My next chapter

February 9 2018

February 9, 2018: I'm leaving IBM at the end of next week. I'll have more to say on LinkedIn etc about my next chapter, later this month. But here's a thank you and a look back:

I dreamed of being an IBM executive.

A seed was planted during a family vacation at age 12, where I met an IBMer who had great stories of success. But when I graduated college, IBM was doing its first-ever layoffs and had nothing available. My mentor said, "You didn't want to work for those blue-suited bureaucrats anyway!" Actually, I really did, regardless of wardrobe.

I went into IT and ended up being recruited to Lotus Development. It seemed like the perfect place to work, and it only got better when IBM bought the company 12 months into my tenure. Finally, I worked for IBM and was set up for the dream career.

And it has been. I’ve had 14 different roles, taking advantage of a rotational culture that provided opportunities in product management, sales, marketing, strategy, and CIO/transformation. I’ve visited clients in over 40 countries. I’ve led or contributed to multiple successes or turnarounds. I’ve worked with hundreds of the finest people, helped transform the company and its culture, and made friends all over the world.

Now is a good time to reflect back on the last nearly-quarter century of amazing experiences and outcomes.

  • In my first weeks of sales training in 1994, I asked Lotus CEO Jim Manzi, “what comes after Lotus Notes?” His answer – “More Notes.” And he was right. Who would have thought we would not only still be talking about that product in 2018, but celebrating its third turnaround of the last 15 years (Notes revenue grew all four quarters of 2017, the first time since 2011). Simply amazing. I owe my career to this product, and my gratitude to the founders, leaders, and smart engineers who have helped the product innovate and evolve.
  • The years when Lotus still operated as an IBM subsidiary were filled with many wonderful and sometimes crazy memories. Passionate clients, coworkers, and partners. Lotusphere conferences of 10,000 people with rock stars and celebrities. Billboards and TV ads. Champagne and ship parties. Relatively few expense controls :)
  • In 1998, I moved to Boston to join the Lotus Notes product management team because I wanted to be in the “room where it happens.” The PM team meetings seemed to me like the epicenter of the market, where the big decisions got made, ones that affected clients and our business, every single week. The people I worked with over the next few years have become lifelong friends. It was a special time and place.
  • One of the most enjoyable roles I had was running a competitive project office for Lotus in the early 2000’s. It wasn’t in IBM’s DNA to take punches at a competitor, but the Microsoft vs. Lotus battle demanded tough tactics. When we invented a fictional project codename just to generate some paranoia in the halls of Redmond (“Bluejay”), it was great fun to watch the trade press go crazy for the details.
  • Hands down my favorite role was launching the MobileFirst brand. It was the most intense 15 months of my career. The answer to any good idea was “do it”, and the payback nearly instantaneous.
  • Rolling out IBM Verse across the company was an amazing project where great people stepped up and made the impossible happen. We were successful primarily because of the partnership between my CIO team and internal comms. The internal comms team shepherds the critical work of employee engagement, a core use case of enterprise collaboration.
  • Best customer meeting ever? Invited to Santiago, Chile, to visit a major bank. The CEO of the bank was considering switching from Notes to Google. We met with him in his private dining room, drinking wine from his personal winery. The bank stayed with Notes, and to celebrate, the CEO then dispatched his family to arrange winery tours and ceviche dinners. Not bad!
  • Most amazing story: My only visit to India was in August, 2001. The local team had a very full schedule, but accommodated my request to see the Taj Mahal while in Delhi. It required a concession – I would leave the hotel at 2:30 AM to arrive in Agra just as the site opened, then return by early afternoon for more meetings. When I went to leave the hotel, the lobby was under lockdown with dozens of armed soldiers – a prominent world leader, Yasser Arafat, was about to arrive. I witnessed his motorcade and the rollout of the red carpet; my departure to Agra ten minutes later featured considerably less fanfare. Another adventure right up there: going to the Great Wall of China early in the morning before meetings, and being literally the only tourist leaving footprints in a light overnight snow dusting.
The memories could go on and on and on. I would love it if you would leave a comment sharing a favorite moment from our work together!

