1993 - September 1996
I began at Intellection (now i2 Technologies, Inc.) as a Junior Systems Administrator working under the supervision of Ed McGuire.
Providing support to 30 fellow employees in areas ranging including the UNIX development environment, communications systems, and portable demonstration/training equipment was a task that kept Ed very busy. I was hired to relieve him of some of these tasks with the goal of increasing responsiveness to user demands.
You may find it interesting to know that I found Ed by using the resources of the Internet. In 1993, the number of people who knew about the Internet was a mere fraction of the number that know about it today; I was among those few and was introduced to the Internet at the University of Tennessee where I was pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I participated in several discussions groups (i.e., the Usenet News Groups); one such group was related to setup and maintenance of Sun Workstations. Ed answered someone’s question (which was not an easy question to answer) with such accuracy and detail that I knew he would be able to help me grow tremendously as a Systems Administrator. I sent him e-mail asking if the company for which he worked had an opening for a Systems Administrator. He responded shortly with a telephone interview which ultimately lead to me being hired by Intellection.
Initially I worked with Ed exclusively. I did a large amount of “catch-up” work including sending in registration cards, cleaning up the equipment room, inventorying equipment. The highlight of my first month was creating the standard user setup files for new accounts on our UNIX workstations.
Much of the catch-up work was very visible and many people began to notice my accomplishments. Ed continued to be very busy and Macintosh and UNIX users soon approached me with their routine questions.
Answering these internal questions often required communication with our various vendors. Occasionally I came across problems that were too time consuming for me to solve, or required hardware repair/replacement. I found vendors who were willing to do the work for me, sometimes at a cost, and negotiated the required contracts.
I soon got the hang of talking with the vendors and negotiating deals that worked out well for everyone involved. It wasn’t long before I had the opportunity to use these skills in purchasing equipment. Due to my involvement with the vendors and that most of our equipment was standard I was given the responsibility of being the primary purchaser of equipment in October of 1993.
In December, 1993, Ed’s duties were re-defined to allow him to become more focused; his duties were to provide support to the developers in the creation of i2's product, the software. The responsibility of supporting external customers was passed to another department. At the same time, I assumed all of Ed’s previous duties that were not directly related to his new focus.
This change was very positive for me. It positioned me as the primary Systems Administrator. I was the primary support provider for everyone in the company. I ordered, setup, installed and maintained all technical equipment including computers, printers, and telephone equipment; I was always very busy.
Each year, i2 Technologies was doubling in revenue and number of employees. When I started in 1993, there were 25 employees. The company was clearly growing and I was having to struggle to keep up.
This dramatic increase in responsibilities forced me to find creative solutions to the day-to-day problems to meet all the demands of my internal customers. I implemented a training course for new employees, established a user-assessable database of frequently asked questions, and provided a library of training tapes (from outside sources) and books for most of our applications. To give myself more time for problem solving, I have employed several contractors for tasks that could be defined clearly enough for an outsider to complete. In the summer of 1994, I hired Peter Guttierrez who worked under my direction.
In 1995, I made the decision to return home to East Tennessee. Dave Cary was happy to keep me as an employee, but felt he would be more comfortable with a department manager that was in Dallas.
I continued to work for i2, providing support for the information infrastructure (largely based on Lotus Notes). I participated in planning the various projects, maintained the Notes network (servers), in many cases developed the applications, managed the testing/roll-out of the applications, and followed-up to problem reports.