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Paul Tuohy Reflects on His Career on IBM i

Through his years of podcasting for TechChannel, Paul Tuohy always set aside a few moments at the close of his interviews. He wanted his iTalk guests—people who devoted their careers in some fashion to the IBM i platform—to share something personal about their lives, their families, their hobbies or any little thing outside of work.

So to wrap up chats on topics ranging from enterprise security to cloud to the potential of AI, listeners were treated to stories about a company executive’s bear encounter, a security expert’s cookie-making side gig and another exec who changed his social media handle because he happens to have the same name as a famous rock guitarist.

“I wanted the iTalks to be as if the listener was sitting in a bar or coffee shop and eavesdropping on a conversation at the next table,” Tuohy said in an email to TechChannel. “As part of that I also wanted the listener to know that the interviewee was not just a business analyst, programmer or some kind of techno geek, but a real person with other interests, stories and/or talents.”

Tuohy Retires

At this point in his life, Tuohy is ready to move on to his own fun segue. After nearly 50 years of working in tech, the majority of it spent as a programmer, developer, consultant and educator on IBM midrange systems, Tuohy is retiring. He recently shared his thoughts in an extended discussion with longtime friend and colleague Charlie Guarino.

Tuohy’s matter-of-fact outlook is evident throughout the wide-ranging chat with Guarino, who asked if he had any career regrets.

“I think my honest answer to that, Charlie, would be no. … I have zero regrets in terms of career decisions or anything like that,” Tuohy responded. “I mean, I’ve said the same to my kids when they were growing up, and they’re all well grown up by now, is that when it comes to decisions, you trust your gut. If it feels right to you, you go for it. … You’ve got to accept that at times you will make wrong decisions. We all do. I mean, that’s life. …  But yeah, if you’re on a fence, go with your gut every time.”

An IBM Champion, Tuohy extolled the capabilities of today’s IBM i: “As long as you’ve got … the database team being led by Scott [Forstie] and the RPG team with Barbara [Morris] and what they’re putting into it, it is just going to keep getting better and better.”

He described the impossibility of keeping up with technological transformation: “… when the AS/400 came out, and I would say maybe through to the mid 1990s, I pretty much knew that system inside out. I mean, not an expert in it … but if you wanted me to talk about anything on the system, I had knowledge of it and I could talk about it. I cannot say that today.”

Mentors and Colleagues

Tuohy also discussed mentors and colleagues. He shared an anecdote about his first boss, who turned him down when Tuohy proposed a software project that would pay for itself within six months and provide savings thereafter. Tuohy ultimately learned that it was absolutely the right business decision. “Part of me would say that my mentors have been practically everybody that I’ve met in the industry,” he told Guarino.

Of course, that is a lengthy list of industry people, a few of whom can be seen and heard in this video of well wishes. Then there’s Jon Paris and Susan Gantner, who encouraged Tuohy to get into speaking and education. The trio formed Partner400, an education consultancy. Coincidentally, since it occurred prior to Tuohy’s retirement announcement, the RPG gurus reflected on their long association during Guarino’s own TechChannel podast.

“… I couldn’t think of anybody better to have partnered with for all these years,” Gantner said. “[Paul] definitely has the community and the good of the platform and the language at his core, as we do, so you can’t really do much more than that.”

Life/Work Balance

Tuohy says his first serious thoughts of retirement came during the pandemic. Like many of us during the shutdown, he found himself with ample time to scroll the internet. However, during those days at home in Ireland, Tuohy gradually realized that most of his reading was not on IBM i, RPG or anything job-related.

“Basically, my life/work balance shifted,” he told TechChannel. “I realized that if I were to continue working, it would not be with the same passion I had in the past.”

That Tuohy refers to it as a life/work balance seems significant. If Google is to be believed, the term is most commonly expressed as work/life balance. Even a search on “life/work balance” returns a majority of hits referencing “work/life.” For Tuohy though, his priorities have always been clear. He is ready for the next chapter, and he knows where he’ll be spending much of his free time.

Magic—card tricks in particular—have been a passion of Tuohy’s since his late teens, when he performed at children’s shows. “I was not very good,” he told TechChannel, “but I did have the confidence of youth.”

He wryly added: “I will not be going back to performing magic. My interest is purely academic.”

Hear Tuohy talk about his upcoming retirement in his latest podcast.