Whether through the growth periods or one of three turnarounds I helped lead, the challenges and opportunities in our collaboration business have made me who I am today. Additionally, participating in IBM’s shift to transparency, leveraging individual voices to build brand, image, and credibility was incredibly exciting and had a lasting impact on IBM’s presence in the market. The same tools also powered how we as a company innovate and learn from each other. We have made a difference with proven value for and with our clients, partners, and each other.  

Thank you for every moment of the last 23+ years. I am looking forward to many adventures in this next chapter and to connecting with you all again along the way. I wish you all the best, and know that in this industry, there is no such thing as saying "goodbye" - just "until next time." I can't wait for that.

Post a Comment

  1. 1  Tim Clark |


    We've known each other for 24 years and each one has been better than the last. There is life outside big blue, just make sure you look up every now and again to enjoy it.

    I'm sure our paths will cross again.

    Good Luck.

    Tim C

  1. 2  Tim Clark |


    We've known each other for 24 years and each one has been better than the last. There is life outside big blue, just make sure you look up every now and again to enjoy it.

    I'm sure our paths will cross again.

    Good Luck.

    Tim C

  1. 3  Theo Heselmans |

    Ed, thanks for all the fish!

    Too many great moments to pick one.

    Wishing you lots of success in future endeavours.

  1. 4  Daniel Lieber |

    Ed, it has been a pleasure working with you and I'm sure our paths will continue to cross. I recall discussions in Cambridge, at the Dolphin, and many more via electronic means. One of my fond memories was recently when your genuine willingness to assist a small client get through a billing debacle which required approval of CFO's and others. While the revenue was small, the gesture and good will earned were significant. Best wishes on continued success both professionally and personally!

  1. 5  Luis Suarez |

    Hi Ed,

    WOW!! That's some pretty big news, indeed! well, since you were looking for a favourite moment from all of those years we have known each other in and outside IBM I'll go ahead and pick one of my favourite ones: One of the Lotusphere Comes to You events (If I recall correctly) in Madrid where you were keynoting to several hundred folks and you offered to deliver the session in Spanish to the surprise and amazement of everyone sitting nearby who didn't know you could speak Spanish. And what a great job it was!

    All the best and good luck, Ed, in your new adventure(s) and please don't be a stranger. I'm pretty sure we will be seeing you around somewhere, some place! It's a small world, after all, and only a tweet away!

    Be well and keep having fun!



  1. 6  Hans-Peter Kuessner |


    thank you for adding the "glamour" to our Lotusphere/Connect Comes To You events in Frankfurt!

    The world is changing indeed. Good luck for your next career move!

    Thank you for your contributions to our industry and my own field of work


  1. 7  Glidden Martinez |


    Thank you for many years of enthusiasm and never ending energy to promote and foster the Lotus products. Wherever you're going will gain a great asset that makes sure that those around grow to their maximum potential.

    Favorite moment... you putting my team in contact with the right persons within IBM to make sure we (a BP) could keep a large client happy. Once more, thanks! I hope we get to collaborate again in your new venture.

    Buena suerte y exito!

    Glidden Martinez

  1. 8  Jens Polster |

    I can only second Hans-Peter.

    You have been the face, heart and voice of Notes to business partners and clients for such a long time.

    It was a pleasure having you at our events.

    Thank you!


  1. 9  Ed Brill |

    @1 Tim - yes, all the best, and we'll stay in touch for another quarter century. @3 - I liked the fish. But I liked the chocolate and waffles more. @4 I remember that one. That's just what made sense to me, I'm not sure I ever realized how unusual it was to follow up on stuff. :-o @5 -it was a great event! I remember that I used the iPad as a teleprompter hack to make it work. @6 and @8 - was great working with you guys at the Dorint all those years. It was on autopilot to go to this event! @7 hasta pronto, all the best!

  1. 10  Rajiv Thomas  |


    That is one amazing journey you have had and its been my humble honor to have been a part of it. I remember first contacting you for domino (then Lotus Notes) help when I was with Sonata software in India and from there through my days with Panasonic Singapore to a business partner here in the US, its been a long journey. Thank you for all you did for us Loti.

