Self-proclaimed geek: Sci-fi, LEGO and a lifetime of programming.
As CMiC’s longest tenured employee, Jim is a true jack of all trades at the organization. From mowing the company lawn to being involved in almost every aspect of CMiC’s design, he is the friendly keeper of CMiC legend and lore. His office door is open for your programming questions or for a quick company history lesson!
When did you join CMiC and why?
I joined on June 1, 1980, back when the company was known as ‘Computer Methods.’ I was a student looking for my first real summer job. I didn’t want a job lifting heavy objects all day, so I leaned on the fact I had been programming my high school’s Commodore PET computers for two years. I saw ‘Computer’ in CMiC’s company name and arranged a meeting directly with the owner, Allen Berg. I was lucky that he took a chance on me, even though I was still in Grade 11. To test my commitment, he had me mow the office lawn on Friday mornings.
After proving myself, the programming manager got me to rewrite the Accounts Receivable module on the IBM 5110. I think it was a throwaway project that he never expected anything from, but after 5 weeks, Allen asked me to stop mowing on Fridays to strictly focus on programming. By the end of the summer, I was invited to work part-time while finishing up my Grade 12 year.
I’ve been working 40-hours a week since graduating.
What is your role at CMiC?
I work on projects with clients regarding application design or reporting for internal research and development. I’m often called in to help with urgent issues or to verify CMiC myths because I’m the longest tenured employee.
If we are getting technical, over the years, I have also been involved in database design, Oracle reports, Oracle forms, job billing, data conversion, imaging, workflow, Jaspersoft iReports conversion, customer upgrades, custom client work, business intelligence…and the list goes on.
How has your role and the company evolved during your time here?
I was hired as a junior programmer and worked my way up to managing groups and projects today.
The biggest change I’ve seen at CMiC is how much we’ve grown. We started as a small company where we knew everyone by name. Today, we are growing so rapidly, it’s impossible to keep track of every new employee—and that’s just in the programming department! In that department alone, I joined when it was only 35 programmers… today it’s over 100!
Share with me your best CMiC memory.
This starts off as a sad story, but it becomes uplifting, so bear with me:
On September 11, 2001, we hosted our American clients in Toronto for our annual CONNECT User Conference. After the news about the attacks in New York City was known, CONNECT was cancelled. Many of our American clients were unable to return home, as all flights to the United States were grounded. CMiC employees jumped in to help attendees get in contact with their friends and family, find accommodations and transportation, and in some cases, drive them to the Buffalo border to get them home.
Although the event was tragic, we saw the strength of the community our clients and CMiC have created that day.
Where is the best lunch spot?
In the beginning, there were a dearth of places to eat.
But over time, many great spots have come and gone. My favorite (a long time ago) was an Italian lunch spot called “Amici” that was just across the street from the office. They had the best salads and veal sandwiches—it’s too bad they closed.
What do you listen to on your morning commute?
I like to listen to CBC 99.1 for my update on what is happening here and around the world.
Go-to CMiC office snack?
Coffee. It is the perfect conduit of cream and sugar.
What is your favourite part of the day?
First thing in the morning. I normally get more done without distraction then.
What is your favourite programming language?
I like SQL for its elegance at retrieving data logically. I also like PL/SQL for its formal definition (based on ADA) and its seamless integration with SQL.
What do you do to destress?
Enjoy life. Between my hobbies and my family, I let the stresses melt away for another day.
Any tips for someone looking to join the CMiC team?
My role has changed so much since 1980—so much so that it seems like I’m starting a new job every 2 to 4 years. With that being said, if you are interested in a career here long term, be willing to learn. Read up on new technologies that CMiC is using (or should consider) and learn about the myriad of CMiC applications. The more you learn, the more you can expand your footprint and earn more responsibility.