FC: Prepared for Luck Simon Thomas By Noah Thomas
1: Dedication This book is dedicated to my father Simon Thomas. I hope you enjoy reading this book about your life as much as I enjoyed learning about your life.
2: Taking Chances | I love Ultimate Frisbee. Its fast paced. It involves making quick decisions and being able to adapt to new situations. You have to be able to think on the spot, make the throw and already be cutting in to make the next catch. You need timing, accuracy, and quick reflexes. It’s a game of strategy and skill, but mostly, it’s a game of taking chances. You have to be ready to take chances because like life, Frisbee is unpredictable and anything can and will be thrown at you. Other than the fact that he can’t throw a Frisbee, my dad would be the perfect Frisbee player. He can think on his feet, he can make quick decisions and most importantly, he’s not afraid to take chances. He’s always been a risk-taker and this is one of his stand out attributes. My dad’s life has been full of choices and quick decisions that had to be made, and it was my dad’s ability to take chances and embrace these changes that gave him the key to his success. | Taking chances ("Ultimate Frisbee)
3: The Road to Success
4: For his undergraduate in manufacturing and engineering my father studied at Boston University. With long musician-like hair and casual jeans and t-shirt he was the spitting image of the average 90’s college student (Thomas). Also like many other students in his school he was working at a part time job to pay for his tuition. This job happened to be on campus and taught by one of his professors Lawrence Zeidner. Simon worked as a programmer, using a special programming language called APL to program machinery and robots for his professor. He had always been good with technology so this work came easy to him. He worked for Zeidner throughout his college years building up a good relationship with his professor, and also learning a significant amount about APL programming. | Zeidner was very well known in this field of programming and without his connection to Zeidner and his need to learn APL to keep his job, my father would never have had the chance to be where he is now. | College students relaxing on campus, my dad would have looked like this("Campus Life) | APL programming code ("APL) | An Unexpected Advantage
5: It was May 1992 and my father Simon was working another late shift at the APL lab with a few of his other workmates. It was a small lab, a total of 5 people worked in this lab, which is understandable seeing how APL programming wasn't very popular. At this point only a handful of people used it. Simon was strolling around with his bass slung around his shoulder. He'd play it occasionally since there wasn't much else to do there. His job consisted of managing the programming equipment and the machinery in the lab. From time to time he would assist his professor in teaching some of the other undergraduates in the lab, but other than that he had the rest of the time for his studies and his bass which he would play all the time. He was just about to start closing up shop at the lab when his professor Lawrence Zeidner came in to do a check up. Simon could tell that something else was on the professor's mind but right now he was too busy thinking about the countless job applications he had sent out the past few days. He needed the job desperately, being originally from Malaysia he was studying in the U.S. on a visa which was going to expire soon. If Simon didn't t get a stable job within the next 60 days, he can kiss America goodbye. “My buddy Greg just called” Zeidner said breaking Simon's concentration. “I know you've been looking for a job and you have the problem with your visa and I might have a solution” Intrigued Simon continued to listen to what his professor has to say. “Well IBM’s been opening up some job spots and they need APL programmers and Greg asked me to recommend a few people and I put in a good word for you. If you're interested I can arrange for you to talk to him” He said slowly pausing to allow the information to set in. “There's a few hiccups though, you'll have to move to Dallas and they want you to start very soon, you might have to miss graduation but if you still want the job I can arrange an interview for you” “Sure I’d love to” Simon replied unable to find any other words. “Great” said Zeidner, “I’ll ring him up soon so you two can talk. In the meantime I wanted to make sure you have all the papers ready for the class tomorrow” They discussed their upcoming lessons and the plans for the lab and Simon went back to his apartment and pondered the option (Thomas). | APL programming is a programming language created by Kenneth Iverson of IBM. It stands for A Programming Language and is a very heavily maths based programming type. IBM almost exclusively used APL so the need for APL programmers like my dad was very high in demand. ("The APL)
