Simon Zhang: IT Manager, Evernote

Simon Zhang: IT Manager, Evernote

Our deep dive with Simon, resident IT Manager at Evernote.

What do you ACTUALLY do?
I manage the IT team at our RWC HQ office. I do a combination of people manager (50%), hands-on work (20%), project management (20%), and systems admin (10%)

What types of devices do you support?
We are mainly an Apple shop but we support anything that helps our users succeed in their jobs.

What’s your favorite piece of tech?
My iPhone X. It does everything I need for work, personal, and with 2 kids, it helps entertain them and myself.

What tools or apps are most important to your job?
The app I am on the most is Slack and JIRA.

Do you prefer hands-on, or troubleshooting from afar?
My background has always been customer service so being able to help someone hands-on is very rewarding.

Favorite thing about your IT environment?
Definitely my team. I work with a diverse team that is really passionate about solving unique problems and helping our company scale.

Thing you’d most like to change about it?
I wouldn’t change anything about my team but with any technology team, there’s always tons of technical debt in hyper-growth companies. Adding team members that can focus on some core projects would definitely help alleviate the debt.

What’s on your desk?

How did you start your career in IT?
My career path was never IT but more customer service based. I was recruited through a contract agency to work for a service desk role at Genentech and from there I fell in love with helping others through technology. Since then I haven’t looked back.

What are the biggest misconceptions of your role, internally or externally?
I think the biggest misconception is that people think IT is just a help desk but many don’t understand the other aspects that go into keeping the lights on. I think IT is more than just servicing hardware or software. We deliver innovative solutions and ideas that can help the company grow, all with a SMILE.

What was your proudest professional moment?
Honestly as a new manager, being able to finally understand IT as a business has really helped me gain knowledge in leading an IT infrastructure. As a help desk or lead, my thought process was just focused on fixing, servicing, and think of new ideas. But now as a manager, it’s fun to challenge myself with the business aspects. It like I am running my own business.

What are the biggest challenges in your work?
Time. Our team has so many great ideas that we could spend hours brainstorming on solutions and lose track of time.

Most cringeworthy request?
Honestly, I don’t remember any cringeworthy request. I think every request has a reason why it was asked and we don’t question that. The better response is to ask ourselves, how can we help them so they don’t have to ask again.

Do you stay hydrated at work?
Water, and coffee.

CLI or GUI?
GUI, because when you have a small lean team, not everyone is accustomed to CLI. It just takes out blockers from junior members to be able to administrator company apps.

DIY or turnkey?
Depends, turnkey is usually better for a smaller team since there is less overheard but I love some of the DIY solutions out there if I had a bigger team.

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