This week we visit the Littleton campus to chat with Beth McCawley. Beth is one of the driving forces behind knowledge management in the support content space for RCS and has a sharp eye as a grammar/spelling/punctuation guru. Of course she has a way with words as you may expect from a person who works with written knowledge everyday and a formal education in English. Read on for more interesting facts!
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support?
I am Elizabeth McCawley, but I still answer to Beth Carroll. I am a Knowledge manager in Rational Client Support.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational?
I have been with Rational since April of 2000 and with IBM since the acquisition of Rational in 2003
Have you had any other roles in Rational?
I started in Licensing Support then briefly was in Modeling Support, until the creation of the team that evolved into what now is KM in RCS.
Describe a normal day for you.
Besides my daily queue of approving documents for publishing, I might check in with the Knowledge Champions who report to the Support Delivery Managers to whom I am assigned to see how their teams are doing with content contributions. I process at least a request or two to set up new user's permission to work with the tool we use for authoring documents. I frequently edit the taxonomy for Rational products in that authoring tool. A few times every day I answer questions about the tool (and then I capture the Q&A to a shared space so the info is available like an internal technote of sorts.)
What project are you the most proud of?
It is a tie. I successfully lobbied for our authoring tool and the publishing mechanisms to accept Japanese documents. This initial project opened the door for us now being able to produce content directly in several languages, including three other multibyte languages. The other win was enabling and training the Development and Documentation teams so they could produce their release notes as Technotes. This makes Release Information documents easier to find and they can be updated with version additions and, later, fix information.
Do you have an "on the job" hero?
This will sound hokey but it is Carl Hero, my teammate. Carl creates and shares a lot of shortcuts that save us from hours and hours and hours of busy work.
Are you a gadget person?
I'll bet an eyelash curler does not count as the kind of gadget you want to hear about...
What type of gadgets do you use?
Besides the wisecrack above, I am delighted by my iPhone.
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without?
It'd be a challenge to get comfortable night of sleep without the baby monitor.
What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately?
There is a doohickey can slice bread a whole loaf at a time.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support?
The exemplary integrity of all the rational people with whom I work
What inspires you in your work?
See previous answer
What are you passionate about?
My family, bicycle riding, civil rights AND civil liberties, and proper English spelling & grammar
What tip or trick would you like to share with the class?
Its vs. It's (Editor's note: clarity on the difference can be found here http://www.elearnenglishlanguage.com/difficulties/its.html )
Tell me about the biggest problem ahead for you?
I'd prefer to call it a challenge: I am working with a group across the Software divisions to make Support documents compliant with the latest IBM.com publishing standards. I want to do this with as little manual editing intervention as possible so that my teammates and document owners don't have to do the housekeeping.
How do you define success?
On time and not burned
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you?
I am nuts about bicycle riding and cross country skiing. I bake a wicked good batch of homemade granola
What message would you give to a Knowledge Champion just starting out in the Knowledge Management industry?
Don't get too attached to any tool or practice or rule. Enjoy the opportunities for trying new tools and methods that will lead to enhancing the clients' experience with the knowledge your organization is sharing.
What specifically drew your interest to become involved in the Knowledge Management field?
I knew I could make a difference in the quality and usefulness and accessibility of our Support content.
Aside from Knowledge Management, do you have any other passions?
The Boston Red Sox would be the local politically correct answer
Do you have any big plans for the future?
Learn to play a stringed instrument
If you were stuck on a technology deprived island, what single technology could you not live without?
Gloryoski, if the baby and husband are not with me, then the iPhone to call home and to constantly look at pictures of the boy and his Daddy
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading?
Analytics at Work. Also Infant Potty Training - it's a bizarre concept at first, and too late for this one, maybe we'll try it if there is a next one.
What has been your biggest surprise you have witnessed in the technology industry?
That online banking is safe enough for my husband to embrace it
Is there any technology that you think should get more respect and adoption but does not?
Electric vehicles - there need to be convenient recharging locations as easy to find as gas stations.
What is your favorite technology that fizzled or failed to live up to the hype?
None worthy of mentioning, but does anybody remember those tablets the dentist would give you to chew to see what spots on your teeth you weren't brushing enough? I do miss writing letters with pen & paper and receiving snail mail via US Postal Service
Any new technologies that you think are about to break into the big time?
Harnessed wind power
What future technology would make your life easier?
Something like a Roomba for driveway snow blowing
What are you doing to make the planet smarter?
The obvious answer is that I am guiding people to sharing their knowledge - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, as they say.
Also, I intentionally live close to the office, carpool with my husband whenever I can, ride my bicycle for transportation wherever I can, and generally don't buy bottled water. We have a share in a CSA this year so we are working on becoming locavores.
I now pay most bills online - green AND convenient!
How do you prefer to find answers to your questions?
I search Google
How are you using social networking today?
Long lost pals and I have found each other through Facebook - what a hoot!
How could you see yourself using it in 5 years?
Organizing kiddie soccer games and playdates without a million phone calls
What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
What publications / websites do you read / visit?
"The New Yorker" is the one print subscription I still keep; http://www.charmone.com/Company.aspx; http://www.massbike.org/aboutus/mission/; http://www.onelook.com/
Any other fun tidbits of information about you, your job, or RCS that you'd like to share?
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