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Lunch at The Four Seasons with: Angela Jamerson

Published by The New York Sun on 2005-11-11

When Angela Jamerson decided to move to New York from her native San Francisco 12 years ago, she wasn't sure how her parents would react to the fact that their only daughter would live a continent away.

Her father Lafayette, a building contractor, said, with a mischievous smile: "I guess that means you're going to need a ride to the airport."

Her mother Judy, an artist, seemed slightly more anxious, which was understandable considering that Angela had no clue as to what she'd do in New York.

"I didn't have a job lined up," Ms. Jamerson said. "But I had studied dance and computers, and New York was where the bright lights were. Maybe I was naive, but I was also ambitious."

She found her metier in computer technology, which was in its infancy at the time. Ms. Jamerson is now senior data architect at Priceline.Com, a Norwalk, Connecticut-based company renowned for being among the first technology companies to hire women for top computer and programming positions.

Her job, Ms. Jamerson said, "is at the very heartbeat" of the company. That means ensuring that Priceline's data is thoroughly organized and structured for accuracy, efficiency and integrity. It means data modeling. It also entails writing programs in computer languages that are known mostly by their acronyms, such as HTML, ASP, SQL, and PLSQL.

"Being in computers is actually very hip, and lots of fun," she said.

Ms. Jamerson paused to reflect.

"Well," she continued, "but I must admit that when you're an IT professional your social skills can take a dive. You think in bytes. You tend to indulge in humor that only other geeks can understand because you're always surrounded by geeks and machines."

So how does she relax?

"I go to India to deepen my knowledge of yoga," she said. "Yoga has helped me to be disciplined and patient. It generates energy within me."

Yoga, which she practices and teaches friends in Connecticut and New York, gives her the serenity of a swami.

"My job requires me to stay well grounded - but meditation does help to stay calm," she said.

Staying calm is a job prerequisite. Priceline is a completely Internet-based company that relies hugely on technological solutions and tight deadlines. It offers airline tickets, rental cars, hotel accommodations, and vacation packages. It also markets home mortgages, refinancing and home-equity loans through an independent licensee.

Priceline, which began operations in 1998, has been performing well. The company stated on Wednesday that gross travel bookings for the quarter ending September 30 were $611.1 million, a 40.4% increase over the same period a year ago. Revenues in the third quarter were $258.8 million, compared to $235.9 million a year ago, a 9.7% increase. Priceline's revenues in 2004 were $914.4 million.

Any regrets about leaving California?

"I'll be a Californian at heart," Ms. Jamerson said. "But you can't beat the buzz of New York."

Pranay Gupte,
Senior Writer and Global-Affairs Columnist

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