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Internet Interview: ‘Reformed’ scientist goes tech

A brief explanation of your company and where it sits in the corporate landscape:

We're a large medical complex incorporating a major hospital, medical, graduate and nursing schools, and advanced research facilities.

Job last held in Perth and when you left it:

I never had a full-time job in Perth, apart from preventing my couch from floating away during the gap between  graduating from university and leaving for graduate school in New York. I passed some of the time doing volunteer work teaching computers to primary school children.

What is your current role:

I’m the assistant director of educational computing.

What other roles do you play in your industry or local business community:

Outside of work hours I do freelance web design and desktop publishing. Occasionally I draw very bad cartoons.

Explain how you got this particular job:

I was a starving graduate student in molecular biology. To supplement my income I took a job running the student computer lab and providing tech support. This was around the time that the Internet was starting to capture the public imagination. I had become disillusioned with research science. Fortunately my now boss, also a reformed scientist, approached me with a proposition to help him start a brand new department allowing us to take advantage of our scientific and computing skills by providing online medical resources to the institution. In the early years, it was just the two of us. Since then, our work force has increased to a whopping four people.

Outline your office culture:

The hours are the best part of my job. My employers prefer that I work a late schedule in case any students or faculty have tech support problems after regular business hours. I get to roll in at the crack of noon and leave at 8pm. No cold showers in the morning, no rush hour on the subway. My co-workers are good blokes. Like me, they are scientists who defected to the computer industry (geeks squared). The working environment is relaxed and almost completely free of petty bureaucracy, but there is plenty to do. The four of us have to develop teaching resources and provide tech support for the students, staff and faculty of four colleges.

How much commuting do you do:

About 20 minutes each way on the New York subway system. It’s not as bad as you’ve heard.

Does your job involve travel, if so how much, where to and to what purpose:

Occasionally I have to go to conferences. Once I got to spend three days in LA attending a neuroscience forum. If a conference is being held in Vancouver during ski season, my boss takes one for the team.

How well did your work in Perth equip you for your current job:

I didn’t expect to get into computing professionally, but teaching them to school kids helped me.

Can you see yourself returning to Perth, if so how long and under what circumstances:

Not until the tech industry bounces back, as I'm certain it will eventually. The market is still flooded with shell-shocked web designers and programmers who flip burgers by day and cry themselves to sleep on massive piles of worthless tech stocks by night. Still, even after 10 years abroad I miss Perth and still consider it my proper home.

What is your email address: brett@trivox.com

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