When I arrived to the GTU 2.5 years ago I was a mess. GTU or Global Technology Unit is one of the leading Business Development bodies of IBM Israel, responsible for business between IBM and Israeli high tech industry, with a turnover of hundreds of millions a year. And here I was, a guy from R&D, who was just appointed to lead this team. That’s when I met Pini Burtman. Pini led the Technical group of GTU, knew everything there was to know about IBM and business and was loved and respected by all. He could do anything with me. He could make my life a living hell by testing me every day and by arguing with my every decision. He could sit and wait for me to fail. He could just be indifferent. But Pini became my teacher, my friend, and for me he really became The Rock. The Trusted Advisor. The guy I could always rely on. He saw my good sides and my bad sides. He was my conscience when I had to make difficult decisions. He was the guy who would listen to me and raise my spirit (and God is the witness that my spirit was down many many times). He knew that I was not very good in running Excels and To Dos - he did it for me. He knew that I needed time to learn everything about business - he would come with me to meetings and fill awkward silences with his wisdom and insight. He was The Rock.
Besides being The Rock, Pini loved Israel. He knew everything about Israel, he told unprecedented number of stories about every stone in Jerusalem, he loved it all - North and South. Every IBM executive coming to Israel would get to know Pini and Pini would take them to see Israel - the most comprehensive tours they would ever get anywhere in the world. He taught me so much about Israel - the land, the culture, the people.
And he was the most humble man I know. Reporting to me, a child by his measures, a guy that potentially was inferior by knowledge of Sales and Business could have been hard for him. But never ever he let me feel that. And he knew very well to appreciate my strong sides. And to tell me the right things when I needed it. And to smile. And to tell stories. And to be The Rock.
When I told him that I was leaving IBM, he was on his way to a Jeep Tour in Georgia, a trip he really wanted to do for a long time. He smiled and said: “I am very sad for me, but so happy for you!” Again, he could have made my life difficult. He could just say Bye. But he did not. He made me feel happy and proud and loved. He was The Rock.
Today, the sky was crying. Because Pini passed away yesterday night. He lost a battle to a cursed decease. It only took three months. And it just can’t be. We stood there under the pouring rain. We cried together. His friends, his family. And we sang the songs he loved. Songs to Israel, songs to people and nature. Just to illustrate how important he was to people, there was this guy who joined GTU just a month before I left. He worked with Pini for four months. He was weeping. He was saying: “I loved him so much!” This is who Pini was.
It does not matter how strong you are. It does not matter how smart you are. It does not matter how many people you manage. You need your Rock. You need this person who you can count on, who can be your confidant, who can help you think and make decisions. I was blessed to have Pini. And I am blessed to have my Rocks in my various circles.
Pini, dear friend! Please rest, watch for us from above and continue being our Rock. We will remember you in our hearts and in our prayers. And we will dedicate to you everything we do. And why trying to lean over and call you, we will find over and over again that you are not there. And one day we will become Rocks to someone else.