Inspiration: Jacqueline Guichelaar

Distracted while purging my desk for a move to a new spot in the office, I found myself flicking through an old copy of Computer Weekly. I came across this story about Jacqueline Guichelaar which describes how she went from being a computer tape operator in 1989 to becoming Chief Technology Officer of Enterprise Services for Deutsche Bank UK in 2007. This caught my attention as I too started my IT career as a computer tape operator in 1989!

It would seem from this article that Guichelaar started her first job from high school and although I don’t know whether it will still be possible to work your way to ‘C’ level without a degree in todays employment market – I really think this is a great story for anyone embarking on an IT career, however humble it’s beginnings. As this excerpt from the article says:

[It’s 1990] Jacqueline Guichelaar, who joined the company only a few months earlier straight from high school, is keeping the show on the road. She had been hired by financial services company AMP as a tape operator, about as humble as it got in the IT world in those far-off days. But she is sure as hell determined that she is not going to remain a tape operator.

My IT career started as a public servant working for the Metropolitan Police Service in London, like Guichelaar I was loading tapes and sorting printouts and also like her I decided to improve my lot by learning on the job.

In Guichelaar’s case, this took her to a role at IBM, where the article states she attended over 50 training courses! In my case, it got me on a project where IBM were the primary contractor and access to some AIX UNIX training and the skills to take me into my first role out of the civil service and into a commercial software business (Manugistics – now JBA).

The parallels stop there as Guichelaar spends 7 years at IBM, emerging as an account executive, moves to CSC, Germany and then back to Australia with the Australian National Bank – which according to the article was her dream job – until last year when she was headhunted by Deutsche Bank.

I am wildly summarising here, I think it’s a great story and of course it touches on the difficulties she faced as a woman in our male dominated industry. So, I recommend to take a look at the original article here.

The computer room image is courtesy of Wikipedia public domain license and is from Albany State University – the original is here.

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