Yes, I’m an IBM Champion again, New Year thoughts and a taste of Vegemite

First:: I am an IBM Champion! For the forth year in a row IBM has honoured me with this title that my contributions to the IBM community are valued. Thank you!

What a year 2018 was! When I look back on this and the years just before that, some moments stand out a bit more than others. And it is surprisingly enough not the grand and bombastic ones that pops up first in my head. More the quite small and at a first glance not especially planned or decisive ones. But all of those are very important in themselves, and they all lead up to this moment where I am now. And they gave me the opportunity, and paved the way for me to be able to take part and contribute in the bombastic ones!

For example a quite innocent feedback email I sent, which lead to unexpected consequences. A meeting poolside in Las Vegas. A question on a cupboard floor in Vienna. To name a few.

The results of these led, among other things, up to me attending IBM Think in Las Vegas and co-speaking in 4 sessions. Organising 2 conferences with Social Connections. One in Philadelphia and one in Berlin. Both successful with lots of customers attending. Leaving the company I worked for and joining ISW and Kudos Apps and I am very happy to work in a such a fun, energetic, competent and professional team.

And the most important thing is that I got to spend another year with the amazing Wannes Rams.

So thank you 2018 and all of you who participated in making it awesome!

And bring on 2019! Now with a taste of Vegemite 🙂

Have you ever wondered…

… how fast you can learn something.

How much you can put in your brain at the same time, and in what speed?

I sometimes have, when facing hard deadlines, juggling multiple tasks at the same time or just having a lot to do.



Now I’m starting to actually have the answer! And mainly I think it has to do with me. Those of you who know me, know I can be very impatient. I often want everything done now, on the spot. But unfortunately, as we all know, time is limited.

And therefore I have to test my patience.

I am now a couple of weeks in as one in the team at ISW and I enjoy it so much! Every day I have a full blast agenda with new things to learn, people to talk to and strategies to be made. It’s so fun!!

I have as many of you been a user of for example Kudos Boards for quite a long time, but now I get to peek behind the scenes, get to know the fantastic developers, learn the technical requirements, know it’s limitations and possibilities.  I am overwhelmed and amazed.


And this is just Kudos Boards. The list goes on, we have soo many great things to offer. And I want to know everything right now. And there is the problem (or excitement that there is so much fun to do!). I have to be patient and take it at it’s own pace.

My journey at ISW started end of August with me spending 1 week in the beautiful Tasmania and Hobart office. I got to meet a large part of the ISW team and I felt so welcome! You all made me feel like part of the family immediately and I’m very glad to get to know you all. I feel very lucky!

A special and very warm thank you to Adam Brown with family who showed us around the amazing Tasmania and both took us out in the nature, to a crazy art museum, to tasty dinners and more.

When I got home my brain was already full to to the limit and I had an almost full written notebook, thank you Rhi and Ange for handing it to me. And now I’m transferring it all to my beloved Boards and start working from there.

So there I have it. I have work for months to come already planned but I want to execute them today. Is it possible? No, I have to just realise it’s not. But what I do know is that I will have so much fun while I’m doing it!

P.S. Thank you Wannes Rams for being my biggest supporter. D.S. <3

I’m moving!


The time has come for me to leave Infoware. After 11 years, with many great experiences, I feel that this is the right moment.

First, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Infoware for letting me take steps in the directions I believe in, and for creating an open environment which ultimately made me an IBM Champion.

Looking back, I truly appreciate all the people I have had contact with during these years. People who challenged me to do better, to achieve more, daring me to jump on tasks and roles that seem unreachable or hard at first. Now I’m doing just that, taking the plunge to something new that I believe will be even more challenging and rewarding!

From August 20, I will join ISW (you might know them better by their product name Kudos) as Business Development & Marketing Manager – Europe. Exciting! This role is exactly what I love doing, talking to customers and learning about their experiences and challenges, helping to translate that into solutions and products and ultimately helps them on their path to a better and smoother digital work environment.

Best of all I get to work with one of the smartest, most professional and fun teams in the business collaboration space, ISW! Could it be better?

I very much look forward to learning more, experiencing more and giving back more to the people and community that have given me so much already, all in this world that never stop changing.