    Wishing you all the very best in the future and I am sure and hope our paths cross again. Do stay in touch and if you are ever in Atlanta do let me know



  1. 11  Rob Shoenfelt  |

    Ed -

    The mere fact that you would come to Celina, Ohio, to discuss the future of Notes, Sametime, Connections and Verse says a lot about how much you cared for ALL of your customers no matter how big they were or where they were located.

    I guess The Bicycle Museum of America is not quite the same as the Great Wall of China, but.....

    Best of luck in your next adventure and I am sure our paths will cross again.


  1. 12  Colin Breckles |


    Thanks for your support of business partners and our mutual customers over the years. Thank you for taking your time to record a video for us with the Cross Canada Collaboration User group recently. We really appreciate it. Best of luck in your new position, which I'm sure you will share with the public when the time is right.

    - Colin

  1. 13  Craig Wiseman  |


    Thanks for all your hard work and effort on behalf of IBM's Business Partners and customers.

    Good luck with your new (business) life.

    I hope you find it rewarding and FAR less stressful.


  1. 14  Matthias Röder  |


    Sharing at cab at 5 am to get to Manchester airport was an honour. Your question whether a cabbie in the UK will accept a credit card was priceless at the time.

    Thanks for all your hard work for a product we love so much. All the best


  1. 15  Mitsuru Katoh |

    Thanks for your support in the community especially you coming to Japan so often and sharing everything we should know. I wished I could've cycled here together. But next time.... Yeah our paths will cross again I really hope so.

    Good luck with your next chapter.


  1. 16  The Turtle |

    Ed, I am glad to have met you, and while some of the Lotusphere and DevCon stories should remain in the misty past, everyone has the greatest respect for you and I personally would be the worse if not for your years of work in Lotus and IBM.

    Karaoke is not all that important.

  1. 17  Ed Brill |

    Finding it hard to respond to every one of these! Thank you Rajiv, Rob (who now knows why I deferred on meeting at Think 2018), Colin, Craig, Katoh-san. @14 I had forgotten that particular trip - I also think it funny that Europe is ahead of the US now with touchless cards etc! @16 Turtle, man, what can I say? Actually Kimono's and karaoke were life. I cannot hear that Evanescence song on the radio without thinking of Jess Stratton. Good news - my new employer does an annual conference in Orlando.....

  1. 18  Oliver Busse |

    Thank you Ed & all the best for your next chapter!

  1. 19  Joerg Hochwald http://Http:// |


    From the bottom of my heart, I want to say: Thank you!

    I was a great journey. Even if I left that journey earlier...

    All the best for whatever you plan in the future, and I’m pretty sure that you’re doing the right thing.

    Thanks you!

  1. 20  Thorsten Busch  |


    the Verse rollout was inspiring to many IBMers including me :-)

    All the best and God bless!


  1. 21  Simon O’Doherty  |

    Good luck in your new career Ed.

  1. 22  Mat Newman http://Http:// |

    Far too many memories, but the top of the list would be the support, encouragement and involvement you gave us for the launch of AusLUG. Thanks Ed, and all the very best for your next chapter.

  1. 23  Mathias Hammarsten  |

    Every time I go to Högbo (outside Sandviken, Sweden) I think about when you visited us for our internal ”Collaboration Day”. It was snowing like crazy for days so it was a wonder you managed to get there from Arlanda. Thanks for the support over the years, and good luck with your next Challenge!

  1. 24  Jim Brungo  |

    I have many memories from our Lotus days. My message today is not a memory but a thanks. My tech career started with a Lotus Notes Admin Certification at LTV Steel. I parlayed that into a budding consulting and sales career that took me on a journey I am still on today. As a young man with little direction Lotus gave me just that and I will never forget it. You were one of our leaders Ed and we fought along side each other many years against our competition. I wish you nothing but the best.

  1. 25  Warren Raynor  |


    My best memory would be when we howed you the AP team's new routine to reduce problems for IBMers installing verse first time and you said something like ", it isnt the standard product, but go for it!" and we then added 100,000 in India in 4 months flat.

    Thanks for a great ride and best wishes foe the road ahead!

  1. 26  Ed Brill |

    Oliver, Joerg, Simon, Mat, Thorsten, Jim, thank you. @25 Warren, indeed, the project would never have succeeded on time without this kind of creative ingenuity, and you got across the line ahead of schedule with a very high success rate. A great team effort all the way through. Cheers and thank you!

