# Friday, 26 February 2016

Our longest-serving employee, Joyce MacDonald, has worked her last day with us. She’s moving away to the other side of the country, where I don’t doubt another firm will soon find themselves blessed with her skills. Joyce joined us full time 16 years (and one month) ago, and had been working part time for us long before that. From the very beginning, every task that she took on she transformed and improved. We needed data entry when we were building a website for a local real estate firm; she took the procedure for adding a listing and kept streamlining it – open these three files at once, copy this once, then paste it here, here, and here – until she had cut the target time in half and then in half again. Later, she helped to develop our Quality Procedures and to bring order to chaos in our software development process as we moved to agile and changed our client mix. She helped our developers to become more organized, to report progress more thoroughly, and to test before committing or deploying. She trained our clients to think about what they really needed and to consider the consequences of what they were asking for. I have never met anyone who cared as much about the success of the firm as Joyce. We’ve employed dozens of people who’ve done good work, worked hard, and cared about our clients. The majority of them, like the majority of people everywhere, never gave much thought to whether the company was doing well, except perhaps to wonder or worry if their job was safe, or if there would be money to spend on perks. I’m not complaining; I think that’s perfectly normal. Joyce is wired differently: it’s fundamentally important to her that things are done right, that the client gets what they want, and that the company makes a profit. That’s what just has to happen, and it’s generally what she’s able to make happen.

Joyce started doing data entry and office administration but quickly moved into more complicated tasks. She’s been managing projects and client interactions for a long time. She also made sure that people did what they were supposed to do when they were supposed to do it, and kept everyone informed and contented. If you’ve ever called our office, you’ve probably talked to her. She’s probably reassured you about something and made sure it got taken care of for you. She has her PMP now, which formally recognizes how well she manages projects, gets requirements out of customers and organized in a way we can all understand, and builds appropriate processes for developers to follow. She’s taken on the challenge of managing not just seasoned, well-behaved, adult developers, but also students and our own grown children, who are not always easy to control. Let’s just say they meet their deadlines for her :-).

Losing Joyce to the west coast hasn’t been a total surprise for us. When we came back from the epic Pacific trip, she got the opportunity to move and though she delayed it, we rather knew it was inevitable. Over the past 6 months or so we’ve adjusted the balance of work we take on so that our remaining clients will be those I can handle client support for, and whose projects I can manage. (Brian will continue to be an architect, developer, and star debugger who doesn’t have to talk to the clients.) For our clients, nothing much will change. For us, there will be a hole in our lives – personally and professionally – that will take a while to settle down. When she joined us, Joyce was a neighbor (I believe we first met in the summer of 92), and for a long time she walked or rode her bike to work in the office attached to our house. Our kids have grown up together. When stuff happens, Joyce is the one we talk it through with – business and not-business. We were able to go to the other side of the world for five weeks, often with no internet, knowing the company would tick along fine without us. It’s going to be an adjustment not having her with us every day, not having her to count on. Still, we know why she’s moving, and we wish her all the best in this new phase of her life.

Kate

PS: If you’ve found this entry as part of due diligence in a hiring process, let me be clear: Hire Her. You won’t regret it.

Friday, 26 February 2016 15:53:18 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]