When asked about his life immediately after college, Jeffrey Bedell says vaguely that he "sort of horsed around for a couple of years."

Bedell, technology designer at MicroStrategy Inc., only reveals at the urging of a friend that he was actually training for the U.S. National Rowing Team. Bedell fell in love with the water and the elegant synchronization of rowers while in junior high. He was recruited by Dartmouth, served as crew captain, and after graduating decided to take a shot at the nationals and then the Olympics.

He spent two years on crew-team boats in Boston. But like many other hopefuls, Bedell learned in 1992 that he didn't make the team.

The timing was fateful. An old college classmate called up and offered him what sounded like a "fun opportunity" at MicroStrategy, then a small data-mining start-up in Vienna. He signed on as a consultant.

Bedell soon became as impassioned about computers as crew. He now spends his days considering a new product -- say, an online analytic tool for AmeriTrade that serves as a substitute for advice from stockbrokers -- and thinking about how it should work from the point of view of customers. Then he coordinates with engineers on how to make his ideas happen.

IN PROFILE

Name: Jeffrey Bedell

Age: 31

Title: Senior director of technology programs at MicroStrategy Inc. in Vienna. The company builds software that allows companies to sift through and make sense of vast amounts of information in their databases to help them make crucial marketing and inventory decisions. Bedell oversees 250 designers and programmers, several with doctorates in computer science.

How long at job: Three years in current position, seven years total at MicroStrategy in positions including consultant and training manager.

Education: Bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College in 1990. Major in religion, minor in philosophy.

Experience most useful for current work: The religion degree, he says, helped him think logically. Rowing taught him perseverence.

First e-mail message sent: Possibly "something about energy deregulation and Detroit Edison," where he was stationed during first consulting gig in 1992.

Car: 1992 Ford Explorer with 65,000 miles on the odometer.

Length of commute to work: About 10 to 15 minutes, five miles from the town house he is renting in Arlington. He lives exactly 2.34 miles from his childhood Arlington home.

Last vacation: Skiing in Park City, Utah, in February.

Fantasy lunch partner: Dolly Parton. "I'm a big fan of country and bluegrass music. I play the banjo."

Computer and Internet provider at home: None.

Quote: "The whole game is to design innovative products. There is no other example out there. The skills you need to do that are an under-standing of customers and what you can do with technology. The latter is what you can read and be trained about. And for a non-computer-science major, I had to do a lot of extra work to catch up."

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