MSP Advice Project: Article - Career Advancement

video
category
geeking out
growing pains
Career Advancement

November 05, 2018

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Body

Question: What areas did you focus on to advance your career to C Level?

Brandon Nohr: Starting at the help desk, for a previous company, I was their network admin. I thought I knew a whole bunch of stuff and realized I didn't know as much as I thought I did. And I just really grew with the company.  I've pretty much done every job within the company; from a technical job to support, and field project to escalation. For us, it was really around the technology that is changing. We were finding ourselves really, not going as fast as we wanted and, keeping up with the changes. Having a CTO or someone in place that is looking at the market, looking at the direction of technology could make some decisions that shape the company. Before that we were just going with the market, listening to Microsoft or some of our other partners. We really wanted to start leading a little bit more than following. That was our key piece to catalyst into CTO. I always had my eye focused on leadership. I wanted to make sure I could influence - not just inside the company - but our clients and working strategically with them.  I spent a lot of time on technical certifications, looking from a business perspective and working with our leadership on a regular basis and with other companies.  Leadership is understanding the needs and then tying those needs back to the frameworks and seeing how we could advance their cause.

Question: What has your career path looked like?

Jamie Wolbeck: I think when I started with the organization almost 12 years ago, I started out on the help desk.  Early on, my inclination around how we should do support kicked in. I had managed help desks in the past, so I worked with the team that we had and any individual that we pulled in at that time. I did everything to have a good base of technical certification. So, in my background I had done help desk management.  When I came here, it was really about immersing myself back in the technology. I wanted to have a good base around what good technology looked like. I worked on my Microsoft certifications almost immediately after coming in here. And then there was industry level certifications that we would work on to complete the suite: the Eight Plus, Network Plus, Security Plus, things like that. That was a baseline from the technology side, and on the business management side. And on the leadership side, it was really around people management.  We focused on a lesser known, non-proprietary tool called PXD, a personality assessment program to help the leadership by using personality assessments to gain coaching and information after people take this test. Outside of that, we use Strengths Finder pretty heavily to understand what strengths people have so we can play to that, and work with them on things that might be most appropriate for their role. For me, it was about understanding what that looked like for me. Taking those tests myself helped me understand where I lay. As if to say, ‘here's my strength’ so I could be the best benefit to my coworkers, peers and to my employees. Afterwards, I had my staff do the same thing. They take the tests, and we get the results, instead of continually trying to discover it.  Then we have a way to really communicate that we might not have had if we didn't know that about each other.

Question: How has your company shifted in the way it hires employees?

Jamie Wolbeck: We didn't hire for specific roles like senior technician or manager and any of that stuff. It was really just pulling a technician, teach them everything and they just assume that's going to be these set of robots that come out. And do the same things over and over. So early on that was something we had to break.  We had to understand that certain people were going to be better at some things. For example, some people may be better at remote support than doing onsite support - and that was okay. We had to work with them and myself individually. I had to gain an understanding of which individuals were better at which roles. That helped with the hiring process, too. And that's what kind of kick-started our growth. A part of it was we didn't hire people that were all expected to be equal anymore; expected to do the exact same thing over and over. We wanted to hire people that were better at remote support. And, then we wanted to hire people who can do projects and field support. That was a catalyst for us on the technical side. Before that we couldn't scale. We were just stuck at the same size, the same number of technicians. And if we added one, it was all right to say, ‘well I guess we're adding more customers, but we're still doing the same job and everyone's running around.’ So, we started to shift that to ‘you're doing this specific role’ and here's the capacity we need for remote support; here's what we need for field; here's what we need for project. And we started to schedule, scale and work in accordance with that.

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