6: This was one of the many times in my dad’s life when a group of small circumstances came along and culminated into one great opportunity. The fact that the job he worked to pay tuition forced him to learn APL programming, a programming language that almost no one knew. The fact that his professor and boss was a well known APL programmer at that time and knew the head of IBM. The fact that my dad was in desperate need of a job and that his boss recognized this problem and gave him the job offer. Looking back on it Simon's opinions today about his APL programming are, "that was the only time i would ever use it, and i knew that after this it would be completely worthless", but it got him to hist first job and from there everything kept going up. Each of these circumstances on their own would have had little effect on my dad’s life, but it was the fact that they all came together on that May of 1992 that changed my dad’s life forever. Opportunity came knocking, and my dad took the chance without hesitation. | ("I stand)
7: In order to really understand how my father got to where he is now, we have to look back a little further than B.U. It may not seem like it, but my father is very musically talented and has been since he was very young. His whole family was very Malaysian, and made up of all sorts of musicians. Parents, cousins, and uncles alike, everyone sang and most played one or two instruments. | My dad was at the center of all this music and he loved it. So much so that when he was 16 he decided that he was going to become a musician (Thomas). He decided to go to Berklee College of Music after a suggestion from one of his cousins, however a small misunderstanding with his course selections will have changed the course of his life making him the man he is today. | ("ACE) | A Change in Course
8: Simon was sitting in his dorm trying to find something to do before the long day of classes ahead of him. This was a very different for him, laying down on his bed looking for something to do. Most of his time here he was always distracted with work so he didn’t really know what to do to fill in spare time. He took a quick survey around the room and that’s when he saw it. Hidden behind the bookshelf was his bass. He hadn’t played in months because he’d been too sidetracked with everything else. He got out the bass, put on the strap and slung it over his shoulder. He started to play and everything came back to him; the familiar feel, the songs from the first year, he remembered it all, and he missed it. He paused a moment just thinking whether it was worth it taking this course. Was it a mistake? He thought back to when he first came to Berklee. Simon was 18 and very close to graduating. He had sent out his college application to Berklee, the only college that he applied to, and was awaiting news back from the school. He chose Berklee College of Music because he wanted to become a musician, and after being told great things about it by his cousin Jibby achachan, he decided to apply there. When he finally got the acceptance letter he was overjoyed. He made his way to America and after a quick audition enrolled in the Music production and Engineering course. | This course however was not what it seemed. As he went through the year he realized it was less musically involved than he thought. He would spend most of his class time in recording studios learning about the technological side to music and much less time actually playing instruments or learning theory. In the first two years at Berklee he had taken up bass, drums, and guitar on top of his piano that he already played, but in the last two he basically had to give them up because there was just no time (Thomas). This course seemed like a mistake, but he had chosen it so he was going to stick with it. Whatever life had to throw at him he would take it. As good as he was with music, and as much as he loved it, the events that were unfolding told him that music was not the path he was supposed to take (Thomas). | This is a picture of a recording studio at Berklee, My father spent a lot of time working in one of these for his course. ("Music)
9: This bass is similar to the bass my dad owned when he was in college at Berklee. ("Vintage) | Looking back on it now, my father is very glad that he was able to keep up his music to this day, but is also glad that he didn’t pursue it. He loves the job he’s in and everything it’s given him and allowed him to do. He is glad that he chose the technology based music program even though it stopped him from practicing his music because without it he would have never taken the extra tech classes and never been so interested in the field of programming or engineering. He was able to take something that seemed like a mistake at that point, and turn it into something that would better his life.
