you came onto… We were in Cam’s team together. You were doing Mobile, I was doing Cloud back then, that’s a while ago now, but I’ve seen you go through that journey. I think that’s really solid advice. Just put yourself out there. I remember when we started working together on building your, what is now fantastic, social media presence. You just came and said, “I want to jump into this. I want to learn. I to get going.” So I think that’s really solid advice for some of the people out there. And it’s a consistent theme from some of the guests we have on the show of just get going, just diving in and build that experience. Anything else you would give… You are a fantastic mentor and I know you mentor a bunch of younger IBMers, any other consistent advice you’d give?

Tina Tarquinio: I often talk to people about two things. One is don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good, right? Perfect won’t ever happen. So just don’t let it be the enemy of doing the good thing. And then other thing I tell people is, “The things that you feel make you different are really the value you bring.” Right? “So lean in and feel comfortable with that. And don’t just try to be like everybody else. Don’t try and be like me or like you, or like Ross, or like… Just be the best you.” And I think we see all these people succeeding, but that’s because they leaned into their strengths. And so, I often tell the people I mentor that like, “Well, what are you good at? Lean into that. If you’re not good at one thing, don’t worry about it. Go be really, really great at the thing you’re good at.”

Steven Dickens: I think that’s fantastic advice. As I said, I could carry on asking you these questions but I do have to respect some of the listeners gift they give us of their time. The one question I always ask, and I think you’ve probably got one of the best perspectives on this, where is the platform going? And I know you can’t talk too much around what’s coming absolutely next. So I’ll let you off that particular hook and I’ll maybe frame it as three to five years out. So where do you see the platform… You’ve got this crystal ball in front of you, you can look ahead with your unique perspective, where do you think we’re going?

Tina Tarquinio: So I think we’re going to lean into what we’ve always built is our foundation will continue to be even more resilient, reliable, scalable. Our clients depend on that. We will up the bar on all of those. We will also, I think in three to five years, be an incredibly vital important part of our client’s hybrid cloud. Hybrid cloud is here to stay. It’s not going anywhere. You’re going to have multiple private clouds, multiple public clouds and everything in between. And you will see us become even more critical in that environment, right? The data and the transactions that are happening on the mainframe are best suited for the mainframe.

There are too critical to be anywhere else. And what you’ll see is clients, I think really figuring out how to leverage that investment even more to protect their enterprise and to scale what they need to do. Enterprise AI is going to be a huge industry shift. We’re all seeing that and the key data’s on the mainframe. And so, how do our clients leverage that investment? I think you’ll see a lot in that space. And security. Much as I wish security concerns weren’t so relevant, they are. And I think encryption, fully homomorphic encryption, all of that will only continue to try and just stay one step ahead of the bad guy.

Steven Dickens: The one step ahead of the bad guy. I like that. I think the platform’s more than one step ahead, but I get the point. Tina this has been fantastic. As I say, I think we’re going to have to have you back on the show and I’ll speak to Chris and we’ll get that scheduled. But I think so many lessons here, so many great points for some of our younger listeners to how to build that career arc to come right in from a technical perspective, right? To leading arguably one of the biggest product management spaces within IBM. So fascinating having you on the show. Tina, thanks for joining us.

Tina Tarquinio: Thanks for having me.

Steven Dickens: You’ve been listening to the “I Am A Mainframer” podcast. I’m your host, Steven Dickens. If you like the show, please click and subscribe. If you really like the show, give us a five star rating, that helps. We’ll be back next time on the “I Am A Mainframer” podcast. Thanks for joining us.