Wednesday Mar 15, 2006

17 Years

My time at Sun Microsystems is soon to come to an end, and so I've taken this opportunity to take a retrospective look at the last 17 years with Sun, 71% of it's life, 42% of mine. If you're not mentioned it's an oversight only, and if you do recognise yourself, then smile.

Peak Experiences:

Hawaii: Winning the ultimate atta-boy in 1993. I did work very hard on the phones in the UK Support Centre, and won a Services award for my efforts. (Taking and closing 28 NeWSprint/Modem/Printer/Serial Port calls in one day was my personal best). For my efforts I was given the once-in-a-lifetime experience of going to a Services conference on the island of Maui, Hawaii with my wife and we stayed in the four seasons resort for three days. It was a glimpse of another world that I had never even dreamed of, and was truly a peak experience.

Cooking: For a number of years the White family organised the food provision for the Sun Summer BBQ at Camberley Cricket Club. The goal was to provide a BBQ for 700 people and feed them between 5:30 and 7:30pm – 350 people per hour, more than 5 people a minute for 2 hours served with hot food and salad, catering for vegetarians and carnivores. I recruited my colleagues in the Solution Centre, complied with all food hygiene, local council and employment laws, sourced food from local butchers, and together we offered an excellent service to our colleagues in Sun, for about half the cost of an external catering company – oh and it was fun. JN and his competitive BBQing, HH forgetting to take money with her to the shops, all memorable and such things added colour to the work we were doing.

Barn Parties: I had a notion that my colleagues were dangerous when drunk, leaving a trail of hotels that would not have us back – yet the Solution Centre did like to party, so I had the idea of a heady mixture of real ale, BBQ'd food, good music and an environment that they simply could not break – empty arable farm barns. All the barn needed was water and electric, and be away from other people (like in fields, where arable farm barns usually are). We had a number of Barn Parties, all well attended, most people got outrageously drunk, we camped on site, had a hearty full English fried breakfast in the morning and as the venue was typically “rural” there was very little to clear up afterwards. And farmers would have us back.

Hmmm, on reflection a lot of this wasn't actually work related, more about the Fun@Sun activities that used to go on in Sun, and since the dot bomb have all but ceased.

Travel: This career was lived on location in:

Bahrain, (excellent duty free at the airport)
Belgium, (good beer, lovely colleagues)
California, (spending the night sleeping under the stars in Death Valley, and waking up at 4am to go to Dante's Peek to watch the Sun rise was a peak experience)
China, (Beijing – an incredible place to visit, some truly talented people working in the Sun office there)
Colorado, (Visually stunning airport, many lovely colleagues)
Czech Republic, (Only place I've been threatened with physical violence when asking for a taxi receipt)
Finland, (Eat more fish, there's a limited supply, when it's gone it's gone, so help yourself to some more, here's a really big pile of it, go on, you know you want to)
France, (The Paris Peripherique on a Friday at 5pm on a motorbike is an experience to savour and survive)
Greece, (Lovely and crumbly)
Hawaii, (See above)
Iceland, (Beautiful, cold, dark, expensive, sulphurous, exciting off road adventures in a 53 seat coach, expensive, did I mention how expensive it was? Oh yes I did.)
India, (Excellent food and hospitality, lovely silks on MG Road, very clever colleagues, always got sick no matter how careful I was)
Ireland, (Fresh Guinness, a beautiful thing. Eating chinese take-away on the beach at Malahide in good company. Priceless.)
Italy, (Northern industrial towns in winter can be somewhat grim I think.)
Japan, (Winners of the “feed a foreigner something strange and watch the reaction” competition with a fish that was not actually quite dead at the time of eating).
Kasakhstan, (beautiful to look at, personal safety not assured, came closest so far to dying - in a car crash – somehow everyone missed crashing, I'm sure that physics was looking the other way. And too many guns. And beautiful beautiful women).
Massachusetts, (Would you like beef with that beef sir?)
Netherlands, (Flat and efficient. All they need to sort out is the position of the traffic lights at their intersections and all would be perfect.)
Nevada, (Only popped in for a short while, walked in one casino and out the other side – could not see the appeal...)
New York State, (Bagels, turnpikes and obfuscated roadsigns, a heady mix of brusqueness and efficency)
Norway, (Fish. See Finland)
Qatar, (The seafront has got to be one of the most beautiful of the Persian Gulf)
Singapore, (Everything works, great tailors, beautiful people, lovely weather, efficient rapid transport system)
Spain, (Tapas. What an excellent eating strategy.)
Switzerland, (Airport, Bankers, Airport – repeat)
UAE, (Spent a month there over Christmas being the Solution Centre in the '90s. Truly enjoyed the Suk and the sunsets).
UK, (All over, customers and offices)


Steve White – himself
Best manager in career – SU
Man with best hospitality in the world - RG
Best impression of a Dutchman - BS
Clever people in office – CG, TU, CK, MH
Men in canteen – MH, SS
Open All Hours – JF, PH
Man who most often saved me from redundancy – IW
Man who gave me the best breaks – JR, DP, IC
Man who showed me the real meaning of company car cleanliness when he suggested I clean my wheeltrims with a toothbrush like he did - WS
Lounge Lizard – LH
Man comatose in hotel room – DG
Driver of funniest road traffic accident – MT (Now before you reach for your “Dear BBC” notepaper there is no such thing as a funny road accident, except this one. I cannot tell the tale publically, those who were in the UK Solution Centre at the time will remember it as just a classic of it's genre. MT will probably sue me over even mentioning it. Or he might drive into a pond, you really cannot tell).
Driver of second funniest road traffic accident – DG (Again only funny because no-one was hurt, and getting an Astra 17ft up a lamppost on flat ground really is most impressive. As I drove into Watchmoor Park that fine dry morning and saw the litany of vehicular carnage only one thing crossed my mind... “That'll be one of ours”. And it was).
Reformed driver: TU
The Doctor – RH
Colleague who should have written a personal image improvement guide – Anita Selfe
Management who sound like Ricky Gervais in “The Office” – all of them.

A new colleague who has interviewed well and was not very good was telling NT and me about his hobbies in an idle moment office chat of the “getting to know you” kind of way. He said that he and his wife like Jazz Magazines and N pricked his ears up (being a musical Jazz fan) and said “I'm a great fan of jazz. What kind of jazz?”. “Pornographic” was the reply. Oh false floor open up and take me away. Until that moment I had no idea that Jazz Mag meant anything other than music. He did leave soon after.

I am going to have to name his name for this recollection. All was quiet late in the evening and a few of us were heads down when a colleague on the other side of the partition answered the phone. It would be like the 40th time that day that he'd answered the phone and was not quite as clear as maybe the first occasion. His real name was Jon Peacock, and from that day we knew him as if his first name started with a D and his second name with a K.

There were a host of other outtakes – I just can't recall them now.

Directed by: IC, JE, DG, DP, JR, SU
Produced by – Scott McNealy

This has been a Steve White production for Sun Microsystems.

The sequel will shortly begin with Kepner-Tregoe. swhite at kepner-tregoe dot com.

sdw0: transmission stopped.




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