Episode 102 – Find Your Tribe and Learn to Love What You Do with Jess Dodson
Jess Dodson is Phil’s guest on today’s show. She has been supporting, managing and administering Active Directory & Windows Servers platforms. Her work has enabled her to become a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional. She specializes in Windows Server Operating Systems, Active Directory, Group Policy, File and Print, OS Lifecycle management, information & account security services.
(0.58) – So Jess, can you expand on that summary and tell us a little bit more about yourself? Jess explains that, after 15 years in the industry, she is now focusing more on Active Directory identity and security. In Australia, she is also heavily involved with the IT Professional Association. Their aim is to advance the practice of Information Technology as a profession. Currently, they are working to increase visibility and demonstrating the fact that the profession is not as boring as people make it out to be. She uses social media to convince people to give working in the administration side of IT, a go. Rather than automatically pursue a career on the developer side of things.
(2,15) – Phil wants to know if Jess has noticed a big difference in the operational side of the companies she has worked for. So far, Jess has only worked for two organizations. A university and government department and she have found that they work in a very similar way on the organization side, but she is aware that in the corporate world culture differences are definitely there.
(3.20) – Phil asks Jess for a unique IT career tip. Jess’ number one tip is that getting into IT and enjoying the career you want isn’t a straight line. There is no you get this degree to get this specific job path, in the IT industry. The best approach is to do what works for you. For some people, that is getting a degree, for others it means going straight from school into a mundane IT job and starting at the bottom of the ladder. You just need to do what works for you.
(4.35) – Jess is asked to share her worst career moment and what she learned from that experience. She goes onto share two experiences, because she could not decide which of them was worst. The first one was when she did some live testing on her employee’s production website and wiped it out. They were able to restore it, from backup, but it was a hard way to learn never to do any testing on a production website. The 2nd one happened when she needed to delete a production server from her employee’s Windows Update server. A server that had been decommissioned so did not need updates. But, instead of deleting just that server, she deleted the entire production server group. More than 500 servers could not receive Windows update. This happened the day before the production patches were due to be deployed. Jess realized her mistake within seconds. The delete computer and delete group buttons were side by side and she knew instantly that she had hit the wrong one. For Jess, the lesson from that unfortunate mistake was to admit your mistakes immediately. She turned to a close colleague who had some experience in scripting and together they were able to fix the problem within an hour. If she had not admitted it, she would have had to fix it manually, which would have taken all night. Working as a team the problem was solved really quickly.
(7.25) – Phil asks Jess what her best career moment was. She says it was speaking at Microsoft Ignite in Australia in 2013. She had never spoken publicly before, so was very pleased when her speech was voted the third best of the conference. If you want to hear it you can do so here. Her speech was all about Active Directory & Domain Security, Administration & Maintenance and is called Righting the Right Rights.
(8.26) – Phil asks how Jess practiced for her talk at Microsoft Ignite. She said she went online and did some research about technical speaking and followed the advice to practice 10 times the amount of time you are due to speak for. Jess has gone on to speak at Microsoft Ignite three more times and she may be speaking at the big Ignite conference that is on tour and coming to Sydney in February 2019.
(9.51) – Phil asks what excites Jess about the future of the IT industry. The fact that everything changes so fast, is something that Jess finds exciting. You have to be really good at learning and keeping up. The shift into a whole range of areas that were not even thought of 10 years ago is really exciting. She also likes the fact that security is becoming increasingly important.
(11.01) – Are there any other technologies that are of interest to you outside of your general remit? Jess explains that she just loves what she does so much that she is really focused on the Microsoft sphere of technology stack.
(11.40) – Phil wants to know what brand of phone Jess uses. It is an Android model and jokes that she is a Google fangirl as well as a Microsoft one.
(12.11) – What drew you to a career in IT, Jess? She explains that her dad was a systems engineer. From a very young age she wanted to be like her dad, which, naturally, meant a career in IT.
(12.27) – What is the best career advice you were given? Stand up for what you know is right. Find a way to convince your managers or, if you need to, go around them especially if it is related to security.
(12.53) – If you were to start your IT career again, now, what would you do? If she were to start again Jess would focus on the cloud and brush up on her coding and scripting skills.
(13.09) – Phil asks Jess what career objectives she currently has. Right now, Jess is focusing on Azure, Microsoft’s Cloud solution. As well as moving more into the security and identity space.
(13.35) – What is the number one non-technical skill that has helped you in your IT career, so far? Her response is people skills. Your network of people is a crucial asset. You need people you can rely on, so you need to “find your tribe.”
(14.11) – Phil asks Jess to share a final piece of career advice. She says “love what you do”. You cannot just do this job to pay the bills. You need to be realistic and realize that it is not always possible to “do what you love”. Sometimes you are going to end up having to learn to “love what you do”. Taking this approach ensures that you get the most out of whatever situation you find yourself in and do a good job.
(4.03) JESS – “Every person that I’ve ever met in IT has completely different ways that they’ve gotten into the industry. So, follow the path that works for you.”
(7.17) JESS – “One person can get some things done. But as a team, you can get so much more done if you work together.”
(11.01) PHIL – “Security is definitely going to be a hot topic over the next 10 15 years”
(13.00) JESS – “Starting from now, focus on the cloud. Focus very heavily on the cloud.
(13.47) JESS – “The network of people that you know, and that you can call on, it’s your number one asset. You need a tribe to rely on.”
CONTACT JESS DODSON: