Posts Tagged 'Team'

March 11, 2011

3 Bars | 3 Questions: SoftLayer Sales

Will Charnock put me in the hot seat at the end of his 3 Bars | 3 Questions interview last week, so I welcomed Kevin into my office virtually to have a quick chat. He came equipped with three good questions about my experience with SoftLayer SLales, and I did my best to give three good answers. Here were the questions:

  1. What makes SoftLayer different from any of the other companies you've worked for?
  2. When you're hiring a new sales representative, what do you look for in that person?
  3. What are you most excited about when it comes to the next few months at SoftLayer from a sales perspective?

This week, we used a High Definition video chat, and the quality is pretty impressive. We're still working to improve and tweak the format and quality of these videos, so you might notice a few blips in the audio recording, but we'll get those ironed out soon.

All in all, the video chat was a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to watching Drew Jenkins enjoy it in the next episode!

-Tom

November 15, 2010

A New Twist on Communication

I recently heard an interesting story about one step that a CIO took to help improve the communication within his internal team. Now, I’m not sure what the backstory was, but in the various technology teams I’ve been over the years, when organizational discussions turn to topics such as “how can we get better”, “what do we need to improve”, “how do we achieve our goals”, etc, they seem to boil down to a handful of key items. Communication always seems to be on this list and is also frequently listed as the partial (or full) cause of many IT problems that have occurred.

So what did the CIO in question do? He hired an Internal Communications Director for his organization. I don’t work at this company and don’t have the insight into what this person does on a daily basis or the goals for the position, but I would like to speculate on what having a Internal Communications Director might do for an IT organization…

How helpful would it be to technology projects and key initiatives to have someone that specifically focused on:

  • Getting the right information to the right people at the right time (especially cross project) to make more informed decisions
  • Letting everyone know what projects are being worked on and how they affect others so that cross team dependencies have the chance of surfacing earlier in than later.
  • Keep the team informed on recent and upcoming organizational changes (how many times have you found out that Bob or Jane is no longer in charge of a group or is no longer with the company weeks or months after the change)

I know, it just sounds like an upper level project management thing or simple administrative tasks at this point, but the other side of a traditional Communication Director is that they manage external communications, aka Public Relations.

You could have a person helping you sell IT to your internal (and external) customers who is actually trained and has specific experience in this type of work. Maybe they could help you repair a damaged image / perception of your IT shop or keep you from making a LeBron “The Decision” PR mistake. They could also promote your agenda and help you get you message across effectively.

Many of these thing happen organically to some extent in most organizations, but having a person focused on making them happen might dramatically increase the chances of them being more effective. I don’t know if we’ll ever get to the point where we’ve solved the communication problems in IT, but hiring an Internal Communications Director sure seems to be an interesting step…

-Bradley

Categories: 
June 3, 2009

Strange Dreams, Work and Hippies

So there I am at Softlayer Headquarters as Lance, Steven, Amanda and I are walking out to our cars to go home for the day and we begin walking to an underground garage. When we turn the corner I notice a lone hippie standing there. As we continue to walk I begin to see more and pretty soon there are about 15-20 hippies, the number ever growing. Some are sitting around cars dressed in elaborate hippie “outfits”. I find this rather odd and I make the comment: “hey look! hippies!”

Now as we all know from our friends at Southpark, “if you see one hippie there are usually a lot more you’re not seeing. You get a few hippies playing drums the next thing you know you got yourself a colony.”

southpark

As we approach the seemingly harmless, but growing colony, I notice that one of them has a baby elephant (yes, an elephant) on a leash that is dressed like the hippies. They all begin to glare menacingly at us as if we’re imposing on their territory. We stop in our tracks so as to not provoke them or their hippie elephant. Suddenly and without warning a SWAT team of police emerges and attack the hippie colony. The baby elephant is unleashed and begins to fight with the police as well. Tie-dyed colored clothing, necklaces, bandanas, sunglasses and bongo drums are flying through the air as the fight progresses. The SWAT team then pulls out their taser guns and begins zapping the Hippies. I yell “They’re attacking the Hippies! AHHHH – that ones tasering the hippies! Watch out – Elephant attack!” During the entire battle between the police and hippie colony Lance, Steven, Amanda and I are laughing hysterically at the insane situation that we’re currently witnessing.

The next thing you know it was over and the police, hippies and their elephant have completely disappeared while we were all doubled over in laughter. This is when I wake myself up literally giggling myself out of my strange and bizarre dream. Of course, I had to email myself the details to write this blog post so I’d remember.

Yes – my dreams are weird…

Categories: 
May 28, 2009

Hardware Heros

The techs that build the servers here at SoftLayer are known as Server Build Engineers or SBE’s. These guys are on the front line of Operations. They are responsible for building out customer server orders, maintenances, fixing cranky provisions, and many other hardware related tasks.

One might think that a hardware tech is a simple job. Well, not the SBE position at SoftLayer. Not only are they responsible for time sensitive hardware builds and provision troubleshooting, but they work directly with all the other departments. We don’t have bazillion hardware techs like other companies might. We train ours up to be one man hardware machines.

Sometimes a provision might have a weird error that needs to be escalated to development. The SBE will work directly with the dev team to resolve the issue.

Sales might have questions about some hardware they are trying to sell. SBE’s answer the call.

SBE’s even jump in to help CSA’s (Customer Service Administrators) when the ticket load or phones get hectic.

SBE’s do numerous projects, too. From helping with large scale hardware compatibility testing to troubleshooting hardware, they are the jack of all trades at SoftLayer.

We have a pseudo paramilitary way of doing things in the hardware department. It’s all in fun, but we get down and dirty and have a “can do” and “yes sir” attitude. We pride ourselves in being able to tackle any problem. If we are asked to do it, we do it, regardless of whether or not it’s our job, we are too busy, or whatever the obstacle.

Be all you can be? Join the army. Be more than you expect you can be? Join the SoftLayer Hardware Team.

The few, the badass, the SBE’s!

April 29, 2009

Musician's Mind

One thing I have noticed about my SoftLayer family is the number of musicians here. I spent nine years as a musician, working the bar/festival circuits all over the midwest. When I arrived at SoftLayer, people jokingly asked if I was joining the SoftLayer band due to my previous experience. Just looking at the Operations Management Team, most of us have written/performed and many continue to. The more I thought about it, I think that this is a good thing.

There have been a number of scientific research projects about the academic performance of children and teens who are involved in a music program at school. The mixed left/right brain activity of music lends itself to problem solving and critical thinking as well as creativity which are required by many jobs. A musician's mind is capable of working complex geometric patterns into physical movements in coordination with muscle memory. Once more advanced levels are reached, a musician is capable of not only composing music, but also improvisation. These aspects are similar to many necessary thought processes used in the office.

I'd like to think that these mental processes allow me to think better on my feet, deal with change, and have a global view of the projects that I am involved with. Maybe that's why our Inventory, Hardware, & 2/5 Datacenter Managers are musicians. Not only that, but our Director of Operations is an avid musician. If you count the actual system admins who are musical, then you would be adding another 3 people.

So if all the research is correct, this may have something to do with the quality of operations here at SoftLayer. I wonder if being a musician had anything to do with my interview and its result. I know that it would catch my attention knowing that an applicant had experience with music or any other analytical/creative endeavor, especially if it has been shown to improve overall performance or intelligence.

Maybe I should write a SoftLayer song - an anthem to our Datacenter or a love song about the management network and IPMI?

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