Article for department news letter
International House of Desktop
The room is half dark; 'BR' must not be in yet. I flip the second light switch on and fully illuminate my home away from home, the place I spend almost a third of my life: Room TS -112. I see a few of the early birds. They groan when the rest of the fluorescent lights power up and blast their eyes at 7:30 in the morning. These are the guys who come in early to get a jump on the day, or maybe rather just to ease into it.
Desktop is a unique workplace. If you were to ask almost anyone at AMC what Desktop does, the answer would most likely be, "they fix computers". On the surface, at first glance, that is true; the main mission of Desktop is indeed to fix computers, to keep them up and running. If someone is unable to do their job a patient can't be checked in, a label can't be printed in the Emergency Department, a medical history can't be pulled during an operation or worst of all, a bill can't be sent out. But there is more to Desktop than just fixing computers, and I'd like to shine some light on these unsung heroes and what it's like to be a Desktop technician.
When fully staffed, Desktop is made up of seventeen staff members who have amassed a combined total of over 165 years of experience resolving computing issues and satisfying customers. Of the seventeen, thirteen are responsible for service and upkeep on the 7,500 computing devices (not including monitors) at AMC. This equates to roughly 575 devices each of these technicians personally maintains. The other four people who are part of the Desktop team are BR - Desktop Manger; JS, who is almost single-handedly responsible for all new computer replacements of outdated models; AG, who is responsible for inventory, assigning equipment, work orders; and myself. I place equipment orders, work with vendors and customers, assign assessments, and work on projects or with project teams as needed.
Along with their regular duties, there are four technicians who have another job for which they alone are solely responsible. BR has christened them "czars."
'JS' is the Disposal Czar, responsible for disposing of any asset which is no longer of use, outdated, or just not worth fixing and has no book value. JS goes through everything with a fine-tooth comb. His work must be spot-on and includes all paperwork, warranty information, and updating inventory. All of this is then reported to Corporate Finance; no mistakes when it comes to the money!
'MW' is our Loaner Czar. MW has a pool of printers, desktops, monitors and laptops which can be utilized as temporary replacements for an area when they have a device that's down and they can't function without it. He is responsible for keeping these in working order, tracking, and making sure they are returned so they can be used again at a moment's notice.
'CB' is the Executive Tech Czar. He's responsible for the upkeep, troubleshooting and repair of executive's devices. CB must ensure each executive's device is in perfect working order, and all software is constantly up to date (the location and any changes must be logged in a spreadsheet). He is on call and available any time there is a problem or need for our executives.
Along with being CB's backup for the executives, 'BM' is the AV Czar, responsible for the all audio video equipment at AMC. Smartboards, overhead projectors, cameras, video, podiums, conference rooms and more - BM owns them all. If there is a press conference you'll find him there. Graduation ceremonies? Check, he's there, "White Coat" ceremony, yep, there too.
Each tech also brings their own individual talents to the department. These talents may not be part of a job description, but you'd better believe they're valuable to the team.
'JW' is our resident technical researcher. Got a weird problem? Maybe something that's never been encountered before? JM is the go-to guy. If he hasn't seen it or already knows how to fix it, then you've got a tough one! JW will dig in, grab hold of it, wrestle it into submission and get to the bottom of it. If JW can't fix it, it probably can't be fixed.
'AJ' knows almost every system inside and out. He's been there and done that, and done it again. AJ knows the key players in each area and has worked on most of their problems or projects. He knows the right way, and the best approach for those applications needing to be installed or fixed. We have hundreds of applications at AMC. AJ knows them all, and is a great source for that piece of knowledge you might be missing to get it done right.
'SE', aka "Really Tall Guy"; RTG for short (no pun intended). SE is not only the tallest member of Desktop (no, he doesn't play basketball) but he also is a great go-to guy. Need something done, and done fast and quick? Give it to SE. He'll ask the important questions, get the needed answers and get the job done. He is well respected in his territory by the staff he serves. They know his word is good, he'll get the job done, and he'll give a straight answer when asked. SE started as a volunteer at AMC in Desktop and we knew in a few weeks he was full-time material.
'AH' is our resident geek. No, not THAT kind of geek. AH came to Desktop from the Geek Squad. Aside from his outstanding customer service skills (try going to an angry customer' house to fix a problem on their turf). AH has tremendous knowledge and is always willing to share and offer solutions to the team. AH is also Mac trained, which in and of itself is worthy of awe. PC and Mac specialties usually don't go together, but with AH they do - and good thing, too; he's the guy we turn to for our many Mac questions. Be it an iPad, iPhone or Airbook, Drew knows his stuff.
