By now, I expect all our readers will have heard the news about Cheryl and Tom retiring. Of course, Cheryl’s ‘We’re Retiring’ blog post thanked everyone for all the friendship and support they’ve given her over the years, but she didn’t say anything about the thanks we all owe her. So I’m going to take a minute to do that.
I want to thank Cheryl for being such a force for good in the mainframe world. She always put the interests of her customers first – an example many of her fellow CEOs could learn from. Cheryl always had the courage to speak her mind, but always in a kind, constructive way. I remember Dave Jeffries, VP for z/OS Development in IBM at the time, commenting at SHARE that when he saw Cheryl in the room he knew he was going to get a grilling, but he also knew that he would come away with invaluable insights and suggestions.
I’ve been in the IT industry for more years than I care to remember (it used to be called ‘DP’ (Data Processing) back then), and Cheryl has been synonymous with ‘mainframe’ for nearly all that time. I still can’t believe that I somehow ended up working with her and Tom. For a mainframe nerd, working with Cheryl (I call her the Mick Jagger of the mainframe world – everyone knows her) makes winning the Lotto seem positively ho-hum. To this day, Cheryl is still assailed by young techies at SHARE, telling her what an inspiration she has been to their careers. When Cheryl missed her first SHARE conference in 40 years (because of a looming knee replacement operation), one of her many fans at the conference told me “But SHARE just isn’t SHARE without Cheryl here”. Actually, at that same conference, two gentlemen gave me my claim to fame – in a very loud whisper in a crowded elevator, one told the other “that’s the guy that works for Cheryl”. 😊
Working with Cheryl and Tom has been a blast. I get to work with the industry’s most interesting technology and with the nicest customers, in an environment where the owners genuinely care about and appreciate their staff. Coming from IBM, I was well used to voluminous rule books for … just about everything. So you can’t imagine what a breath of fresh air it was when Cheryl patiently told me “We only have two rules. 1) If you are dealing with a customer, treat them the way you would like them to treat you. And 2) if you want to spend company money on something, just ask “if this was my money, would I spend it?” – if the answer is yes, then spend it, and if the answer is no, then don’t”. I don’t know any other employer in the world where you get to play with mainframes AND you have a boss that lets common sense run the company. Incredible – I truly wish that everyone could be as fortunate as I have been.
In her Cheryl’s List post, Cheryl referred to her less-than-towering height of 4’10”. I don’t think that made much difference to anyone – a gentleman that was well over 6 feet tall commented to me one time that Cheryl was ‘the shortest giant he ever met’. And that is our Cheryl, truly a giant of the mainframe world.
But after all those years of fighting the good fight, I’m sure you would all agree that Cheryl and Tom have earned the opportunity to catch up on all their dreams and planned adventures. Some examples I’ve heard over the last few months include a visit to the Olympics in Paris, a trip to the Himalayas, paragliding (or some such sport that I would never have the courage to undertake!). Just looking at Tom and Cheryl’s ‘vacation’ itineraries leaves me exhausted – no wonder Cheryl is a workaholic, she had to get back to work for a rest 😊. Now that Cheryl doesn’t need to rush back to work, I hope they can enjoy their many adventures at a slightly more relaxed pace.
For her many fans that will be attending SHARE, please come along for her ‘farewell’ speech at the z/OS System Programming & Hardware KickOff session on Monday morning at 9:15 in the Salon 13-14 room. Cheryl has a lifetime of experiences, insights, and stories that will educate and entertain all attendees, from the young to the young-at-heart. If you work in the mainframe industry you owe Cheryl a debt of gratitude, so if you can’t get into the Monday session, make sure you grab her some other time during the week and let her know how much you appreciate all she has done for us.