October 18, 2017 was my, and for many, last day at Citrix. It ended a run of 6 years working with what was the best team I have every worked with. It started October 11, 2011 as my first day at Unidesk. I will admit I was very nervous about starting at Unidesk. I’d never worked for a startup before and who had ever really heard of application layering back the? Really the deciding factor for me to accept the position was that I knew Ron Oglesby and I knew he had been there for a couple of years already and if Ron thought this technology and company were good then I wanted to give it a shot.
When I first began I was, in Ron’s words, a demo monkey. I was the second Solution Architect hired at Unidesk and I had a lot of learning to do. It wasn’t just the Unidesk product, it was also learning View and diving much more into vSphere, understanding underlying technologies like how disk and IOPs affected virtual desktops, CPU and memory footprints and more. I also had to learn how to do demo’s. The tech I knew I could learn, that’s the easy part. The talking, the demo side of things, that proved to be much more difficult than I had ever imagined it would be. I had done some speaking at events like BriForum and been in front of customers before so I was pretty confident at the time I would pick this up easily. Man, was I wrong.
Ron had a policy, you get two weeks and then you do your first demo. Truthfully, I don’t know if he did that with Rob Z. (the first SA at Unidesk) or started it with me, but I remember that first demo I did. I would call it a disaster. I had sat in on numerous demo’s by Ron and Rob, had a lab setup at home to learn the Unidesk product and a set of slides that we used at the time. I thought I would be ready. As I said though, it didn’t go well. From that moment, I knew I had my work cut out for me and I took it as a challenge.
By the end of my run with Unidesk and Citrix, I had become a hell of a speaker. I started doing various user groups, I spoke at larger events, I manned the booth at shows, I developed and delivered training, webinars, etc. I found that getting up in front of people and talking about technology is what I loved to do. Oh sure, I was still doing demo’s, installs, and other work but I jumped at every opportunity I could to speak with audiences.
Another part of the job that I didn’t expect was having to write white papers. This was hard as well when I first started but the more I did it the better I became. My writing isn’t as good as my speaking but, in my opinion, it’s pretty darn good now. This grew into helping develop the Unidesk training, both the official training and onsite training. My lab at Citrix Synergy last year was rated very high against the others.
I was also given the opportunity to lead the team for two years. We had grown to a team of seven and for really the first time I ever I was the man in charge. I couldn’t have been more scared. I knew two things though. One, if I screwed up, Ron would most definitely let me know and we’d fix it. Second, this team was second to none. They were willing to work with me and help me out when I needed it. Granted, there were a couple of down moments being the leader but I took those as learning experiences and I am better for them.
At the end of the day, the Unidesk experience has been the absolute best. It was an amazing company with amazing people. It was not rainbows and unicorns the entire time, what company is, but even when we would have disagreements about the tech, the demo’s, the sales, the marketing, whatever it may have been, there was always the knowledge that it wasn’t personal (well I hope not at least 🙂 ) and we were all moving in the same direction and trying to do what was best for the company.
I have grown well beyond what I thought possible for myself and I have to thank Ron Oglesby for having the faith in me to bring me on and to put me out of comfort zones and work with me on shortcomings to make me a better person. The executive team at Unidesk was the best. Don Bulens (CEO), Chris Midgley (Founder/CTO), Tom Rose (VP Marketing), Bryan McDonough (VP Sales) thank you as well. The engineering and support teams thank you! Some of the best and brightest out there. Absolutely brilliant people. Really the whole company was awesome. Last but not most definitely not least, my team of SA’s. What can I say about these guys? They are the absolute best people to work with and to continue to be friends with. I feel blessed and honored to have worked with all of them and I am a better person for knowing you all.
When looking back over the years, you can always see pivotal moments in your life. Some of them are obvious like getting married to my wonderful wife and to the birth of my three boys. Some of them take time to even realize they were pivotal. Starting at Unidesk is one of those moments for me. It was the best career move I have made to date and I will eternally be thankful to Ron for convincing me to jump on board.