Technology advancements seem to happen overnight, but behind the media reports about innovations are the technologists and engineers who progressively modify and improve programs, services, and more. From those who developed relational databases and FORTRAN to those who helped put the first man on the moon, IBM Fellows have been behind the scenes doing what they love and making sure new innovations are available to the wider world for decades. IBM Fellow Rosalind Radcliffe, IBM's DevSecOps chief technology officer, is the latest technologist to be recognized for her contributions and she shared with us some of her goals, advice, and what being an IBM Fellow means to her.
During a scheduled call with IBM CIO Kathryn Guarini regarding ongoing work, Jim Kavanaugh, senior vice president and chief financial officer at IBM, joined to tell Radcliffe that she was being honored as an IBM Fellow. "I had the feeling of absolute excitement and pride that I, in fact, would be named IBM Fellow. It was wonderful feeling to be recognized for the accomplishments and the possibility of new responsibilities," she said. "After the call, I walked out of my office to tell my husband, and within days had told my family."
While she had to wait until after the official announcement to have a big celebration, the honor had barely sunk in when she went to IBM's headquarters in Armonk, New York, to receive the actual appointment. At a dinner with IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna, Radcliffe spoke for the first time as part of a set of recordings and said into the camera, "I am an IBM Fellow." She added, "That’s when it really started to sink in. I am still waiting to really celebrate until I can be with my entire family, but I have had a number of occasions with team members that have been great events."
Reflect on Achievement but Continue Striving
Through years of persistence, Radcliffe strove to make z/OS "DevOpsable," bringing standard open-source tools and capabilities to the platform while ensuring the z/OS foundation allows for transformation. "This required working with the industry, as well as within IBM, to make critical changes, add support for the additional platform, and obtain consensus in the industry that this was possible," she explained.
Radcliffe didn't stop there. "I also helped many of IBM's largest clients in their transformation, enabling them to gain the value of the transformation for their critical systems of record," she said. "Prior to this work, I had designed and delivered IBM's service oriented architecture (SOA) management strategy. Even farther back, I helped create the industry standard for user interfaces that standardized the common things, such as ctrl+c, ctrl+v." She added that she also holds a number of patents and is a master inventor, "which means not only that I have patents of my own, but I also work with others to patent their work and work with the patenting process to review other possible patents."
Radcliffe's accomplishments don't end there. Just last year, her book, “Enterprise Bug Busting: From Testing Through CI/CD to Deliver Business Results”, was published by Accelerated Strategies Press. After attending conferences, presenting her work, and explaining DevOps transformation one-on-one, Radcliffe wanted to expand her reach. "I wanted to publish the book to tell the stories to a larger audience to help all clients in the industry learn from the experiences of others," she said. "I included as much of the best practices and advice as I could to help organizations with z Systems, people who knew the value of the system, and people who may not understand z/OS to give them the background and perspective they need to succeed."
Lead as an IBM Fellow
Becoming an IBM Fellow is an honor, and Radcliffe said it had been a long-time goal for her. "It is a recognition for significant accomplishments, but also an expectation of more to come," she pointed out. "One reason I was particularly interested in reaching Fellow was to be a role model for others." Radcliffe added, "It is critically important to our industry that we have diversity, and to do that, we have to have role models who demonstrate that various ways to work through your career." She opined, "You can do whatever you want if you set your mind to it." She adds, "My major career goal at this point is to grow talent, bringing others up in their careers to grow the next generation of technical leaders."
Another goal she's set is to bring consistency across the platforms and bring infrastructure as code to the z/OS environment. "We will be working with IBM to help improve our product capabilities as 'client 0' for our products," she explained. "IBM internal is a large enterprise, by being 'client 0,' we can help drive product improvements and provide a demonstration showcase for the capabilities. We also will share our practices with clients. Removing the differences that don’t matter when working with z/OS will make bringing new talent to the platform easier."
Share Your Expertise
For those just starting in their careers or those who are mid-career, Radcliffe advised, "You can do whatever you want. If you do the work, you can make it. But make sure it’s going to be something you want to do and enjoy doing." She added, "I chose the path I did because I love leading the technical direction for large organizations, and I'm OK knowing that teams are building the solutions, and I can’t be hands-on for everything." While she might not get her hands into everything, she does make sure that the experience works for each client.
Radcliffe recommended that mainframe engineers and others grow their network because it will help them learn, and it opens up new opportunities. "SHARE is where I got my start working with clients and had the opportunity to develop my presentation skills. It was the place I grew my client network, and it provided a continuous learning experience," she said. "SHARE has been part of my career growth. Volunteering for SHARE helps you gain experiences in a safe environment if you aren’t working in the community to start, and it will give you opportunities you never could imagine."
Becoming an IBM Fellow isn't a capstone, it's a call to celebrate your achievements and pinpoint what other goals you may have to further advance technology. Like Radcliffe, mainframe careers can reach great professional heights with the help of mentors, the community, and by giving back.