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Developer Career Journeys: Johanna Rothman

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Developer Career Journeys: Johanna Rothman

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Last month, we published profiles of the development careers of four of our DZone MVBs. We wanted to share these stores in order to help you figure out if a certain career path is for you, or to learn how to break into a particular field. You can read that post here

Well, they say you should save the best for last, and we were happy when our friend Johanna Rothman wrote in recently to share her own journey. A former full-time developer who turned her sights and interests on management, Johanna is one of the foremost Agile experts among our contributors. 

So, without further ado, here is Johanna's story.


Johanna Rothman, Author and Agile Management Consultant

jrothman.com

I started programming when I was 19 in 1974. I was in school, and was casting about for a new major. I knew I didn't want a social science (you call that science?). I knew I didn't want a foreign language. I was thinking of philosophy, econ, engineering or physics. Quite a range, eh? I had no idea what I did want.

I took a computer science class. I got caught up in the puzzle of programming and solving problems. I loved it.

I didn't "get" it all right away. For many of my classes, I understood things just after the exam. I still loved it.

By my senior year, I was a TA for the intro CS class. I loved teaching other people how to program. You have to know what you're doing to teach.

I thought learning other languages--at the time, SNOBOL, LISP, Alogol--was an amazing amount of fun. I graduated with a degree in CS and a bunch of experience in assembler language for several machines. I had experience writing device drivers. That's what we did back in the '70s.

My first job was programming a phone system for the DoD. I learned a ton about the phone system. I learned more about how to work with people. I'd thought that programming was about working with the machine. Nope. That's when I learned that programming was about learning, and about working with people. What an awakening. I also learned a ton about projects. I learned about inch-pebbles and the 90% done schedule game that very first summer.

I took on more senior roles as I continued to program throughout several more jobs. In my first machine vision job (1985), I learned how to be a technical leader and manage projects.

I flirted with management and project and program management for several years (1986-1990), and then made the leap to management for good in 1992.

Since 1994, I’ve had my own consulting business, where I have focused on the management side of software.

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