Oracle FAQ Your Portal to the Oracle Knowledge Grid

Home -> Community -> Mailing Lists -> Oracle-L -> RE: Case study for interviewing Oracle DBA

RE: Case study for interviewing Oracle DBA

From: Hollis, Les <>
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2005 13:53:12 -0600
Message-ID: <>

Gee, Ellis, just what do you really think? Please don't hold back any punches


-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Ellis R. Miller Sent: Friday, February 25, 2005 10:49 PM To:;;
Subject: RE: Case study for interviewing Oracle DBA

And even then it also requires 2 to 3 years of Java programming, 2 years 9iAS administration, at least one year in Navy Seals (high compression diving experience preferred), expert in South American topography, frozen
cat juggling, Solaris, OpenVMS, UNIX, Linux, and proficient in <name of obscure proprietary banking/finance/government app here> CCNA desired and
some space program training within the past 5 years helpful. =20

As a Finance/Accounting refugee turned IT professional turned social critic
why do I get the feeling my 3rd degree is more of a requirement and 70-hour
work weeks some HR work-week ratio based on the number of man/woman hours
required to further subsidize that generation of technically illiterate IT
bosses who will coast on a meeting and a glazed doughnut into retirement having never really learned COBOL yet consider the reference a safe haven in
which their technical ignorance can hide...whilst the current generation of
IT professionals get fitted for six additional mechanical arms.=20

All of this withstanding I cannot help but wonder why not a single IT Manager or Director I have reported to has proven to (1) have a passion for
technology, (2) take a vested interest in the real success and continually
learning of the alleged "team", and (3) ever have possessed any real technical expertise relevant to the Smithsonian IT Museum or current requirements/enterprise systems. In fact, very often they cannot write out
one of those sadistic job descriptions or purchase/price standard hardware.
So, remind me, again, aside from calling meetings and those really difficult
budgets (last years budget X 1.05 then haggle from there...I used to do it
for a living) what leadership, mentoring, or even realistic career track do
they provide to their subordinates? =20

It seems out of 14 contracts over just the last 5 years with AMEX, Medtronic, Wells Fargo, NCS Pearson, McKesson, DOD, APS, DHL, etc. there would have been some change in the rank and file as well as the upper Management as from America West to the DOD I was generally hired to "help"
refactor or otherwise salvage severely failed IT projects...yet those same
full time employees and Forrest Gump IT Managers who oversaw budget variances that started at $2 million and climbed to $10 million are still
firmly in place and not a shred of evidence of ANY accountability or merely
lessons learned has transpired. (Much like the current Enron debacle I have
heard great tales of retribution coming over that next horizon yet, alas,
years later those same IT Managers are still riding high and, yet again, hiring their cousins and promoting their learned disabled brother-in-laws).

One could argue that us technically savvy IT professionals are "super smart"
yet entirely "autistic" and don't want to manage, which is a great con and
an excellent way to exploit those who truly are smart and committed yet it
is not true. We don't want to manage THEIR WAY as it is affront to quality
IT leadership and accountability where unchecked (by one of us) the same methodologies lead to certain failure. In fact, their mere presence is often
an insult to anyone who has worked hard to achieve a respectable level of
professionalism and technical competence. Yet there is almost OVERWHELMING
evidence of IT leadership and mentoring in virtually every thread or discussion on this list demonstrating that many if not most of those who contribute would make excellent IT Managers without HAVING to sacrifice an
ounce of passion for quality technology in a flatter organization where knowledge work is the status quo, performance & results matter, and technical expertise filters down allowing for genuine leadership and mentoring of Jr. DBA's, for example, to occur.=20

Imagine an IT department where the Jr. Oracle DBA actually goes to the IT
Manager for technical advice. Why not? It happens on this list everyday and
in a successful IT department based on a respect and commitment to real expertise and continual learning the idiotic yet necessary hours now spent
fighting politics, arbitrary policies, and utter bureaucratic stupidity would easily lend itself to IT Managers who continued to augment their technical understanding and depth while freely offering their leadership and
experience to the team and avoiding those $20 million refactoring projects
where the 70-hour weeks translate exhaustion, burnout, and falling behind
current duties and daily support of the core business.=20

