‘The mainframe kid’ is born
“I posted some things on IBM Main about it, thinking people would get a laugh out of it or maybe be able to help me with it, and this one guy said, ‘You should really do a talk about this.’” The guy was on the board of SHARE, an IT user group that began in 1955 and had a conference coming up in San Antonio, Texas, in March 2016.
Horrified at the thought of speaking in public, Krukosky said he couldn’t afford to go to the conference, sure that would get him off the hook. It didn’t. The organizers found a company willing to cover his travel expenses, his parents encouraged him, and he went.
“The room was packed, and I was sweating bullets,” said Krukosky. “But I found that it wasn’t terrifying like giving a presentation in school. This was something I was passionate about, so I just kind of rolled with it and it was okay. Everybody said I did great.”
And so the tale of “the kid with the mainframe” was born. After San Antonio, Krukosky spoke at another SHARE conference in Atlanta, then at mainframe conferences in Amsterdam and England, and in Boston at an IBM Technical University.
His talk “I Just Bought an IBM z890 — Now What?” was uploaded to YouTube by SHARE and has been viewed more than 2.1 million times.
At 19, Krukosky was invited to speak in the cafeteria at IBM in Poughkeepsie — the birthplace of the mainframe. “He got a standing ovation,” said Dominic Odescalchi, an IBM Z project executive who was, at that time, managing the team charged with testing new mainframes.
“I invited him up to my office to see if he was interested in coming on board with us. He wasn’t enrolled in college at the time, so we couldn’t bring him on as an intern, and we really didn’t have a process in place to hire someone with no college experience. There was no precedent for it, and we had to get exceptions all the way through the process, but what we saw in him was hugely impressive. All the senior VPs were completely in favor of hiring Connor.”
“You have to understand what he accomplished. IBM is made up of subject matter experts who have tremendous depth in their area. For Connor to buy this mainframe, assemble it in his basement and actually get it running required knowledge across a huge breadth of areas, and he did it on his own.”
Start of the ‘New Collar’ jobs wave
Odescalchi said that, as far as he knows, Krukosky was the first New Collar hire at IBM. But his hiring started a trend that has been embraced across the company.
While most new IBMers still come to the company with a two- or four-year degree, Kelli Jordan, talent leader in New Collar Initiatives, said, “You don’t need a degree to get a job at IBM — you need skills.”
“For IBMers and managers, the mindset is changing to where they’re recognizing they don’t need to hire people who look exactly like the people they hired in the past. Now, they’re thinking about the skills they need and where to find candidates with those skills.”