Three Big Questions for Bob Thomas

I am pleased to present the first in a series of mini-interviews, “Three Big Questions for …” That’s it – just three questions to inform you about one of the leaders in today’s mainframe world.

Today’s mini-interview is with Bob Thomas. Many in our field will recognize the name, but even more recognize his publications. I remember reading Mainframe Journal back in the day. Bob has always kept up with the times, morphing that publication to Enterprise Systems Journal to z/Journal today, and you can now find him on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as on his own blog site.

Without further ado, here are … Three Big Questions for Bob Thomas!

Question #1: For those that may not be familiar with you and your work, can you please fill us in on your current position/responsibilities, how long you’ve doing that, and any background information you’d like to share?

I am currently publishing two magazines targeted to users of IBM mainframe computer systems: z/Journal and Mainframe Executive. In actuality, these two publications are direct descendents of my first venture into mainframe publishing in 1986 when I launched 4300 Quarterly, which became 4300 Journal when its frequency expanded (What was I thinking, GQ Quarterly is still a monthly!). I changed the name again from 4300 Journal to Mainframe Journal when we extended coverage from VSE/VM systems to include MVS. Then in September 1990, when IBM announced the System/390 (and temporarily killed the term “mainframe” in favor of “enterprise system”, I followed suit and again changed the magazine’s name to Enterprise Systems Journal with the October 1990 issue. Here we are in 2009: It’s 23 years later I’m still publishing to IBM mainframe users.

Please excuse the blatant plug here, but subscriptions to both z/Journal and Mainframe Executive are free worldwide. Feel free to read the latest issues at http://zjournal.tcipubs.com/issues/zJ-DigitalF-M09.html and http://zjournal.tcipubs.com/issues/ME/ME.Digidition.Mar-Apr09.html.

Question #2: I understand you are developing a new service to match mainframers looking for jobs with companies in need of mainframers. In these economic times, that sounds like a truly needed service. Can you tell us more about it?

As I say on my LinkedIn page, I am concerned that many experienced mainframe professionals have lost their jobs recently while many mainframe shops need good people. What is frustrating is that these two groups are not finding each other very well. And in my view there is just no good way right now for them to find each other. I don’t think today’s IT recruiters are real good at bringing these two parties together very effectively. I am seriously going to look into providing a good mainframe matchmaking service whereby we bring our mainframe expertise (as well as that of several mainframe gurus) to bear on this situation. At this particular point in time, I am saddened to see so many good mainframers without jobs. I welcome comments and suggestions on this matter to bob@mainframezone.com.

And finally, Question #3: What is something about you that very few people know about?

Because I have been in the publishing business for over 25 years and graduated from the University of Missouri many people assume I was a Journalism major (MU has about the best J-School there is anywhere). Not true, I didn’t take a single journalism course – rather I went on a football scholarship.

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