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The Peer Ally


March 20, 2017 by Mike Hillwig

When I first started my job six years ago, the guy responsible for onboarding me started introducing me to all of the Oracle DBAs. At that point I was the only SQL DBA in the company. Knowing I wouldn’t be working as closely with the Oracle DBAs, I asked him to introduce me to the two most important people I needed to know. That would be my storage admin and my Windows admin. I’ve talked about my relationship with my sysadmin team before. I still mean every word of that.

The first person on that list I met was Tina, our storage admin. She was curious why I intentionally wanted to meet the storage admin on my first day. My response was “It’s simple. I’m only as good as you are. We’re going to become good friends.” My words were prophetic. Over the next few years, Tina would become our Sysadmin Operations Manager. She’d also become one of my closest friends.

The second person I met was Chris, our senior Windows guy. Chris is a Yinzer–a native Pittsburgher, much like myself. Again, my statement was “I’m only as good as you are. We’re going to become good friends, too.” Little did I know how close we’d become.

Back to Tina. Six years later, we’re more than just friends. She’s my confidante. We share things we probably shouldn’t. We know how to pull each other off the ledge. We also know how to put each other out on the ledge. I know how to push her buttons. She knows how to make me cry.

Frequently, I’ll walk into Tina’s office unannounced and close the door. That’s when we get started. We complain about our bosses. We complain about our employees. I complain about sysadmins. She complains about DBAs. We vent. We blow off steam. We yell at each other and get things off of our chests so we don’t say them in anger to the wrong people.

Tina is my peer, ally, and mentor all in one. Everybody should have a Tina in their office.