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Jeff De Luca's Biography

If Jeff De Luca didn't finish school, why is he one of the world's most respected project managers and how did he get there?

Jeff De Luca is a dynamic, results-driven Information Technology executive and strategist. He has over 20 years experience in Australia and the USA in high level project management, strategy, architecture-design and troubleshooting, with IBM and in his own successful IT company. Yet he never completed his secondary education.

Jeff's story is inspiring and epitomises the message of 'follow your dreams'. In 1981, aged 17, he left school and started working at IBM, Melbourne, as the mailroom clerk. Within months, he had streamlined the corporation's mail system so that it took him 50 minutes and not 8 hours to complete his allocated tasks. This enabled him to embark on his formal IBM career.

Enjoying the computing environment around him and after reading an article in the IBM executives' magazine Think, Jeff decided he wanted to become a systems engineer. One challenge confronted him: IBM said he needed a university degree to enter this stream.

Undeterred, Jeff used his personal time to read and teach himself about systems engineering. Using his spare time at work from the new mailroom efficiencies, he also started to assist and learn from programmers. His keenness was soon noticed and rewarded with a job as a trainee operator dealing with administration and systems hardware. Concurrently, he also began to modify operating systems and to write small programs, some of which turned out to be solutions to existing problems. IBM executives soon noticed Jeff's natural flair for innovation and sent him to Raleigh, North Carolina, for a six-week residency. This quickly turned into a much longer stay. Jeff was identified as a systems engineer with significant potential and was promoted 32 levels in one jump to an associate systems engineer. He still did not have a university degree.

Jeff's career at IBM now took off. He worked in the USA as a network and systems developer, designing and developing network software for IBM operating systems. He co-invented a programming technique (Optimising List Display Processing), while his team at IBM's Rochester Minnesota Programming Laboratory, pioneered, designed and developed Object Distribution Facility/36 - software that seamlessly connects networks of IBM System/36, System/38 and the new AS/400 systems together. By age 25, Jeff had achieved a lifetime aim--to develop a major IT product.

Thereafter, IBM fast tracked Jeff through a series of promotions and increasingly responsible positions in operating and information systems technology areas. He orchestrated many technology advancements and was project manager for the integration of a number of successful projects. While doing so, he was awarded an 'unachievable' IBM Rating 1, five times in succession. Twice he received one of the corporation's highest awards, the Outstanding Innovative Achievement Award. With little left to achieve at IBM, Jeff resigned in 1993 as a senior systems strategist. Most IBM employees take 18 years to reach this level; Jeff had done it in 11 years.

After IBM, Jeff formed his own consultancy company, Nebulon Pty Ltd, based in Melbourne. Its philosophy is to deliver projects on time, within budget and with agreed function. Nebulon has enjoyed a 100 per cent success rate in delivering complex technological solutions according to this formula. These have included projects for JBA, United Kingdom, Heath Insurance, Melbourne, the United Overseas Bank, Singapore, and Open Telecommunications and Telstra, Melbourne.

The Singapore project from 1995-1999 to completely reengineer a Bank's lending platform was one of Jeff's greatest challenges. As Project Manager, he 'inherited' a large, unfinished project to create an extensive commercial, corporate and consumer lending system considered 'undoable' by the previous consulting firm. Jeff assembled a small team of world-class talent to design the system and train and mentor others. Within four months, they had successfully demonstrated the viability of this 'colossal failure' to the sceptical client, the bank's Chairman. Thereafter, a team of 50 people delivered 2,000 features in 15 months and developed a team of fully-trained bank personnel to maintain it. The project was completed on time and under budget.

The Singapore project was one of the largest Java projects in the region at the time and was the birthplace of several other technologies. A significant achievement of the Singapore project was the creation of a break through technique in object modelling - colour modelling with archetypes - practiced for the first time anywhere in the world on this project by Peter Coad and Jeff's team. Furthermore, using an agile approach to project management, Jeff developed a minimalist, five-step approach called Feature-Driven Development (FDD). This married a client-valued feature approach with Jeff's streamlined, light-process framework for project management. Jeff has written about colour modelling and FDD in his book written with Peter Coad and Eric Lefebvre titled Java Modeling in Color with UML: Enterprise Components and Process (Prentice Hall, 1999). This book became an international bestseller and the topics within it have been presented all around the world including at JavaOne in the USA.

FDD is now one of the six recognised Agile Software Development approaches, forming part of the Agile Software Consortium and Manifesto, as well as being the subject of numerous international publications and books.

Apart from his IT expertise, Jeff De Luca is an accomplished inventor, a published technical author and a presenter. He is a visionary leader with great human relations skills and an ability to empower those around himself. Personable and approachable, Jeff also has a unique ability to translate and explain highly-technical computing concepts and solutions to audiences, including to executives and non-IT professionals.