'TS' I like to call TS The Godfather. TS is the wily veteran of Desktop. He's calm, collected and cool. He is customer service personified. Walk through the institution sometime with him. You better have a lot of time because EVERYBODY knows him and loves him. He is the mayor of AMC. He will do anything you ask him. TS never dodges the hard ones, never gives up. He keeps his cool under pressure and keeps the Team level. His positive attitude and level-headedness can calm a group in no time. He thinks before he speaks, and when he does, wisdom comes out. He never arrives or leaves TS112 without giving me a "Hi, Sparky He's a true team leader.
'YS' - YS worked for the Iraqi government in better times and Desktop is lucky to have him. YS is a workhorse. He gets it done. He comes in early, busts his behind and doesn't shy away from anything. He has the greatest sense of humor and he knows his tech stuff inside, outside, upside and downsides. What more could you ask for? We don't and won't hire just anyone for Desktop. YS fits in like a baseball fits into a well-worn glove.
'MJ' is our resident bookworm. I personally think he's on a quest to obtain every certification available. MJ has a lot going on and is always in the middle of something. If he's not working on a call or project, he's offering up advice and ideas to the team or helping JS with disposals. He has a huge knowledge of everything from cell phones to cost-saving ideas. Don't let his Jamaican accent and cool persona fool you, he's calm and low-key, but he's got the ideas.
Next is 'AG'. AG owns and runs a martial arts school and is a Tae Kwon Do master. Martial arts take a lot of discipline and it shows in AG's personality and work. AG is a very focused and positive individual. He is responsible for keeping the inventory levels at AMC where they need to be, cutting down wait time for equipment needs. He keeps track of all the technology assets in production as well as in inventory in TS112 and the AMC warehouse. He also handles billing, vendor repair, and more. It takes a very detail oriented person to keep it all straight. His data must be spot on, no mistakes, as it too is reported to the money counters in Corporate Finance. Ask him and he can tell what we have, where it is and when we need more without a second thought. When you talk to AG you'll notice he talks and asks questions in a very deliberate manner. You can tell he listens, absorbs and then gets you the answers needed.
And then there is 'GW'. GW should have his own personal biographer following him around. GW has done it all and typically, not exactly as planned. Very rare is the day when there isn't a GW story being told. You can't go to an event where Desktop is present and not hear one. GW has set a fire truck on fire. GW has driven a fork lift off a loading dock. He has pinned himself against a fence with a hole auger. GW has knocked himself out cold while tearing down his porch. He has tripped over his dog and broken his wrists. However, GW is resilient, and always bounces back. I'm pretty sure he's part bionic now. One of the great things about GW is he's an AMC old timer, not age-wise, but rather his experience. Maybe he hasn't been here as long as some of the others on the team but GW has experience with almost every application or piece of hardware at AMC. If it's here, GW has installed it, fixed it, and then shared the knowledge. He never forgets. Remember that app from 3 years ago that only one person had and couldn't get it working? No? Well GW does and he remembers the fix, too. Next time you see him, ask him about the day his deaf and blind dog got loose.
Leading this motley crew is 'BR' AKA "Tickets". I don't recall who christened BR with the Tickets moniker but I know why. BR is the traffic cop of Desktop and he stands in the middle of a superhighway of a nonstop barrage of issues. Aside from daily operational duties, time off requests, missed time clock punches and so forth, BR deals with a litany of items daily which is truly staggering. Customers calling to ask questions, complain, the boss calling with an emergent situation, new sites to set up with a short deadline for go live. BR directs the flow and keeps it moving. Every job I've mentioned above and those who own them - BR is responsible for it all. That, my friends, is a very hot seat to sit in.
There are others who have been a part of Desktop, each leaving a part of themselves before continuing along in their career. A few who come to mind are 'TB', with his quiet and reserved personality yet possessing a vast arsenal of skills and wealth of information which he shared with the team. 'JH', whose quick mind and math abilities never ceased to amaze me and upon whom I relied daily. There is 'DB', with possessor of an infectious smile, charm and a salesman-like personality. I think DB could sell oil to Saudi Arabia. Aside from the few I've mentioned, a multitude of others have been passed through the department, some still working with us but in different locations now, each helping to shape and mold Desktop into the well-oiled machine it has become.
I hope I've shared a little of the Desktop personality because that's what it is, a living breathing entity. There's always a fire to put out, a customer to placate and an interminable problem to resolve. Most times, it is far from fun; some people would assert that a job isn't supposed to be fun. Regardless, we all come in, we all do our work and we make the most of it. We grumble, we gripe and yes, we laugh.
My teammates have more on their plates than I can recall and no I've doubt I've left many things out which escape me now. They are my second family. They are my friends. They work hard to keep things up and running - and I'm proud to be associated with each one of them.