Posts Tagged 'Background'

November 23, 2011

SoftLayer: My Kind of Work Atmosphere

When I tell friends and family that I work for a fun and diverse company where I get hands-on experience and am surrounded by knowledgeable and savvy coworkers, some stare at me in disbelief. In most minds, a job normally doesn't have all of those characteristics at the same time.

From 1999–2009, I worked as a senior transactional paralegal (with a specialty in securities and exchange regulations) in the private equity industry. I was doing the right things in life — I had a college degree, a career, and I was a dedicated mother for my son. The problem was that I was working at a company where employees were seen but not heard. It was brutal. My daily work schedule involved me waking up at 5:30 a.m., getting my son ready for school, dressing to meet strict "professional" business attire requirements, and heading off to a stressful office for 9 to 12 hours. After my long day, I had to fight to stay alert through evenings filled with karate, soccer and P.T.A. meetings. Later, my son and I would head home to homework and bedtime stories. Then the cycle repeated itself. My son was the BEST sport ... He understood this "work ethic," and he dealt with the monotonous routine as part of his daily philosophy, too.

When the finance industry went "kaput," and my former company was drastically affected, I vowed to my son (and myself) to never work in a boring, white collar job ever again. That was easier said than done, though. I tried to figure out what I wanted to be when I finally "grew up," and I even thought about going back to teaching ... Which would have been an improvement, but it would have still been regimented. I kept looking.

I hunted for a job in corporate America that didn't emulate the pattern I was escaping: A place with a happy work environment, an opportunity to get work done and come home content, the ability to rely on co-workers as associates rather than adversaries, and the freedom to be a good mom in the process. In my job hunt, I took job in a legal department in the entertainment sector, and I started to see that jobs could be fun. Exciting companies exist, and they had to be looking for dedicated workers, so I wouldn't settle for anything less.

The first day I walked in the building at SoftLayer, it seemed like EVERYONE was smiling from ear-to-ear. I met a great team of educated, experienced professionals from all walks of life, each passionately serving his/her purpose for the company. When I left the office, I felt like I made a difference, and I was energized to show up the next day.

The most interesting thing about working here was the hands-on experience I got in the data center. Living in legal departments for my entire professional career, I was clueless about what happened behind the locked data center doors when new servers were delivered, but that cluelessness didn't last very long. I was given the opportunity to volunteer and get my hands "dirty" with many of my colleagues on a "Truck Day," and I got a first-hand look at what it takes to delivering superior servers to our customers.

As SLayers, we were chosen to be part of an innovative and expanding company that redefines, reinvents and innovates on a daily basis, and as I look back at my old job, I really appreciate the honor. When someone asks me where I work and what the company does, I can't just say "SoftLayer" and "web hosting." I have to explain all about how all of SoftLayer's data centers (domestic and international) provide nonstop service for businesses around the world via the best cloud and dedicated hosting platforms in the industry. And that doesn't even start talking about the people I work with.

Every day, I meet new coworkers from around the world and learn interesting facts about them. I remember chatting with a coworker who said, "I hate going home from this place, because I love coming to work here." That statement is priceless because it embodies the work mentality of everyone who walks through the doors in the morning. To the surprise of friends and family, I've trashed my stuffy business attire for good, and I'm excited to show up at work every day where creativity and knowledge are respected, there is an admiration for individuality, and everyone lives and breathes the a "Challenging But Not Overwhelming" philosophy.

SoftLayer Technologies, Inc.: The best career move I've ever made and finally a workplace I can call "my kind of work atmosphere." That's definitely something to be thankful for this time of year.

And it should go without saying that my son loves his mom's new job, too.

-Chinenye

November 22, 2011

Semper Fi + Innovate or Die

How can I emphasize how cool my job is and how much I like it? I can't believe SoftLayer pays me to do what I love. I should really be paying tuition for the experience I'm gaining here (Note to the CFO: Let's forget the "I should be paying to work here" part when we go through my next annual review).

My name is Beau Carpenter and I'm writing my first blog for SoftLayer to introduce myself and share some of my background and experience to give you an idea of what life is like for someone in finance at a hosting company. In a nutshell, my mission with is to understand, organize and report every dollar that comes into and goes out of the company. These financial reports are reviewed internally, shared with our investors and used when we have a trigger event like the merger with The Planet last year.

To give you a little background about who I am, the most notable thing about me is that I'm a third generation Marine. My grandfather served in WWII, my father served in Vietnam, and I joined during the Gulf War, serving from 1991–1995. After completing my tour and receiving an honorable discharge, I returned home to Texas to get my education and start working ... while growing a family of four.

After I earned my bachelor's degree, I went to work at Rice University for Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize for discovering nanotechnology. Rick was a fantastic mentor, and when he recommend that I join Rice's MBA program, I thought it was a pretty good idea. It didn't hurt that his glowing recommendation gave me a great foot in the door to the program. I earned my MBA from Rice in May of 2005, and headed out into the corporate world ... If you can call SoftLayer, "corporate."

