Hey, we all complain about work from time to time; we've all had lousy jobs. But before you call it a day and head off to the support group that meets at the bar, here are a few words from an IT pro that loves their work.
Profession and specialization: Director of the Microsoft Rich Media Group
Last book read: I just finished 2 books; Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer and Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles. Any illusions I had about climbing Everest went out the window… Now I’m reading The World is Flat.
Latest accomplishment: I started a cross-industry consortia with 5 other companies to fix photo metadata (including Adobe, Apple, Canon, Nokia and Sony). The lack of real standards have been plaguing consumers and professionals, and about 2 years ago I got really frustrated and started talking to some engineers here at Microsoft and researching the problem. I realized the only way to fix this was to get leading companies to agree, so I got on a plane and convinced these companies to work with me on solving the problem. We just released our first specification, which was written in less than one year. The hardest part, that I’m most proud of, is that the agreement we signed includes royalty free IP licensing terms – which means all of these companies have agreed to license any relevant patents for free. This was a major negotiation between these parties which I honestly did not think was going to happen. Details on the group are at http://www.metadataworkinggroup.org.
Toughest technology lesson learned: Don’t try to boil the ocean, especially by yourself. It’s better to win one step at a time then to try to solve all problems at once. Engineers by their nature are optimistic about how long it takes to complete milestones, and the more complex the project the more likely it’ll be late. By focusing on smaller milestones, you can build on your success and reduce the risk of being late – or not delivering at all.
Advice to an up-and-comer: Work on something that you are passionate about, and you’ll never have a hard time being motivated or excited about what you do. I love photography, so the opportunity to work with leading companies in the photo space and develop new products never gets old. For example, I started geotagging my images (adding GPS coordinates to them to make them easier to find) a few years ago. It wasn’t easy to do – it was really a geeky thing to do– so I wrote a specification for a piece of software that would make it really easy for anyone to add location tags to their images. All of sudden Microsoft built and shipped it – for free. Now I can proudly show my friends how to geotag! If you’re lucky enough to combine a passion with work, just make sure you leave time for the passion!
[Know someone who thinks their IT job is awesome? Introduce them to me at debperelman [at] gmail [dot] com.]