OMEGA CLOSE UP:

Meet Jim Kubala

No one has been working at Omega longer than Jim Kubala, except for Don Gall, who hired Jim as a much-needed programmer during the early days of Omega. "Don hired me on my birthday after one interview and I started work the next week," remembers Jim. "My first day at Omega was June 1, 1979. After 28 years, I’m still here."

Jim’s path to Omega was an indirect route. Born and raised in the Chicago metro area, Jim’s childhood was pretty typical—playing whatever sport was in season, collecting coins and stamps, reading extensively and teasing his two sisters. Jim’s mother was a homemaker and his father was a research chemist for the Armour Food Company. This is perhaps why Jim majored in Chemistry at Iowa State University. He also received an undergraduate degree in History from Iowa State. Jim furthered his education with a Masters Degree in History from the University of Massachusetts and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Jim’s first full-time job after college was as a statistician at the Armour Food Research Laboratory in Chicago. "We conducted taste tests and shelf-life tests for various foods and packaging," explained Jim. "When you see a ‘sell by’ date on a package, that’s the result of the type of testing we did at Armour." As part of the job, the statisticians had to write their own computer programs to use for their testing and analysis.

When Armour Food moved from Chicago to Phoenix in 1975, Jim made the move too. A few years later when Armour Food experienced a series of layoffs, Jim found himself without a job. "I was searching the classifieds for a job and saw this tiny 3-line ad for a programmer at Omega," says Jim. "I interviewed with Don and got the job."

Let’s get to know a little bit more about Jim:

Family? I met my wife, Joan, in 1998 through a local hiking club I started about 14 years ago. One of the members gave me her name and said she was interested in hiking and that I should invite her to our next outing, which I did. We were married about a year later.

Any hobbies? My primary interests are hiking and history. Our local hiking group has about 25 active members and we go on 20 hikes a year all around Arizona. Each hike is about 8-10 miles. The hikes used to be much longer when we were younger. I also hike every day after work on Squaw Peak. I’ve been doing that for more than 30 years. When I’m not hiking, I like to read books about historical events. Some day I’m going to write my own history or hiking book.

What have you always wanted to do, but haven’t done yet? I want to spend more time traveling outside the US.

How has your job changed over the years? In the beginning, it was just Don and me, so I did just about everything—writing programs, trouble shooting, meeting with clients, etc. Now, my responsibilities have become more focused on doing data conversions for new clients and a little bit of troubleshooting and programming.

What’s the biggest challenge in your current job at Omega? With conversions, it’s taking the jumbled pieces of information in a client’s old system and putting the puzzle together so that the data is not only correct, but can be easily incorporated into our system. Sometimes, depending upon which system the client was using, it can be a real challenge. But, I get a great feeling of accomplishment when it all comes together.