My name is Brad Stevens. I’m in the information technology (IT) industry and I provide consulting services, currently related to Microsoft Messaging and Mobility solutions. However, I should mention upfront that a lot of my interests and passions extend much broader. On one hand, I’m a big fan of Microsoft’s Windows PowerShell, a product that’s included with their Windows operating system and which is designed to facilitate the automation of IT administration and operations. On the other hand, I am a big fan of automation in general, and the DevOps movement.
But let’s go back to the beginning.
Having lived in the surrounding areas of Seattle, I call the Pacific Northwest my home. My family and I around the age of 10 eventually landed in Covington, WA (about 30 minutes from Seattle) where I graduated from high school. After school, rather than going straight to college, I worked my way into the field of IT. I worked full time at Snoqualmie Casino where I started in the food & beverage department, and soon after moved to the finance department in the casino cage.
I had always known I wanted to do something with technology, but I didn’t know what specifically, or how I would get there. One day, someone told me something that changed the way I would go about making the next several steps towards a meaningful career:
“If you have a hobby that you love to do, and you can get paid to do it, you will never have to work another day in your life.”
I had several years experience tinkering with my desktop growing up, making websites, and maintaining an interest in rising technologies, gadgets and the like. Once it clicked with me that this was what I wanted to do, it was a matter of deciding which of the two entry fields I would have to choose between: Software Development or Information Technology. Being afraid of becoming stuck in a cubicle for 8 hours a day, with minimal human interaction, writing code, and stressing over deadlines, I chose the Information Technology career path.
Upon my revelation, I promptly walked up to the wonderful director of MIS, Nancy Wittmeyer expressing my desire to start in the field. Somehow, Nancy saw something in me and I was offered a job only a few weeks later. I worked as a tier 1 help desk technician at the casino for a year to follow having obtained my CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+, as well as my VMware DCV-VCA certifications at my own time and expense. Once I had learned what I thought was all I could learn from the casino within my position, I moved on.
I was lucky enough to land a gig at VoiceBox Technologies as an IT Technician where the majority of my skillset dramatically grew and had the opportunity to show. Here I was exposed to the first DevOps environment in my career. Working in an environment consisting of 50% Windows and 50% Linux, there were definitely some challenges, but also significant integration between silos including Operations (IT) and the Software Developers. I worked on several projects both collaboratively and independently that helped to automate and improve the efficiency of the Operations team’s day-to-day tasks. My pride and joy before continuing to advance my career was the automation of the new hire process. This process included several moving parts and pieces including new hire user creation, permissioning, group membership, mailbox creation, automated desktop/laptop imaging and software deployments, all with minimal interaction among the hiring managers, HR, and myself aka Operations. It was work like this that eventually had me promoted to IT Engineer.
Amazon, Microsoft, Zillow, Expedia, Concur, are all examples of companies that have, and are taking over the greater Seattle area. And with their ever-growing presences comes dramatic housing cost increases due to inflation and congested transportation systems. Over the course of almost two years, my skill set had increased significantly but my compensation was frozen. A previous mentor and manager of mine, recognized what I was helping to accomplish, and was eager to reward his talent on his team. Unfortunately upper management only saw investment priorities in the developers at the time, leaving those who supported the developers hanging. Being upper management was getting me down, and I yearned to play with the tech while being compensating in a growing market economy, opportunity shined elsewhere. I will always miss VoiceBox Technologies a bit – we had a great team, and I reported to the witty IT Directory, Jeff Wildman.
I left and took an entry level position at CDW which is my current place of employment. CDW offered training, certifications, traveling, paid expenses, and potentially unlimited opportunity to continue to grow. With desire, and proven results, you earned compensation more often than any previous gig I had been part of, and even knew existed in the corporate world.
For the first couple of years at CDW I was Padawan to the great and wise Technical Lead, John Weber. Known for his vast knowledge, and portfolio of results working as a consultant of Microsoft technologies such as Exchange and Lync/Skype for Business, I feel privileged to have him as a mentor and a leader. John is one of the many great mentors and leaders at CDW, as there are many who have contributed to myself, and each other grow and succeed in the industry of IT consulting.
Today I am a Consulting Engineer for CDW’s Microsoft Practice with a focus in Microsoft Azure and Development. I love my job, the people I work with, and the company I work for.
The rest is… well, history. Still happening, and definitely a story for another time.