The majority of my coworkers probably have no idea what I do because I spend a lot time tucked away in my office running numbers. As you probably could have guessed, in financial analysis/reporting, strong numbers are a lot easier to report than bad ones, and SoftLayer's numbers have been so good that they keep me up at night. I know that sounds strange, but I'm up every Sunday night and month-end at midnight so I can communicate our company's progress for the past week or month as soon as it is over. Some may not find that late night work appealing, but being numbers jockey, I can't help but be excited about sharing the latest information ... even if it could technically wait until the next morning.

I've been in denial for a few years, but after rereading that last paragraph, I have to admit I'm officially a nerd now.

I've done financial and nonfinancial metrics analysis for a couple of companies before I landed at SoftLayer, and the difference between this company and others I've worked for is night and day. The culture here is healthy and positive, everyone's focused on their work, and the company provides a lot of perks to keep everyone going. Energy drinks, super-cool coffee machines, endless snacks ... but the most important perk is the general sense of camaraderie you get from being around a team of professionals who are passionate about their work.

Kevin asked me how I'd compare my experience at SoftLayer to my experience in the Marines, and I think the most resonating similarities are the shared sense of purpose and the close ties I have with my team.

Semper Fi + Innovate or Die.

-Beau

September 23, 2009

Who Are Our Customers?

When talking to a wide variety of outsiders about SoftLayer, one question inevitably comes up. “Who are your customers?” It always takes a bit of explaining – it’s a bit like asking the power company the same question. In the power company’s case, the answer is “anyone who needs electricity.” SoftLayer’s customers run the gamut. There is no one particular industry vertical that dominates our customer base. Pretty much anyone who needs dependable, robust, hosted IT services is our customer, or potential customer.

Now, if we look outside of the silos of industry verticals, there is one type of customer that stands out more than others. That is the entrepreneurial small business. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the engine of economic growth, and thus I need to keep up with what is going on with things that affect small businesses.

So I ran across a study worth passing along via a blog post. It is produced by Kauffman: The Foundation of Entrepreneurship and is entitled “The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur: Family Background and Motivation.” It contains some valuable insights into some traits of the majority of our customers. These traits below are taken straight from the report:

Company founders tend to be middle-aged and well-educated, and did better in high school than in college

  • The average and median age of company founders
    in our sample when they started their current
    companies was 40. (This is consistent with our
    previous research, which found the average and
    median age of technology company founders to
    be 39).
  • 95.1 percent of respondents themselves had earned
    bachelor’s degrees, and 47 percent had more
    advanced degrees.

These entrepreneurs tend to come from middle-class or upper-lower-class backgrounds, and were better educated and more entrepreneurial than their parents

  • 71.5 percent of respondents came from middle-class
    backgrounds (34.6 percent upper-middle class and
    36.9 percent lower-middle class). Additionally, 21.8
    percent said they came from upper-lower-class
    families (blue-collar workers in some form of
    manual labor).
  • Less than 1 percent came from extremely rich or
    extremely poor backgrounds

Most entrepreneurs are married and have children

  • 69.9 percent of respondents indicated they were
    married when they launched their first business. An
    additional 5.2 percent were divorced, separated, or
    widowed.
  • 59.7 percent of respondents indicated they had at
    least one child when they launched their first
    business, and 43.5 percent had two or more
    children.

Early interest and propensity to start companies

  • Of the 24.5 percent who indicated that they were
    “extremely interested” in becoming entrepreneurs
    during college, 47.1 percent went on to start more
    than two companies (as compared to 32.9 percent
    of the overall sample).
  • The majority of the entrepreneurs in our sample
    were serial entrepreneurs. The average number of
    businesses launched by respondents was
    approximately 2.3; 41.4 percent were starting their
    first businesses.

Motivations for becoming entrepreneurs: building wealth, owning a company, startup culture, and capitalizing on a business idea

  • 74.8 percent of respondents indicated desire to
    build wealth as an important motivation in
    becoming an entrepreneur. This factor was rated as
    important by 82.1 percent of respondents who
    grew up in “lower-upper-class” families.
  • 68.1 percent of respondents indicated that
    capitalizing on a business idea was an important
    motivation in becoming an entrepreneur.
  • 66.2 percent said the appeal of a startup culture
    was an important motivation.
  • 60.3 percent said that working for others did not
    appeal to them. Responses to this question were
    relatively evenly distributed in a rough bell curve,
    with 16 percent of respondents citing this as an
    extremely important factor and 16.8 percent of
    respondents citing it as not at all a factor.

Not only do the traits above describe a big chunk of SoftLayer’s customers – they also describe the people of SoftLayer.

If you are an entrepreneurial small business and you need a hosted IT service provider who understands your needs, you will find a likeminded partner in SoftLayer. Many of the small businesses who joined with us two or three years ago aren’t so small anymore, and that’s fine! When our customers succeed, we succeed. We get that.

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