RIP MarcO

I am fairly certain that when I interviewed for a full time position I was not a slam dunk hire.  I had come up off a great year long internship but I was entering the XL team at the time when they had made five new hires within the last year and I was the last one to start.  Marc Olson (MarcO) was the test manager at the time, 1993, and was also my hiring manager.  I really think he took a chance on me as a hire.  Within the company at that time it was still fairly rare to be be a local born and raised, which Marc was.  He would often talk about his days at University of Puget Sound.  He also was great a leading by example and would take the time of find many product defects.  Marc next took a bigger chance on when about a year later he promoted me to a test lead.  At the time I basically switch jobs with my boss and started to directly report to Marc.  Within the team this was not an entirely popular decision as I had a lot less time with the team as a whole and I was the most junior person, time wise, within my team.  One of the great qualities about Marc was that he was not afraid to make the unpopular decision if he felt it was the correct decision.  He was a great mentor and was very supported.  I was extremely thrilled when he handed down his laptop to me when he got a new one.  This also made some of the leads unhappy as they did not have one yet — yes this was back in the day before the internet was a big thing.  Marc was a great supporter and came to my defense when I needed him on my side.  We spun off into a product unit shortly after I became a lead with Marc as the product unit manager.  Being still fairly new to the role of being a leader Marc wanted to hire an experienced test manager.  After looking at a few internal candidates it was settled upon a guy from Apple.  Shortly after he started Marc went on leave due to the birth of his twin boys; Jake and Alex.  A couple days into his leave I get an email from my boss accusing me of undermining him and making it very clear that there was no way I was going to get his job and in fact if he had his way I would be on the way out.  Of course he CC’ed Marc on this.  Reading this at home I called in sick the next day but I was surprised to get a phone call from Marc who on his leave had seen the mail and asked me to come into work.  He made it very clear to me that I had done nothing wrong and he had not seen those trends at all in me and that my boss was totally out of line.  He also made it very clear to my boss that his success was going to be based on my success.  Marc checked in with me from time to time on his leave which I really appreciated. 
During that release Marc really grew his passion for sailing.  In fact at one point he took our whole team out on a large sailboat and we cruised Elliot Bay.  Ever the teacher I got to spend some time at the wheel of the ship as he instructed me on exactly what to do.  Marc had a passion for lots of activities which are called out in his obituary.  One of his passions was flying small planes and using them to get out to his place in the San Juans.  In early July Marc was in a serious plan crash and it was really strange to watch the TV interview the day after his crash which he basically walked away from.
After 1997 Marc and I went different ways in Office-land.  Every time I would see him in the halls he would take the time to stop and chat and catch up on things more than just I "hi how are you doing" and moving on down the hall.  It was always a treat to see his boys come through at Halloween and in many years in the same themed costumes.  When I stepped out of management in 2004 he lobbied me hard to consider joining the Groove team which he worked on to bring them into Microsoft.  I just could not think of relocated to Boston but Marc made very compelling arguments about doing so.
It has been written in a few places that Marc took his own life.  That is really hard for me to comprehend as he was always such a caring guy always talking about the twins and his wife.  He always seemed to have fun and exciting activities going on in his life — always full of adventure.  In the last year or so I have been on a different part of the campus and I can only think of one time I had seen Marc.  I wish now that I could have told him then just how much I appreciated the support he had given me over the years.

About Aaron Bregel

Just trying to get by
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