DARREN SURCH
COO

Company—
Interskill Learning

Years in IT—

25

My Unusual Mainframe Job—
Mine has been different than the typical mainframe story. I was working as a mainframe application development programmer in 1990 when the head of a mainframe training college approached me and asked me if I would be interested in working with some of the brightest mainframe subject matter experts (SMEs) in the industry to develop an exciting new type of training called Computer Based Training (CBT).

So my unusual mainframe job began, extracting knowledge and experience from the amazing minds of these SMEs and using (then) state-of-the-art authoring packages and graphics packages to design CBT. These SMEs were some of the smartest people I had ever met and as well as learning so much from them technically, I also learned a lot about the mainframe culture and the love we all have for these incredible machines.

Back in those pre-Internet days we would visit our new clients at their data centers around the country and install this mainframe CBT on their standalone IBM PS2 PCs using a 3-foot high stack of floppy disks, slowly inserting one, after another, after another. Now, decades later in the Internet age, e-learning is accessed instantly on laptops and tablets and smartphones, day or night, from anywhere in the world. We can enable comprehensive mainframe training programs with thousands of hours of mainframe training to entire mainframe workforces in a day. How things have changed!

This has not been the typical mainframe job, I grant you, but one that has given me an amazing overview of this vital industry and of its many and varied and always exceptional people. I am proud to say that I am a mainframer!

My favorite mainframe attribute—
As mentioned above, my favorite part about this industry is the mainframe culture. The global brotherhood of people who speak the same strange, technical language and work on these ever-changing, ever more powerful machines that enable the running of countries and global business. I am glad to have been a part of this culture for so long and am proud to be doing my part to train the zNextGeneration to help insure the mainframe’s future.
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