In this new series, we interview members of the CICS development team to find out more about their work and interests. Karen Bonney and Kate Shepherd are two of the latest additions to the CICS team in Hursley Lab and the Editor had the pleasure of getting to know them better.
Editor: Why don’t we start with some introductions; shall we start with you, Karen?
Karen: OK. I am a new graduate in CICS Service Flow Feature. I graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a degree in Computer Systems. As part of my degree I did a placement year in the IT department here at Hursley.
Kate: I started at IBM Hursley in September 07, having just graduated from the University of Bristol, in Computer Science. I have come into a development role, within the CICS Web Services team, and I'm really enjoying it so far. I took part in IBM's Extreme Blue summer placement scheme last year, and decided then that I wanted to work for IBM when I graduated.
Editor: So you both did Computer Science related degrees... I presume you have done quite a bit of on-the-job learning, on the mainframe for example. How are you finding it?
Karen: I had worked in those areas during my placement year. However, after a year out some of that knowledge had faded and I had a steep learning curve to pick it up again.
Kate: The closest I came to the mainframe was the Mainframe Challenge, which some of my friends took part in. Since I have started, I have done lots of training on the mainframe here at Hursley, in the Galileo centre. Without doubt, that and the help of my technical mentor has helped me to pick up the skills quite quickly, and I enjoy working on it now.
Editor: Is it as difficult as some people may think?
Karen: Not at all... there is plenty of education available and the people at Hursley are very approachable to ask for help, meaning that it soon becomes part of every day life.
Kate: It looks scarier than it is, I think - particularly the 3270 terminal window! My friends say that it must be difficult and scary, but I don't see it like that - it's just something new to learn. It's no different from being a Windows user, moving to Linux.
Editor: You are both in development. What is the best thing you like about it?
Karen: I enjoy working in a development environment because there are constant milestones to meet, which gives a sense of achievement after each one to spur me on and give more motivation to continue onto the new stage. I enjoy being presented with a problem and the challenges of having to solve them.
Kate: Well, so far I've spent a lot of my time improving existing code and doing Functional Verification testing. I'm looking forward to the next iteration, because then I will be able to get started on some new coding for the product, and feel that I am really contributing to the team.
Editor: Your teams are implementing iterative development - that must bring great benefits to CICS!
Kate: Yes, I think from what I have seen so far it is certainly helpful to work iteratively - it would seem that any problems in the code can be found and fixed early on during iterations, increasing the overall quality of the product even more.
Editor: IBM Hursley Lab is a nice place to work, green and complete with great facilities - do you take advantages of what it has to offer?
Kate: I love Hursley and try to make use of many of the facilities. I've joined a team in the 4-a-side indoor football tournament, so use the sports hall for matches and practice sessions. I also like to walk around the grounds at break times, to get some fresh air, and run in the evenings.
Karen: Hursley is a great site and I'm looking forward to the weather improving and lunches at the club house sat outside, wandering round the grounds and generally being able to enjoy being outside in country air.
Editor: Sounds wonderfully de-stressing. Finally, what does the future hold for you girls?
Karen: CICS is a great place to be and joining at the beginning of a new release is a very valuable experience. I feel that perhaps Project Management in longer term will give me the challenge I want in life and I like the idea of being able to guide a project through from start to finish and ensure goals and deadlines are met.
Kate: It’s great to have the opportunity to be able to build a wide range of experiences. Personally, I am really enjoying being a part of the Web Services team in CICS, as I believe it is an area for real innovation and growth potential. The people I work with are all really helpful and so I would like to think that I will stay in my current position, for the time being. From a long term perspective, I want to advance my career as a technical member of the team, and think that CICS is a good environment for me to do that.