This week's interview spotlights Jim LoRusso. Jim is a guy with multiple talents: Not only is he a successful support engineer, but also an accomplished musician, sports enthusiast, and software tools developer. Read on to see how broad his interests fall and likely how this breadth of skills has contributed to his successes thus far. Don't forget to checkout our archive of previous interviews while you're at it!
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support?
My name is Jim LoRusso. I’m a 23 year old, sports loving, guitar-playing, computer savvy Software Support Engineer for IBM. I work as a TSE on our Rational Testing Tools support team, troubleshooting products such as Quality Manager, Functional Tester, Performance Tester, etc.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational?
I’ve been with IBM for over 2 years now. I started as an intern while I was studying for my undergrad at the University of Hartford. I worked as a Search Effectiveness Analyst helping to identify and improve the accuracy of search results delivered by IBM's w3 intranet. After analyzing data we gathered, I would occasionally write software automation tools to help improve our efficiency.
What are you currently working on?
Currently I troubleshoot client issues with IBM Rational’s Testing Tools.
Describe a normal day for you.
On a normal day, I field and assess calls from clients who have issues with the Rational Testing Tools. I then attempt to resolve these issues using technical knowledge, and troubleshooting skills. Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I usually eat lunch.
Are you a gadget person?
I like gadgets, but I probably wouldn’t consider myself a gadget person.
What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately?
Apparently, flying car production could start within three months. Check it out.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support?
I really enjoy the different challenges I encounter each day. There has yet to be a day where I haven’t encountered a new problem to be solved. Because the products are constantly being updated, you rarely see the same issue twice.
What inspires you in your work?
I’ve always been a very persistent problem solver. If I can’t figure out why something isn’t working correctly, it usually intrigues me, and drives me harder to identify the root cause.
What are you passionate about?
Outside of work, I’m very passionate about music. I’ve played guitar for about 5 years now, four of which were with my nationally signed rock band, Last Place Victory, and now with the R&B project Rove’. I’m a song writer and composer as well.
What tip or trick would you like to share with the class?
Everything happens for a reason, so always stay calm and confident when something goes against you. Other people’s perception of you will often generate confidence in yourself.
How do you define success?
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you?
I enjoy playing guitar, writing music, and playing sports.
When did you first become interested in music and sports?
I’ve been an active musician for about 5 years, and I’ve been playing sports since I could walk.
What tools / skills have you acquired that you feel are vital to your success in this field?
The ability to analyze the path of a problem as it relates to the overall design of the product, rather than looking at specific symptoms and possible causes. Essentially, I’ve found it useful to work backwards from the symptom and create a figurative road map of where the product came off track.
What message would you give to a TSE just starting out in Rational Client Support?
Never be afraid to ask questions, no matter how simple you think they might be. Having a great understanding of the foundation of the product will help you far more as a troubleshooter than most of the advanced topics you’ll learn.
What specifically drew your interest to become involved as a Software Support Engineer?
I’ve always had a strong passion to be a problem solver, and this allowed me to do it professionally.
Have you worked on any projects that you feel were exceptionally exciting for you?
As an intern, I wrote a program to automate testing of our “Did You Mean?” function in IBM's intranet search.
Do you have any big plans for the future?
I’d like to do some traveling. I’ve never been out of the country, so I’d like to see other parts of the world.
If you were stuck on a technology deprived island, what single technology could you not live without?
Probably the cell phone. I can’t see how people used to operate without our primary form of communication.
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading?
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller… It’s not actually on my nightstand, by I’m answering more in the spirit of this question, rather than the literal.
What has been your biggest surprise you have witnessed in the technology industry?
Most medical technologies including surgeries really impress me. When I’m developing a new process or program, I only have to worry about breaking a piece of software, which I can make a backup of anyway. Essentially, I have as many shots to get it right as it takes me. Medical professionals are dealing with peoples lives. They pretty much have to do it right the first time they ever try.
Any new technologies that you think are about to break into the big time?
It looks like flying cars are getting close to hitting the market. I can’t believe this hasn’t gotten more coverage.
What future technology would make your life easier?
Definitely teleportation. I can’t count how many times I’ve wished someone had invented that.
What are you doing to make the planet smarter?
Working at IBM for starters
But also, developing my technical skills will help me engineer more efficient software, ultimately consuming fewer physical resources. It’s a small step, but when deployed worldwide, can have a profound effect.
How do you grow your technical skills?
I try to take part in every training session I can attend. I also plan on returning to college to earn my Master’s degree in the near future.
How do you prefer to find answers to your questions?
I like having conversations with people face to face.
How are you using social networking today?
I use social networking sites to keep in touch with people I haven’t seen for a while.
Any other fun tidbits of information about you, your job, or RCS that you'd like to share?
I sit in the Littleton office. If you are an IBMer, feel free to look me up on BluePages and swing by.