I suggest that most people on this list want to manage they just don't want
to manage the way they would have to manage in the current corporate IT culture and that is entirely justified if not morally sane;) You just don't
want to step into the orthopedic IT dunce cap of the current bureaucratic
regime and that is not a rejection of an IT leadership role that is a rational, objective assessment of the futility of current processes, obsolete policies and procedures, and counterproductive, self-serving politics that have a crippling effect on IT Management at most Fortune 500
corporations. In short, a rejection of all that is an affront to REAL IT Management is a prerequisite for legitimate IT leadership. After all, who
pursued a career in Information Technology to report to a bureaucrat who almost completed their BS in Home Economics circa 1952 yet can't seem to make it past 3pm on Friday and looks out into the department and sees 3 supporting 30 and insists on calling it a team and defies anyone to read the
story of the "Emperors New Clothes" in the next weekly staff meeting and call it something else...and a few really choice words/profanities come to
mind. =20

The only REAL team I have been on in five years is this one. I learn from
this crew everyday and there are at least several dozen high-quality managers and true leaders/mentors that help set the tone and the direction
on this list on a daily basis and provide true value. Now, the question is
if I find this list so invaluable and so do others and it is one of the few
places (sometimes the only one) where I learn from REAL peers why isn't this
sort of expertise, leadership, and mentoring present in ANY of the IT departments I have had the pleasure of propping-up for three to six months
over the past five years?=20

There are others but these seem quite appropriate:=20 /

I hear a lot about family values yet don't see mine very much. I read a lot
about IT governance but not a single significant IT Management policy has
changed (unless you count the ever-wonderful SOX). I am often promised a lot
of perks but that is usually, especially in the last three years, just to
get me to the next contract. I have heard a lot of bold, courageous boasting
about reengineering IT departments and re-examining bad policies and even
inept IT professionals on the brink of being fired yet once the work is done
I am farmed out to that next contract and nothing changes (I always follow
up and stay in touch).=20

If someone on this list is in line for IT Manager or Director I would really
like to know. If those job descriptions for Jr. or Sr. DBA's are a
realistic reflection of the skill sets possessed by those comprising your
core teams or, god forbid, your IT Managers, I would love to hear it. If those bosses warn you before you get laid off the same as they ask you to
forewarn them before you take that next opportunity that would be very inspiring to know. If anyone here works at an organization in which they feel free to openly contribute their best IT expertise and mere opinion without fear of reprisal, vicious office politics, or even being reprimanded
then I would love to hear about it.=20

This list is the best virtual team I have come across in my short IT career
and I find it invaluable both technically and in terms of my motivation. And
as good as it is I just wonder why so many of us don't have the same type of
environment in our IT departments. In fact, I wonder why there are often purely TECHNICAL posts on this list that I am hesitant or even afraid to forward to many alleged peers while contracting or working full time yet do
and am often verbally and politically harassed no matter how much lipstick I
put on and even if I send it with the most expensive bouquet of roses [and
since when is the correct answer to an Algebra problem politically charged?]

Maybe it has something to do with the fact those 80-hour work weeks and almost absurd job descriptions are intended to perpetuate bad IT Management
and moderately corrupt corporations and their IT departments. Hard to say
but maybe I will run it by the HealthSouth IT Manager when I interview with
them down in Birmingham, AL next week;) I will let you know if he takes a
swing on me.=20

-----Original Message-----
On Behalf Of Ryan
Sent: Friday, February 25, 2005 8:30 PM
To:; Subject: Re: Case study for interviewing Oracle DBA

seems like the definition of the junior DBA is the=20 mid-level/senior dba who is so desperate for a job they will work for no


in order for someone to be 'junior' they would have had to be entry level in

the last 2-3 years. there have only been a handful of entry level jobs in=20
the developed world during that period.

> We are currently starting the process of interviewing/hiring a junior
> dba.



Received on Sat Feb 26 2005 - 15:02:45 CST

Original text of this message