Meet Luis Suarez

7 min read
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    This post is part of a series of profiles on some of our favorite knowledge management, social business, and employee engagement experts.

    Tell me about your career.
    I started working at IBM back in January 1997 in the Customer Service area for the mainframe and after 4 years working there I then moved into the field of Knowledge Management around 2000-2001 where I specialised on Knowledge Sharing, Remote Collaboration, Online Communities and Learning.

    Back then I also got exposed to social networking tools for the first time (through using wikis in 2000 in a community of community leaders) and even though it was on my private personal time I decided to embark on it as a social computing evangelist while I was still doing KM till 2007 when I moved into a full time position as a social business evangelist working on the main Social Business Adoption program at the time, then becoming the lead social business enabler at IBM in 2013, till earlier on in February this year I decided to move on in my career and leave the company to start my own business as a trust advisor around Social Business and Digital Transformation.

    During that time, and around February 2008, in my full time role as a social business evangelist I started this movement of Life Without eMail where I challenge the business world, in general, to think how we could re-purpose the use of email as a collaboration and knowledge sharing in favour of other social technologies. 6 years later, the movement is going stronger than ever, even as an independent freelancer.

    What are some of your hobbies?

    I have got quite a few hobbies, but the ones that I mostly get to spend my time on are hiking (Specially, in the beautiful place where I have lived over the course of the last 10 years, Gran Canaria); travelling (whether for business or personal), as an opportunity to learn about other cultures, customers, languages, etc. I’ve always considered it a privilege to have the opportunity to have done extensive travelling all over the place, although there are still some regions of this world I haven’t been that I would love to (Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South America are on my bucket list at the moment); cooking (Every now and then I get to share on my Instagram feed the outcomes of my cooking adventures); photography (I am more of an amateur, but I enjoy quite a bit capturing glimpses of my life experiences, specially, when travelling and share them through various social networks); reading (Currently hooked to business books, but back in the day I used to spend hours in the day reading historic and science-fiction novels). Like I said, far too many hobbies to name them all over here. Perhaps that’s been one of the current issues I keep working on: too many diverse and disperse interests and too little time to cover them all and make them justice!

    What do you find interesting about the social space?

    Without a single doubt what I find the most interesting is the cultural transformation we are currently going through where social technologies act as an enabler for a much bigger piece, i.e. defining the workplace of the future. Today.

    If anything, social tools have made it obvious and very clear how the current method of how businesses operate today clearly does not match the needs of today’s knowledge workforce in the 21st century. I’m finding it a fascinating journey how through social software tools we have got an opportunity to redefine how we interact, connect, collaborate and share our knowledge to get work done much more effectively, but at the same time helping us democratise the workplace through embracing openness and transparency as the modus operandi in a networked, hyperconnected world and essentially how we are transitioning from a traditional hierarchical top-down (business) world into one governed through principles based on wirearchy.

    Where are some of the challenges you have identified in the social space?

    At one point in time I thought that one of the main challenges was technology itself where in itself it became a barrier of entry, specially, for those people who may have been a bit apprehensive of what it could do for them. But, over time, as you get more and more experienced in the field through lots of hands-on, walking the talk, leading by example, you realise that the main challenge we currently have at this moment is management, specially, senior leadership.

    We are constantly witnessing how, time and time again, the traditional top-down hierarchy (and not just within the business world, but in a societal level as well!) feels very much threatened by this new way of interacting and participating called social networks where information is on longer power, and where we are transitioning from knowledge stocks into knowledge flows (cf. John Hagel).

    That democratisation of knowledge where knowledge shared is power is becoming increasingly more of a challenge for management and senior leaders, more than anything else because they are finding it a bit of a challenge to transition from that command and control mindset into one of leading the pack through merit, participation and overall knowledge sharing as they are just one more of the nodes of the social networks they are part of already. The challenge for them is to transition from the traditional vision of management into one of leadership. Open Leadership.

    What advice (or insight) can you share about utilizing social tools to leverage workplace learning?

    To start using them TODAY! Don’t wait to be told it’s ok to make use of them to do your work. Don’t wait for your peers to dive into social networking tools, just because you don’t want to be the first one; or for your direct manager, or middle manager or senior leaders to tell you it’s ok to make use of them. Don’t wait for them. Just dive into social networks and start building your digital footprint, your digital brand helping people get better at what they do by sharing your knowledge out in the open, transparently, and collaborating much more effectively with those who may need of your help, skills and expertise.

    Over time, you would start to understand how we are moving, rather fast!, into a world where we constantly have to keep demonstrating out thought leadership, expertise and what we really passionate about, so that it gives us a chance to meet up other people, connect with them, learn with them and eventually rather cooperate or collaborate with them to become better at what we do. So, again, don’t wait, start making use of social tools today, whether it’s a blog or any of the major networking tools out there and jump into the bandwagon. Leave that fear behind, the “what would they say if I start using …”, the “I don’t have time for this”, the “I don’t know what to share or talk about”, the “I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of others, never mind total strangers”, etc. etc. Just pick up that one or two topics that you are really truly passionate about and starting sharing with the world that passion for the next few years to come!

    What are your top 3 favorite blogs to follow?

    Goodness! This is a rather challenging question since I do have plenty of favourite blogs that I keep coming back time and time again, but perhaps three essential reads that I can recommend everyone would be as follows:

    – Change Agents Worldwide > 
    (Organisation I have been part of, as a charter member, over the last few months, and which aims at changing the nature of work, one human at a time).
    – Harold Jarche > One of the smartest folks out there (Fellow Change Agent) who has put together the PKM framework (Personal Knowledge Mastery) to help knowledge (Web) workers make sense of the Social Web we are all part of.
    – Esko Kilpi > One of those essential reads that no-one who is interested in the future of work should be ignoring. Ground-breaking, thought-provoking and really inspiring altogether how plenty of his insights around management, leadership, and organisational design and change then become a workplace reality.

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