The other day Robbie Cheadle put up a post about her career. After reading it, I thought, “Hey, maybe I should do something like that…” It will be a little different than what Robbie posted, though I think I will follow her lead by going over my job history as much as my current job itself. Hopefully knowing a little bit about my day job will help you to get to know me better :)
As a kid and young adult, I had all of the typical jobs that kids have. I picked fruit and vegetables, flipped burgers at a fast food restaurant, bussed tables in a high-end restaurant, bagged groceries, did temp work (from washing windows to light assembly work to grunt labor), spent a couple of summers as a camp counselor, did “fluid device” reclamation/repair in a large chemical plant, wrote assembly-level language code for network analysis, spent a summer on a nuclear submarine. You know, the typical stuff kids do ;) OK, I was in Navy ROTC for a couple of years, so that is where the nuclear sub comes in. I was certified as a helmsman/planesman and on SONAR. The plant where my dad worked had a summer program for college kids. A lot of the kids worked in production, but I was lucky and had a much more interesting job. I have a cousin who owned a computer company (they did hardware (proprietary network devices) and software) and I worked for them for a few months. This was in Texas, though I did part time work in Ohio and South Carolina as well.
As I was job hunting after college (I got a Mathematics degree), I decided to take a test for Air Traffic Control. My sister had started her career that way, so why not?
After a summer in Oklahoma (all ATC start in OKC), I was sent to New Hampshire to work at the Boston Air Traffic Control Center. I know, Boston and New Hampshire, but… So I was a Controller for five and a half years and in ATC for just under seven years. One highlight was their familiarization program, which allowed me to travel in the cockpit of a large jetliner on several occasions. So, yes, I sat in the cockpit of a jet airliner while underway, and in the drivers set of a nuclear submarine while under weigh. Also, in my life, I worked with RADAR and SONAR.
I am not an Air Traffic Controller and never can nor should be one. That topic deserves its own post. One hint – I am an ultra-Introvert. Second hint – in college I used to answer the hard questions by taking a walk, something I still do, but something that is difficult to do while actively controlling air traffic ;)
Wait, let’s backup for one minute – after being exposed to computers in Texas, I started a software company, Micro Magic Multimedia, as a sideline to ATC. It brought together my drawing, photography, music, writing and programming skills (my programing skills back then were, uhm, awful…). I made a lot of demos and did some consulting work, but never really got it off the ground as envisioned.
So, transitioning out of ATC, I applied for a computer programmer’s job. Since I had experience, I moved into IT. And the rest is history…
OK, not so much.
So I moved into programming and took a lot of classes, where I discovered how awful my previous attempts were. But I got better. Much better. After a year I took over all of the IT duties, not just programing. So I had 100 PCs to keep up and running, at one time eight servers, a lot of switches and hubs, dozens of printers, miles of cable, etc. And later I helped with the Wide Area Network stuff, like CSU/DSU, routers, telco, etc. Network admin, deskside support, server admin, email admin (for a while), web admin, programmer, (limited) DB admin, etc. Yeah, for a while I did it all.
Over time my responsibilities grew less and less until I was super frustrated.
And then there was a reorg.
Not much changed, except that I met some nationally influential people.
And then another reorg.
This time things happened.
Because of my connections and programming experience (including some very high visibility programs I had built), I got a job as a Software Developer.
And I did next to nothing.
I kept asking for more and more work to try to keep busy, and so it happened after about a year as a Developer: I was moved into my present position.
OK, this is what this post is supposed to be about, right?
So I have two hats. The big one is that I am a Program Manager (my words) for a large web hosting environment. Technically I am an Operations Manager, but I can’t use either of those two words because they have different meanings in my organization, though one name for my team is “Web Ops”, i.e., Web Operations, so, almost there. Although I am a PM with a team, I can’t call myself “Manager”.
I have technical people on my team that do all of the work, but I direct it (I don’t even trust myself with rights to the servers ;) ). I work with teams that provide the servers (VMs), the OS, the networking and other infrastructure, though we are now doing all of that on our own as we move to the cloud. With that, I do some work with cloud team and Dev Ops team. There is firewall people, backup people, search team (I used to have search), monitoring group, security (a lot!), and other support groups. I also work with the customers at different levels (site owners, site admins, developers and coders, other PMs, etc.). And, of course, purchasing people, contract people, managers, etc. Most of my job is prioritizing, directing, coordinating, researching, requesting, reporting, etc. I do have to know the technical end, but not at the level as my experts – I would never dare touch an actual server!
My other hat is being our organizations liaison for a very large service contract. I work with people all over my organization in this role, as well as with the vendor. I can’t say too much, but this is working with the Internet at large. Not with what you might think of as an Internet provider, but more back-scenes, a company you most likely have never heard of.
So that is it. Pretty much I am a person who has to know who needs to know what and how to get it to them. It is all communication and such, though with a knowledge of the entire system from transistors to large scale Internet infrastructure. OK, a very slight exaggeration. Very slight ;)
Truthfully, in many ways I am just a small cog in the IT wheel. My position is important, but not the most important around – hard to get across that balance :). Others in my organization do similar work, and, as I said, this work depends on many people on all sides.
I have been in my present position for five years, which, in some ways, is the longest I have stayed in one position. I must be doing something right ;) (Truthfully, I am slightly ADHD and get bored doing the same thing for too long, so even when my earlier position stayed the same earlier in my career, I made sure I did very different things).
So that is where I have been and what I do.