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From Comic Books & Smartphone Games to the Cloud: One IBMer’s Path to a New Collar Job
Ty Tyner admits he took an unconventional path to a Fortune 500 technology firm. After all, how many people at major tech companies worked as a color artist in the comic book industry or created animations for a smartphone game called the “Ramen Eater Challenge”?
For Tyner, those early jobs may have been unconventional, but they helped prepare him for his current role in design for IBM Cloud. He gained marketable skills and began to form a perspective on design through real-world experiences.
Ty Tyner, a New Collar design expert with IBM Cloud.
“For me, working on those early iOS applications was the genesis of understanding what UX (user experience) design should be,” said Tyner, now design practice manager for cloud infrastructure at IBM. “I started to realize that design needed to be at the forefront of a product to make the user experience better. You couldn’t just throw elements into a pot and hope it worked.”
The comic book jobs and ramen eating app never turned into long-term careers, but in today’s economy, employees like Tyner, who have a combination of technical expertise and real-world experiences, are in demand. Companies need employees who can adapt to a fast-changing marketplace. These “new collar” jobs based on practical education and applied skills are quickly growing in emerging areas, such as cloud, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and cognitive business.
Tyner has spent his career adjusting and learning new skills. As a high school student in White Oak, Texas, Tyner wanted to pursue a career in animation for gaming and entertainment. He chose Austin Community College for his secondary education because the school had a reputation for hands-on training.
“The instructors for our classes weren’t just teaching us about animation,” Tyner said. “They were practitioners too. They would teach classes on their day off from working on major animated movies.”
Tyner’s training led to a series of jobs in design creating print and digital materials, including freelance work on comic books and smartphone apps. At the time, the field of design was evolving into a broader discipline focused on the entire customer experience.
Tyner also was changing with the times and finding a new career path that excited him. He began working on user experience and interface design for start-ups in Austin, Texas, and running into other designers from IBM at local tech meet-ups. He was intrigued by how IBM designers were applying their skills to new areas of business and technology.
Ty joined IBM in 2014 as a software designer for IBM Cloud Services and has since moved up to lead design for cloud infrastructure. He manages teams working to make the IBM Cloud a seamless and efficient platform for developers to use. He previously worked at start-ups that used cloud services to support their business. Now, he’s on the other side, improving the experience of clients using IBM Cloud services.
In his role, Tyner also is looking for new talent to support the growing IBM Cloud business. Formal education can help, but what matters most is a portfolio of experiences that shows what someone can do, he said.
“We’re trying to hire the best people for the job, not just checking the box on whether they have a certain degree,” Tyner said. “We are looking for designers who are proficient at their craft and ready to be a good teammate. Software design is a team sport, one player cannot carry the whole team.”
Adam R. Pratt
Ph: (202) 551-9625