Bring it on! And don’t be a stranger!

IBM Think through Maria’s eyes – although I forgot to bring my sunglasses

IBM Think

First a disclaimer. This is a long post. But what do you expect of a report from a conference with 30,000 attendees, 2,768 sessions, loads of Champions, activities and such.

I wasn’t going to go to IBM Think. It was not even in my plans. Would this be the year since 2011 I would miss out on that yearly energy boost I normally get from IBM Lotusphere/Connect? The boost that keeps me going with high spirit long and well into the summer.

Then a sudden flash stroke and a window of opportunity opened. I could go!  I couldn’t believe it.

Arriving in Vegas

Some of you might know I have been booth staff for many years talking to customers, demonstrating products and solutions. And last years I have had the luxury to also be able to go to sessions and bring home knowledge.

This time around was going to be a calm one. No booth to work in, no mission to attend certain sessions. Oh oh oh so wrong I was.

It all started when the amazing Wannes Rams and I decided to do a session about Watson Workspace on the Community Day. Yes absolutely.

Then our fabulous and ever energized Leader of the Champion Program Libby Ingrassia asked if we could join a User Group Panel, talking about “why a user group”. Yes definitely.

After that the lovely, and talented Gabriella Davis asked me if I were interested in joining her soft skill sessions. Yes of course, I’ll have 2 please.

Suddenly I realised I had 4 sessions to do and I asked myself how all that happened and if I could manage it. But someone (Femke Goedhart) told me once “take the plunge Maria” and her words was ringing in my ears.

I also knew my no 1 supporter Wannes would be there and boost me whenever I would need it.

So what about that gigantosaurus conference IBM Think? Was it any good?

It was more than good! It was fantastic! Energizing, inspiring, massive, focused and fun in a way I couldn’t imagine. The biggest conference IBM ever threw. Impressive!

Think showfloor with WatsonTo walk the show floor, seeing all the campuses like Watson, AI, Cloud, Security etc. One smart solution side by side with an even smarter invention. They showed off their quantum computer IBMQ, which can be a life changer, a world changer. Technique implemented in Formula 1 cars, aircrafts, robots. Software that can hear you and understand you and help you do a better job and evolve. Just to name a few.

Me and many I talked to were mighty impressed with the big, shiny muscles IBM put up to show for us. All together under one roof.

The show floor also held several theatres, big and small for break out sessions, several lounge areas, cafés, a book shop and the welcoming Champion lounge hosted by none other than Libby Ingrassia.

For me it was an eye opener. How big IBM is, and how much they do in so many areas. How small “my” area Collaboration Solutions is. But also, how well we fit together in with the other brands.

For example, a Security Operation Center needs to have a communication platform yes? = Watson Workspace. It was fantastic to learn more about other areas and how we can work with each other.

My sessions then? Did I manage to do them all? I did! All with a little help from my friends

Why User Groups are the Key to Your Success

This was the start of the IBM Champion and User Community Day. 12 User Group Leaders in a panel moderated by our Scotsman Alan Hamilton. Here we explained why attend a User Group, what we do and how we aim to enrich the lively community. I was glad to see the diversity amongst the User Groups and also how strong and devoted we all are.

This was the biggest audience I had spoken to so far, and I didn’t drop the mic, fall down the stairs or was too confusing. I think. High five!

Why We Should All Use Watson Workspace and Connections Community

This session I did with the one and only Wannes Rams. My partner and companion in almost everything. We have done similar sessions about Watson Workspace on 2 other occasions, but this was an updated version as it was more focused on how we as Champions and how User Groups can use it as a planning tool together with for example IBM Connections and Kudos Boards.

We showed real life example on how we work in the Social Connections team when planning our conferences. I always love to speak about Watson Workspace. I really like the product and it can be the go to tool for businesses needing a communication platform for teams and departments.

Think Academy Soft Skills Pop Up – Managing the Noise
Gabriella Davis, me, Tony Holder, Theo Heselmans and Francie Tanner

This was a very interesting session to do as it was more on a personal level. Each of us gave our view on how to handle multiple communication channels, both online and offline. All information that flows over you just in one day. And all the places you are expected to participate in. We all had different ways of tackling it and it was very interesting to hear my co speakers’ experiences.

