We live in interesting times…

Tom Mackey, TMMBA Student

The market fell 504 points yesterday, and last night I didn’t sleep too well. I’m a TMMBA geezer; I’ll hit double-nickels on Friday. I know my Boeing VIP fund took a huge hit yesterday. I think my early retirement plans fell out the window right along with the market.

Yesterday was also my first day back at work after a short vacation. The week before that was Finals week, which capped off the third quarter of the TMMBA program. I was looking forward to this first blog entry and had composed a lot of it in my head as my life partner Marilyn and I traced a path to the Eastern Washington wine country, then back along the Columbia River, and finally to the Long Beach peninsula. This morning, as I ride the bus in to work, my mind is a jumble of disconnected thoughts — bits of composed blog entry, worries about the economy, the upcoming elections, factoids gleaned from our vacation and other road-trips, memories of the past three quarters, things I need to do at home, the difficulties at work where the machinists’ strike and an SEI-CMMI assessment have combined to make things even more hectic than usual, all spin together in my mind, each vying for attention. Suddenly a bumper sticker I saw once comes to mind: “Visualize Whirled Peas”. Peas in a blender — now that’s an apt description of my mental state right now! World Peace? I think recent events have not helped in that quest…

I volunteered to write because I thought I might provide a unique perspective on the TMMBA program. I’m a “late boomer”, and my parents were close to 40 when I was born, Especially in my mom’s case, her memories of the Great Depression were still vivid and so sometimes it is almost as if I had lived through that as well. My early years were shaped by the Mercury Seven, the tragedy of the Kennedy assassinations, race riots, sit-ins, and Kent State. The fabric of society was being torn asunder by multiple forces, and I was an awkward age — too young to participate and too old to not notice. The Viet Nam war was winding down during my draft year and I drew a high number. Looking back, entering the military would have been good for me. I could have used the discipline.

So it’s the next day — the fur was flying when I hit the office yesterday and the pace didn’t slow until I got home — late. Marilyn had some kabobs for me to BBQ, and by the time we ate and told each other about our day, it was time to go to bed. The market recovered about 140 points, but the Fed announced after the close that it was putting AIG into conservatorship. Who knows what today will bring. The market opens in 15 minutes, which is about the time this rattling bus will let me off at the airport.

I did take a quick look at the blog site yesterday, and this entry has definitely taken a different tone than the rest. I didn’t see any place for comments like a normal blog; you are welcome to email me: [email protected] if you wish to comment. I’ll incorporate relevant feedback in future postings.

Discipline, among other things, was what drew me to the TMMBA program. I was working as a lead Configuration Management specialist at The Boeing Company, and a young man was hired for my team. It was my first leadership position, and he is a Marine. He had served as a tank commander in Desert Storm, and although easy going and laid back, there was a quality about him, a steely self-confidence, that I deeply admired. I noticed his discipline in completing his tasks; this, too, was expressed in a quiet and laid back manner. When his grandmother passed away, he inherited a modest sum of money that she hoped he would use to further his education, and he started looking into MBA programs. I had been noticing the TMMBA ads on the buses downtown and something clicked. If he could be considering an MBA, why not me?

I have a decision to make w.r.t. my career — Boeing has both a technical path (the Technical Fellow program) and a management path. The nice thing is that you can move back and forth, within reason, so neither path is permanent. Regardless of which I choose to take, I recognized that I needed an advanced degree, or more specifically, the skills learned in obtaining such a degree, if I wanted to do well. This program, which has evening and weekend classes, and finishes in 18 months, seemed ideal. Once in the program, I found additional benefits — we are placed in teams by the TMMBA staff, and we progress through the program as a team. Since nearly every facet of today’s high-tech industry involves working in teams, the experience is both natural and instructive. A large part of what we do is making our team work more efficiently. I am lucky to be part of a great team. Our personalities both contrast and compliment, as do our backgrounds and interests. I’ll be writing more on the team aspect later.

Well, I am about to get off the bus, so once I get to my desk I will submit this entry and get to work. Future posts will touch on the various classes, lessons learned, teamwork, and of course, personal and interesting tidbits that hopefully will pique your interest.

PS: Well, the market is tanking again, as feared. We are in for a rough ride and I am glad to be in high gear learning mode again.

I have a saying: “If you stop learning, you might as well start dying.” The TMMBA program is a Fantastic place to keep learning!


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