What is your current role and where do you work?
I am a Systems Engineer for LinkedIn, which recently celebrated a milestone of 500 million users. At LinkedIn, I work on the Global Technology Solutions team to design, implement, and support our core internal infrastructure. This role involves engineering the automation of processes for Microsoft Active Directory, LDAP, PKI, DNS, DHCP, and Radius.
How did you get into tech?
My interest in computer technology started when I was six years old. My father bought our first home computer, a IBM PC with Microsoft Windows 95 and a 133 MHz processor. I remember being really excited and helping him put the computer together and then booting it up for the first time. He noticed that I was really interested in computers, and started taking me to computer trade shows to show me how custom computers were built. This passion continued and led me to earn a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Management Information Systems from Florida State University. After graduation, I started my first job as a Lab Systems Engineer at Publix Supermarkets, a large retail grocery chain in the Southeast.
What’s your favorite technology to work with and why?
My favorite technology to work with is Internet of Things (IoT). I’m really fascinated by computer hardware design and its many forms. I like to keep up-to-date with the Maker community, which shares ideas for creating products that make life easier. I follow blogs such as Adafruit.com, Instructable.com, and Makezine.com for inspiration.
What project are you most proud to have worked on and why?
At Publix Supermarkets, I worked on a project to expand the IT deployment of a service called “Aprons” from 15 to 120 stores. I lead the effort to procure equipment and deploy proprietary software to the stores, which require approval for $500k+ in equipment from the CIO of the organization, and coordination with IT field engineers to setup the equipment. It feels good to know I was involved in the IT deployment to support that product whenever I travel back to my hometown of Fort-Lauderdale, FL and see the Aprons cooking school in a local Publix grocery store.
What do you see as the most interesting technology on the horizon?
Artificial Intelligence and Cleantech. It is really interesting to see tech leaders investing in self-driving electric cars, solar energy, androids, and digital personal assistants (such as Amazon’s Alexa, or Google’s Home device). All of these technologies have the potential to disrupt the current status quo across many industries, auto, healthcare, energy, retail, etc.
If you weren’t working in tech, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t working in tech, I would enroll in a culinary arts school with the goal to become a chef and open my own restaurant. I really enjoy the challenge and creative freedom that comes from cooking.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your tech career?
There is an old saying that says “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. It means that a person should never give up a stable opportunity or lifestyle to pursue opportunities that are unknown. It used to be good advice to keep a stable job at one good company and plan future goals for the next 5 to 10 years of a career in advance in order to climb the corporate ladder. However, as my career progresses in the IT industry, I notice that job opportunities are evolving at such a rapid pace that many jobs once thought to be safe or stable are now in jeopardy of becoming obsolete. Therefore, instead of waiting for my knowledge and skillsets to become eroded by newer technology, I make it a ritual to survey the IT job market for changes that could impact my career, giving me time to pivot my current skillsets to emerging technologies. Some good tech news sources I use for keeping in tune with the industry are LinkedIn, (of course) and tech blogs such as Dice, TechCrunch, or Wired.
What can companies do to create more inclusive environments?
The word “inclusion” has different meanings for different groups of people, each with a separate perspective and unique viewpoint. Many organizations give labels to programs that support smaller groups of employees within their organization. Brandishing labels such as “minority”, “disadvantaged”, or “diversity hire” waters down the purpose of inclusion. Labels give the impression that a person was not hired for their knowledge, but instead for the company to meet a public relations goal or government mandate. Now that many tech companies have come under pressure to release diversity statistics to the general public due to lawsuits and bad PR, it is a perfect time, in my opinion, for companies to focus their culture on hiring and developing open minded leaders who value diverse thought and experiences rather than meeting company demographic standards.
What keeps you busy when you’re not being a technologist?
My favorite hobbies are watching sports, traveling with my wife, going to fine restaurants, and running. I completed my first marathon in Chicago, IL. I have also travelled with my wife to several different countries for cultural festivals. The Cherry Blossom festival in Japan and San Fermin “Running of the Bulls” festival in Spain were my top two favorites.