An Accidental Career

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An old school friend, Noel Boyce, posted on Facebook yesterday that 50 years ago in Dublin we started our final exams, the Irish equivalent of A Levels. Within weeks we were working full-time and have been for 50 years. The Facebook exchange had a question from a younger person asking if we had computers in those days. Noel said we did but they were powered by steam.

Memories! My first job was in the Auditor General’s Office ticking transactions in manual ledgers using green ink. Only auditors were allowed to use green ink. A year later I went on a one-day “computer appreciation” course which I paid for. Some months later the first computer application went live in the Irish Milk Board and they wanted an auditor who knew about computers. Because of that one-day course I became the Government’s computer auditor. In reality, it meant I ticked transactions on a computer printout in green ink. Even so, I felt so sophisticated, so far ahead.

I got involved in computers as a result, an accidental career, built my working life around systems, travelled the world, developed several “firsts” in designs, created and grew computer businesses, and now mentor Internet entrepreneurs. I love what I do but I never thought in 1967 that would be my career.

It puts me in mind of the last lines of the poem “Hay for the Horses” by Gary Snyder:

“I’m sixty-eight,” he said,

“I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.

I thought, that day I started,

I sure would hate to do this all my life

And dammit, that’s just what

I’ve gone and done.”

First published in Swindon Link magazine