Jean Pommier

Occupation: Program Director, Service Engineering & Marketing, IBM

First Car: Ford Granada, although a late model, I'm not that old or a car collector!

Favorite Restaurant: Thoumieux, 79 rue Saint Dominique, 75015 Paris (yes, in France!)

What are three things most people don't know about you?

a). Running is my second job, I got on the Boston marathon podium in 2005
b). I played the piano and the oboe for years, but not anymore
c). I love digital photography, but don’t like much being on the other side of the camera

What's been your greatest adventure in life?

Meeting my wife, Agnes and raising a family. This is really a lifetime adventure, which rocked so far.

What's your best childhood memory?

My uncle’s wedding party. I was 6 and thought it was cool to spend the night partying and dancing with adults. This is when I found out I didn’t need much sleep.

If you could have a conversation with a person of your choice, past, present or future, who would that person be and why?

The Dalai Lama, to discuss God’s plans for Earth and Humanity.

What's the hardest thing you've ever done in your life?

Running a marathon in the Phoenix, Arizona desert, 2002 in apnea.  I was 3rd overall by mile 8 when I got hit by exercise induced asthma. Decided to finish the course, but even walking was difficult when I was coughing so hard and barely able to breath. Took me 5 hours (I ran a 2:37 marathon since), and the medical staff at the finish line sent me to the hospital right away. Since then I’ve managed to run 100K and I’m planning on 100 miles in June.

Tell us about your favorite hobby.

Some people must think it’s flying United (900k miles to date), but it isn’t the miles in the air, but on the road and the trails which I really like. I started running seriously when I moved from France to California in 1998. See my blog for more stories and details: and feel free to leave a comment when you stop by.

What are you currently reading? What is your favorite book?

Currently reading:

  1. Business: “Agile and Iterative Development” by Craig Larman, and Harvard Business Review on an ongoing basis.
  2. Hobby: “Chi Running” by Danny Dryer
  3. General culture: “La sculpture du vivant” by Jean-Claude Ameisen (the state of the art of our understanding of cellular suicide, and how it contributes to life and development - Sorry, in French only, but my CEO found some fellows at the Ministry of Research who may be willing to finance an English translation)
  4. Favorite book: “Business Sense” by Dan Thomas (the art of following five disciplines in the right order, when I’ve seen it the other way too often).

Is there a particular place or thing you want to see?

The world, and the Earth before we damage it too much. Patagonia, Tibet, Alaska, Seychelles, Montana, New Zealand.

If you could give $10,000 to a charity, what would that charity be and why?

Room to Read I love to read, find it the best source of ideas. When I was learning Japanese, I got so frustrated not being able to read the kanjis...Not reading is such a handicap, we owe to give a chance to everyone on earth. Last, it’s great to see high profile executives helping out this way. Way to go, sustainable development!

If you weren't on the professional services career track, what would you be doing?

Me outside of Professional Services, you must be kidding! If the working world would be that open, I’d give a try to HR. Maybe later, once resource management will be so strategic, when all the baby boomers enjoy retirement.

What is the path that led you to Professional Services/Consulting?

I couldn’t resist the appeal of giving a hand to the users of the software product I was working on in R&D. I got a master degree in Mechanical Engineering before another one in Computer Science (Software Engineering and Artificial Intelligence), so I was used to getting my hands dirty. Consulting was the perfect response in an IT world which often tends to be too immaterial and abstract, even or especially with the business value it delivers, or does not deliver…

What advice would you give to a recent graduate who just took a job in professional services?

Keep a log of lessons learned on customer engagements, and share them with the colleagues you are given the opportunity to mentor. You will grow by growing others.