12 for 12: Dave Phillips

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 Dave Phillips, one of the hosts at the IT in the D podcast!

What is your official title?

IT consultant for The Halo Group, and for the past year and a half, I’ve been working at Ford Direct.

What does “IT” mean to you?

Reality 101 is that IT has evolved a lot in the past couple decades—to me, IT is anything and everything that’s around the industry that’s using technology to make things bigger, better, faster stronger.

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

It’s probably the same for all of my jobs—I love problem solving! Launching PodcastDetroit.com has been a really frantic, crazy process, while juggling the rest of my life, but really I wouldn’t have it any other way. I tend to do my best when I’m bringing order to chaos.

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 don’t know if it’s even an IT problem necessarily, but I’ll explain this in context of what I do: In my day job (and what I’ve been told is one of my best skills) is that I don’t just talk server room, I also talk board room. Being able to translate between those two worlds, that’s one of the biggest things in IT—getting technology and business to understand each other’s needs and issues.

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

Honestly, just making that connection happen—when I’m doing consulting, I try and make sure business and tech are in the same room before moving forward on things.

What has been your most memorable support issue in IT?

I have a couple standby’s for that question. Once, back in the day, I got called into the president’s office for a small trade organization. I was the only SysAdmin there, and he basically said to me:

“This thing,” he says, while he’s pointing at the tower, “what’s this called?” I said it’s the tower, the CPU for the computer.

“This just takes up way too much space under my desk. Can you just figure out a way to get the keyboard just attached right to the monitor? It’d save me a lot of space.”

So I just walk right out of the office in to my boss’s office and basically say “listen, I need to tell you what he just asked me to do, and want I need you to tell me what I need to do.”

So he walks back into the president’s office, and has the question repeated back to him. He walks out of the room, takes his glasses off, pinches the bridge of his nose, and just says “I don’t care what you have to do—just go find him a Commodore VIC-20 and an old black and white monitor. There’s no way he needs a full $5000 desktop sitting there underneath his desk.“ We had a good laugh about that one.

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

A lot of what I do is try—I’m so busy lately—I try to just make time for my family. I’m married with two kids (a daughter who’s 8 and a son who’s 5). Every Saturday I try to unplug, and just hang out with them. Go see a movie, hang out at the Lego Store for a couple hours. Doing stuff that they like, playing with Legos or Minecraft.

You have to have that unplug reset time, or you will eventually just go insane.

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

I guarantee I still have every bit of it! I’m a complete electronic pack-rat. Though I’d have to say I miss the old BBS (Bulletin Board System) days. Compuserve. Forums and online communities like that—they just don’t really exist like that anymore.

What is the Medieval equivalent of an IT professional?

A wizard! It’s changed a little bit these days, but IT used to be the guys who would come out of the back room in a cloud of smoke, and things would just magically happen—or the alchemist turning lead into gold—that kind of thing. What’s still true about IT though, is that you’re trying to make order out of chaos, and it takes a little magic to make that happen!

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

I’d love to sit down and pick Elon Musk’s brain. With all of the challenges he’s facing with Tesla and trying to change the perception and dynamic of an entire market. It’s fascinating to me.

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

Always! Is it plugged in? Is it turned on? Is it rebooted?

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

I love the concept of a transporter—which is funny, because I’ve always been more of a Star Wars guy than a Star Trek guy, but just the concept of being able to save all that time on commutes other travel difficulties.

At the same time, it’s also scary as hell, because you’re basically obliterating yourself and recreating yourself somewhere else.

 

Dave, thank you for taking the time to meet with us and sharing your thoughts! Keep up with Dave and Bob every week on their Detroit-oriented tech podcast, IT in the D, check out their new podcast network PodcastDetroit.com and give them a shout-out on Twitter! Check out co-host Bob Waltenspiel’s 12 for 12 next, and see things from the other side of the IT in the D! 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.