Hank Birkdale is a jack-of-all-trades and master of a few. He first started coding when DBase III was published, quit coding in disgust when, with his friend Tim Kenney, they developed the first Quicken-like program for Windows – Windows 2 that is. He returned to coding after Windows 3 was published, and spent many years happily coding and managing developers in a variety of environments (C++, FoxPro, DBase, VB, Java, SQL, yada yada yada….).
Eventually however his logical thinking, talent for organizing, and ability to mentor led him to management. If you want more on that – take a look at Hank’s LinkedIn Page.
2016 Update – Oddly enough, after a number of years doing the management stuff, he was hired by a Fintech in Manhattan to manage their engineering team. This brought him back to technology where he is now learning things like Python, Ruby on Rails, Docker, Heroku, Node.js, AWS, and a variety of other technologies. Once you learn how to ride a bike…..
Where did they logical thinking, talent for organizing, and ability to mentor come from? With a nod towards his family and early friends in New York, Hank believes that his many years in the US Air Force and Air Force Reserve helped a bit. He first enlisted when the Berlin Wall was still up (and in fact was stationed in Berlin for 2 years not long before the wall came down), was commissioned and assigned to the Air Force’s Electronic Systems Division where he was an cost analyst and logistics project manager. Eventually he left active duty, joined the Reserves as a transportation officer, become an operations officer and squadron commander of an aerial port squadron (they run military airfields), and did three more active duty tours. In December 2001 as a Major, he was the Executive Officer for the US Air Force’s HQ at Ramstein, Germany. In 2004 as Lieutenant Colonel, he was the Deputy Air Reserve Liaison Officer for the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard in the Middle East.
Given that the Reserve and Guard treat the active duty Air Force as their “customer”, this was the equivalent of an account management position, so he flew to all the US bases in the Middle East as a trouble shooter for the Reserves. In 2009 as a Colonel, he deployed to Afghanistan as the Director of Mobility – Forward for US Central Command, where he was tasked with opening new air and land supply lines. His last assignment was as the Reserve Chief of the Air Force’s logistics policy shop in the Pentagon. He retired as a Colonel in 2012.
On the personal side, he has many interests to include: hot yoga, playing guitar, meditation, cooking, and is currently on a life long search for the perfect protein bar. He speaks passable Mandarin, but struggles when someone else does – which leads to comically short conversations.