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Author: Ryan Headley
Currently a Salesforce Certified Developer and Salesforce MVP with Radial Web, Inc.
Where it all began:
I never wanted to do this for a living, I’ve always wanted to be…a lumberjack musician!
Clearly that didn’t work out for me — at what seems to me like the absolute last minute, I changed my major from Music to Computer Science and Engineering in the hopes actually being able to make money. I was lured by the green. However, it introduced to my second love — technology. I got a rather generous job offer my sophomore year of college, took it and never looked back.
My first I.T. job found me doing PC support in the Engineering department for Monroe Auto Equipment. It was there that I learned the art of troubleshooting, and to never leave someone’s desk without showing them what I fixed and how I fixed it. Somehow, that got the attention of the I.T. department upstairs and when my paid internship with the engineering department had ended, the helpdesk picked me up the next day and it was there that I slurped up every last bit of knowledge that I could.
At that time I was more hardware/server focused. I was always told I had a knack for troubleshooting issues and I loved doing it. Fast forward a few years and Monroe’s parent company Tenneco Automotive announced that it’d be building a data center in conjunction with Pactiv (then known as Tenneco Packaging). That was my first taste of corporate fear, jobs were being cut, relocated to Chicago, etc. I interviewed for a position with the helpdesk there out of fear for my job — thankfully, I was turned down.
Instead, their LAN support group hired me and brought me on board their team where I did mainly Novell and NT server support with some Unix mixed in for good measure. I spent many a night in hotels out in the middle of nowhere in the days leading up to Y2K, ate at fine restaurants and got to see a large portion of the country on the company dime. I thought it was pretty nice living for a young midwestern punk like me form small town America…
Shortly after Y2K and completely burned out, I found myself moving to Madison, WI with my wife (whom I met at Tenneco). We both did a short stint at the local Compuware office where I spent most of my time getting farmed out to various helpdesks across the city. I could feel my career stagnating so I decided to teach myself to program. I picked up Java. Eventually, one of my clients made me an offer to work for them full time on their helpdesk and I took the chance in hopes that I could work my way into a development position — which ultimately happened but it was a VB environment, and I being the Open Source, Linux advocate did not fit in well at all. Luckily, their IT department was part of a union and since I was one of the last in, I was the first to go when it came time for cuts (my second run in with Corporate America). I found myself actually excited the day I got the news that I would have to be let go because I already had an idea of what I wanted to do and the type of company I wanted to work for.
I started working with “The Isthmus Group” in March of 2003 and spent the next 10 years of my career honing my skills, learning new ones and helping create a culture among developers there that I really enjoyed. There was one small merger and then a complete rebranding to Flexion, Inc. In that time I learned PHP, Python, Ruby and various web frameworks that go with each. I spent a very long time maintaining one of our largest clients and seeing them through a few very technologically trying times. It was very hard to leave but I once again began feeling the pains of stagnation. I began to search for a new home when a former employee and colleague of mine from the Isthmus Group days contacted me about doing Salesforce consulting. It just so happens that this person was pretty much the one single person that could have pulled me from Flexion — and he did.
So here we are — just shy of 9 months later and I’ve become a Certified Salesforce Developer for Radial Web, Inc. I’m learning new things everyday, working with some very interesting clients, and I still have that small company feel that I’ve loved over the past 10 years. I have my complaints about the technology itself, but all tech falls short somewhere (even my beloved Python/Django stack), but that is another story.
My quest now is to become what they call a Salesforce MVP — I don’t know why but I feel I want that honor so we’ll see if I can get there. I’ve never been much of a blogger and my social network interactions have rarely been something one would consider “professional” but its worth a shot :)
….At least until I get a recording contract….