A Career of Technology Leadership
I have built a career on leading organisations through change, adapting and leveraging leading edge technologies and techniques, and building high performing teams. I have run infrastructure teams, engineering teams, technical support teams and professional services teams. I have been driving automation into system administration and related activities for over 20 years, automating the centralised configuration management of over 400 Solaris hosts as far back as 1996. I first implemented agile software development practices in an engineering startup in 2001. The cultural aspects of DevOps - continuous improvement, collaboration between engineering and operations, automation and risk-oriented controls - are ones I have instilled in every team I have managed for over 25 years.
In the course of my career, I have held roles including developer, Head of Development, system administrator, system architect, troubleshooter, Principal Operations Architect, Principal Consultant, Director of Network Operations, and CIO. I have taken roles that not just talk about the need for change, but deliver that change.
I have been playing around with computers for the past three decades or so. I started out with PDP-8s and PDP-11s, and was one of the first Apple ][ owners in Australia (it ran off a 110V transformer). In 1979 I co-founded The Apple User's Society of Melbourne (AUSOM), a group which now boasts over 1000 members. In the 80s and 90s, I also spent time on the boards of The MicroComputer Club of Melbourne (MICOM), The Digital Equipment Computer User's Society (DECUS), the Victorian branch of the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and the Sun User Group of Australia (SUG-OZ).
I spent a number of years alternating my roles between development and operations groups. This gave me great insight into the similarities and differences between the two sides of the Information Technology coin. I found it interesting that whilst huge efforts were going into defining methodologies and tools to aid software development, the operations and system support teams had to cope with whatever was thrown at them without any such assistance. (The world would be a better place if every software developer was forced to spend six months in a system support role.)
In 1987 I co-founded The Fulcrum Consulting Group and as its Technology Director began developing models for delivery of system support services to small businesses. I also began developing methodologies and toolkits to help myself and other system administrators as we moved from site to site. This included audit methodologies to assess the degree of entropy present at a site, and frameworks for retrofitting industry best practices to those sites.
In 1995 I founded The SysAdmin Group to continue this work.
System Administration is a fascinating and almost entirely misunderstood profession, and educating management and the general public as to the nature of this role is an integral part of SysAdmin.
I believe in contributing back to the industry. I have served multiple terms on the national management committee of Information Technology Professionals Association (ITPA) (nee System Administrator's Guild of Australia (SAGE-AU)), served multiple terms on the board of the USA-based System Administrator's Guild (SAGE) including as its President, was founding President of The League of Professional System Administrators (LOPSA), and served several terms on the board of The USENIX Association, all peer-elected roles.
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