My entire professional career has been spent in the private sector. I worked at IBM for 37 years until I retired in June of 2007. I now consult on innovation and technical strategy with IBM, Citigroup and other companies. Through all this time, I have enjoyed my career in business, dealing with products and services and working with clients.
But when I look back over the past forty years, some of my most rewarding times have been my involvement with government boards and committees. From 1997 to 2002, for example, I was a member of the President’s IT Advisory Committee (PITAC), and served as co-chair of PITAC for part of that time. After the 2008 elections, I was part of Barack Obama’s transition team, working in the Technology, Innovation and Government Reform (TIGR) group. In the last two decades I have been involved with a number of Department of Energy initiatives and have served on the boards of Fermilab and Argonne National Lab.
Part of the reason I enjoy my government oriented activities is the idea of giving back to a country that embraced me as a refugee from Cuba fifty years ago and provided the financial support for my physics education in the 1960s. But, there is also the pleasure of collaborating with experts from business, academia and government to jointly tackle some of the most important and complex problems facing the nation and the wider world.
As we know, the complexity of our problems is only increasing, and so is the need for even closer collaboration among business, government and academia. Which is why the present conflicts - some call them war - between business and the Obama administration are so disconcerting. At times, the rhetoric coming out of business and business publications is just plain ugly.