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This week's #TechThursday is featuring Wes, Senior Systems Engineer on Giant Eagle's Windows Administration Team! Wes had an interest in technology from an early age and grew that passion into a successful career. He has been a Giant Eagle Team Member for 2.5 years and continues to help us evolve our IT strategy.

What led you to a career in IT?

At a relatively young age, I had a passion and an interest in technology in general. Like many pre-teen kids, I liked to play video games. That snowballed into setting up voice servers, game servers or web servers in my bedroom. This gave my friends and I a way to communicate and play together. Before I recognized it, I was already providing IT services to customers. My passion for IT continued to develop, and after I pursued an applicable college degree, that passion carried into a career.

Can you describe some recent projects you’ve been a part of and how have they impacted the business?

One of the things we implemented over the course of 2019 was hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), which is a modernized architecture for IT infrastructure. I served as the technical lead for Giant Eagle’s HCI implementation, and in turn became one of our subject matter experts in it. We’ve taken that knowledge and positioned ourselves as a regional leader in HCI adoption. From planning all the way to implementation, it was a project that was thoroughly documented and heavily tested.  The organization now gets to reap the rewards of less downtime, and easier ongoing management.

What is your favorite thing about working in IT? 

I think my favorite thing about working in IT is that you commit to be a lifelong learner. Although that can be said about many industries, technology is a field that changes at an incomparable speed. In order to keep up, we can never stop learning or become complacent in our practices. IT professionals are in a perpetual state of migrating old systems to new ones. With that, comes the unique business challenge of figuring out how to make that happen. I’m not a conventionally artistic or creative person, but I love exercising that skill by coming up with creative solutions to technical problems.

What is your favorite thing about working for Giant Eagle? 

I like that Giant Eagle is a hometown company at its core, and that neighborly cultural feeling exists among Team Members as well. Employees are kind and care about the wellbeing of one another. Another great thing about working for Giant Eagle is the flexible scheduling they offer. I think that’s an intangible benefit that’s often forgotten in traditional employment benefits package. We also have the opportunity to work from home. I typically work from home 3-4 days a week, which is a perfect fit for my schedule. We have great management and a core company culture that supports taking care of yourself outside of work in addition to professional responsibilities.

Do you belong to any industry networking or mentoring groups?

I’m involved with the local user group for VMware, known as Pittsburgh VMUG. They bring together local IT professionals for knowledge-sharing, networking, professional collaboration, and other events.

I’m also involved in a program called Tech Field Day, which is an organization that facilitates presentations between big and new/upcoming tech companies and pairs them with experts in the industry. The companies present their new products and technologies, while the panel of delegates can ask challenging questions. I’ve been a delegate for them a few times in the past year. It’s been a great opportunity to network with highly knowledgeable IT analysts, while helping me keep my finger on the pulse of brand-new technology.

Do you participate in any public speaking events?

Since I largely work in the VMWare product stack, I typically attend their conference each year with about 25,000 other IT professionals. In 2019, I was selected to co-present with a VMWare employee on Giant Eagle’s HCI deployment. I also gave similar presentations to local VMUG chapters in Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Cincinnati. In total, I’ve presented on the subject 4-5 times over the past year.

A “Fun Fact” about Wes:

It may not be considered fun by many, but my passion is technology. When I’m not working, I’m commonly reading or blogging about tech. Whether it’s reading the financial positioning of tech giants, or drafting technical how-to blog posts, there’s always something new to dive into.

Outside of tech, I volunteer as a soccer and basketball coach for Special Olympics and I enjoy running. On the casual side, my significant other and I are slowly making our way around the country trying the best food and drink we can get our hands on. It’s a big world to see!

“I think my favorite thing about working in IT is that you commit to be a lifelong learner. Although that can be said about many industries, technology is a field that changes at an incomparable speed. In order to keep up, we can never stop learning or become complacent in our practices.”
- Wes, Senior Systems Engineer

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Check out some photos of Wes presenting at VMWare events:

Wes presenting at a VMWare event in Pittsburgh

Wes presenting at a VMWare event in Pittsburgh, PA. 

Wes presenting at a VMWare event in Cincinnati

Wes presenting at a VMWare event in Cincinnati, OH. 

Wes at VMWare

Wes attending VMWare's conference "VMworld 2019". 

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