I’ve done a lot of things for a living over the years, and after working with a number of short-lived startups and a large corporation in Louisville, I left town for a new start.
Cool Job, Part 5: Wire Transfer
A recruiter friend of mine found a job for me. This was before the internet had revolutionized our daily lives, so recruiters were a great way to find something, especially out of town.
The job was at Essex Group in Fort Wayne, Indiana. That’s the northeastern corner of the state, around 250 miles away from Louisville (four hours on the road… barring traffic, construction, or weather).
Essex is a wire manufacturer, with several brands around the world. They’d bring in various metals, and turn it into long spools of wire, sort of like a giant Play-Doh Fun Factory, but with more metal.
Be Excellent to Each Other
My job was to build an EIS (Executive Information Summary) system. EIS was the precursor to Business Intelligence (BI, sometimes called dashboarding). The goal was to take all the data from all the departments from all the locations, roll it up into drill-downs, and highlight areas that need attention from the bigwigs.
This would help them find problems that arose (with any luck, even before they arose), like:
- we’re almost out of inventory item XYZ123, which we need to make this thing over here that makes us a lot of money
- this location’s so-and-so division is almost two weeks behind on their critical project, which will jeopardize all these other things
- four of our ten managers are shorthanded by over 20% in whatever job
- the market price for one of our supplies is going up in a hurry
- …and stuff like that
Until this job, I had really only written software. I learned a lot about data management and reporting from this job.
In fact, I still do a lot of this kind of thing, but using very different technologies and techniques. Turning “facts” into “information” into “action” is still highly useful.
What a Data be Alive
Once I had gotten a good grip on using Excel to pull data from the mainframe and SQL databases, and worked my magic on it, I took a strong interest in the data itself. How was it organized? How did it get in and out? When did it go in? Who put it there? What did it really mean? How did we know it was correct?
I spent a lot of time hanging out with the DBA (DataBase Administrator) team, and learned from them. Before too long, I didn’t have to rely on them to get the data I needed — I got it myself, and cleaned/joined/moved it the way I needed it to be.
While in Fort Wayne, I got involved with the local gaming convention, took over as editor-in-chief of Haymaker APAzine, drove to my first GenCon (in Milwaukee), saw They Might Be Giants in concert at the Wooden Nickel record shop, and found a church I really liked (after trying probably thirty others).
After I left, I missed out on the people voting for an inside joke — to name their new government center after former mayor Harry Baals. But the city officials wouldn’t go for it. As NBC reported: Scratch “Harry Baals” off list of names for government center. Buzzkill.
Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig
I loved my job. I was learning great stuff, and kicking butt while doing it. I was getting paid nicely. But we had just had our first son, and two of my brothers were also have their first kids (one was born just three days after my boy), and I wanted these young cousins to grow up together.
So I used my newfound database skills, and took a job as a Database Administrator back in Louisville.
Go back to Part 4: Corporate Agent or on to Part 6