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Alumni Network: SLIS Alumnus Shows Flexibility Is Key To Success

2001-12-13
Mike Gold
Alumni Network

SLIS Network, Alumni Magazine, Fall 2001

Alumni Network

SLIS Alumnus Shows Flexibility Is Key To Success

by Diane J. Squire

FROM ACADEMIC LIBRARIAN TO KNOWLEDGE MANAGER TO PROJECT MANAGER VIA THE DOTCOM RISE AND FALL, MICHAEL GOLD HAS COME AND GONE ALMOST FULL CIRCLE SINCE HE LEFT SLIS 13 YEARS AGO.

Gold, MLS'88, is currently a vice president/project manager in ETS Enterprise Technology Services, the new IT group, at J.P. Morgan Chase.

"My MLS gave me two skills which were crucial," says Gold. "One was an understanding of information and the second was the ability to explain and translate issues and questions to help people find items in the library. It was only a short step to being able to do the same with business issues and requirements and translate those into technical requirements so that software could be developed from them."

Gold began his career path at the math and computer science library at Purdue University, where he started using the early Internet. He then moved to the University of Toronto as a map and reference librarian, "courtesy of my army experience in military intelligence working with maps."

While in Toronto, Gold began offering Internet courses, later teaching at CUNY and at businesses, schools, hospitals, the ALA, and the U.S. Information Agency, which sent him to Japan to teach U.S. diplomats how to use the Internet.

Tired of traveling and bored with teaching, Gold worked as a web developer at Prodigy, an IBM venture, then moved to Symbol Technologies, Vignette, and eventually to a six-figure salary as a director of client solutions at SNAZ Commerce Solutions, a New York City dotcom. SNAZ dealt in mobile commerce, or m-commerce, which Gold describes as "the equivalent of e-commerce but (it) used phones and handhelds rather than PCs and laptops."

The company ran out of cash last spring and is now in bankruptcy.

Gold soon landed on his feet -- he thought -- as a vice president in the knowledge management group of LabMorgan (www.jpmorganchase.com/labmorgan), the e-finance arm of JP Morgan Chase, which appeared to offer the benefits and stability that the dotcom world couldn't provide. He described Intraspect, the web-based system for which he was responsible, as "a file server on steroids" that allows for collaboration and the sharing of information, e-mail, and files in a number of applications. As content librarian, he was responsible for the taxonomy of a collaborative web-based system and also served as the webmaster for the LabMorgan Intranet.

"This was a very interesting job, and it was a link back to my library days," says Gold. "I think that with knowledge management and other programs spreading at my firm - and in the Army and Navy - the opportunities available for librarians are only going to expand. The need in government and business is getting stronger for taxonomy experts - read: indexers, catalogers, and so on."

Gold says many people do not realize that librarians were early adopters of the Internet.

"If you think about it, librarians were at the forefront of the digital age," he says. "They were good at translating what the customer needed into something that could be found, anywhere. And they were adventurous enough to see how the old card catalog methodology could become so much more."

Recently, even LabMorgan was affected by the dotcom fall, so Gold quickly shifted and, in his present vice president position, is leading his department, STS Strategic Technology Sourcing, in building an internal web site for sourcing information.

"Anyone who is buying IT goods and services: consultants, hardware, software, etc., will come to the site to assist them in making choices," he says. "By combining all the information we will save money for the firm. We have already saved $200 million. We will identify three or four groups across the firm, for example, using IBM or Oracle, and we will align the suppliers with our 'negotiators' who, because we now have larger numbers, can negotiate lower prices. We will also rank suppliers and create vendor score cards."

Gold has a few words of advice for current SLIS students and recent graduates.

"In a word, it's about computers," he says. "Remain open-minded about changing technologies when it's time. Read magazines. See what's happening. There is so much available out there. Stay flexible, job hop if you need to, try new things and be willing to adapt and change. But most important, become a life-long learner."

Posted December 13, 2001

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