Monday, April 20, 2009


At my previous job, I was very fortunate to be surrounding by some incredibly smart people. Start-ups tend to attract those types on both the business and IT side. Now those of you who work for Oracle or who work for some of the larger companies out there may be surrounded by these types.

I've typically worked at small companies and I think that makes it harder. My first boss I believe would fall into the "incredibly smart" category. It should go without saying that the other people are not smart as well, I'm talking the best of the best. People you could truly learn from. There's always a catch though...what if they don't like to teach or mentor?

My first boss hired me as a reports developer and allowed me a fair amount of room to grow. I felt like it was too slow so I moved on. Looking back on it, I think I made the right decision but I probably didn't go about it the right way.

One of the big reasons I chose to go to Revolution Money was the opportunity to do and learn cutting edge stuff. The goal (of the company) was to match Visa in transaction per second (if I remember correctly that was set around 5 or 6K). They had people who had built high-transaction/high-volume applications all over the place. "All over the place" may be an exaggeration, IT was only 20 or 25 strong at the time. "Relatively speaking," how about that? There was a high percentage of these people.

John Davies
Previously global head of architecture at BNP Paribas and JP Morgan Chase, CTO and co-founder of C24 recently sold to IONA Technologies (Nasdaq: IONA). Author of several Java books published by Wrox, veteran speaker at technical and banking conferences world-wide, expert in high performance/low latency enterprise and global architectures
Edward Katzin
He was the CTO for Madison Tyler LLC a proprietary trading company that is making the most of the capital markets shift towards electronic trading platforms in the United States and abroad.

Edward was Vice President – Technology Strategy with Visa before joining Madison Tyler and was responsible for leading the development of Visa’s technology strategy to address ever evolving challenges specific to ensuring the reliability, security, and cost effective operation of Visa’s systems, network, and application infrastructure.

As a consultant for DiamondCulster (now Diamond Management & Technology Consultants Inc.), Edward was a Principal and Senior Technical Architect responsible for designing and deploying large scale information systems solutions that align the deployment of technology solutions with business strategy and maximize the return on investments in technology.
Miladin Modrakovic [ blog ]

Again, nothing good in his LinkedIn profile so I get to make it all up. I've talked about Miladin before here and here. He's the kind of DBA who you actually believe practices the dark arts. I'm sure I could do what he does given an almost infinite amount of time. He was never afraid to show me his work, i.e. how he arrived at an answer. That's a great trait to have.

Bob Kerner

Bob doesn't have a nice summary of his skills on LinkedIn so I'm going to have to make stuff up. As far as street cred goes, he was the Chief Architect at AOL from 1999 to 2005. Despite what you may think of the company, it is still a force out there. He's also done stuff which I probably should not or can't mention else he'll have to kill me. I have a great amount of respect for this guy. Not only does he know what he's talking about he'll show you exactly how he came to the conclusion. He held a few lunch and learns from XML (schemas) to cryptography (how and why). It's not been often in my career that I've come across someone with so much experience that is as willing as he is to teach. My daily interactions were a constant opportunity to learn something new. Cyclomatic Complexity was from him. He also spoke of Information Theory and Marshalling.

There's my ode to mentors.

I try and do the same for people when the opportunity presents itself. For some reason I tend to focus on those on the business side who show a serious aptitude for data related activities.

So if you have someone in your organization who shows a higher than normal interest, take them under your wing. If you are a newbie, throw yourself at their feet and ask them to help you.

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