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Career Story: Director Of Development For A Software Company

Director Of Development For A Software Company

Job Title: Director Of Technology (Software Development)

Type of Company: My company makes and sells computer software for insurance companies.

Education: BS, Nuclear Engineering •• MS, Energy Engineering

Previous Experience: I started work in nuclear engineering jobs. They typically required extensive development of custom-designed computer programs. This eventually led to opportunities in software development.

Job Tasks: As Director of Technology at a software company I am responsible for the "Technical Architecture" of our major product. Let's start with what that means. The product is a computer program, or actually several programs rolled into one that all work together. It's used by large insurance companies to help them manage their business. Buying our product is a significant investment, even for insurance companies, and buying and installing it can cost several million dollars. However, it's also a key component of their business. And can easily use it to process many millions of dollars of insurance, sometimes over a billion.

Building and maintaining large software systems shares lot of similarities with building houses, bridges, or just about anything. "Architecture" in software is exactly what it sounds like - making sure there is a proper foundation, that the pipes are big enough to carry what's needed (in this case information rather than water), etc. There is one big difference between software designs and building designs: software is constantly evolving to meet changing needs.

I manage a team of some of the top programmers in the company who do this work. On a daily basis we get together to discuss the things that go into improving our product. We also do a bit of detective work trying to fix some of the more complicated bugs in the product. These discussions result in someone on the team doing some programming to add a feature or fix the problem.

I'm very fortunate to have a hand in some of the technical stuff, even now, alongside my management responsibilities. It's rare for software managers to get that opportunity.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is being able to be part of the design of software. Think of designing a house, or putting together a puzzle. Also, finding problems can be fun, similar to detective work.

The worst part of my job is doing some of the mundane functions that management in corporate America is saddled with: reviewing time sheets, going to what are sometimes pointless meetings, etc. Next to that would be the high pressure situations we as a software company sometimes run into: meeting the deadline, for example, for a customer's requested critical change.

Job Tips: Software can be really fun, but there are some things to think about before starting. The software business is going through many changes, and "outsourcing" is one of them. In software, outsourcing typically means sending programmer jobs overseas where labor is cheaper. This may result in fewer domestic software jobs. However, it may also provide opportunities. Before committing to software as a career I would strongly advise that you look to understand what impact outsourcing may have on your future.

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