On the 26th of November 1991 I started my employment with Lotus Development Corporation. Initially I worked in the Customer Support team, supporting Lotus 1-2-3 and Symphony. After a couple of years I joined the Corporate Sales team as a Systems Engineer, and worked my way up the Technical Sales organisation, hitting a peak as Technical Sales Manager of the North Region (which included South Africa, of course). After a re-organisation (now fully in the clutches of IBM) I proverbially stuck two fingers up at the role I was given and relinquished managerial duties (ironically on the same day that my ‘Managing In IBM’ qualification certificate turned up). A few years later I was given the role of Business Unit Executive for NE Europe responsible for messaging and collaboration. Then I returned to a UK-only role. Then I left IBM.
Throughout those nineteen-and-a-half years the Lotus organisation and brand was slowly eroded. But there was one constant in my working life… Lotus Park in Staines. The mothership. The spiritual home. We survived two major floods (one of these days I’ll get the 2003 flood photos posted, but for now a small sample can be seen below). The restaurant carpet survived a few Christmas parties. IBM took away my office (a prime location in block four, envied by my neighbour Chris Davies), IBM took away the free drinks, and IBM took away any electrical item that wasn’t certified by someone with a clipboard (a bitter blow for Ed Hollands who brought in his own coffee-maker after the free drinks were taken away). But Lotus Park always retained that Lotus history and with it a sense of community. I fondly remember the fact that we used to have a marketing department that took up one half of the top floor of block four (imagine that, marketing). I remember not so fondly that the Lotus team were relocated so that staff moving in after a recent acquisition could have the nicer desks.
Today Lotus Park closes its doors. Well, it doesn’t really, because I’m sure someone else will move in (Lotus once occupied all four blocks, two have long-since been taken over by other companies). But the IBM people are moving out, and with that the last major vestige of the Lotus Development organisation that I joined twenty one years ago disappears. Lotus 1-2-3 has long gone. Lotus Notes is now IBM Notes and is on its last legs. The former-Lotus team have new products in the kit-bag, including IBM Connections which remains a fine product. But today, Lotus disappears from the UK. All that remains are memories and, most importantly, a number of great people who will remain as colleagues and friends. There’s too many to name but you know who you are. Lotus Park brought us together and for that we thank the ol’ place.
Did anyone manage to secure the Lotus logo that hung over the reception?