IT Application Lead
Rolling and Finishing Mills
I’m originally from Thunder Bay. I came to the Soo to study computer programming at Sault College. As a third-year student, Algoma gave me the opportunity to take part in a co-op learning position. This was my first taste of working in a professional IT environment and I really enjoyed it. I was able to learn a lot and use my new skills to make a real impact. After the completion of the co-op, I was offered a position which I gladly accepted. Since then I’ve never wanted to work anywhere else.
Starting on the business side, as a database administrator and junior developer, I eventually moved to the manufacturing application side where I get to be directly involved in the process of making steel. Today I am the IT Lead for Rolling/Finishing Mills and manage a small team of great people. I’ve always had very engaging, entertaining and meaningful work and a free hand to try new things and approach difficult tasks how I see fit. I also had the opportunity to attend a number of training classes and seminars to help keep my skills up to date.
You get what you put in. There’s so much opportunity and no shortage of interesting work. Working around steel is very exciting. My office overlooks the roller line where we go from liquid steel to a finished coil in less than 30 minutes. It’s fascinating to watch the steel being rolled and to play a part in the complex processes that make it happen.
What are the more challenging aspects of your job?
By far the most challenging aspect is there is more work to be done than time to do it. Narrowing down those projects to ones that provide the best corporate impact is a challenge. To help with this, we, in IT, have been refining a system that works with area management to make sure we are focused on the priorities. The advantage of this is that I always know I am working on something meaningful to the company.
Can you recall a project you found particularly interesting / satisfying?
One of the ones I am currently working on is the Level 2 automation for our new Slab Cutting machine. This machine takes a long slab and, using movable cutting torches, cuts it into a number of smaller slabs. The software I’m working on will take the planned cuts from our Manufacturing Execution Systems combined with actual measurements from the machine and formulate ideal cutting instructions. It will then send these to the machine which will execute them. I recently went to Spain for a factory acceptance test to trial this software. Seeing this large machine react based on a program that I wrote was very satisfying.
How would you describe the work culture?
I’ve worked with so many great people during my time here. My colleagues are always willing and eager to assist me, even though I know they are dealing with their own challenges. In addition, I work very closely with our operations teams. We have a very diverse demographic with varying levels of computer literacy and yet I am always impressed by how flexible, accepting and willing to learn people are when we bring in new projects that disrupt the status quo in their area.
Sault Ste. Marie offers great quality-of-life opportunities. How do you like to spend your time outside of work?
Since starting at Algoma, I’ve bought a house, got married and had three great kids. I very much enjoy living in Sault Ste. Marie. The city is the perfect size for me, not too big, not too small. Even though I live on the outskirts of town my commute to work takes about 10 minutes. In my off hours, I enjoy working on my house, going to my cottage, and hanging out with friends (most of whom are either current or former Algoma employees).