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One With the Mainframe

By Destination Z posted Mon December 23, 2019 03:33 PM


There are those who come to the IBM mainframe world hesitantly, mystified, even defiant. There are others who come into this world embracing the platform. Subashree Ramachandran is one of the latter.

Ramachandran is adept when it comes to working within a mainframe environment, and she’s remarkably modest and matter-of-fact when discussing her prodigious affinity for all things mainframe.

A December 2012 graduate of Northern Illinois University (NIU), Ramachandran, 28, first became acquainted with the mainframe world in 2005 as an undergraduate in her native India, at Pondicherry Engineering College. There, she was brought on as a software engineer at HCL Technologies, Ltd., and for about a month she was trained in on a mainframe.

“I was primarily trained in the Assembler programming language and the basic mainframe training was comprised of job control language (JCL), basic sequential access method (BSAM) and VSAM data sets, time sharing option (TSO) commands, but primarily Assembler,” says Ramachandran. “Then I was brought onto a project for a client in Japan, maintaining their Assembler applications, and there I had some opportunities to work with COBOL tools to convert Kanji characters to single-byte character code sets, so that gave me a little bit of knowledge in COBOL.”

Ramachandran says she particularly enjoyed coding in Assembler, and her affinity for the mainframe caught the attention of CA Technologies in Chicago, where she worked as an outside contractor, which was the catalyst that set her firmly on her mainframe path and eventually resulted in her gravitating to NIU to obtain her master’s degree in computer science.

To put it mildly, Ramachandran performed quite well at NIU, especially when it came to her ongoing mainframe education, where she was a two-time Master the Mainframe contest winner in 2011 and 2012, as well as a two-time IBM Destination z Enterprise Computing scholarship winner (2011 and 2012). Or, as she modestly frames it: “Things went really well.”

While mainframe-focused companies across the globe would no doubt be ecstatic to have Ramachandran on staff, she nevertheless quickly found employment after obtaining her master’s degree with Detroit-based Compuware, an IT services and solutions provider.

“My previous experience working in COBOL, both in my last job and with the Master the Mainframe contest has been extremely useful in my new job,” says Ramachandran. “I’ve had a lot of offers, both when I was in school and after graduation, but Compuware has been great for me so far. I don’t think I’ll have any problem finding mainframe jobs for awhile.”