I visited the site and decided that 'this Pythian bunch look pretty good'. At the time I was finding my work pretty unrewarding and looking back longingly on my days at Sun Microsystems. I'd been thinking that I might go permanent if I could find a special job, particularly with a technology company. When I looked over Pythian's site they seemed like the type of organisation I had in mind and I made a note in my to do list - 'Pythian?'
Work got better and so I put it on the back-burner until a couple of weeks ago when, whilst looking over the Oracle-L digest (which I don't normally get round to reading properly), I saw this post.
Which is slightly incredible, but true. The posting only confirmed Pythian as an employer keen to recruit quality people. I applied for the job by email and heard back from Paul Vallee a day or so later. We spent a long time discussing what Pythian was about, what I was about and how a move to Canada would work for me. It didn't take long to realise that this is a man who I'd enjoy working with. After another conversation the next night, we moved on to the interview questions.
They were terrific and I would reproduce them if I could, but I promised Paul I wouldn't so that he isn't forced to come up with some more However, if you want to get an idea of the approach, there's an article on Pythian's website describing some of the reasoning behind the questions.
There were four questions in total and they probably took about 4-5 hours to complete. At times I was cursing the effort required because I was working on them after driving home from a busy day at work but that was coupled with a growing feeling that I wanted to work with other people who'd answered these questions well. They were very open-ended so I had an opportunity to do things my way and demonstrate my overall approach, rather than mere technical knowledge gleaned from books or the web. It was how all DBA interviews should be and, if they were, it would reduce the number of charlatans in the industry. I know charlatan is a strong word, but I've worked with some of them and I mean it! Suffice to say, if Pythian consists of people who have answered these questions well, that's who I'd want to be looking after my databases if I had to out-source the support!
I was offered the job but after discussing it with those near and dear to me, I turned it down for personal reasons. Suffice to say that if Pythian were based in Edinburgh, or somewhere a bit closer than Canada, I would be working there soon. Should they ever open an office in Europe, I'll be first in the queue. I'd still like to think I might have the opportunity to work with them in future when my personal circumstances have changed.
And here's the best bit. Pythian are still looking to hire so if you're a good DBA who is looking to work with other good DBAs (and you can move to Ottawa), Pythian might well be for you. As I said to Paul, I've never had such a positive interview experience with someone who understands what motivates a good DBA. But beware those questions - an OCP approach won't cut it, I'm afraid
Finally, for any past, present or future employers, customers or associates, I want to emphasise that I had no intention of blogging about this until it came up in discussion with Paul and he was very open to the idea. Which sums him up really - not your average boss! (And for any other bloggers out there, I think the blog worked in my favour, even allowing for cuddly toy insanity! The ZX Spectrum games were probably a factor, too ...)
Oh, I must squeeze in the punchline before i finish. If you look at Lisa's comment here - that's the Pythian job she's talking about! I'd already applied but couldn't really say anything at the time
Tracked: Sep 05, 15:12
Hey, Canada is a great place to live! Where in the Great White North are they? I've already got a great job, but they're worth a peek if they're nearby, right?
Pythian was once the employer of both IOUG's Michael Abbey, and current Oracle-L list member, Babette Turner.
This Oracle World of ours is truly a small one ...
Robert is right. Canada is a great place to be but Ottawa??? Yikes, that's where all the politicians are...
Great hockey team, though.
Talk about irony!
It's a shame you didn't take the job, but like you said you have to balance out the work and the personal life.
Maybe this will be the motivation that Pythian need to open an office in Edinburgh!
"Where in the Great White North are they?"
Ottawa and, although Paul included plenty of information links, I knew you were from there originally and would have been in touch for advice if it had all gone through
"This Oracle World of ours is truly a small one ..."
It certainly is. That's what I was thinking when I originally read Lisa's comment about a great job in Canada!
"Ottawa??? Yikes, that's where all the politicians are..."
... and where the ridiculous winter temperatures are! But I'm Scottish, so we're hard as nails and that wasn't the reason.
"Maybe this will be the motivation that Pythian need to open an office in Edinburgh!"
I hope so In fact, there's an empty office at the end of my street, I think.
Yes, I am from Ottawa ... which is 2882 km away from Calgary.
To give you a frame of reference, Paris and Moscow are only 2509 km apart.
Doug: Ottawa winters may be bad, but it gets worse. Like for example Winnipeg where it gets -50.
Fellow Canuck Peter: They may be politicians, but at least we booted the more corrupt ones out last week, eh?
Just checked out the Pythian site. If they can service their clients remotely from Canada, should be feasible to let you work without relocating ?