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       My Turn - Achieving the American Dream, p.1

           Jonathan Williams
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My Turn - Achieving the American Dream
Silicon Valley is home to several large Technology and Pharmaceutical  Biotech corporations. Chris moved to this area in early 2000. He has been handling data for prestigious companies for well over ten years. His work ethic and morals have kept him employed.

  During his tenure at a Fortune 100 company, he is offered a position at a small Biotech. It is not too long after taking this new position that he is promoted to Management. The IT Directory who Chris reports to gives him the choice of playing the corporate game or getting fired. Chris must either choose being ethical and getting fired or keeping his job by being unethical. After much thought, he realizes that honesty and integrity have kept him from achieving the American dream. Tired of living paycheck to paycheck he decides to play the corporate game. This decision will not only affect his professional life but his personal life as well.

  My Turn

  Achieving the American Dream

  By Jonathan Williams

  Copyright © Jonathan Williams, 2013

  All Rights Reserved.

  No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

  Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and events are a product of the author’s imagination and any similarity to actual persons, locations, business entities are purely coincidental.

  U.S. Copyright Office

  TXu 1-858-378

  Edited by: Melanie Armstrong

  Cover design by Syd Gill / Syd Gill Designs

  Table of Contents

  About the Book

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  1. Data and a Job Offer

  2. New Job

  3. Layoffs and Promotion

  4. Play the Game

  5. Reinventing oneself

  6. Porn and Yoga

  7. Drug War

  8. Encounter with Debbie

  9. Drug Approval

  10. True Love and the CEO

  11. Small Blowup

  12. Living the High Life

  About the Author

  Chapter 1

  “Data and a Job Offer”

  It’s the same old routine for Chris Parks. He arrives at his office on time and turns on his computer. He walks to the cafeteria and prepares a cup of coffee. Chris has become complacent, yet again. The coffee is provided for free and is one of the few perks at the company. Not much of one but still a perk. You would think at McKinley, one of the largest pharmaceuticals in the world, there would be more. But to the contrary, like most big companies—the larger they are, the tighter they are with their money.

  By the time Chris returns to his office, his computer is at the login screen. Logging into a computer is similar to punching a time card. It’s when a person officially starts work. Just like a timecard, the information on it is tracked and reviewed by management.

  Chris works in the Information Technology (IT) Department as a Database Administrator (DBA). He begins reading his first couple emails to prioritize any issues that may have surfaced over the weekend. As he replies to the first one, the phone rings.

  “Hello, this is Chris,” answering a little hesitantly as a Monday morning phone call is usually not good.

  “Chris, this is Suzanne,” a husky, female voice replies.

  “Suzanne, how are you? Great to hear from you!” Chris responds with a sense of delight and relief.

  Suzanne Seimens is a pesky, Russian woman with a heavy accent who Chris used to work with at McKinley prior to her resigning. From her voice, she sounds like a big, heavyset woman but she’s actually slender and petite. They had a good working relationship and went to a different company. There are few people who he respects and Suzanne’s one of them.

  “Good Chris. Glad you answered. I want to talk about a job opportunity for you. Do you have time now?” she asks energetically.

  “Sure, let me close my door.” Chris shuts it and sits down. He pushes his chair away from his desk and throws his feet up as Suzanne proceeds to tell him about the position.

  After describing the job, she asks, “How does it sound?”

  “It sounds great. Can you give me a couple days to think about it though?”

  “Sure Chris, but we are looking to bring someone in quickly. I’ll let Margaret know that you’re giving the position some thought then. The company is a small, fun environment. It’ll be very different from McKinley. Think about it and let me know.”

  “Okay, thanks Suzanne. I’ll call you in a couple days.” Chris hangs up and collects himself. It’s always nice when someone is recruiting you, he thinks to himself.

  He sits quietly, pondering the pros and cons of staying in his current position versus taking a new one. He enjoys his present job. His crew is laidback and it is somewhat challenging. There’s also a lot of room for growth. Another benefit of working for a larger corporation like McKinley is that, though he hasn’t yet, he could relocate if he wanted to, which would meet his aspirations in discovering new locales. On the flip side, work to live has always been Chris’s motto but he feels at this job that it’s been the other way around.

  Chris has about 12 years of skilled experience in administering databases that run on platforms, such as Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server. He has worked on other databases prior to these but they’re obsolete now.

  Just about everything people do on the Internet, via a computer or some other device, is tracked in some sort of database. For instance, all of a person’s bank transactions are housed in a database. Or when someone goes to the doctor that information is stored in a database, as well. Results from Google searches are also housed in some sort of structured form. Even when a person walks into the DMV and completes a form that information is then transferred into a database.

  Chris is responsible for maintaining these databases. This means he needs to protect the data from unauthorized access, help to keep the quality of the data intact, confirm the recovery of data and several other tasks related to security. Data integrity means that if someone has three hundred thousand in the bank that the person actually has three hundred thousand dollars in the bank, not a penny more, not a penny less. Over the span of his career, Chris has never lost data nor has he ever had a security breach on the databases that he’s responsible for. He has an unblemished track record, and he’s proud of that.

