Andy Gerb

I am a "Software Team Leader", which means I lead a group of people who write computer programs to support the Hubble Space Telescope. Here's how I spend my day:

- Keeping track of all of the work we have been asked to do.

- Helping team members to learn how to do their jobs better and encourage them to work in a way that takes full advantage of their strengths.

- Talking with the people who use our computer programs so we make sure we give them what they need.

I first decided on a career in computers in high school, when I realized I had a talent for programming. I studied Computer Science in college and went on to get my Master's degree. After being a programmer for several years, however, I realized that I needed a job where I could have more interaction with people. I set about reading every book I could get my hands on about leadership and taking every opportunity to study the subject.

The best thing about my job is that it allows me both to apply my technical talent to the peaceful pursuit of science as well as giving me an opportunity to contribute to the personal and professional growth of the other team members.

The thing I like least about my job is that it is very hard to identify the positive results of my work. When I was a programmer, I could point to all the programs I wrote and all the people whose lives they made easier. Now when my team has a success or the members grow, it is not always clear how I contributed to it.

I spent a lot of my time reading when I was younger. Ages 13 & 14, I was fascinated by astronomy. I had been given a tiny telescope as a gift, and I was always poking it at the sky. When I was 15, my interest shifted toward computers. My teacher gave me a key to the school computer room, so I could go in after school and learn how to make it do things that the other kids could not.

When I was a teenager, I usually stayed away from the type of stuff that every else was interested in (sports, music and parties, for example) and instead spend my time with things that interested me. This did allow me to acquaint myself with astronomy and computers but more importantly, it let me measure myself by my own standards rather than what all the other kids thought about me. More than anything else, this ability to set my own expectations for myself and candidly evaluate myself based on them has prepared me for a career in leadership.

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