Ever wonder about what the various mainframe job roles are? Not sure whom to ask? Well, look no further — this new video series brings in professionals to tell you all about their mainframe jobs, what brought them to mainframes, what they love about it, and more!
In this video, we chat with Jenay Marbury-Miller, a Software Development Manager at IBM.
What is a development manager?
Jenay: A software development manager is a servant leader. Our core responsibility is to provide the development team with anything that they need to be successful in delivering features that make the most difference to our end users.
What made you to become a mainframer?
Jenay: I started with IBM right out of college. I came into the mainframe organization and I started in service. Being a service team member gave me direct communications with customers and understanding how the mainframe technology really pushed their businesses. The reality is, it pushes the needs of the whole economic world system. And that’s really big, to be on the technology that makes the difference in healthcare, makes the difference in the military, education, banking — just all those major industries. It’s pretty significant, and that’s why I stay with mainframe.
What do you like most about your job?
Jenay: For me, the biggest value in doing what I do is making the difference for my team. I am able to challenge them to get them to think more out of the box and to stretch them, so they realize they’re able to do more than they originally thought they could do. But the biggest value is to see them really put together career paths and execute that path so that they’re realizing their goals and dreams.
What does a typical day look like for a development manager?
Jenay: I usually come in first and I make sure I look at my calendar. Looking at my calendar first thing in the day is critically important, so I don’t forget things. It’s all there on my calendar and it helps me organize just what my next steps will be. Next, I scan my email for the most important things for me to know, or responses to questions I may have sent out, or things I may need to reply to right away or soon within the day. Once I finish those tasks, then I start to just tap into what’s going on with my team, just getting up and saying “Hello, is there anything you need help with?” Or just being there to let them know that I have their back. The rest of the day is just carrying out responsibilities that I’ve kind of lined up from those initial morning tasks. That’s typically my day.
How do you explain your job to friends and family that don’t have a background in IT?
Jenay: It’s not difficult, explaining to friends and family what I do as a manager. They pretty much get okay. You’re a manager, so you lead a team. But, what they don’t always understand, is: as a manager, I am not the boss. Actually, I’m the servant. My key role is to be a servant leader, helping my team mitigate any problems that they’re facing, challenging them to think outside the box, and most importantly just representing them and letting them know that I have their back.
What would you choose: a group of extraordinary developers around the globe or an average team of developers in a single location?
Jenay: I would choose a group of extraordinary developers across the globe, hands down. And the reason is, when you get a group of extraordinary thinkers together, what they create is out of this world. Being in separate locations is not that big of a hurdle to overcome when you’re passionate about what they’re doing, they’re passionate about being on the team, working together, and most importantly they’re passionate about creating a solution that transforms our world.
Do you prefer to hire experts with deep knowledge and a single space or developers with broad expertise?
Jenay: Honestly, we need both. We need a well balanced team, and that means having persons who have expertise that is deep, but also having team members that have more broad knowledge. Together, they fill in the gaps for each other, and that’s how we have a more wholesome team.
What methodologies does your team use?
Jenay: Our team uses scrum development or agile development. We are an agile development organization. That means we work and we call sprints. A sprint is a short timeframe of a focused time to get work done, with the clear beginning date and the end date, and very short iterations. And then, we’ll repeat that process over and over again, learning from each sprint what went well, what didn’t go well, and also how much work we’re able to contain within a sprint.
How do you keep your team motivated and productive?
Jenay: Challenging people is very important, especially as a manager. So, always asking questions and getting them to think out the box, also showing them that there’s lots of resources that are available to them to tap into. And most importantly, letting them know that as a manager you are there for them, and what they need and what they desire is important to you. Those things really keep individuals motivated to do the things that they know they need to do and want to do to be their best.
Where do you recruit new developers for your team?
Jenay: A lot of recruitment that I do for my team is from universities, but as an organization we are looking for top skills and talent, wherever it is. So a lot of it for me does come from universities and going on campus, doing career fairs, and things of that nature.
Is it possible to intern on a mainframe development team?
Jenay: Internship is very much possible and we do those every year seasonally, summer and winter. As well, we are always looking for individuals who are passionate about mainframe technology because of the impact that it has worldwide. We’re looking for individuals who not only are interested in mainframe, but want to jump in and take on a challenge of extending the impact of mainframe into the future.
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