This week's "People of Rational Support" spotlight is on Judy Cass. Judy is an esteemed Customer Advocacy Group (CAG) engineer who has her hand in nearly everything, and if she doesn't, she likely knows who does. Her commitment to helping along with her diverse experiences are two of the qualities which make Judy such an asset for us in RCS, as you'll discover below:
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support?
My name is Judy Cass. I've been married almost 13 years. I have a wonderful husband (who is also my best friend), I have 3 grown step-kids, 7 step-grandkids and a beautiful German Shepherd named Schatzie. Currently I work in the Customer Advocacy Group (CAG) and my specialties are ClearQuest, Installation Manager and Rational to Rational integrations.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational?
I started working at Atria as a ClearCase support engineering back in 1994 - so I'm currently in my 16th year at IBM/Rational.
Have you had any other roles in Rational?
I've held several roles over the last 15 years. I spent my first 4 1/2 years in Support. From there I moved over to Release Engineering were I worked exclusively on ClearCase and ClearQuest patches. I then spent 18 months in CQ CAG. I went back to RE and did that for another 5+ years. Then I moved onto Team Install Development where I held both a management role and an individual contributor role. I moved happily back to RCS in Q4 of 2008.
What are you currently working on?
My main focus is on Escalations that come in from TSEs. I work closely with L3 on those issues that we aren't able to solve ourselves (or those that require fixes to be generated). I contribute to DCF (our knowledge base) both in new technotes/white papers as well as review a lot of the install related ones. I will be participating in an upcoming Vitality talk. I participate in tech sessions and sometimes provide training to the support community.
Describe a normal day for you.
My days are anything but normal and I really can't imagine I'd like it if they were. Although I know at some point in my day I will make progress on some set of my escalations, I find most days also involve me helping others with issues that might not yet be escalated. There is a lot of juggling of tasks and prioritizing what is most important to the team and our customers. I love helping people so this is the perfect fit for me. Of course I do have my days when I need to do less helping of others and get to my critical escalations, but even though days are fun and those that I can't help seem to understand.
Do you have an "on the job" hero? If you could "follow" anyone for 24 hours, who would it be?
That would be really tough to choose, I would say either Mary Barry or Chris Flynn. I have never seen two more genuinely happy people no matter what stresses the day brings them. I'd love to be a fly on the wall and watch just how they achieve it so that I can learn from them!!
Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use?
No, unfortunately I'm still an old school type person. Give me a good book I can open up, touch and turn the page and I'm happy
What type of gadgets do you use?
If I told you how simple and old fashion my cell phone was you'd laugh. I even still have a few VCRs hanging around, although I will admit I did move one TV to DVD recently
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without?
If I had to choose, probably my iPOD.. its my best buddy when I'm working out
What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately?
Actually I have to admit I'm sort of excited about the Kindle (or the ability to read books electronically on a portable media).
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support?
Helping customers and anyone who needs it. I just love providing assistance to anyone who needs it
What inspires you in your work?
Just the happiness of customers when we solve their issue, the kind words from peers when I've been able to help them with something, and the general sense that what I do is helping others succeed.
What are you passionate about?
When working in the world of Customer Support we constantly need to gather data from our customers to help solve issues. I almost never have any trouble obtaining the information/logs/data I need from customers. Some people think I'm just lucky, but in actuality its all how you deliver the message to the customer. If you explain to the customer why you need the data, what lead you to wanting the data, what you are looking for, your thought process of how you will move once you analyze the data (almost like a flow chart - if I see X in your data I'll take action 1, if I see Y in your data I'll take action 2) etc., the customers are so willing to give you the data. It really frustrates me when we ask for data (that we don't necessarily need, and/or data we don't know what we'd do with) or we haven't thought out our next step that really frustrates me. We are here to help customer's succeed (not just ask them things to give us a few more days to think) and it frustrates me when we sometimes waste their time (wow I didn't realize I was passionate about anything until you asked!)
What tip or trick would you like to share with the class?
When you're not sure if something works or doesn't work - sometimes the best way to figure it out is to just try it! Some folks spend a lot of time Googling and emailing (to ask others, etc) when in reality you can learn a lot by just trying it yourself! (and you might learn and additional item or two while you are trying)
Tell me about the biggest problem you've solved?
It might not sound big to others, but there was this one install issue that was going on for 2 months. We had daily meetings and although we couldn't reproduce the issue, the customer could constantly. After several debugging sessions and some additional debugging messages (and an extra pair of eyes) someone finally noticed some odd behavior. It turns out the customer was installing into a very long path (not something we even knew was an issue) and there it was, some operating systems have a limit to the number of characters they return in a process table. The unfortunate part was the error message was no where near what the real problem was. So once we had the customer shorten the install path they were successful. Of course I filed a defect wrote a technote (after figuring out the exact limit).
How do you define success?
I'm not sure how one defines success in an industry or business, but for me personally I define success when I know I've done the best I can and that each day I've not only done a good job, but that somehow I've helped someone else do a better one.
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you?
Knitting sweaters and reading!
What tools / skills have you acquired that you feel are vital to your success in this field?
I'm not sure if I acquired them on the job, or if I had them before I joined in 1994 and have just improved them, but I've always had a natural curiousity about how things work and when they don't trying to find out why. Therefore moving to a career in Customer Support was a great move for me as it allowed me to take what I love to do and have it be my daily job.. how cool is that?
What message would you give to XYZ just starting out in the XYZ industry?
I would say to anyone starting in the software industry to always have a thirst for knowledge and never stop learning. The world of technology is ever evolving and that won't change, so you have to be flexible enough to want to change and learn with it.
Do you have any big plans for the future?
My big plans always involve vacations to warm places and at least 1 cruise a year
If you were stuck on a technology deprived island, what single technology could you not live without?
Cable TV (I did think about a phone but who knows how good cell phone connection is on a deprived island!)
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading?
Currently a great book by Clive Cussler called "The Wrecker"
How do you grow your technical skills?
For me I guess I am just naturally curious and just learning how things work allows me to grow my technical skills. What appears to happen is they grow in areas that my role moves me into, but I guess in reality that means it's probably skills I am loving to learn
How do you prefer to find answers to your questions?
For me seeing it for myself and trying it myself are the best ways to answer my questions (when that's possible). If its not something I can do myself I find Google is a great way to see how others might have answered it (of course then you have to figure out how accurate they are!)
How are you using social networking today?
I'm horrible. As I mentioned previously I'm so behind the gadget curve and I feel that social network is a gadget. I still don't get the difference between tweeter and a tweet (wow am I sounding old). However I have to admit it is a great way to keep in touch with my step-grandkids that are far away.
How could you see yourself using it in 5 years?
Still not sure I will be a big fan of it - I still like the face to face personal approach.
Are you a blogger in the blogosphere? ... Are you a YouTuber? ...Are you an Author? .... Do you Tweet? ...
As you already know I'm behind the technology curve, but I can say I have a few work videos on YouTube (thanks to my previous boss who is great with a video camera). So I guess I owe a thanks to him for introducing me to something new
Any other fun tidbits of information about you, your job, or RCS that you'd like to share?
I guess one thing I've always lived by - and its worked for me since I started working... Do what you like and love what you do, once it becomes a job, move on! I never consider what I do a "job" as to me that is mundane and something you "have" to do. I do what I "like/love" to do and once my role feels like a "job" I move on. Its worked great for me my entire career at IBM. I am so lucky to always love what I do.. can't ask for a better place to work.