I’ve had my 20-year anniversary Oracle dinner last week (actually 6 months after the actual date) in Munich with great colleagues who joined either 20 or 25 years ago hosted by a Country Leadership Team member, Stephan Meyer from Legal. And we all were exchanging stories about how and why we joined Oracle two decades and more ago.
So here’s my Oracle story.
Where it all started
It actually started at the Technical University Nürnberg where Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Hopf held the “Database” courses – we used to call him “Turbo Hopf” as he was (and probably still is) full of energy but VERY demanding at the same time. I remember that I’ve spent half of my study time in semesters 4 and 5 in the database lab. We used to learn Oracle SQL and Forms 4 – and it ran (if I remember correctly) on an Oracle 7.0 database on a Novell Netware server.
Well, Prof. Dr. Hopf was not only full of energy and very demanding, but he also started the database lessons with a remarkable statement:
“Any individual who’s in my database lesson and believes or wants to tell me that Microsoft has a database should leave the room immediately. Here we’ll talk about real databases: the Oracle database.”
Well, I’m not even sure if SQL Server was already around by then. But MS Access for sure was. And of course the times have changed. Today he wouldn’t exclaim such a statement anymore. But not only for me this had a strong influence. Even though I did use MS Access later on, not as a database but as a front-end tool at several occasions.
I still thank him a lot – for being so demanding, challenging us students – and let us sneak into the world of Oracle databases.
Applying for a job
After I finished my diploma thesis programming a tool to generate the correct IT infrastructure setup for hydro-electric power plants at Siemens in Nürnberg, I started applying for a job. It was clear to me that I wanted to go into the Oracle direction. And I wanted to learn more about this database.
When I was traveling in Morocco during the summer holidays, I bought a German newspaper and read it on a train ride. And there was this ad by Oracle for a job in Field Support. So I applied for this particular job plus three others in the Nürnberg/Munich region. I received 3 invitations and one call by the HR manager of Oracle explaining that this role would require at least 3 years of experience (which wasn’t mentioned in the ad). Anyhow, he asked me if I’d be willing to move to Munich. And as I answered “Yes” he sent my resume to a support manager in Munich. Helge, who became later then my first boss, called me on a Thursday at 21:50h. We had a nice chat over the phone and I did ask him whether these are the usual working hours. He said “No no no … don’t worry.“. Well … 😉
When Oracle interviewed me it was the longest of the 4 interviews I’ve had. And I felt very welcome, especially when Helge did ask me if I would mind a second person joining the interview. Of course, I didn’t mind. And Yiannis entered the room. I knew him already from my one year working as a student for DEC (Digital Equipment) in Nürnberg where I was invited when Yiannis said “farewell” to move to Munich joining Oracle. Later I was placed into a room with 2 support engineers: Helmut, whom I knew from DEC in Nürnberg as well, and Michael Roessmann, who later became the Siebel Support boss. They showed me the typical support job with calls in a queue to pick from – and the work atmosphere was just great. It was way after 18:00h – and nobody seemed to even think about going home.
And then I said “Yes”
A week or two later Helge did call me again – and asked me if I’d be willing to join Oracle and start on Dec 1, 1996 as a Junior Support Engineer. My answer was a clear “Yes“. Helge did promise to ensure training me first and assigning a mentor to me. When I started in December there was no computer (this took another 6 months) but only a VT100 terminal to read email. A day later I was sent to a PL/SQL training. And in the next weeks I learned how to work on a SUN workstation, how to install Oracle, I read a ton of SRs. And after 3 months I took my first SR from the queue.
Oracle moved to a new office not far away to have only one location in Munich – but here it all started in 1996 in the ZKU (Zentrale Kundenunterstützung) aka Support.
I’m still at Oracle – over 20 years later. Not in Support or Presales anymore. But I still love my job, I learn something new every day – and I work in a great team with fantastic people and with excellent customers at the same time. And of course with the best database in the world.
Life’s not bad.