I often talk about the things that “aren’t my job anymore”. For those new to KanREN, this month celebrates my 17th year at KanREN. I started on the technical side as a UNIX systems admin (not Linux in those days), and worked my way through just about every position here before my “job-jumping” stopped at Executive Director in 2008. As an “engineer by nature”, I often comment about the technical work that I used to really enjoy… I’m sure my memory has somewhat romanticized the “fun” that I had when I was one of the network guys. I digress…
KanREN is a small shop, and we all have many responsibilities here. The last purely technical role I have here is as KanREN’s “electrician”. When sizing power circuits, PDUs, breakers, and in particular -48VDC power; I’m still the person who usually gets called on to do the work, or at least to consult or review specifications.
But even as Executive Director, being the “power guy” has a benefit. I try hard to stay close to the staff and their work. While putting on a t-shirt and shorts and heading over to the Internet2 colo to wire up -48VDC to a new Juniper MX960 is actually fun and refreshing for me, it also gives me a chance to be “just one of the guys.” It helps me keep perspective. It makes me a better leader.
Last week I had just such an opportunity — twice actually. The first time, Brad and I got ready to start doing the work before we realized we’d brought the wrong gage wire. The second time we were successful. I sometimes struggle with the value to the organization in me taking a day off from my normal duties for an activity like this. But when I do, I always end up thinking it was well worth it. This time, as expected, the work gave me perspective as a leader, let me have a little fun doing something I love to do, and gave Brad and I a chance to spend some time together as co-workers. Getting to work with the staff, just like anyone else, is really the best part.