Meet Phebe in Information Technology

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Phebe in front of the great wall of books.
Name: Phebe
Company: Random House, Inc.
Title: Director, Application Systems
Location: New York, NY

Describe your educational background. Where did you study, what degrees did you receive.
I have a degree in computer science from Columbia University.
Describe your career history. What were your professional experiences prior to your current position.
While in college I did everything from development and product testing to shipping for a small software company, then tech support and some application development for a law firm. From there I went to the corporate office of a large manufacturing firm, where I was involved in applications and rolling out the first wave of PCs to staff. There was virtually only one kind of PC back then, with a limited set of software, so it was possible to know almost everything PC-related back then.
What are your current roles and responsibilities? 
I am currently responsible for all of the public internet (as opposed to intranet) websites for Random House. I’m also responsible for the content management system for the Fodor’s Travel group.
Describe a typical day at your job.
I might be meeting with other IT and Operations management to discuss priorities and directions for the future. Then I may get together with the data center shared services folks to talk about hardware options for a given project. We have regularly scheduled meetings to keep tabs on our ongoing projects. Planning for the various initiatives we have going on in terms of our web presence takes up part of my day. I may be meeting with my people to brainstorm how we are going to solve a problem that’s cropped up on one of our sites, say due to increased traffic or software incompatibilities, or we may be throwing around ideas about the best software platform for a given application. 
What attracted you to your company and position? What is your favorite thing about your job? 
When I joined (and since I’ve been here), Random House was doing interesting things with technology, which was a big draw for me.  I think we are leaders in publishing in terms of using technology to support the publishing, sales, and marketing  process. For a lifelong bookworm, the opportunity to work with such a prestigious publisher was also very cool.
Those things are still as true today as when I joined.  There are two more things that I really love about my job. The first is that it really has been a succession of different jobs; it’s always changing as the technology and the business changes, so it’s never boring.  The second is the people I work with—I work with a group of really smart people, and it’s intellectually stimulating to be around such a bright interesting group. Makes the job fun. 
What has been your most memorable moment (so far) in your job?
The launch of a high-volume website for our Fodor’s travel division, Not only does it contain useful marketing and travel information; it also offers visitors a forum for discussion and an opportunity to rate travel attractions. From a technical standpoint, we developed a back-end editorial database that is able to easily provide content for the website as well as the book product. This is probably the first implementation of a multipurpose content management system in Random House. It was very stressful and very exciting.
What qualities do you feel are necessary to be a successful employee at your company? 
I think it’s important to be smart, to know your field, and to be hardworking and able to work as part of a team. Most, if not all, of our projects require working with different teams within IT and different departments in the company so we really need to be able to "play well with others."  There’s really no such thing as a programmer working in a back room anymore. We have to be in the mix, aligned with the business. Since technology is constantly changing, it’s important to keep learning, to stay on top of what’s out there.
Have you had the opportunity to travel as part of your job?
When I was working more closely with the Sales Group I traveled to sales conferences around the country. It was exciting to be at conference, meeting authors and hearing presentations by editors about new books, in between upgrading dozens of laptops and presenting new features of software we had built to the sales reps who would be using them to hopefully make them more effective in their job.
Do you feel you have a good understanding of Bertelsmann and its corporate culture? 
I think that both Random House and Bertelsmann strive to deal ethically and responsibly with both their employees and their customers. The corporate culture here is one of the reasons it’s great to work here. 


What is CYOC?

CYOC is the abbreviation for "Create Your Own Career"

The slogan emphasizes individual career opportunities and entrepreneurial freedom, which employees of Bertelsmann get. The following video shows what Create Your Own Career means for our employees.