10: This love for technology that he gained got him his job at IBM. While working with IBM as a programmer my father was exposed to lots of new material. He was very good at his job, but he also liked to delve into the other systems at IBM. As the months went by he found himself focusing more on other aspects at IBM, namely consulting, more than his actual programming job. He was spending more and more hours learning about other parts of IBM, that he slowly lost interest with his own job. | He wasn’t able to get out of the job and IBM wouldn’t let him take up any other position other than programming so Simon left IBM to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers. In 1997 he started working at PwC as a consultant and he enjoyed this much more than his programming job (Thomas). He was still living in Dallas and worked at PwC for five years, but then in 2002 something happened to PricewaterhouseCoopers that would lead to one of the most significant events of his life. | PwC was the consultant firm that my dad worked at after IBM. Working here would lead to one of his greatest opportunities. ("PwC). | Blast from the Past
11: Simon was just getting back from his job at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a consulting firm which Simon had been working for the past 5 years. He enjoyed this job more than his previous one, but he knew that it was a dead end, no moving forward or backwards from where he was. He was a consultant and that’s what he was going to be. He made his way to the living room and opened up his laptop to start on his work, and then a familiar IBM screensaver popped up. He hadn’t thought about IBM in a while. He remember why he had left. He was working as a programmer and had been for over 4 years, but he was slowly losing interest. He was more interested in other parts of the job, but IBM wouldn’t allow him to work anywhere other than the programming sector. This is the reason he decided to move to PricewaterhouseCoopers, because it offered a position in a new job that he felt he wanted to do more. He knew it wasn’t going to take him anywhere and that he probably would be working for PwC till he retired, but he was glad he made the decision. However while checking his mail he found something strange. It was an email from IBM, this was the first one in a long while and he opened it very skeptical about what the contents of said email would be. The email was something he never expected. It explained how IBM had just bought PwC and was planning on expanding the consulting unit farther. He also found that they were going to keep him on as a consultant instead of making him go back to his programming job. He sat back for a little while to soak in what he had just read. | A snapshot of the IBM screensaver that to this day is still on my dad's computer ("IBM purchases).
12: The decision to leave IBM and go to PwC was described by my father as “one of my best bad decisions I ever made” (Thomas). He knew that it would be a dead end job as a consultant and that it wouldn’t get him anywhere, but he took the job anyway to get away from the programming business that he didn’t enjoy anymore. Little did he know that in a few years IBM would come back into his life, but this time giving him the opportunity to work for them as a consultant. In PwC consulting would not have gotten him anywhere, but IBM was looking for an international consulting business and this was just the opportunity that my father needed. After this switch IBM gave him the opportunity to head the consulting firm in India which he accepted and ran for 5 years. This was a great chance for him and his family to experience the rest of the world outside America, and none of this would have been possible if he hadn’t left IBM. It was because he left IBM that he was able to get the consulting job at PwC. Then after IBM bought PwC they kept my dad on as a consultant instead of making him go back to programming. My dad’s willingness to take on these new experiences and embrace the change that was coming is what got him to where he is now. | Without IBM buying PwC, my dad would still be living in Dallas. ("IBM: Communication)
13: What Happened Next? | After becoming a consultant for IBM Simon’s job was moved to India. IBM wanted to expand it’s consulting firm and they chose my dad to head the consulting firm in India. He worked in India for 5 years running the consulting business there and then his job got moved to Singapore. Now he is still living in Singapore and still working for IBM. | Simon's jobs across the globe
14: Through his life, my father has been given a handful or opportunities, but it was his willingness to accept and pursue these opportunities that gave him success. Life brought him in all sorts of directions but he was able to keep his cool and just go with the flow to see where his opportunities would take him. He was able to take the chances that were given to him, and his life slowly all fit into place around him. “There was no way to tell what was going to come next from each situation, but you just had to go with it” (Thomas). He was always ready for changes, and he knew that everything that happened had a reason for happening. Throughout my life my dad has always stressed taking risks and embracing change. My dad may not have the skills of a Frisbee player, but he has the mindset of the ideal Frisbee player. He is ready for change and ready for chances. My dad has taught me many things, but of all of these things I think the most important lesson he taught me was that its ok to take risks, make mistakes, and get back up. “Everything will always work itself out in the end, you just have to be ready for it” (Thomas). Thanks to my dad I am prepared for anything that life throws at me, especially Frisbees.
15: Simon and his family
17: Works Cited | "ACE Features Table - Random Lengths News." 2008. 21 Mar. 2013