Approachable Folks & Good Engineers

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple weeks now, and Virgin America is giving me that opportunity with an hour departure delay (silver lining? ;).

So much of the tech talk today centers on specs and numbers, but behind every product are people–engineers, executives, and various support staff. These folks have an amazing power to influence the success of their products and services for good and ill.

I still recall a support situation in 1998 or maybe ’99 and a Compaq laptop that had recurring display issues. On tech specs alone, the product would have earned a scathing review (especially since I wasn’t the only one facing the exact, repeat failure). However, Compaq Support all the way up to the VP engaged, rectified (with a replacement laptop), and topped it with a duffel bag and personal note of apology. Doing it right etches it in people’s memories.

Today I’d like to highlight a few folks and groups that have stood out to me recently and reflect well on their products and organizations. It’s a far-from-exhaustive, unordered list that centers on those I’ve not mentioned in previous posts.

Aaron Skogsberg

Aaron / “Skogs” / @DweebiaK is CTO for the Americas at Pure Storage and demonstrates an enthusiastic and also humble approachability that is encouraging to encounter, particularly at the C-level. No product is perfect and I wrote about a few of those weak spots in Pure’s portfolio last year, which caused Skogs & crew some pain. When we finally did do business this year with Pure, though, Aaron and I were able to connect and have some great dialogue. To this very morning, he remains receptive to customer input and seeks to understand both wishes and pain points, without any defensiveness. That’s something worth emulating. Thanks, Aaron!

 Eric Leutner

Eric is a Technical Support Engineer at VMware and rescued one of my cases that went through repeated bouts of neglect within the Global Support Services organization. It pains me that such a great product family (VMware vSphere, etc) is tarnished by unreliable support, but folks like Eric give me hope that revival can come as it has in years past.

Eric’s flexibility and patience stands out as my support case was complex, difficult to pin down, and potentially not at all his responsibility. He kept me updated with action items within his team and responded in a timely manner, which is something I’m learning to not take for granted these days. Even when the root cause started honing in on other vendors’ components, Eric didn’t push to close the case or punt the issue. I appreciate that and hope others out there get the pleasure of working with Eric when they need VMware assistance. Way to go!

 Brent Carlson

I chuckle as I’m starting here, because Brent tends to be a private guy, and the most exposure you’ll find of him online is his own blogging at bcTechNet. Brent is my colleague and counterpart at ExponentHR and is master of all things Microsoft. He’s more than proficient at VMware, storage, and coding, too, and is an incredible part of our team.

Brent and I started working together at another organization way back in 2001, and he frankly made me feel threatened technologically. I was used to being that young upstart and liked shining, and then one summer he showed up and doing the same and more. When it came time to add to our team in 2007, I knew Brent would be perfect, because he pushed the tech envelope, never stopped learning, and made you want some of his Microsoft super powers :).

It’s an honor to work with you, Brent. You’re worth far more than your weight in PowerShell and gold!

Rubrik Team

This last spotlight goes to the team behind the tech start-up, Rubrik. Most people I know look at Google and see even the prospect of working there as having “arrived”. The folks behind Rubrik, though, are of a caliber that merely starts at Google and like companies and launches skyward from there. Even so, they are humble individuals who receive constructive criticism openly and only add to their ranks from those who will leave their egos behind. I’ve seen that in CEO, Bipul Sinha, down to one of the newest Sales Engineers, Ray Felix.

I’m enjoying working with these folks and am excited about what they are bringing to the industry. If more organizations were started and run by teams like this, IT would be better for it. #DontBackupGoForward!


I hope that this gives a little of the credit deserved by these great folks, and I hope it inspires others to live and work in similar ways. Humility and dedication are virtues worth owning.

One Comment

  1. Guy said:

    Very cool, reminder to us all to praise the people who deserve it and make our life a bit easier now and then!

    May 18, 2015

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