Career Steps

Premier 100 honorees tell us what brought them to the world of IT.


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Premier100 Honorees tell us: What makes an Exceptional Leader?
Career Steps
Dream Jobs

The Coaches:

Michael Agens

First job in IT? My first professional job in IT was with Seiko Corporation of America in 1988. I was a systems coordinator responsible for the maintenance of 16 IBM XT workstations and four thermal transfer printers. Other duties included programming in FoxPro 1.2 for DOS and network administration with Novell NetWare 2.x.

What drew you to IT? What drew me to a career in IT was my constant need to work on computers—not only in a data-entry function, but also to find out what made them function the way they did. Every time I worked on a new computer system or application as a data entry clerk, I needed to know what made it tick. This led me into my first position as a systems coordinator. I was given the chance to see what happened behind the scenes, both in the computer and the applications I worked on.

What career steps brought you into management? The career steps that I took to move into management were small and gradual. I started off in supporting computer hardware and learning how to program. Over time, I moved up through the different levels of the various support services groups I worked in and around. I eventually became a supervisor and later a manager of both a support and project management services group.

Joe Baron

First job in IT? My first professional job in IT was evaluating software compatibility for a PC manufacturer. This was back in the days of the original IBM PC running at 4.77 MHz. The outfit I worked for had a platform based on the 80186, which ran at 8 MHz. This was a significant performance difference in those days. The machine also featured much better graphics than the IBM PC. However, this proved to be the Achilles' heel of this design, as the improved graphics weren't addressable at the same memory location used by the IBM PC. With nearly all applications written at that time, writing directly to video memory was an accepted means of improving performance. Because of the different location of video memory, most off-the-shelf applications wouldn't run without modification on our hardware. Here was one more Betamax. Technical superiority doesn't guarantee market share.

What drew you to IT? I've always had a drive to understand how things work and tinker. This was much to my parents' annoyance when, as a curious 8-year-old, they found me removing the cover plates of half the electrical switches and outlets in our home. I just wanted to know how they worked. I began my college studies in an electrical engineering program. I found that I enjoyed the software side of my assignments more than the hardware design. I switched schools and changed to a computer science course of study. The creative freedom that software design allowed me to exercise was one of the factors that influenced my choice of a career in IT. Application development satisfied my drive to solve problems and was the starting point of my IT career.

What career steps brought you into management? I view problem-solving as a separate discipline. From my point of view, there's little difference in approach whether I'm troubleshooting an application working on a network outage or crawling under my car. The methodology I use is essentially the same, but the tools may change depending on the situation. Solving more complex problems would soon become difficult, if not impossible, without the ability to work as a part of a team. Building management skills vastly expands the tools you can bring to any assignment. I moved into management initially as a technical project leader for a large financial reporting database project. This role allowed me to build on strong technical skills while growing my people skills.

Ronald Boeving

First job in IT? Systems manager at a division of American Hospital Supply called American Critical Care.

What drew you to IT? I had previously been in pharmaceuticals research and development using a good deal of automation and data reduction computing. I was interested in the impact of computing on businesses as a whole.

What career steps brought you into management? I started as systems manager and then began providing services to the marketing department and expanded that eventually to all departments.

Stephen F. Brown

First job in IT? Systems analyst.

What drew you to IT? I was intrigued with how you can deploy IT for business performance improvement.

What career steps brought you into management? I developed and demonstrated my strategic planning skills by seeking out corporate planning projects.

John DeAngelo

First job in IT? In 1972 I was hired as media specialist for an academic subdivision of the College of Education at Temple University in Philadelphia. I managed a small instructional materials center and supervised a media support operation for 40 faculty and 1,200 students.

What drew you to IT? As a secondary school teacher of English, I had always used film as a way to expand the boundaries of traditional language education. Eventually, I interested the students in making their own 8mm films. The more I used media, the more I wanted to learn about it, which led me to earn a master's degree in educational media. Media in today's world is all about IT.

What career steps brought you into management? I moved from being a media specialist to a director of learning resources to a director of development and special projects to an associate dean for undergraduate and graduate affairs. As the role of IT became more and more important in higher education, a larger percentage of my time was spent managing and dealing with IT implementation issues. I found that to take significant advantage of the power of IT and to influence others in its use, it was important to have a position of authority in the management hierarchy. My current position of associate dean for IT is one of the first college-level CIO positions in the U.S. This position was partially created to take advantage of my skills and further the agenda of the Fox School of Business and Management as one of the premier IT operations in the country.

Malcolm C. Fields

First job in IT? Systems administrator.

What drew you to IT? Technical interest.

