RETIRED!

Yesterday, Friday December 5, 2014 was my last day of work. I cut back to 1/2 time a couple of years ago but yesterday I completely cut the line. It’s exciting but a little scary too. I’ve been working and/or going to school since 1974 when I got my first real job. Even though we’ve planned carefully for this and know we will be okay, knowing there is no paycheck in two weeks definitely has me focused.

For the past 30 years I’ve worked on IT systems in educational environments: Beaverton School District, Portland Community College, Portland State University, San Mateo Community College (and others during a 3 year consulting stint), and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) for the past 15 years. I moved back and forth between technical and leadership positions in those places. I am so proud to say say I worked at OHSU; it was by far the largest institution I ever worked at. It serves three distinct but related missions of education, health care and research. There are hundreds of people in the IT department there supporting the missions and the core infrastructure. The people there are all so smart and creative and driven to build the best possible systems.

I’ve been blessed by having a number of supportive bosses over the years. (In the few cases where I didn’t care for the environment or management, I simply left as quickly as possible.) Jose Untalan at Tektronix allowed me to follow my budding passion for programming and created a position for me in his group. He was a model for how to manage a group by being firm but supportive. He was a retired CPO and he gave me a number of fun managerial maxims such as “If I can’t make them see the light, I can make them feel the heat.” Ray Grant gave me a chance at PCC when I wanted to learn how to program in an Oracle database environment. He too, supported my growth and has become a good friend. Marie Steelman and Bridget Barnes at OHSU brought me on board first as a consultant then as an employee to be the technical lead for academic applications. Marie was my director and always helped me keep my focus on what is good for the entire institution, not just my group or a single customer. She was a real rock for me.

For the past 15 years I worked with some awesome coworkers. As time progressed and I became a manager I slowly learned that I didn’t have to have all the answers or watch over every detail; my awesome staff and colleagues in other groups were completely capable of doing their jobs and just needed me to support them and run interference. I channeled my inner Jose, Ray, Bridget and Marie to do that. We had (and they still have) a highly functional, self-directed group that has fun while getting the work of OHSU done. Bernadette, whom I’ve worked with for 20 years is taking over management of theteam so I know they are in good hands. It’s hard to vent when you are a manager; you certainly can’t complain to your staff as it will just add to their stress. My fellow manager, and friend, Kara served as a wonderful sounding board when I wondered if I was crazy (she sometimes agreed that yes, I am crazy.

My view and feelings on retirement will change but my word of the day is “liberating”. Even though I loved my job and the people I worked with, I was still tuned in to events on weekends and my days off. I’d be thinking about projects and occasionally texting members of my staff when problems arose during off hours.  I’d also have to plan my weekends to make sure I got all the important things done before the work week – and yes I still had to do that even when I worked shortened work weeks. Now I’m working on tuning to a different station. We went downtown today to visit some friends in from Boise. We had lunch and they were going to head out shopping. Normally, I’d be thinking how I have chores to do that have to be done by the end of the weekend. But today we could say “sure, let’s go!”. I have all the time I need to get things done and follow my passions. This really is lightening, liberating feeling.

So, while I miss my work mates and work place; I don’t miss working.

Stay beautiful.

About howardwthompson

I'm a person who likes to travel, read, cook, and eat
This entry was posted in Personal and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to RETIRED!

  1. Mike Fletcher says:

    Howard – for all those years you have given to IT, it is time for you to enjoy your rewards. Your write-up is wonderful but the part it misses is what you have passed on to many of us. I first encountered you at a SUMMIT, I am pretty sure, and not long after that meeting you came to work at PSU as my director. Although PSU was not your favorite gig, you passed along to me patience and a love for IT work and doing it right the first time. After 8 months of harsh politics at PSU, you left and I continued my growth. I thrived at PSU for many years and once I felt the ship listing there, I put an email out just to see what kind of positions might be open at my fellow colleagues Universities. I recall getting an email from you with words in it like, “.. you would really leave PSU?..”. I believe my come back was that I would be a fool not to look at other opportunities that might be out there. I believe a month later you followed up with a lunch that we spoke about what your plans were with your BANNER team at OHSU and what you saw me doing their. I think three months later you offered me a job at OHSU, not setting up degree audit like we thought but setting up a ODS for the BANNER system, and I took it. I worked under your guidance for 6 years and during that time you taught me the ways of OHSU and not to take a hold of those things I have no control over. As you were starting to wine down your career here, we spoke again about a possible opportunity coming down the pike but it would require me to leave your team and join a new one at OHSU. I believe together we figured out that the move would benefit me as I continue to grow at OHSU and help build a relationship between the new BIMD team and the BANNER team. I have grown in many ways because of you and will always appreciate your guidance you provided. Although the shop is quieter without you around, your legacy will live on here at OHSU for many years. I too will eventually end up at my retirement age and I hope I leave behind a similar legacy as you have. Enjoy your retirement you deserve it and I will contact you for a bowling day soon.

    • Thanks for the wonderful comment Fletch! It’s so nice to hear. I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by all the kind words I’ve received in the past month; it’s so nice to learn about the positive impact I’ve had
      Let’s do lunch some time!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s