I thought that computer studies was boring when I was at school. I did not care about the history, concepts or functions. Perhaps I had an uninspiring teacher; perhaps I was influenced by my friends - away from technology - towards other topics.
I passed the computer studies O’ Level and pursued my dreams of joining the Merchant Navy. I was far away from technology in the early ‘80’s The satellite navigation system had an accuracy to about 1.2 miles, we had to rely on visual positions and radar fixes.
I hung up my seafaring boots and came ashore. I took a job in a shipping company as a containership planner. The job involved placing the containers so that they would be easily accessible for discharge in each port and make sure that there was enough space to back load cargo for on-going destinations. It was a manual job in the early 1990’s with pen and paper, faxes and telexes.
If the ship was delayed by one day by bad weather she would be late in port. This means that she would be one day late in every following port around the world. Containers would arrive at the docks too early and shippers would call to collect their cargo on the wrong day. The vessel schedule was of paramount importance so one day a week we would collate all of the telexes from vessels in port, rub out all the pencilled in dates and write in the new schedule for telexing to each of the agents around the world. It was a pain and a waste of a day.
There was a standalone PC in the corner of the office and I started to tinker with its programs. I worked out that I could use Lotus 123 to update the ship schedule automatically and accurately. Scheduling Tuesdays would never be the same for me. I now had hours of extra time.
For a while.
For this “innovation” I was transferred into the Data Processing team. “You seem to be able to understand what they do and explain it in English” they said.
I loved it.
Shortly I was helping to migrate from PROFS mail to MS Mail 3.2, then I upgraded the Novell Network to Windows NT 3.51, and Windows 95. I loved the challenge of trying to get things work. I felt like this was a job I could take to new heights.
And I did.
I left the shipping company to become a Microsoft Certified Trainer at a Training Centre in London, Consultancy at HP, Enterprise Pre sales at Microsoft, Management of the IT Pro Evangelist team at Microsoft where I drove forward the adoption of social media tools to connect with the technical audience in 2005. I now run my own company offering strategic advice for companies that want to make sense of social media and adopt social business methods inside their organisation. My deep technical knowledge holds me in good stead for technical conversations from clients and I still love to tinker with new gadgets and devices. Once a geek, always a geek.
So whilst I have no formal IT degree, I have something that every employer desires when interviewing a candidate for a role. Passion. I have a passion for technology gained at the sharp end, under desks, behind servers, amidst packaging and online. I have changed my career several times and have ended up doing a role that I utterly love.
My career started in the non-technical world and I’m now at the cutting edge of new social technologies. I made my journey from Ships to Chips. How will your own career story end?