SHARE Vice President Brian Kithcart Shares Why ‘Collaboration’ Is Key to Mainframe Work

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Brian Kithcart, SHARE’s vice president, currently serves as systems engineer manager at Rocket Software. Over the last decade, Brian has held positions at SHARE such as project manager and deputy director, which is why, today, we’re sitting down with Brian to chat all about his new role with SHARE. Read on to learn more about Brian, his mainframe journey, and the benefits of collaborative work.

SHARE: What first attracted your attention to the mainframe?

Brian: When I was hired by IBM, many years ago, mainframe computers ran the majority of all business processes in the world. I was given an opportunity to become a computer operator and jumped at the offer.

SHARE: How did that first realization that mainframe was for you snowball into the career you have today?

Brian: I didn’t realize it then, but that first computer operator job was just the first step into a long technical career in IT. It opened doors to a successful career that I couldn’t even imagine was possible.

My next step was into a position with a title of "physical planner" where I did CADAM drawings for all equipment on the raised floors of very large computer installations. The position included planning and ordering all electrical and HVAC requirements. I was also involved, and a key contributor, in designing and building a new computer center that housed thousands of square feet of mainframe computers used for developing MVS and VM operating system code.

My next step was into a position called "logical planner" where I coded SYSGENs and IOCPs for the mainframes in the centers I helped design and maintain.

Then came a giant leap into a pre-sales systems engineering role, where I worked directly with our customers and prospects. I loved the work and eventually became a manager of systems engineers, then a second-level manager, and, finally, a third-level manager. Also along the way, I worked as a product manager and did executive-level presentations at our Executive Briefing Center.

I never dreamt my career path would go in this direction. I was totally blessed along the way (and still am).          

SHARE: What are your top three pieces of advice for those entering enterprise IT today?

Brian:

  1. The Mainframe will never go away. It is only going to get bigger and better. There are so many good things happening today that prove it.
  2. The sky is the limit on the many different, challenging, and rewarding jobs you can choose to do along the way … in a career path with no limitations.
  3. Work hard, play hard. Listen to those with experience, don't be afraid to ask questions, and pass on what you learn to others that are coming up behind you. I have met so many nice, helpful, happy, and great people. I know you can, too!

SHARE: As SHARE program manager for information management, how has the market and mainframe culture evolved in the last decade?

Brian:  From the technology side, things continue to change at lightning speed and seem to go faster and faster. This is fantastic from a career opportunity perspective. There are so many things to choose from. From the culture side, not much has changed. There are a lot of great people working closely together for the same cause. It is so exciting to see so many young adults interested in the mainframe and choosing career paths in this technology.    

SHARE: What are the most recent or upcoming SHARE projects that excite you as a volunteer?

Brian: The pandemic really changed SHARE's business model of having two in-person events per year. Becoming a virtual event has posed many challenges. Working through these challenges with great people is exciting.

Have we figured it all out? No. Do we continue to work hard as a group in solving the virtual event challenges? Yes. Personal growth always comes out of working through and solving challenges. Virtual SHARE is no different.    

SHARE: How do you expect your volunteer role to change? To stay the same?

Brian: It will definitely change. I am serving a two-year position as vice president of SHARE, so I know I have a definite "change of role" in my future. What I do next will depend on where I think I can help SHARE the most. This will not be a sole decision by myself, but rather a decision I will make with feedback and recommendations from my colleagues and other SHARE affiliates.

SHARE: What advice would you have for those interested in volunteering with SHARE?

Brian: Do it, do it, do it! You will learn. You will work with other great people. You will acquire new friends. You will have industry influence. You will grow. It is very rewarding! And, you'll always have fun.

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