12 for 12: Jody Harper

Build IT Together is all about two things: IT and community, and we’re aiming to bring these together under our monthly blog series, 12 for 12.

By interviewing 12 IT leaders over 12 questions, we’ll get to know each other a little better, and get unique perspectives on the industry. This month, we meet with Jody Harper of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

What is your official title?

Director of Information Technology for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

What does “IT” mean to you?

Customer service. Often in this industry, people have a negative opinion about their IT staff—they rant about bad interactions, or slow service. It’s always been my mission to make sure our department isn’t the type of IT that gives off that negativity. It doesn’t always mean saying yes to everything either—there’s a fine line to walk.

What daily task in your job do you find most fulfilling?

Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly—just fixing things. Taking someone’s problem and being able to solve it with technology. The wonderment I get sometimes from people when I can resolve an issue using technology, that’s really fulfilling.

You can choose one common IT problem that you can instantly solve with the snap of your fingers, every time. What problem would that be?

I can think of so many things! Honestly, malware, viruses, ransomware, all that kind of stuff. Building up a good defense.

If you could instill one habit in every one of your customers and colleagues, what would that be?

Email your issues to the helpdesk! Haha. We have a helpdesk guy on staff, and people constantly call him or swing by, or stop him in the hallways. He’s there to solve things, so just send problems his way!

What’s one step that you never miss when taking on a large project?

Involve the end-user. Get their input- what I’ve found is that most projects will fail if you don’t get buy-in from the end-user. Get in with them early and often, and make sure they feel like they’re a part of the process, that’s the key.

Can you tell us more about your background, or a passion you have outside of IT/technology?

I’m a huge sports nut, I love the Lions. I get season tickets every year—even their 0-16 season, I was there for every single game! This year I’m going out to Seattle and Green Bay to see them play. Other than that, I love movies and have a huge collection of them. I also really take pride in Detroit, and I love supporting the community here.

What was your favorite 1990s (or fading) piece of technology?

The Super Nintendo, no question. It was my first videogame system and I absolutely loved it.

What is the Medieval equivalent of an IT professional?

Probably a knight. They’re the ones you look to for defense, and these days, so much of peoples’ lives rely on technology—IT workers are the ones defending that.

If you could have lunch with any technologist/innovator that’s ever lived who would it be?

Alan Turing! I recently saw The Imitation Game and I thought it was great. I’d never heard of him.

Is step 1 always, “turn it off, then on”?

Absolutely. People give me a weird look sometimes when I tell them to just reboot, but it actually does the trick a lot of the time.

If you could make one piece of SciFi or futuristic piece of technology a reality, what would it be?

Honestly, a lightsaber. You see technology on old Star Trek shows, like communicators and things, and we’re already creating a lot of those! We don’t have a lightsaber yet, though. That’d be awesome.

 
Jody, thank you for taking the time to meet with us and sharing your thoughts! Keep up with Jody on Linkedin, and be sure to check out the Detroit Symphony Orchestra page for events and other information! For more tech stories and news, visit Newmind Group and Build It Together online.

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About

Garrett Wenger is a storyteller and marketer at Newmind Group, and a native to Kalamazoo, MI. He received his BFA in English Literature from Western Michigan University, and has heritage in Southwest Michigan’s creative writing community. He published his first book of poetry in late 2013, and he has been featured in numerous literary journals.