Always Seek To Innovate And Be Clear About Your Career’s Destination with Sam Lightstone

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Sam Lightstone

Sam Lightstone is IBM’s Chief Technology Officer for AI Strategy, an IBM Fellow and a Master Inventor in the IBM Data and AI group. He is also chair of the Data and AI Technical Team, the working group of IBM’s technical executives in the division. As well as being the founder and co-founder of several large-scale initiatives including AI databases, he co-founded the IEEE Data Engineering Workgroup on Self-Managing Database Systems. He has also authored 4 books and more than 30 papers. And his books have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish.

Sam joins Phil to discuss the power of innovation, and why we must always seek to first convince people that we have good ideas by allowing them to visualise, and innovate through creative thinking. Sam also talks about the importance of being clear when it comes to your career goals in IT, and why without a clear goal to aim for, we can never truly hope to arrive at our ideal destination.


Sam Lightstone

Resources – Check out Sam’s website!

2 Top Career Tips

1) It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is, if you want to have a rich career in IT, you must be on the frontline when it comes to innovation. We must always seek to push the industry forward through creative thinking. Convincing people that you have good ideas through visualisation is crucial in this.
2) Be deliberate in your career. Be deliberate in what you wish to achieve. Without a clear goal in mind, we can never truly hope to arrive at our ideal career destination.

Show Notes

Worst Career Moment

After developing a new technology, Sam was approached by a large business with a long list of requirements. Months of effort were spent on trying to fit the tech to these new parameters, but it could not be achieved.

Career Highlight

Building a technology from the beginning, to be a founder of something new, has happily happened to Sam more than once. Being at the vanguard of a new innovation, and to see one’s work come to fruition is powerful and enjoyable.

The Future

IT will always expand and accelerate, which on its own is exciting. Expansion over the next 20 years will be fueled by AI, a sector in which Sam is on the frontline, allowing him to see the exciting developments firsthand and up close.

The Reveal

What first attracted you to a career in I.T.?

Being brought up with home kit computers, Sam found the invitation for creativity in IT intoxicating.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

To realise that we are ultimately working with people, when it comes to IT. Computers are the tools, but people are the heartbeat of IT. Collaboration and encouragement are key.

What is the worst career advice you’ve ever received?

Sam was once advised to put aside his creative projects in favour of working on a crisis situation, but he later advised that there will always be crisis moments. Find a way to get your passion projects moving!

If you had to begin your career again in today’s world, what would you do?

Sam wishes that he had followed his instincts and taken the educational courses he was drawn to. It’s also important to stay in the habit of continuous learning.

What career objectives are you currently focusing on?

After reaching the pinnacle of his career progression with IBM in terms of advancement, Sam wants to spend his time overseeing and innovating in the AI sector.

What’s the number one non-technical skill that has helped you in your career so far?

Communication – the ability to speak and write with clarity and to inspire others.

What do you do to keep your own career energized?

It’s important to work on things you’re excited about. Sam has been fortunate in that his suggestions when it comes to business direction have been implemented.

What do you do in your spare time away from technology?

Aside from reading, watching movie, and playing music, Sam participates in fencing,

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