Kenneth Milberg is SearchEnterpriseLinux.com's Ask the Expert advisor on Unix-to-Linux migration and president of UNIX Solutions, an IT consulting firm. He sings the praises of his first IT boss in the second installment of our series about unsung heroes, the mentors who played a crucial role in inspiring and nurturing IT pros'interest and abilities in computing. Watch for more IT mentor articles, and tell us about your gurus at email@example.com. - Jan Stafford, editor.
Terry Every was the first MIS Director that I reported to in the first MIS Department that employed me. Prior to my experience working for Terry, I was the head of a very small shop for approximately eight years. Though I had one assistant, for all intensive purposes, I was a one-man show. Terry hired me to be the systems administrator/manager for a law firm, and I was charged with managing their Unix-based accounting and cost-recovery systems.
Terry was very polished and articulate and had a real presence about him. He was from England and wore a tie and suspenders to work daily.
What I admired most about Terry was his ability to motivate his staff without threats or harsh words. Terry always knew how to push the right buttons and when to let you be. He was a 'player's coach who stuck up for his staff in times of troubles, and his staff did not forget that. He encouraged a teamwork atmosphere, where we all worked together, ate together and even played together. When my wife was expecting our first child, he organized a party for her that everyone from the whole company attended, even though I was only working at the firm for not even a year.
When you did exceptional work, Terry rewarded you and also signaled his approval it with his smile and a pat on the back. Though I enjoyed working as part of the IT department, watching him perform his function motivated me to want to become like him. He was my inspiration for wanting to become senior management, and I ultimately achieved that goal.
Terry and I kept in contact for many years, having lunch on occasion. In recent years, I've lost contact with him, but after writing this, I think I'm going to look him up again!
Watch for more "unsung hero" stories, and tell us about your mentors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read about the IT feats of author Mel Gorman's first mentors, the University of Limerick Computer Society.