  1. 27  Santoh Borse |

    Wish you good luck and success for your next endeavor.

  1. 28  Santoh Borse |

    Wish you good luck and success for your next endeavor.

  1. 29  Jason Hook  |

    I fell into working with Notes by accident and it helped keep me in work for nearly 20 years so far. I'd have to thank many people for that but for keeping Notes alive so long I thank you.

    Thank you for being approachable and helpful.

    I hope to discover you're starting work for a wonderful cycling giant since I've enjoyed following your developing love of cycling as much as your professional successes.

    Best of luck with the new adventure!

  1. 30  Mick Moignard  |

    Respect. I remember interviews for DominoPower and lots more besides.. Notes would not still be Note s- or even still be around - if it wasn’t for Ed Brill. Notes been the last 27 years of my IT career - my next step really is retirement - and all of it has been great fun. More than a decent chunk of that is down to Ed. All the best for whatever comes next, and they are lucky people indeed.

  1. 31  Stefano Benassi |

    As I’ve already told you on LinkedIn, I hope you’ll remember 2011 Dominopoint DDive event at Valbona castle. It was so special, perhaps unique...

    Thank you very much for what you did and all the best for your new experience! :-)

  1. 32  Ed Brill |

    Thank you Santosh, Jason, Mick, Stefano. Jason - cycling remains firmly a hobby. Can't cross the streams. :) Mick - I've heard several stories like this over the last few days and it is humbling.

  1. 33  Gavin Bollard |

    Thanks for all of your help over the years. You were certainly a guy who could get things done. I'm very interested to see where your next chapter takes you.

  1. 34  Peter Presnell |

    It's been great working with you over the years. You picked me out of a crowd of unknowns and gave me a chance to play a more prominent role. Later, through Lotusphere Idol you were part of adding me to the conference presentation circuit. I recall you were the one there with a helping hand when an unfortunate accident took the life of of a Lotusphere attendee on the annual bike ride. I am sure there are a lot of stories of how you have been a helping and guiding hand that has made a difference for a lot of people. I am so glad of the chance to have met and worked with you and wish you the very best in the next exciting chapter of your career.

  1. 35  Jim Casale  |

    I remember walking past the registration desk at Lotusphere with a colleague from a client that I was working for at the time. You had just by chance looked up from your iPad and I said "Hi Ed" as we were walking by and you said hello back. My colleague was "You know Ed Brill???"

    Seriously Ed, you will be sorely missed. Godspeed on your next adventure.

  1. 36  Ed Brill |

    Gavin, Peter, Jim, thank you. @Jim, it seems to me that being human is the only way to lead. Someone else commented on this on the internal blog. I've never really thought about it. Thank you for calling it out. @Peter, I am most proud of the decisions I made when no one was watching.

  1. 37  Kelly Vandever |

    Thanks for your wonderful podcast interview about giving employees a voice!

    Best wishes for the next chapter of your adventure!


  1. 38  David Hablewitz |

    I feel like we're signing senior yearbooks. Ed, I hope I didn't cause you too much trouble over the years in the "Ask the Developers" or "Ask the PMs" sessions. Best memory was getting brought up to join the development team on stage and even graced with a developer shirt. We will always share a birthday. I look forward to a bike ride together sometime, even if it is just on Zwift.

  1. 39  David Price  |


    Like everyone else, I am not sure what to write. Not that I don't have a lot of reasons to say thank you or congratulations or remember when, but how to keep this under 5,000 words? Thank you for being the face and voice of IBM. For sharing the kudos and taking the complaints, for always trying to make life better for the customers. The hours, the travel and the internal challenges to make all of that happen is inconceivable.

    Best wishes


  1. 40  Ed Brill  |

    Kelly, David, David, thank you. David Price - you were essentially my first commercial client back at the beginning. It's great that we are still in touch.

  1. 41  Edward McWilliam  |

    Good luck with the next phase in your life’s career. Reading the above reminded me how Lotus Notes became a major part of many personal career successes.

  1. 42  Edward McWilliam  |

    Good luck with the next phase in your life’s career. Reading the above reminded me how Lotus Notes became a major part of many personal career successes.

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