Celebrating Paul’s 40th birthday with a look back at Pythian – the early years
Mar 7, 2012 / By Greg Leger
With this milestone birthday that has now arrived for Paul, it’s time to look back on the years and SOME (there are way too many stories to put them all here) of the Pythian history highlights. By the way, for those of you who aren’t aware, Paul has always been an entrepreneur, and when you have a minute you should ask him about his earlier ventures, there a few good stories to be told there too.
Pythian started in a basement office in the late 90’s. When I joined, I was welcomed to “The Pythian Group” by the ownership team, over a couple of beers. At that point there were no clients, but I had a good feeling about what this company had to offer, and knowing Paul’s drive and business sense I decided that this was a great next step for my career.
To give you an idea of the size of the office, lunch was often spent watching Law & Order and discussing the look and feel for how the original versions of Avail and Support Track would be built. Oh ya, and the punishment for leaving work first in winter, was having to shovel the snow in the owner’s driveway to get your car out. After a rather short amount of time, we started getting some onsite consulting contracts along with our first Maestro managed services contract. For my fellow Pythianites, ever wonder what the acronym MSS stands for in the title of one of our storage scripts? That script came from our first contract and the person who did the onsite work was none other than Paul.
Once we landed our first long term contracts, which was within the first year that I was there, Paul and I went onsite to render some Oracle Apps support in Binghamton NY; and it was there at “The Lost Dog” cafe that Paul officially welcomed me as the first full-time Pythian employee, over yet again a handshake and a pint to seal the deal. Oh yes, and the benefits package was a Squash membership, and let’s just say I let him win ;-). While I may have been the first full time employee of Pythian, I was not the first one to draw a salary, that honor I believe goes to Michael Abbey. That relationship with Michael was instrumental in the successful startup of Pythian. Michael, I think you still owe me coverage for a few shifts of oncall, but I digress…
Over the years we moved from a basement in Orleans to Albert street in downtown Ottawa. Yes it was a central location, yes it was commuter friendly, but we stuck around for many years at that address, one of the big reasons being Charlie’s. Most of the old-timers will definitely remember “The Royal” and were certainly sad to hear when Charlie retired a short time ago. I mention this location because it is a good way to explain the business sense that Paul had. You see in the big boom time of dot coms, a lot of IT companies hemorrhaged cash, and did not plan for the hard times. Paul on the other had sought to be fiscally responsible by not squandering money on frivolous items, and bigger and better office space that frankly we did not need. These moves kept our costs low and when the big economic downturns happened, Pythian was able to continue operating without issue. There is no question that our fractional DBA service is a valuable service offering in tough economic times, but the ability for Pythian to persevere in any economy is as much a factor of what it has to offer in terms of services and tech expertise, as the strength of its leadership.
I mentioned that Paul was the first Pythian onsite consultant, and when he was in the midst of working on the building blocks of Pythian, having to go pull some very long days onsite in the US, you can imagine how hard that must have been. It is for this reason that I say Pythian is one of Paul’s 3 kids. He really did nurture and grow this company from infancy. I figure that Pythian hit adolescence when Paul started building up a strong leadership team that is now headed by the vision and experience of Andrew Waitman; Paul also took a difficult and important step around that time, he relinquished the reigns of service delivery to Roger and then eventually to Rob. Until that time, it was not uncommon to walk into Paul’s office and discuss an approach for a database recovery, review a performance issue resolution plan, or simply have him included in a client tech call at any time of day. But now with Paul and Andrew together focusing on what’s best and what’s next for Pythian. I can truly see that Pythian is a fully mature company with expected growth that I never would have imagined. Like those commercials that run on TV in Canada for the lottery that say “Dream big”, I would say for Paul the slogan would be a little different “Dream big and make it happen”.
With growth at Pythian at an all time high, being recognized for all his hard work as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” in Ottawa, and Pythian earning the 2011 Oracle North America Titan Award for Exadata Solution, I have to say that joining a little company called Pythian aka “The Pythian Group”, in hindsight was not such a bad idea.
With this, on behalf of all my colleagues at Pythian & our Leadership Team, I raise a glass to Paul congratulating him on the success of the first 40 and wondering what he has in store for us for the next 40. Salut!
Got a birthday wish or early Pythian days story to share about Paul? Add your comments below. It’s a day long celebration.
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