My career history

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jethro's picture

I started my career mostly by accident, opting to study accounting rather than chemistry at school because it sounded easier. I topped the school and fell from there into an accounting degree. Leaving home required cash, more than a student allowance could provide, so I naturally gravitated toward chartered accounting part time, and then full time, eventually quitting the study. I soon discovered I was more interested in spreadsheets and budgeting than in producing annual accounts for tax. I left chartered account to go on to hold a number of management accounting roles and in that time energetically pursued the study of Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, Quattro Pro and VP planner. After the commercial accounting experience in the early ‘90s in New Zealand, in 1993 I went to Australia and initially worked as a management accountant for a firm. However my heart was not in it, and I left after 18 months to start my own consultancy business Jethro Consultants in partnership with my new wife Judith.

Initially I worked for another consulting form for 6 months, gaining valuable insight into consulting, earning cash on a daily basis - tough - and learning how to meet, work with and get paid by clients.

After that, we branched out into providing accounting services and consulting work to a number of clients. Actually to start with we knocked no one back as we were desperate for the work and income! However we were able to double our previous income in this first 12 months.

Three years later, in late 1999 I picked up a contract configuring GST for a large city council. This project completed August 2000. At that stage due to the completion of GST projects all over the country and the Y2K debacle, companies and organisations had overspent their IT consultancy budgets and there was suddenly a glut of contractors on the market competing for very few jobs. Most of them happily dropped their rates $10-$20 per hour to get jobs. We decided not to do so, and in order to retain the relatively higher rates we needed to sustain our income decided to market ourselves in a very narrow niche. This was a watershed time for us. We quickly found work as financial modellers and budgeters utilising advanced Excel techniques. Now we were no longer reliant on the "accountant" tag (and hourly rate expectations) I had carried for 10 years, but while the market was lucrative it was shallow.

At this time internet usage really started to grow after the panic over Y2k was over. We had had a website since 1994 (you can still view it!) but we felt that the web was where the next growth wave of business was coming globally. We decided to expand. Together with some technical partners, we founded a webhosting business. Income was virtually nil and expenses were high. We ran this at a loss for a number of years as we worked out how to host sites successfully, build websites and teach users. Quickly we found out the biggest hurdle was not usually technical, but in educating clients what to expect from a website and what to use them for.

In 2004 we grew too big for the small partnership that was still running consulting, accounting and the miniscule web business. We desperately needed more staff and sub contractors, and the partnership was not the right business vehicle for that. We took the leap and started a company Jethro Management and shifted all the software development and consulting work into the company name. The partnership retained the accountancy clients and the web hosting business. It sub contracts any required software development from the company. The company employees all the staff and subcontractors.

This enabled us to expand our operations to sub contract software development work primarily in Excel and VBA, devoted largely to developing large complex financial models and budgets or the need for automated macros. With my freed time I was able to reduce my consulting to 3-4 days a week and spend the other 2 days on web research, web development and servicing our accounting clients.

Late in 2003 I discovered blogging by chance at a seminar where the speaker mentioned he had a blog. I was intrigued and went to his website. That night I set up my first blog, though it took until the next day to get it working. From there Jude and I explored the world of blogging. Jude and I had already been users of mIRC and before that green screen scrolling chat channels, so meeting people over the net wasn't new to us. Our first subcontractors, Rohan and Troy, were met in chat channels. What was new was the instantaneous feedback and part of a community feeling that could be gained from blogging. The viral social aspect of non linear relationships was apparent immediately. Within a few months we were writing on over 20 blogs between us. It soon became clear we needed a better way of doing this, and to find the angle for business.

In 2004 we discovered Drupal and CMS. Over the last 3 years we have studied and learnt Drupal til we know it backwards. Our staff have learnt to use Drupal and we now present a tight knit team of developers, maintenance and technical staff as well as a passionate enthusiasm for the Drupal CMS software. To date we have set up numerous blogs, small business websites and not for profit community websites using Drupal.

