On 2/3/2020 I had the opportunity to present a “Career Exposium” session to Tech Valley High School Students. TVHS is a charter school in Albany NY with a mission to provide a unique, innovative and student-centered educational opportunity by engaging students in current emerging technologies and supporting the growth and economy of the region.
Students graduating TVHS have received a world-class education in “STEM” disciplines with a new focus on crossing over and adding art.
The current topic at the school is Ikigai, which is a concept which translates roughly to “what gets you out of bed in the morning”. I presented on how my interests in Art, Music, Math, and Writing gives me a reason to “get out of bed” every morning and employ those skills every day at Red Argyle.
Slides from my presentation are here:
I was asked to be prepared to discuss the topics below, which I transcribed my answers:
How did you get to where you are/what was your career path?
In high school, I pursued both art classes, along with all the math and science I could fit on my schedule. Technology was just being added to the curriculum, thankfully I took touch typing and BASIC programming for two years. I was pushed hard upon graduation to pursue engineering at Hudson Valley Community College. I did and did OK but really wasn’t happy. I started switching majors (did that a grand total of 5 times) and landed in the Fine Arts program there. I found a great community and the professors are world-class. Graduated HVCC with a 4.0 and transferred to St. Rose to finish my Bachelor’s in Sculpture and Art History.
While in high school I dabbled in tech and even did some computer building and repair on the side. When I started in college I canvassed a lot of local computer/IT companies looking for work and landed a job at a small firm. There I went from “bench tech” to working on network connectivity and ultimately managing networks.
Jumped from there into a network admin job where I managed a 50 node network for a few years. The big light bulb was getting into managing the databases for that organization. Realized that was where the magic happened and real business problems could be solved. I was also reading a lot of business books at the time and ultimately jumped to consulting to solve more problems, faster.
A few years of consulting under my belt I partnered up with one of my best friends and former teammates, Tom Patros to join him at Red Argyle and build our own consulting company.
What are your roles and job responsibilities?
If we’re a sports team, I’m on offense. I help manage Red Argyle’s relationships with Salesforce, our business partners, and key strategic accounts. I also work hard every day and help with Sales, which is my primary focus. Beyond that, I dabble in operations and consult with our team on finance, HR, and project delivery.
How do your career and personal life fulfill your purpose?
I have fun at work. The real reward for work isn’t money, it’s enjoying the work. “The Work is the Reward” as Dan Pink describes in his book “Drive”. If you enjoy your work, it’s fulfilling and by working hard toward the role you want, ultimately you can create that reality. My job lets me combine things I love, am passionate about, and good at every day; a great intersection of “Ikigai” if you will.
How has technology affected your job?
Technology is my job. Even at 40 years old, I have to put energy in every week to stay on top of trends in business and consumption of technology so I can help steer Red Argyle to be relevant and excellent with our offerings and delivery.
What do you do every year to learn and do you have a life-long learning plan?
We’ve just reconstituted Red Argyle’s staff learning plan and 2020 is going to be a big year for that here including study time baked into our calendar. I’m going for my App Builder Certification. On the personal side, I feel it’s critical to always learn new skills. Some are business focused (being on boards of directors and reading business books). Some are hobbies. I’m learning how to timber frame and took a 6-day course last year. This year I have goals to exercise my skills and build a structure using traditional joinery and design!
How do you invest in yourself?
Every other book I read is a business book. I feel you always have to feed the fire with new ideas or reinforce old ones. I challenge myself regularly with different projects or woodworking challenges. Finally, and maybe most important – taking care of my body and mind. I exercise regularly and watch what I eat. Been putting more time into mindfulness and meditation which generally makes life better!
How do you give back to the community?
When we started Red Argyle we adopted the Pledge 1% (1% of time, revenue, services to nonprofits). Since then we’ve donated thousands of hours of time. In 2019 alone we donated $13,000 to support Food Banking in upstate NY. Myself, I’ve served on boards, run technology projects for some nonprofits and spend time volunteering for a few organizations. Our blog here has more details.
What other types of positions are available with your company?
We’re currently hiring for more help in Sales, along with “Configurators” which are considered Salesforce configuration specialists and back up our consultants and developers. Configurators build solutions on Salesforce, test their work or work of the overall project team.
Check out our careers page here to apply.
How would a TVHS student pursue this type of career?
- Salesforce Trailhead has online learning exactly tailored to learn about what Salesforce does and how to build it. Just with Trailhead, it’s possible to learn enough to get certified.
- Interact with the Salesforce community! They have their own community baked into the Trailhead platform. Also Twitter, Reddit, you name it there are Salesforce groups.
Do you have any regrets? Or what might you have done differently?
No, and yes. I wouldn’t change a thing. If I did I wouldn’t be here, and who knows if I’d be married to my awesome wife and have the kids I have now. Any regret changing isn’t worth it to jeopardize my current reality! (I know, a bit metaphysical)
But, If I could go back to my young self who was challenged with self-esteem and self-worth, I’d just say “You’re enough”. Maybe I would have gone out and had the same growing up but felt better about myself the whole time. I’m happy to see so many people supporting each other now and I hope that everyone can find their “former selves” to lift up.
How is your company involved in changing or improving the world around us?
We’re trying to recruit talented people to our team and exposing them to world-class technology and clients. We have dream customers right now who are amazing companies and fantastic to work with. I love being able to hire someone and insert them into those accounts after a short onboard, took me 20 years to have the opportunity!
Beyond that, we’re excited to continue our commitment to 1/1/1 and heavily support nonprofits in 2020. I feel that if all companies did this a lot of the world’s problems would cease to exist.