  From an early age, Chris understood that data was the key to everything. He didn’t need a 9/11 incident to tell him that certain systems needed to talk to each other. He also didn’t need a Wikileaks incident or an NSA leak to tell him that access to any kind of data must be reviewed with scrutiny.

  Data is the backbone of any corporation or organization. It doesn’t matter what industry it is. In the pharmaceutical field, for instance, it’s easy to price a pill but knowing how to price the recipe of a blockbuster drug that’s been stolen and then generically manufactured in a third world country is something else entirely. Or owning a Starbucks store with easy-to-price products versus being the recipient of the formula on how to create and run a Starbucks chain. A nuke or the actual blueprint? The financials of a company? The results of a patient study? Everything is data and Chris is responsible for it. It’s a highly specialized, unique position and a huge responsibility as well.

  Not convinced about data, take a look at Google, Facebook or Twitter. Data! Chris built his entire career on it. He’s a DBA, and one of the beauties in his position is that you get to work behind the scenes. Compared to other departments, there’s not as much public exposure or politics either, and he’s always been grateful for that.

  However, the job can still be extremely stres
sful especially if you’re maintaining a system that faces the public and without high availability, which means that if a computer goes down, other ones are still available. Then if it has performance issues or shuts down, this stress only heightens. The last thing a retailer wants is to have a slow or unavailable website. Loss of customers equal loss of revenue. In theory, a system can never go down as it ultimately impacts the bottom line of a corporation.

  Though Chris enjoys his current position, working at a smaller biotech sounds like it could be an even better opportunity. Working at a smaller firm could also expose him to more of the business side of the biotech world. Plus Suzanne is a sharp woman; she’s a straight shooter, the type of person he likes. She calls the kettle black, if the kettle’s black. She tries to avoid politics as much as possible, too. She doesn’t like it. Maybe that’s why he respects her.

  Prior to the pharmaceutical  biotech field, he worked in the financial industry. Chris changed professions because he wanted to help people more. The biotech industry creates a product that improves the quality of life and cures diseases. He liked the sounds of this new opportunity because it allowed him to stay in the same field.

  Suzanne manages a handful of people at Biokinz and Chris would be one of them. Her main skill set is project management. She also has a solid technical background. He would be hired as a DBA and would also be working on some applications, such as web servers and thick clients, which are a way of accessing the databases. For example, when someone types, they land on a web page. Then when they key in their login name and password, they access a database, which checks their identity. The webpage or thick client is essentially a window into the database.

  The phone rang. “Hello?”

  “Hi Chris, it’s Suzanne.”

  “Hi Suzanne.” Three days have passed and Chris hadn’t called her yet.

  “Have you had a chance to think about the job opening?”

  “Yeah, it sounds terrific. It seems like I would be learning more of the business side, too, which seems like a component I would enjoy.”

  “Oh yes. You’ll definitely be learning more of the business side in this position. Drug safety is a department we work closely with as well. They are a wonderful group of people. The research team also has a good group of people working in that department. Now I have to tell you, Chris, the company has had some recent layoffs, but I think the two of us should be fine, at least for the next couple of years anyway.”

  Suzanne wants him to understand that the company is not as stable as his current position, which holds true for most of the larger corporations because they’re just too big to fail.

  “But I mentioned this already.”

  “Yeah, you also have some drugs in the pipeline.” He wants her to know that he understands the business.

  “Yes. We have two drugs in the pipeline. One is in the third phase and the other is in the first.”

  “Yeah, I saw that the company seems to be doing okay.” Chris had a friend of his check the financials of Biokinz. He indicated that there’s about two years of cash flow left. So if the company goes under tomorrow, Chris could expect to be employed for another two years, at least.

  “Well, what do you think?” she asks delicately.

  “When would the start date be?”

  “As soon as you can. As I said, we’re hoping to bring someone in soon.”

  “I would just need to give my two week’s notice. That would put me at the beginning of December.”

  “Sure. Beginning of December would be fine.” He senses excitement in her voice.

  “Okay. Can I start December 1st then?”

  “Sure Chris.”

  “Sounds good. I’ll put my notice in today. It’ll give them a little over two weeks.”

  “Great. I’m so happy. You’ll like this place.”

  “It’ll be terrific working together again.”

  “Yes. I’ll give Margaret the good news, and we’ll send a package out to you this week.”

  “Sounds good. I’m looking forward to it.”

  “Me too.”

  “Okay, well I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.”

  “Yes. Bye-bye.”

  “Okay, bye Suzanne. Thanks again.” He hangs up the phone.

  Chris knows the company is a little unstable. He’s also aware that there have been layoffs and, as a result, the firm is in the process of rebuilding itself. One thing that does peak his interest though but that he doesn’t put too much thought into at the time is that the company is being investigated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for questionable behavior.

  Even with these red flags and the inherent risk involved, there are several reasons why Chris decides to take the job. First, he wants to work for a person who he respects. Second, he would be doing what he loves and according to Suzanne, would be joining a fun team. Third, though not as high on his list but still important, is that Chris would get a salary increase and a little stock in the company, too. But money has never driven him. Regardless of his income, he always seems to live paycheck to paycheck.

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