I fell into a writing career by accident. In my early working days, I landed at a management consulting company, at the time called Consultants for Management Decisions, or CMD. Founded in 1982 by Dr. Kenan E. Sahin, CMD had numerous contracts with the United States Postal Service to analyze mail flows in order to assess large-scale equipment purchases. It turned out that I was the only person in the entire office of MBAs who could understand the thought process of our client contact at the Postal Service, a visionary executive whose biggest opponents were often his own upper management.
Later, within the same company, I moved from Washington, D.C. to Cambridge, Massachusetts to join the documentation group for Arbor/BP, now owned by Comverse. Arbor/BP was a telecom billing platform architected as a series of standalone UNIX modules running on top of an extensive relational database. The data model was so complex that it made the system almost impossible to use or configure for anyone who didn’t already know it like the back of their hand. After working with a small and highly dedicated team to create a FrameMaker-based documentation suite, I was tasked with starting a new training division.
I had no idea how to train anybody, so I started with what I’d want to know if I were in their shoes. Eventually I figured out how everything worked, and also how our clients worked. Client training was key to customer acceptance. If our clients couldn’t understand how to use the system, they’d simply reject it, no matter how great it was. Within a year and a half, I had created and delivered a full suite of courses to customers and global partners around the world, trained internal staff and new trainers – and frankly, I needed a rest, but the company didn’t allow for sabbaticals.
So, I moved to California and began doing contract technical writing through a tech-writing service company called Expert Support. The Silicon Valley startup mentality is very different from the entrenched, East Coast outlook. I became interested in seeing how an organization’s internal processes could be efficient or not. Clients included Clarify (now owned by Amdocs), Hewlett-Packard, Excite@Home, Openwave, and various startups.
By 2006, the economy had slowed, and the projects that came my way were less challenging, so I switched gears and went to work for a high-end residential architect. The world of custom residential design is a very rarefied one, very service-oriented. Small businesses in general operate very differently from the corporate world. After a 3-year stint with BRU Architects, I ended up working with Mark English Architects as a blogger and an energy consultant. At the end of 2011, I decided to leave my full-time position at Mark English in order to focus more on my core skill set: writing. After a busy month setting up my freelance identity, I found a really cool full-time position as a Senior Technical Writer with Zep Solar in San Rafael, where I continued until March of 2016.
I continue to support Mark’s two blogs: Green Compliance Plus and The Architect’s Take, which cover topics on building energy efficiency and design.
I currently reside in Oakland, California.