1996-2000: Technology as a paying job
My first technology-related jobs were in tech support for cable TV with Australian telco, Optus in the mid to late 90s. I seemed to have a knack for explaining technical concepts to customers on the phone.
So it didn't take me long to become a Support Rep and then a Support Analyst for internal systems there. But it wasn't until I got hired to do a very vague job that I really came in to my own.
Becoming a "Change Manager" was a little strange. According to the folks at Hutchison, I was primed to be a good Change Manager. I personally had no idea what that was. But I sure learned fast. Apparently I was the friendly voice of calm between IT and the rest of the business when it came to IT making changes to systems. My job was to explain the changes that IT was making to the business managers, ensure that they understood what it was, and then approve the downtime on that system for when it was occurring. I soon learned that the gulf between IT and the rest of the business was immense. This was in the lead-up to Y2K. And IT was seen as a massive strain on the wider company. After all, we were the people who seemed to be forever hiring but not actually doing much.
The problem with this job was that I had nowhere to keep track of all these changes, and nowhere I could publish the schedule or the results of these changes for the business to see. I tried to get the Intranet Development Team to let me post on there, but for some strange reason, the Intranet wasn't used as a workflow tool back then - it was a pretty catalogue of people's faces and contact details. And because it was the one piece of technology that the business, not IT, had control over, they weren't letting me anywhere near it.
So I bought a copy of a database program called Filemaker Pro and build my own Customer Relationship Database that would automatically publish on to a local webserver on your own computer on which you'd share an IP address and people you could see what you had published. It was all I could convince anyone to let me do. So I did it. And very quickly, my little database was being used by ten times the amount of people that were using the official Intranet.
Which meant that my little database had suddenly become IT's intranet, issue-tracking database and a place to track what was happening across every IT project. It really took on a life of it's own. Until a company called AAPT Cellular One poached me to come and be a Business Analyst and Change Manager for them.