12 for 12: Phil MacKethan

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 Phil MacKethan of Lighting Supply Company in Ferndale, Michigan.

What is your official title?

Director of IT at Lighting Supply Company

What does “IT” mean to you?

Anything with a button or a screen—to expand on that, at Lighting Supply our entire enterprise is based on a hosted solution. From our virtual desktops, to our ecommerce site, to our ERP system, all the way to our warehouse management system, it’s either web-based or hosted remotely.

IT gives us the efficiencies and the tools we need to better serve our customers and grow as a company.

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

The people I work with are pretty amazing so I take great pleasure whenever I can do something that either enhances their job with technology or solve a problem, make their job easier somehow.

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?

Speed! [laughs] A healthy system needs to enable employees and not get in their way, and I honestly feel that a faster system always leads to more efficiencies and, hopefully, a better profit, in the end.

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

Getting buy-in from stakeholders. I think it’s critical for everyone to be on board for a project to be successful.

What has been your most memorable support issue in IT?

It’s funny, I don’t actually know if one stands out in my mind, but one of my favorite things about working in IT support is just being able to walk into a situation where the user is unhappy, and by the time I walk away, they’re thrilled. It’s a really morale booster!

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

A long time ago, I was actually a high school math teacher at a public school in Kentucky, and I first broke into IT as a network administrator for a small private school in Michigan. Then, just a year ago I transitioned from the non-profit world to a profit enterprise, but on

One thing I’ve always enjoyed outside the IT world is actually singing—I sing with a local acapella group called the Grunyons. We’re based between Grosse Pointe and Birmingham, Michigan.

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

My first computer was a Macintosh Plus, and it now sits on my kitchen counter as a fishtank! There’s a website called MacAquarium where they give you all the instructions you need to convert your old Mac into an aquarium.

What is the Medieval/fantasy equivalent of an IT professional?

I’d say blacksmiths. They were making inventions and using their technology to create new technology to basically improve the quality of life of people in their time.

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

Honestly, I’d love to have lunch with Mark Zuckerberg—he just seems like such an oddball and I’d love to see what makes him tick.

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

Absolutely. Without a doubt—So sayeth the Lord, right? [laughs]

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

I’d say the transport machine, like on Star Trek—I think it’d just be so cool to travel anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds.

 
Phil, thank you for taking the time to meet with us and sharing your thoughts! Keep up with Phil on Linkedin, and check out Lighting Supply Company while you’re at it! For more tech stories and news, visit Newmind Group and Build It Together online.

Posted in Interviews and tagged .
Featured image:

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.