What career steps brought you into management? I worked in systems administration for a time. I then returned to school and completed my master's degree and Ph.D. After completing this, I took a job as a project manager.

W. Garrett Grainger Jr.

First job in IT? As a contract programmer for a job shop in South Florida assigned to IBM in Boca Raton.

What drew you to IT? Excitement! The challenge and opportunity to be involved in a rapidly expanding area.

What career steps brought you into management? I made my presence known as a key member of the team to management. I became involved in as many key strategic projects as possible.

David C. John

First job in IT? The possibility of becoming one of the greatest innovators drew me to a career in information technology. I wanted to be a mentor since my childhood years and to create something of value that others would be inspired to emulate.

What drew you to IT? Noting that success starts from within, my first initiative was self-improvement in the areas of assertiveness, communication, decision-making, inventiveness and imagination. As IT became an integral part of the bank's day-to-day operations, the need for new tools to keep abreast with the ever-changing environment became evident. With this in mind and given the opportunity to tap into the organization's goals and vision, I embarked on a journey to broaden my banking skills by attending supervisory studies at the American Institute of Banking and joining key focus groups addressing the latest trends in banking and technology. This provided a strong foundation which supported my various managerial appointments over the past 20 years.

Deryck Jones

First job in IT? My first professional job in IT was based in Southern California. While working for Computerland, I secured composer Alan Silvestri as a client and helped install a new system in his home studio network.

What drew you to IT? What draws me to IT is the endless opportunity for working with technology and to engage in complex problem-solving.

What career steps brought you into management? I took a rather unusual path. Initially, I was introduced to electronics networks and software in the military. Following my discharge from active service, I went back to school to complete my undergraduate degree in industrial technology and manufacturing while concentrating on electronics. Upon graduation, I went to work for a small wholesale diamond company due to the lure of travel, luxury goods and the mystique of the diamond trade. Over time, I became the vice president of research and development for the organization. Most recently and many years later, I joined OneMonday as their chief technology and information officer.

Russ Lambert

First job in IT? My current position as director of e-commerce is my first IT-related position. As a former general manager of a Wesco division, I was responsible for a small IT department as well.

What drew you to IT? To this position, was the critical need to determine the strategy, investments and initiatives to move the company forward in e-commerce capabilities. I was asked by the CEO to take on the e-commerce role when all our dot-com and Internet specialists quit.

What career steps brought you into management? Beginning in a technical area, then moving to project management, then sales and marketing, then management. Along the way, I picked up advanced academic credentials to support the promotions.

Russ Lewis

First job in IT? As a junior programmer at Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co., then as an IMS DB/DC Cobol programmer, supporting insurance agents in the field.

What drew you to IT? In the early '80s, technology was perceived as the answer to moving business and industry forward. As a political science major, that perception sparked my interest, and I took some technology courses. I became eager to apply and leverage technology in new ways in business settings.

What career steps brought you into management? I sought projects that exposed me to the end customer so that I could learn the business flow. I aggressively pursued at night my master's degree in investment management because I believe it is vitally important to understand the business you are trying to automate, and I made a concerted effort to be able to translate technology issues and projects to business terms. In order to be successful, you must be able to effectively communicate technology issues to business personnel.

Glenn Palmiere

First job in IT? In 1981, I was employed at Prudential Insurance as a systems operator on the second shift. It was an entry-level position that allowed me to attend college during the day and work full-time at night to pay for my education.

What drew you to IT? I was fascinated by computers. Still to this day, the whole concept of what a simple binary instruction can do is amazing. The diversity that IT allows you in a career path also fascinated me. While working through college, I realized that a career in IT didn't necessarily mean you had to be a programmer. There are so many options, and you're limited only by yourself.

What career steps brought you into management? After six months as a systems operator, it was clear to management that I was a quick learner, responsible and a natural leader. They promoted me to shift supervisor, and I became responsible for a staff of four others, all hired before me. I loved the challenge of the new, added responsibility and the ability to take a group of five employees and build us into a team. At first there was jealousy because I was the new kid on the block, but I was able to turn things around by listening to their concerns, never asking them to do anything I didn't do myself and helping them advance themselves. I helped one of my team members advance to supervisor for the third shift within two months and that made the others realize I was there to get the job done and help them as well.

Jack J. Santos

First job in IT? Programmer for a pharmacy systems start-up. Responsible for all off-line systems design and development as well as computer operations.

What drew you to IT? I was always technology-oriented. I was a licensed amateur radio operator as a teenager and was the technical manager and station manager for my college radio station (while pursuing a philosophy degree, coordinated with computer science).

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