Lauren Johnson: IT Director, Blend

Lauren Johnson: IT Director, Blend

A deep dive with Lauren Johnson, IT Director at Blend.

What do you ACTUALLY do?
I am primarily focused on building a Team to support Blend by building tools and processes that can scale rapidly. I want IT to be the friendly, welcoming Team that helps our staff be as productive and efficient as possible. I split my time between managing my full time staff & coaching interns, completing ticket work, running around and helping people as needed, project management and being a technical advisor to other teams that request my help.

What types of devices do you support?
Almost anything really. The most common are Macbooks, Chromebooks, Lenovos, AV and phones of all types.

What’s your favorite piece of tech?
My iPhone and noise cancelling Beats headset.

What tools or apps are most important to your job?
Slack, G-Suite, Jira, Okta

Do you prefer hands-on, or troubleshooting from afar?
Hands-on. I always prefer in-person if possible.

Favorite thing about your IT environment?
My Team.

Thing you’d most like to change about it?
I would hire more staff to focus on automation to help reduce manual work for my team and others. More staff would help us be more proactive without compromising good service.

What’s on your desk?
I have the eccentric desk at the office 🙂

Macbook Pro, Dell Monitor, MX Master wireless mouse, Hyper Clack Nintendo keyboard, Chomp Chomp Lamp, Question Block Lamp, assorted toys/comics – I regret nothing.

How did you start your career in IT?
IT was never my original plan, it was a hobby I really enjoyed in school. I was more focused on customer support and though that was where I would build a career. I tended to always handled the more technical escalations as I found them way more interesting. When the recession hit, I was laid off and like everyone I struggled to find any work. I was finally able to get a part time help desk job and absolutely loved it. My Director and his manager saw how excited I was and offered to mentor me, something I am still deeply grateful for. I have never considered doing anything else since.

What are the biggest misconceptions of your role, internally or externally?
That everyone in the industry is like the IT Crowd & that we only fix broken laptops. It makes me sad when I go somewhere and the staff is afraid or embarrassed to speak with IT. We are here to help and if we can’t for some reason, we want to at least point you in the direction of someone who can. We do so much more that fix broken laptops and printers. We build tools, integrate systems, automate manual processes, help with audits & remediation, manage AV…the list goes on. If you need help, please let us know – that’s why we are here.

What was your proudest professional moment?
Whenever I see a member of my team level up and get closer to their professional goals. As their manager, I can only provide resources, support and guidance – they are the ones that do the hard work to get there. If they are happy and excited about our work, then we are going something right.

What are the biggest challenges in your work?
Managing the expectations of the staff so that my team is not over worked.

Most cringeworthy request?
At a previous role, I got a ticket to catch a seagull (yes, the bird) that got in the building. I found it sitting on a desk being fed Doritos by the Engineers. Once we got it out of the building (long story), the determined little guy kept pecking at the windows trying to get back in for the next 2 days. We kept getting tickets saying “um, there is this bird pecking at my window…”

Life Pro Tip: Marketing swag is very handy for capturing stubborn seagulls.

Do you stay hydrated at work?
Tea & Water. No coffee, I have been banned. It’s for the best.

CLI or GUI?
Depends on what I am working on but I am mostly prefer GUI, provided it’s designed well.

DIY or turnkey?
Hmm, that’s a tough one. It really depends on the requirements and how urgently it’s needed. I would love to DIY many things but sometimes it’s best for the staff to have a turnkey solution.

Where can people follow you online?
Linkedin.

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