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Moral Dillemma: Bad IT Manager is Everybody's Hero, Where Do I FIt In?

By Arctic.Moet ·
There's a question in all of this, sorry for the long, long post but the details need to be hammered out, the picture painted.

He was the hero of the organization,. Not only did he manage the IT Department, he was the IT Department. Although it is a nonprofit organization, it is contracted by the government for environmental regulation and in its golden years it had an impressive budget for IT for which this man was 100% in control of. He made all the decisions, he oversaw all the systems, he did all the purchasing, installation, maintenance, and support. He built an impressive database in SharePoint 2003 when it was shiny and new, and took a collection of small offices that had nothing in the way of technology beyond a fax machine and turned them into productive technology-rich environments using some of the latest business software with no expense spared. (SharePoint, SQL Server, Windows Server, ArcGIS, all brand new, not even including the hardware!).

He came to work in suits, he put insane hours, he was brilliant and motivated and everyone depended on him for everything IT. He'd go to your house and fix your computer for you if you buy him a beer,. He was also an all-star athlete, avid outdoors man, good-looking and his mid-thirties when I joined the organization. At that point he was on his fifth year there. King of IT.

Well, the King's empire grew over time and he was overloaded, so I was hired to ease some of his burden. My background on paper wasn't impressive; I was a secretary basically, a data entry clerk. That was all he wanted. I was given the menial tasks he detested, like data entry, tidying up cords and cables, making coffee, answering emails. I was 28 years old, pretty, single, just growing out of the party girl stages and there was a mutual attraction/flirtation. For about ten seconds. Until I made a huge mistake one day and let him know I wasn't an idiot. In a conversation about programming I started babbling about the company I worked for under my dad, where I programmed and operated industrial robots, and I showed him the programming language of the robots, thinking he'd find it interesting as it compared to DOS. No sooner had the word "DOS" left my lips, he was regarding me with cool suspicion.

Shortly after he went to the powers that be and said he felt I didn't have the skill necessary to help him, and I'd be more useful as a filing clerk, and so I was banished to the filing room for the next couple of years, baffled as to what I had done wrong. Also, I was treated like an infectious program, completely quarantined, not allowed to so much as glance at a PC in the company. It was miserable, but I needed the job so I took it. Did I mention he was also best friends with the HR Manager, and my new Manager, and that they were drinking buddies?

Time moved on, and the King fell. Gone were the suits. Ripped jeans and flannels were the norm, as was coming in late, hung over, often sneaking into the server room to sleep for hours at a time. The systems he implemented new were now dangerously outdated, his backup practices were nonexistent. Since his bosses were his friends, he was allowed to make his own hours, and to have complete control of the network. By this time I was filing in billing, and noticed that we were way over our bandwidth usage on our bills by several hundred dollars' worth every month consistently.

In a staff meeting he was asked about this by the Executive Director. He was asked "Can we tell where this usage is coming from? Who is using it?" to which he replied "No", spinning some jargon to the ED, who, like most everyone at the company, was not tech-savvy. I blinked, shocked. He had straight-up lied to his friends' face. Of course he could find out where the usage was, he was the goddamned system administrator! I could have, if they gave me five minutes at the server or ****, any computer in the network! Fuming, I bit my tongue. Good, I was glad he was a lair; they deserved each other.

Long story longer, the King and the ED had a falling out over a girl, so the good times were over forever. The King finally quit, leaving without training anyone to take over for him, no hand-off of passwords or accounts, no tutorials just... gone. Panicked, the organization turned to the only person who even knew what a server was - me. Suddenly, overnight, the file clerk was now the system admin, much to the amusement and mirth of King, who wrote several emails detailing how insulted he was that they believed an idiot like me could possibly fill his shoes (and copied me, just to make sure I was aware his opinion regarding my abilties, which was pointless because, how did he expect me to read all those big words?)

I was a quick study. I untangled his webs, dusted the cobwebs and dust off his old machines and I made everything function. I learned his system, improved it, then replaced it. I hunted down his rogue Admin accounts and terminated his access to the company (he was still logging in long after he quit).

So, here's the dilemma and the question now. I discovered the bandwidth usage problem(s). Several torrents running on all four servers, in his secret little niches, uploading and downloading astronomical amounts of media files (TV series, music, movies, porn, you name it), more than one person could possibly watch in a lifetime. He was positively addicted, and a hypocrite. Torrents and P2P software was strictly prohibited. Not only did he contribute to the overages, but was solely responsible for them, to the tune of roughly $200,000.00 that I can clearly document.

What do I do with this knowledge? I am alone in this discovery of a long trail of paper outlining several years worth of lies and misuse of everything ranging from company funds to users' personal information. I mean, this goes beyond misuse, this is plain theft and fraud in my book, and criminal on many levels. Problem is he's still a hero to most everyone here, still a personal and social friend. There is a good chance he may come back to consult now that he has his own company, or work with partners of ours. I may have to work with him again, so I have to be careful where I step and to whom I turn.

I am at a loss. What should I do? What can I do that won't cost me my new career?

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All Answers

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Say something but be careful

by whatzup In reply to Moral Dillemma: Bad IT Ma ...

In my mind you need to say something, but like I said be careful. I also agree with the person that said sitting down with the person in charge who knows nothing about IT and having a talk with that person is probably the best way to go. Be honest to that person and inform that person that the stuff you found has cost the company a substantial amount of money. The trick with the whole thing is to come off as someone that wants what is best for the company, not someone that has a score to settle. Like I said be honest, do your best everything will work out.

We have all been on the downside of office politics, and I know it has cost me several promotions, but you need to do what is right even if it hurts you. At least you will feel better about it, knowing you did the right thing.

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If He Screwed Up That Bad...

by info In reply to Moral Dillemma: Bad IT Ma ...

...and they're considering bringing him in as a consultant, even after being at odds with the Executive Director, I'd say your odds of coming out of this on top are pretty much shot. To top it off, you're a woman, and it sounds like the 'good ol' boys club' is alive and well in this organization. It's not fair, and plain out SUCKS, but start making plans to pack your bags and leave. Get us much training/certs out of them as you can.

In situations like this, friendships and social connections trump skill, knowledge and deliverables EVERY time. I've seen it first hand, they could well look at the total money this person has cost them, and the risk he's exposed them to, and say, "Oh well. Water under the bridge now." With the evidence of that person's Email SHOWING his contempt for you, you KNOW that as soon as he has his foot back in the door, he's going to torpedo you, and the management WILL let it happen. Even when all the evidence is in your favour.

So, like I said, start planning your exit strategy now. To make one final kick at the can, pick the Executive Director and one other manager 'in power' that's somewhat related with you and appreciates the work you've done. (Normally, it would just be the Executive Director, but that wouldn't look good, since you're a woman...) Invite them out to a business lunch. At this lunch, follow some of the advice the others have given above and explain to them that you're planning to leave. Explain exactly WHY. Work in some of the things you've found, the previous Admin's behaviour towards the company (especially the risk of what could happen with that downloaded material... all company computers seized and impounded?) and particularly, in light of their considering bringing him back as a consultant, towards YOU. Explain that you feel in light of this, you perceive your chance of advancement at this company as slim to none, especially if he's brought back in. Tell them you GREATLY appreciate the opportunity they've given you, but if you haven't won their faith with all that you've done since you've been in charge of things, then you never will.

If you wanted to play hardball, you could always hint that you could take legal action based on harassment and poor workplace treatment based on your sex, but I'd advise against it in this case. Feel them out, and see how receptive they are. They'll either see the light, or you have no choice but to leave. Sometimes a step back in a career will clear the way for several steps forward.

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