How I Got Started in Software Development-A Tribute to Ed

A tribute is an expression of gratitude or praise.  As I head into this holiday season I wanted to express thanks to those individuals who have impacted my career through the years.  What got me thinking about this was the fact that my father-in-law passed away two years ago in mid-December.  I wanted to honor his memory.  I have chosen to do this by starting an annual blog entry where I recognize an individual that has directly impacted what I am doing today.  As a result, this first tribute will recognize my father-in-law, Ed Jankowski’s influence on my career.

Ed Jankowski, My Father-in-Law

I would have to say that Ed was most directly involved with my transition to the field of software development.  I had no prior experience working on computers before I met Ed.  During my employment at Bethany House Publishers, I saw a need Beaver Hatto “automate” the book used to track inventory.  At the time, Ed worked at the parent organization, Bethany Fellowship, as the primary IT guy.  (Quick background note, Ed left HP to work at Bethany as a ministry and a job.  He had extensive experience in electronic engineering, network systems, and related technical troubleshooting and support skills.)

After identifying the need, I approached my boss with my idea.  He noted we likely could not get this done through our divisions IT.  I talked with Ed about the idea and he and my manager worked out a deal.  If I was able to create a program to manage the warehouse inventory, I would then be loaned back to Ed to do something similar for him with the phone system for billing.  In return, Ed would provide hardware, software, and office space so I could figure it out.

Yes, I picked Microsoft Access as my development platform.  Ironically, my wife, Sheila, taught me the basics of Access so I could get started.  I created my first database, THEN learned about relational database theory – normalization.  So, I rewrote the app.  In the end, I created a decent application that would eventually support RF devices and save the company a lot of money because of the efficiencies related to these changes.

After a few years, I went to work for Magenic and moved from application development into database development and then into business intelligence.  But more about that later.  Without Ed’s support in his son-in-law, who knew nothing about software development and very little about computers at that time, I would not be where I am today.  I know Ed was proud of how far I had come and I still miss his input and influence in my work and life to this day.  Thanks Ed.