SharePoint from Microsoft became the next obvious target with our company intranet being set up using that. I was even consulting as a SharePoint evangelist with one firm for 12 months.

Late in 2006 we launched an initiative with some potential partners to develop a larger business. We wanted others to work with us and share in the profits. As it turned out all the negotiations with the other potential partners fell through for a variety of reasons, but we took the opportunity presented to us and launched anyway on our own. At his point we engaged a design company to redefine our corporate identity. Our brief required them to recognise the duplicate nature of the two organisations and the distinct service offerings they contributed under the Jethro banner. They helped us recognise that there were 4 key service areas that we offered our clients: Innovation, Collaboration, Technology and Support. Using a circular motif, this was developed into a colour scheme and suite of common logos. The logos and design themes are present in our stationary, business cards, incorporated into our websites and user avatars, stuck to our company car fleet and on a range of clothing provided to our staff and sponsored sportspeople. The excitement generated from "the spots" turned into new business almost immediately with the visibility of the logo and company details on vehicles, the new themed company websites and very professional business cards. It was a step in the right direction.

By early 2007 our company portfolio had expanded to include extended research and comparative analysis on the best information design solutions, web technologies, social networking concepts and behavioural software being adopted by other, major web companies around the world.

During this time we pruned down our blogging to a few major outlets, primarily and We sell cooking eCourses electronically through and educate and inform clients via a newsletter mailing list of Excel users in advanced Excel techniques. We continued to focus heavily on building and developing not for profit organisation websites, extending our theme development skills and building the team.

By this time our software development portfolio of clients had grown to include large and prestigious organisations such as Queensland Department of Main Roads, Queensland Investment Corporation, AAPT, Suncorp Metway Bank, Datacare and Anglo Coal amongst many others. Our website portfolio was still small, but contained a number of key clients whom we had grown with and built relationships with. We were employing contractors in the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and even sourced one chap from Japan. On his return to Australia he came to work for us as soon as we found him work. We were now receiving work requests directly from our internet presence and the job queues were starting to build. Finally we could start being picky about who our clients were. Ever since the contractor glut of 2000, we had decided that we were worth the higher price, because our commitment to excellence was worth it. The logos boldly state that Jethro Is Excellence, and our prices to customers are at a premium as a result. However the adage of "you get what you pay for" holds true. We are not budget developers, but we do do a good job. Our clients recognise this and the repeat business speaks for itself.

By this stage my personal blog had grown to be too big for just myself and I employed a part time research assistant. As I locate new technologies she reviews them and drafts the posts for As often as we can we report on all the productivity tools, technologies and skills I am continually discovering in my professional consulting work as a software developer, office worker, and knowledge management consultant.

The key driver for doing this is exclusively our passion and a desire to get greater and deeper reward for the good work we had done, beyond the monetary compensation and professional recognition levels. Freely sharing with others what we are continually learning while working, using computers, writing software, coordinating with others in a team and in projects, managing email, documents and spreadsheets, gives us a much greater sense of having a meaningful role in this life than any high-paying contracts could give us. Providing others with the means to empower themselves to become more productive technologically, helps them gain some independence over the systems that rob them of their innate creativity is a tangible reward. The friendships built along the way are deep and lasting and that value cannot be measured in monetary terms.

In March 2010 we sold the Jethro consulting, software and web development businesses to IT Integrity but retained a stake. For two years I worked as a Business Manager for IT Integrity responsible for overseeing a number of projects, customer accounts and business development.

During the 2009-2012 period we actively built the two photography businesses, Dreamcoat Photography and Dreamsport Photography.

In March 2012 we left IT Integrity and returned to running Jethro with the original customers and business operational structure as before.


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judith's picture

Well done on your write up,

Well done on your write up, but you forgot the fact that in that time frame we had 4 kids, many pets, a chook house, and moved house a few times.
You have done well for us, thankyou.

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