Careers: Interviews
Terry Linkletter: Coach for Microsoft Information Technology, Board Director for the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., ITCP, MVP, DF/NPA, CNP has an exclusive interview with Terry Linkletter.

Terry LinkletterTerry Linkletter has served as Senior Software Quality Assurance Manager for Microsoft's Business Group Center of Excellence. In this capacity he drove SQA program elements for development and post-production enhancement across three service areas - tools for product management and pricing; tools for product releasing, protection, and delivery; and tools and services for product activation and validation, including support for Genuine Advantage and Anytime Upgrade. He currently coaches software engineering teams in quantitative methods for improving software quality and effort estimates.

Overall, Terry has twenty years of senior management experience in software engineering and quality assurance, including creation of QA departments for three firms plus extensive teaching experience in colleges and universities in the US and globally. His many significant contributions include leading process and product improvement efforts for a variety of operations by applying analysis and design principles, recruiting and cross-training talent for project teams. Terry is a Certified Software Quality Engineer, Certified Quality Manager, Certified Quality Auditor, and a Certified Computing Professional.

He also lends his considerable expertise and long history of success as Corporate Director on the board of the Chicago-based Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals, as appointed by the President of the Association for Computing Machinery; member of the Education Council of the Association for Computing Machinery, as appointed by the Chair of the ACM Education Board.

Other notable achievements span a diverse skill set:

  • National Merit Scholar at Stanford
  • National Honor Society Scholarship
  • Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America
  • Served as Scoutmaster, Troop 334 (received District Award of Merit)
  • Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia/Ecuador
  • Avid hiker, sailor
  • Served as Director of Certification, Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (received Distinguished Service award)
  • Administrative Lt. Governor, District 32, Toastmasters International (received Officer of the Year award)

Terry received his BS in Statistics from Stanford and his MS in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin. His graduate studies also involved Masters in Software Engineering studies at Seattle University.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:48: Terry shares the catalysts that led him into computing.

:01:58: Can you profile your current role at Microsoft?
"....I think I've got the best job in the world. I get to work with some very brilliant people and give them some pointers (thorough and well documented) on how they can make their estimates of what it will take them to complete a given project and end up with better software quality...."

:02:35: Please share your insights into the computing profession in the 1970s and 1980s.
"....The world had gone from a very strong central organization to a very diverse and freedom-based market - which has shown itself to finally come together now where the computers are working in synchronicity through the cloud to the point where we are now ending up with standards that work worldwide...."

:05:13: Terry comments on how software engineering has developed in the practitioners' world.
"....It's been quite a development process as we've gone from not really having an engineering discipline to real software engineering where we are building with reusable parts....Before we were developing for 'a' computer which might get upgraded over time. But now we have computers that will run your software everywhere and it is much less important where it runs than the job it will do for people....We can think of the computer as almost being insignificant whereas before it was the center...."

:09:30: What are differences between information technology organizations and developing software for sale?
"....It does make a huge difference to know who your end user is directly versus developing software that will be empowering a whole class of users....In the first case you tend to develop something that is more specific to their needs or that offers the ability for that end user to change their experience within certain restrictions. In the latter case.... you want to make sure you are giving your end users something that is very empowering and that they can tailor it easily to the way they work. This is much more challenging to me, you have to do your market research upfront to understand the way a whole class of users works and then apply that to the generality of the system you are delivering...."

:10:46:  Please define the half-life of useful computing knowledge.
"....Some information is almost immediately useless after you've learned it. Other information is much more persistent....You really have to stay on top of your learning...."

:12:34: What are the differences between working at big companies and at internet startups?
"....[In a big company] Overall the experience is one of really strong community but participating to the level that your particular situation lets you....At a small company you have another offsetting benefit. You get to help make the directional decision that really affects how that company will do in the marketplace...."

:14:21: Will careers in "computing" disappear?
"....You see new specializations of our profession appearing all the time....There are so many disciplines even within computing now for computer engineering, information systems, software engineering as well as computer science and data administration...."

:15:50: Increasingly there is attention being given to IT as a profession with recognized professional certification, adherence to a code of ethics, demonstrated professional development, alignment with a body of knowledge and best practices. These concepts are encapsulated in IT Professionalism. Can you share your views on IT Professionalism?
"....I think you have captured what it means to have a true profession. I would also add the recertification as well as the professional certification which keeps the community of professionals on tap with the latest knowledge...Now in 2009 there is a movement that is finally coming to a practical introduction of worldwide certification. This is the right direction for our profession. The International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) has their International Professional Practice Partnership (IP3) program which has already set up programs. Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) and Australian Computer Society are in the process right now of finalizing....Also a member is the IEEE Computing Society. We will be seeing around the world a common means of recognition of the members of our profession which will encourage all of us to continually keep up-to-date...."

:19:33: If you could sum up your life experiences with career tips for the ICT professional, what would be your tips and the reasons behind them?
"....It's not like chess, it is almost always much more a team sport where you have people who are specialists in various arenas working together to solve a problem that will really help a lot of people....It's important not to get stuck in a particular position. It's advisable that people continually analyze where they would most like to work....I'd also recommend that people join a professional association. Find the one that's appropriate for you and meet with other professionals regularly...."

[DISCLAIMER: Mr. Linkletter�s views as expressed here are strictly his own, and do not represent the views of Microsoft Corporation or the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals.]


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