My Love for Technology: Todd Sims, CIO
Recently while channel surfing, I came across the movie Brown Sugar and began to watch it. The movie asks the question, “When did you first fall in love with hip hop?” I began to remember songs that connected to my past and where I was or who I was with at the time. We all have had these experiences with people, music etc. As the day went on, I began to ponder when I first fell in love with technology.
I remember when I first met my best friend playing football in fifth grade. We bonded over the desire for competition. He invited me over to his house to play games and as we walked up the steps, I couldn’t help but ask “What is that?” In that moment, I was introduced to the Apple II computer. His father was a chemical engineer and used it for work. We were kids and used it to play games. Do you remember the basketball game Dr. J vs. Larry Bird? You may not if you didn’t have a computer in your household. At that time, most people didn’t even know what a computer was, but there I was playing games on one. I spent a lot of time in that house competing with my best friend. Unbeknownst to me, I was watching the computer evolution unfold right before my eyes. His father replaced the computer every few years. I remember when the 10mb hard drive replaced the dual floppy disks on the IBM PC. It felt like I had just walked on water. I did not have to cycle through multiple 5 ¼ floppy disks to play a game. That was truly amazing.
My attraction to technology continued into my senior year of high school. A basic programming computer class was added to the curriculum for the first time. I walked into the class not knowing what I wanted to do the rest of my life. I finished the class knowing that my career would involve computers.
After that first class in high school, I decided to major in Computer Science. I realized quickly that I did not want to be a programmer. Sure, it was fun, but this was before the Internet boom and mobile apps. Programming wasn’t the answer to my question. I wanted to know where the information went when it left a computer. I wanted to get into computer networking.
I remember spending the next three years trying to figure out how to get into networking. Networking wasn’t a course you could take in school. There wasn’t a Networking for Dummies book to read. I tried to get a computer job at every mom-and-pop shop in my hometown but was routinely denied. Thankfully, a friend notified me of an open computer technical assistant position. I interviewed and got the job. Okay, I had to accept that I would get paid less than minimum wage for a few months. Ahh, the art of negotiating… I would have worked for free.
My first day as a computer technical assistant would change my life in regards to my career. My manager asked, “I know we hired you as an assistant, but what do you want to do?” When I answered, “Networking.” he smiled and said, “Well, that’s what I do.” I followed him into a room full of networking equipment and he began to teach me where the information goes when it leaves your computer. He would go on to teach me many things that have helped me move through different stages of my career. The one thing I probably cherish the most is that he taught me what an open-door policy is. He answered all my questions even when I asked them multiple times. He really wanted to listen and help me. He taught me so well that I eventually took his position when he moved to another state.
I remember when my father bought me a computer that was built by a guy he knew. I was the proud owner of my very first computer. I also remember my first trade. I traded my 80mb hard drive for a 440mb removeable hard drive. I was restricted to only 40mb but now I had 11 of them.
I remember all the people that have helped me throughout my career. The programmer that helped me remember how to program, the partner that started a consulting business with me, the people that thought enough of me to recommend me for other jobs, the people that listen to me babble about technology and of course the people that have reported to me and the people I have reported to. I even remember the people that told me I would never be or I could not do… Love conquers all.
This is year two for me at Ameriflight and as each day passes more memories are forming and I am sure I will remember them as well. We face many challenges and are working hard to overcome each one of them. The future is bright.
My love for technology has taken me further than I could have ever imagined. I think you can make a case that my career has seemed somewhat orchestrated. My love for technology has allowed me to share experiences with people that I would have never met. These experiences have allowed me to see the best in people regardless of race, class or generation. As time passes, it gets harder to remember the accomplishments but I will never forget the people.
So, I ask you, when did you first fall in love with technology?
Chief Information Officer of Ameriflight