David Lemson's WebLog

Product Unit Manager, Exchange


Who is this guy?

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So I've decided to set up a blog.  Who knows if anyone will read it.  But at least it gives me a chance to collect links that I will find interesting.  My name is David Lemson, I'm a manager in the Exchange product group.  I've worked at Microsoft and in Exchange for about 5 1/2 years, as a Program Manager.  I've worked on quite a lot of different areas of Exchange in my time here: SMTP and mail routing, POP/IMAP, Exchange System Manager, Setup, usage of Active Directory, and more.  I have also been involved with our Defense Message System (DMS) product for the last few years.

I studied and worked at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for a total of about 7 years.  While I was an undergrad, I worked full-time for the University running the NeXT systems on campus and even worked for NeXT as their Campus Consultant (yes I got a free NeXT out of the deal).  I also worked as an administrator of various systems from NetWare to every type of UNIX you could imagine.  As an undergrad, I had summer internships at First National Bank of Chicago Capital Markets (now BankOne), Intel Israel Development Center, and Motorola Urbana Design Center

After I graduated, I started grad school in CS and got sucked in to various ventures.  I took a course in community networking and ended up joining up with some local businessmen and professors to start an ISP.  Of course I was the most interested in the technical details, so I ended up building the ISP myself.  It was fun because I got to play with all kinds of technologies, from Linux routers I built myself to RADIUS servers, and I even designed and deployed a DSL system on dry copper from the phone company (this was in 1995) and a cable modem system (1994-1996).  That venture taught me a lot about business, or in particular how to recognize a business that is never going to make money.  Anyway, after I left Champaign, they sold the company to some VC who promptly borrowed a bunch of money from himself, and then sold the company for exactly the amount that the company owed him.  I'm sure I could have sued but it wasn't worth the effort.

I also worked for the University while the ISP fun was going on (that's the nice thing about working for a University, they pay you the same whether you put in your 35 hours a week or 60, so you have plenty of time for extra moonlighting).  I did what I later recognized as Program Manager work.  I did some programming but mostly I Got Things Done.  I worked on the campus whitepages (ph) system, the campus Kerberos server, but most of all I was the help desk for students and staff whose records were messed up.  If you go to the ID card center and they say "oh your records are messed up, you can't get an ID", that's OK, who needs an ID.  Then you go to your office and they say "oh your records are messed up, we're not sure when you'll get a paycheck", you say OK, I'm sure they'll sort it out within a few weeks.  But when you go to the computing services office and they say "your records are screwed up, you can't have an e-mail account or dialup access", Whoa-ho, you have to get it fixed TODAY.  And that's when they called in me, I was like a virtual A-Team.  When you had nowhere to turn, they took you to Lemson's office, and he could call payroll, and the registrar, and figure out what your deal is and get you running today.  It was a fun and rewarding job.  But not as rewarding as Microsoft turned out to be.

Anyway, that's my story. 

  • So how rewarding was/is Microsoft? :-)