One of the things MyITPros prides itself on is having a strong culture of teamwork- and that is made possible by our phenomenal staff. Each month, we're spotlighting one of our awesome team members, so you can know the faces behind the brand. This month, we were pleased to welcome our newest Senior Systems Engineer, Jeff Shaffer, to our IT family!
When did you discover that you wanted a career in IT?
I was the kid always in trouble for taking the TV and toaster apart. A geek from childhood, I mowed yards to save up enough money for an Atari 800 computer which, at the time, used a cassette tape for its storage. I went to college with the intention of going to law school – my degree is actually in political science – but I needed a minor, so I picked up management information systems (MIS) and that was the first time I got exposure to networking and interconnected systems. It piqued my interest. My first real job in IT was after college: I took a job at a middle school teaching computer science to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. This was in 1995, so the school I was at had no computer lab and only a couple of the classrooms had computers. I pitched an idea to the principal involving purchasing components and having the eighth-graders build computers for the elementary and middle school lab, plus one for every class, and then to network the two buildings together. We got approval, and it’s funny because I had no idea what I was doing and totally winged it. We built the computers, put network cards in them all and ran the cable between the three buildings on campus, and somehow magically it worked. We were way ahead of the curve. So I got a passion for networking out of that, and it was the start of my career in IT.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
The thing that gets me the most excited is sitting down with customers and making an effort to understand their business, what it does, what the pain points are. It doesn’t even have to be technological. I love working to maximize the IT spend or assets they already have, or looking to adopt additional measures to combat issues. Basically, my passion is using IT to solve everyday problems. It’s always fun to sit down, have a conversation with a client, wrap my head around what was said and come back with an idea. Then it becomes about implementing it, seeing it work and getting to see the smile on the client’s face. Being able to use my IT talents to solve business problems is great.
Describe the most exciting project you worked on.
The coolest thing I’ve been blessed to do was back in 2004. I was living in Washington, D.C., and working in federal contracting (my expertise is around email architecture and large enterprise email platforms). I got a phone call from my boss, who said, “I need you on a conference call,” and I was like, “Uhhhh, OK.” So I get on the call and it’s a bunch of co-workers and then there is this voice I recognize, and it was Andrew Card – Chief of Staff for George W. Bush! The long and short of it was that in the executive offices of the president, their data center – which is underground in an old missile silo – had been having outages for about two weeks, and for the past several days, the email environment had been totally offline. They had called Microsoft, which sent in engineers who couldn’t fix it, so they called my company and we got involved. I took a team of eight engineers and we spent four days underground and rebuilt this platform from the ground up. Out of that, my team members and I all got West Wing and private residences tours of the White House, and I was even offered a job working for the executive office of the president, running their data centers.
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