May 15th marks my 10th year anniversary at Red Hat. That’s a bunch of time to be at one company, so I thought I’d take a couple of minutes to share my career path over the past 10 years as well as some fun pictures.
An Intern, an Intern! My Kingdom for an Intern!
This famous line from Richard III (well, I may have fudged it a bit) is how my time at Red Hat started. During my senior year at NCSU, I started in Global Support Services (GSS) as a lowly level 1 support tech answering phone calls and working support tickets. You know who is below a level 1 support engineer? An intern level 1 support engineer. However, I’m grateful for my time there because it taught me the basics of troubleshooting. I feel like if I had been coddled then I wouldn’t have had to strive to “show them” and wouldn’t have gotten good at working out how to solve problems I had never seen before. Oh, and there were some really weird problems that I had never seen before. When I started, GSS was a fraction of the size that it is today. This meant that every time you picked up the phone, you could end up working on a part of the system you’d never worked on before. But thankfully this helped me grow in my troubleshooting abilities so that when I graduated the following summer I was hired on full-time as a level 2 support engineer.
Specialization Just Means Additional Work
When I got hired on as a level 2 engineer, we were expected to pick a specialty. Picking a specialty usually involved looking at what skills were already covered and picking one that wasn’t. I got lucky however that the product that I liked working on and already had some knowledge in (Red Hat Satellite) was getting ready to have a vacancy. So I spent the next one and a half years working as a Satellite “expert.” Oh, and I also still had to know how to help with all the rest of the base OS. Like I was getting away from that so easily…
Let’s Get You Some Learnin’
After a year and a half of doing front line support, I was ready for a change of pace and an opportunity kinda fell in my lap. Throughout my “career” in Boy Scouts, I spent most of my time doing training and it’s something that I’ve always had a passion for. As GSS grew we had a need for someone to permanently take a role and I applied and was hired as the North American Training Manager for GSS. During this time I spearheaded an initiative to get GSS it’s own dedicated training space as well as dedicated training systems. Because of our mostly quarterly hiring schedule, I had about a month and a half every quarter where I wasn’t directly training new hires or directly preparing for the new hires. During this time, I worked on a self-serve training platform (think Trailhead but for Red Hat products directed towards internal associates). This unfortunately never really took off and I didn’t have the time to dedicate to it, more on that soon. I also facilitated lunch ‘n’ learns that were live-streamed to the whole department which was no trivial task in 2008 using only Linux technology.
Hey, You Know HTML Right?
During one of those windows where I wasn’t directly training the new hires, my cube mate (sorta, kinda) was working on what would become Red Hat’s award winning customer portal. He was showing off some of his work to me and I chided him about using HTML tables for his layout instead of block elements with CSS. So, I ended up getting pulled into the Customer Portal development during some of my down time between new hire groups.
We’re Doing a Salesforce Thing
About this time, Red Hat started evaluating several different options for new ticketing systems for their support organization. At the time, we had support tickets that lived in multiple different ticket systems (9+) and were all accessed differently depending on which geo you were in and which customer you were working with. So the goal was to consolidate all of those down into a single platform as well as simplify the work-stream of our engineers. Because I had a background in programming, I was asked if I would help some folks with any programming they needed done during the Salesforce proof of concept. I had never touched Salesforce before, but I said “sure, why not!” and dove in head first. That proof of concept turned into a full implementation and I’ve been doing Salesforce development for support ever since. In September of 2013 I was chosen as a Salesforce MVP and have since spent lots of my free time working with the awesome Salesforce community.