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What Attracts a Tech VP? Problems and Perks


Blackstone Computing’s new vice president of technology says she was lured to the job by the challenges of scientific computing as well as by the company’s charismatic chief, who advocates letting people work in environments where they’re most productive, be it home, office, or cyberspace.

“I was looking for a great challenge,” says Rebecca Hyman who joined the compute-farm provider from Syncor, a radio-pharmaceuticals firm where she was IT manager of international software development. At Blackstone, whose customers include Celera, Cereon, and Genome Therapeutics, Hyman will manage a team of 25 senior experts and scientists, one-third of whom will be dedicated to genomics.

Hyman, a 43-year-old resident of St. Louis who plays harpsichord and organ semi-professionally, has no doubt that the life sciences industry will provide her with the IT challenge she’s seeking. “Genomic databases have a 6-month doubling time, compared to an 18-month doubling time for computing power. How do we bridge that gap?” she wonders.

For starters, she plans to explore ways to automate data-compilation problems that hang up genomics research. “The current method of manually separating jobs and recompiling results into a single unit is a large problem,” Hyman says, adding that Blackstone’s new SmartBlast tool, soon to be commercially available, is designed to allow the compiling process to happen “invisibly without a loss of the statistics involved.”

Hyman adds that she will also expand Blackstone’s in-house expertise in order to keep up with customers’ strategies and methodologies. She’s counting on the magnetism of Blackstone’s CEO Ron Ranauro to help her double her group’s size within 12 months. “Ron’s vision is extraordinary and he’s an excellent leader,” Hyman says. Then, it’s her job to retain employees with perks like virtual office setups and attention to a balanced home and worklife. Musically inclined techies might be easiest to hold onto: Hyman says she’s not the only musician on staff, and there’s been talk of starting up a Blackstone band.

— Adrienne Burke


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