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Thursday, 26 May 2016

In tech, ‘curiosity is key’, says IBM architect and master inventor

Taking the first tentative steps into a career in tech can be daunting, and hearing the guidance of those with years of experience under their belt can help. Stephen Kruger, IBM architect and master inventor, tells us a little about the path that led him to his current role.

What first stirred your interest in a career in tech?

I have always been passionate about technology and its impact on our lives.

What led you to the role you now have?

I obtained a fundamental grounding in the theory of computer science through my bachelor’s degree, but years spent in various research roles has honed my ability to rapidly absorb new technologies, and anticipate their impact within my sphere of influence.

What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path?

My biggest surprise was how cyclical changes are. This allowed me to re-use many ‘old’ approaches – obviously mixed in with some real innovation – to new problems. When applied to current trends, they still seem novel.
Obviously oversimplifying somewhat, but cloud is about the third iteration of the original concept of client-server computing, perfected by the mainframe experts over 30 years ago.

Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?

My father encouraged a boldness that I often called on when faced with challenges. His mantra was, “The only thing worse than a wrong decision is no decision”. Guided by experience, it’s useful to lean on this when leaping off into the unknown.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Change and challenge. They’re my two main drivers. Without that, I would have no outlet for my creativity, which is the source of my passion for IT.

What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?

Curiosity is key to testing areas outside your comfort zone, and has allowed me to develop into areas my immediate job role didn’t really require.

How did IBM support you on your career path?

IBM has a very well-developed technical career path, which doesn’t force senior technical leadership into a path of management.

What advice would you to those considering a career in this area, or just starting out in one?

Be prepared to change, and be sure technology is your passion.

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