I only spoke with Steve Mills a couple of times and attended presentations he delivered at conferences a few others, but he has had an enormous impact on my career. Steve was the executive sponsor of the DB2 Gold Consultants program, of which I have been a member since 1998. Steve recognized that specialized, deep technical skills were imperative to enabling the adoption and successful deployment of IBM’s world-class, function-rich – but let’s face it: enormously complex – information technologies. Through the DB2 Gold Consultants program, Steve cultivated a cadre that were not only among the best DB2 practitioners, but foremost in the world in relational database technology in general. Folks like Richard Yevich, Bonnie Baker, Frank Ingrassia, Terry Purcell, Jan Henderyckx, and Gerry Hodge. I am humbled to be numbered among them.
For years IBM would sponsor a week-long DB2 Gold Consultants conference, usually at Silicon Valley or Toronto Lab. Dozens of presenters including IBM Fellows like Pat Selinger, Don Haderle, Don Chamberlin, Hamid Pirahesh, and Curt Cotner would tell us about broad industry trends and specifics regarding features and functions in vNext, vNext+, and vNext++. It was an amazing feast of insight which enabled me to better serve my clients. None of that would have happened without Steve’s leadership.
An even more critical and direct aspect of Steve’s support was his sponsorship of contracting vehicles for DB2 Gold Consultants which enabled us to engage directly with IBM without having to add additional layers of third-part procurement. He understood the practical problem of small businesses and sole practitioners trying to navigate a large, cumbersome bureaucracy. One time I explained to Steve that even with the contracting vehicle in place, IBM buyers occasionally refused to use it. His response was “Sometimes the inmates are running the asylum”. I didn’t hear anything for a couple of weeks and then I received a call from a senior IBM procurement officer who introduced himself by saying: “Hi, I’m one of the ‘inmates'”. Of course, the problem was resolved.
Steve Mills, the quintessential old-school “wild duck” IBMer, will be missed.