You never know where life leads you. In order to pay for college, in 1959, I went to work in the IBM department of a wholesale grocery company. They were looking for a college student who could work part time. My job was to finishing processing orders after school and one Sunday a month to prepare orders for restocking the grocery stores by morning. Both my parents worked for this company and a dear friend suggested the job. No idea, what was in store, I began to focus on the nightly preparation of pick lists and invoices.

The work was interesting and enjoyable. This was in the days of punched cards. The task was to make sure orders were available for warehouse personnel to get the trucks rolling by midnight. I had to learn how to sort, collate, updated, and then resort the punched cards, to print the pick list by location within customer, and resort to print an invoice by item within customer. The challenge was to start and keep the printers going. One printer had pick list paper, the other printer with invoice paper. The printer speed was 43 cards a minute. Collating, calculating, reproducing, and sorting was necessary to prepare the cards for feeding the printers. The printers could never stop in order to make schedule.

I soon understood that I loved this work and had an aptitude for it. As I improved the process, I began to beat the schedule. My supervisors then gave me more work. In order to answer management question, I began to learn about analysis. In responding to questions, I would use raw data, wire panels, sort, and classify data as a means of creating information. Thus, analytics, big data, and analysis is a foundation from this early period. This was the start of a wonderful career in information technology. The benefit starting with punched cards, and wiring panels, was that I understand this technology in its primitive form.

The most significant part of this early learning is understanding processes, production, and critical paths. Subsequent advancements into materials management, inventory, and production were successful. This success was a visceral appreciation for the theories and concepts of thru-put. You never know how early experiences will impact your future challenges and opportunities.