What Steve Jobs and I Have in Common

There aren’t many things that I can claim to have in common with an icon like Steve Jobs.  I’m certainly not a billionaire, don’t run one of the most – if not the most – successful companies in history, and have not made any significant contributions to the landscape of computing and consumer electronics.

But like Steve recently did, I am leaving the company that has shaped my career and, in more ways than I would like to admit, helped me to grow and mature over the past fifteen years.

Unlike Steve, I did not resign for health reasons (the prevailing theory for his sudden departure), and I won’t maintain a place on my company’s Board of Directors (never had one anyway).  But like Steve, I have made some of the best friends of my career at Bosch Rexroth, and it is with a great measure of sadness that I’m leaving.

Fifteen years is a short tenure compared to Steve’s career, but Bosch Rexroth is the only company I’ve worked for since graduating college.  It’s the only corporate culture, organizational structure, and set of rules and expectations that I know.  Granted, the company has grown and evolved since I joined in 1996 (first Star Linear, then Deutsche Star, Mannesmann Rexroth, Acatec, and now Bosch Rexroth), but some things have remained the same, like the family atmosphere and the incredible spirit of teamwork, during both good and bad times.

My new company is smaller (relative to the enormity that is Bosch), more nimble in many ways, and still very entrepreneurial – qualities that are difficult to enable in a larger organization.  There are some things that I will miss very much about Bosch, and there are many things that I look forward to in my new venture.

To my Bosch Rexroth colleagues, it has been a true pleasure to work with you.  Thank you for making Bosch Rexroth a great organization.

September 5, 2011 at 9:41 pm 1 comment

Death of an hp

My hp calculator died today. Or, more accurately, it has been dying a slow death over the past few months, and seems to have finally kicked the bucket.

I’m pretty bummed because this isn’t just any calculator – it’s an hp 48S graphing calculator, circa 1990.

When the subject of graphing calculators came up in high school and all the other kids were getting TI’s, my dad insisted that I have an hp.

You see, my dad has an hp65, one of the original pocket calculators. He got it around 1974, while he was in college, and still uses it every week to balance the checkbook and plan the budget – he won’t use anything else. I was so young when he taught me to use RPN logic that I don’t remember it – I was probably still in the womb.

There are a couple of good websites for antique hp calculators – the hp museum, for example – where I can go to find out how to diagnose, disassemble, and fix my calculator. Normally, I wouldn’t tackle an electronics repair, but I just might try it this time.

There’s something about the unique orange and blue labels, forty-nine buttons, and brownish-gray case of my 48S that contrasts nicely with my sleek, naked, black iPhone. An icon of nerdiness side-by-side with an icon of hipness.

P.S. On a family trip to DC in the early ’90’s, we saw Dad’s exact calculator in the Smithsonian. Apparently, it was used on the Apollo spacecraft in 1975.

P.P.S. If you’ve never heard of RPN (Reverse Polish Notation) logic, check out hp’s explanation and tutorial. And yes, it really is called Reverse Polish Notation.

July 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm 3 comments

Really, what *am* I doing here?

Have you ever been in a situation where you looked around and said, “What the hell am I doing here? Seriously – what am I doing with these people, in this situation?”

As a rare female in the Industrial Automation world, this happens to me quite a bit. Either the effects of being the only female within a 10 mile radius are hitting me, or the people around me are so intoxicated by the corporate Kool-Aid that I can’t believe they’re not seeing/hearing/comprehending the situation the same way that I am.

I seem to have a pretty high immunity to corporate Kool-Aid. Maybe it’s a female thing. Some women, especially those with a technical slant, have the ability to balance the left-brained, purely analytical assesment of a situation with the right-brained, empathetic, “I want everyone to hold hands and get along” urge.

If you’re one of them, you should command a premium on your salary, because you will be one of the rare people who can make decisions and lead situations to an outcome that balances the good of the company with the good of the employees/customers/various other human stakeholders. And to be able to do that, you have to avoid the intoxicating effects of the Kool-Aid.

July 21, 2011 at 9:57 pm Leave a comment

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