Think Academy Soft Skills Pop Up – The Imposter Syndrome
Gabriella Davis, me, Jon Schultz, Julian Robichaux and Tony Holder

The Imposter Syndrome affects nearly everyone in one way or another and can make you feel that you don’t belong or underqualified. In this session we shared stories on how the Syndrome has taken it shape for us and how we have tackled it. Me for one have felt it several times in my work life. And also there on that stage! What am I doing here?! The outcome is that it is good to be aware of that it exists in order to handle it.

Last but not least: did I have fun? Oh yes!

This is my 3rd year as IBM Champion and one of the most fantastic things with the Champion program is all the new friends I got through it. We help each other both work wise and privately, we look after each other and just are as friends are. And we also have a lot of fun!

Being an IBM Champion also gives you some benefits as a thank you for all the work you do in the Community throughout the year.

We got to sit front row on Chairman’s Address with Ginny Rometty

Ginny RomettyI have never heard her speak before and only had a vague idea on how she was and if it would be interesting. I was impressed right away by her presence on stage and how good she was in keeping the big audience spell bound. Very charismatic.

The topics were interesting too. She presented 4 customers who told their story on how IBM has helped them get ready for the future.

We got floor access to a concert of your choice. I chose Chainsmokers

This was a blast! Front row here too. Drinks and food and a crazy wild concert with 2 djs. Spectacular! We had a lot of fun and danced (well some of us, no names mentioned) throughout the night.

Endless row of receptions

One fun thing was that there were several receptions going on during the conference. For different branches, countries, customers, interest groups etc.

Most were open to all attendees which ensured a lively mix of people from different parts of the IBM sphere. Customers, IBMers and business partners in a good mix.

The end

In this post I haven’t even touched the subjects of product news, meetings with customers, partners and IBMers, roadmaps, sessions etc. I’m sure I will come back to that in another post.

I had an awesome week in Las Vegas and IBM Think. I have learned a lot, worked a lot, had fun a lot. And that I can do all that with my amazing Wannes is the cherry on top! Love you!

Vegas baby!

I’m going to IBM THINK

I’m very excited because next week is IBM Think week in Las Vegas, and I’m going to be there!

The first time I attended a big IBM Collaboration Solution conference was in 2011, at Lotusphere in Orlando. I was immediately hooked! The vibe, all the people, the things I learned and experienced. A blast!  I have been fortunate to be attending Lotusphere/Connect  every year since that.

Lotusphere/Connect is no more and this is the first time the IBM Collaboration scene is part of a bigger conference, IBM Think in Las Vegas. Exciting times!

I really look forward going there and also have the possibility to take a sneek peek in the other areas IBM are BIG in, such as Security, IoT and Analytics.

When I attended these conferences in the past I have been on 100% booth duty demoing solutions and products, but now I will have time to build my agenda and go to sessions, which will be a new experience.

Although I really love the vibe on the showcase floor, chit chatting with other exhibitors and working like crazy 24/7, it will be fun to wander where my nose points for a change.

I was exaggerating there a little tiny bit. I already have full schedule! For example, you can find me as speaker in these sessions:

Why we should all use Watson Workspace and Connections Communities
MGM Grand Conference Center, Level 1, Room 103
Sunday March 18 10:35 – 10:55 am

Managing the noise
Tuesday March 20 11:00 am

The Imposter Syndrome
Wednesday March 21 9:00 am

See you there!



Hello world! Maria Nordin speaking

Hello world!

This is me Maria Nordin speaking. Welcome to my own new blog!

You might know me as one of the organisers and board members of Social Connections. The IBM Collaboration User Group.

Or else you might know me as Product Owner of DomainPatrol Social at Infoware.

Either way I have long thought that I should have my own space to express my thoughts, not coloured by the specific hat I’m wearing that particular day.

I will most probably write about my work in the IBM Collaboration space, the fantastic community I spend my work days in. I will most probably also write about things that I love outside work. Such as how to have fun and my fondness of shiny things.

Looking forward to talk to you all!

So long!

Wait, I’m not done yet. A big thank you to Wannes Rams who pushed me to do it and helped me to get started, and to Prominic who are hosting this blog!