25 Q&As: Linking with many bosses

As part of Computerworld's silver anniversary celebrations 25 IT managers recall the ups and downs of their careers. Here, Adelaine Hancock, Shorelink network manager, Shorelink Library Network, Sydney, shares her experiences with David Beynon.

What has been the most challenging IT project of your career?

The most challenging is reporting to five managers who each have their own ideas and convincing them of the need to standardise. The year I started with Shorelink I had to help with the conversion from an NCR system, which I did not know enough about, to the AS/400 (which I had a lot of experience with). It was very challenging and the most rewarding experience when you go “live” and it works.

What has been the most exciting experience of your IT career?

To be honest being offered the position to be the network manager at Shorelink. It was hard work, long hours and it must have worked out; I have been here since 1995.

When did you start in IT and what job did you have before you moved into IT?

In 1985 I started at a computer company in South Africa, training local government employees in software which had been installed at councils. They had been given a library package and the general manager asked me to see what I could do with it. Being thrown in at the deep end made me accomplish projects the hard way. I was responsible for the marketing, installation, training and error handling of the operating system and library management system. That also meant walking down the street with a B10 AS/400 on a trolley. I started as a school teacher, taught mathematics and art at a primary school in South Africa. I was interested in educational training and established an after-school centre to educate children in computers and gave lessons after hours for children with learning difficulties.

What was the first computer technology you used (and when)?

IBM System 38 — 1985. I can still remember these big machines which nearly filled most of the computer rooms. I spent many hours restoring and formatting. I also remember the emergency switch that was my first challenge to install from scratch. I accidentally turned it off and lost heaps of data. I called the IT manager and he said the backup reel tapes are in the safe with instructions (that was midnight). His words were, “We start at 9am, make sure the system is up by then.”) I did have the system back by 9am the next morning and I had to demonstrate the latest features of the library management system. No sleep for 24 hours.

What is the scariest thing looking forward in your IT career?

Turning up at the office for work but there is no office. The resignation of the system coordinator — I will be lost without him. He has been here for over five years and will be hard to replace due to the significant support he gave me.

Fast facts: Head office: Chatswood, NSW. Serving the libraries of the councils of Lane Cove, Manly, Mosman, North Sydney and Willoughby (with a total staff or 160). Annual turnover: $500,000. IT budget: $250,000 to $500,000. Key applications: Sirsi Library Management system, Talking Technologies. Key infrastructure: hardware: IBM RS6000 F80, NT Server, Linux server, WatchGuard Firebox 3-700, Shiva LanRover for dial in access. Networking: Access to Shorelink Office from the four member libraries are via 192Kbps Frame Relay with a CIR of 64Kbps. Operating systems: AIX 4.3.3 , NT, Squid, Linux, Windows 2000, NT,95,98.

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