As we wind down the year, we also wind down our series “The Many Faces of Global Services.” For this installment, we travel back to Europe to speak with Jason Hill, Head of Global Services in EMEA. Jason is responsible for a diverse team of Consultants, Engineers, and Services Support Specialists across Europe. Read on to find out why Jason is the perfect fit for this role!
Jason, tell us about yourself and how you ended up in your role at SUSE Global Services.
Interestingly enough, I like to say I got into IT before it was fashionable. In fact, I was going to be a business major but one of my professors pointed me toward IT and I’ve never looked back. I’ve had a bit of a “long and winding road” to my career.
I started as a mainframe developer for an insurance company (in the days of tapes and punch cards). I eventually moved to database programmer and then to networking engineer. After my days in insurance I moved to a position at IBM where I was in services and system management. From IBM, I moved through to VMWare where I spent much of my time providing customer business value for choosing a particular technology. Along the way, I learned the value of articulating the business value of a particular technology in order to sell it.
From VMWare, I was recruited to SUSE to head Global Services in Europe. This role is perfect for me as it melds both the technology and business value of open source solutions. I get to work with a great team and smart people who are passionate about solving problems for our customers.
What a great story Jason! Tell me who inspires you?
It’s a great question, and there are a lot of inspirational people to talk about. But I think the people that spend their “free time” volunteering to help others are the most inspirational. Nonprofit Organizations can only survive with people that invest their precious time giving to the organizations. Ultimately, these organizations thrive by the people that give huge amounts of time supporting them. Those people inspire me the most.
I absolutely agree and have sat on several Nonprofit Boards myself. Let’s move back to SUSE and Global Services. Tell me about the most difficult project you’ve worked on.
I was working for large, German bank leading their cloud computing effort. We wanted to take the entire bank to the cloud, using both internal and external cloud infrastructure. The IT department didn’t have the funds to do this, so we were encouraged to talk to the business to get the funding. We had to articulate the business reasons why they needed to make the change. We spoke to them about being able to launch new products quickly, respond faster to customer demands and how this would make them more competitive. From these conversations, we obtained the money.
However, now that we had the money we had to deliver… and the business wanted to see results within 6 months. We agreed and defined the deliverables. With the funds, I built up my team with the right skills. We knew we needed to use agile development to get the project completed. And we did. We were able to deliver on our commitments to the business.
That’s great Jason! Sounds like a stressful time. Tell me a little bit about the most fun project you’ve worked on.
Ironically, the project I just spoke about was also the most fun project. I say this because of the people that we were able to pull together on the project. We were all physically in the same place so were really able to build up a rapport and acted much like family. We also were working on groundbreaking (for the time) technology – using agile development and cloud technology.
It’s really the combination of the specific team and the technology that can make any project enjoyable!
I agree! And I also think that is why the Services team at SUSE is extremely special. Not only are they extremely smart but they are fun to work with! Jason, tell me something quirky about yourself that your team might not know.
Well there are two things, one is that that I have dual United Kingdom and Australian citizenship. I lived in Australia for some time when I was in my 20s and loved it.
I also have some interesting hobbies. I spend a lot of time coaching and teaching adolescents shooting and sailing. I also breed Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers and have shown them at the Crufts Dog Show.
Jason, What was the best concert you ever went to?
While I enjoy listening to music, particularly 70’s and 80’s rock, I don’t go to a lot of concerts. I did go see Sting and the Police about 10 years ago and it was really quite good. It was fun to hear some of their more famous songs (Walk on the Moon, Roxanne, and Don’t Stand So Close to Me) live!
Let’s move back to your role in Global Services. Give us a day in the life of Jason Hill.
My days are very different with a lot of activity, but I would say they broadly fall into three different categories.
- Work at home and on conference calls. Because I manage quite a large group of people I spend these days on one-on-ones with them or on calls with them and their customers.
- I also travel quite a lot so some of my days are really “planes, trains, and automobile” days. Whether it’s spending much of my time in airports or on planes, some of these days can be quite long.
- My favorite days are the days that I can meet face to face with my team, my colleagues, or our customers. While these days can be quite long, they are the most rewarding. Whether is meeting with a customer, working on strategy with colleagues, or catching up with my team, I find the face to face time to be quite invaluable.
I quite like the variation of the role as I get to focus on technical topics, strategic aspects of the business and customer/people management. It’s a well-balanced role.
What is the book that’s made the most lasting impression on you?
I am quite a big reader and read a range of books. However, I think the book that made the most lasting impression on me was The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, a book I read as an adolescent. I remember thinking how could anyone bring to life such a complex and compelling world. The book is truly an epic piece of fiction.
Jason, what are you passionate about?
I am passionate about the volunteer work I do with and for kids. I am an assistant Cub Scout leader and really enjoy running activities that help with their development. It is truly rewarding to get feedback from parents that you made a difference in their child’s life, teaching them life skills.
What’s your secret talent that no one knows about? How do you integrate it into your daily work?
I would have to say that I’ve always been able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. When you get too granular with anything it’s hard to find the solution. With many issues it’s best to look at them in a wider context. I like to do this both in my work and personal lives. When you can step back and look with a wider context, is it really that important?
We say that SUSE is the “open, open source company.” What does “open” mean to you?
With respect to SUSE in general, we are providing a framework of solutions that customers can adapt without fear of vendor lock-in. Enterprise customers typically have a very heterogeneous environment with different products from different vendors. SUSE solutions are very interoperable and can “play nicely” with any vendor or solution. We do not expect or ask our customers to rip and replace; but rather will work with what they already have.
From a consulting point of view, we are not trying to build a huge consulting or services group, but want to enable our Partners to provide services as well. We believe that we are truly better together with our Partners.
What are some of the things you love about working at SUSE?
First and foremost, the one thing that most strongly impressed me was the culture. The most important thing in a company for me is working with people I like and respect. I was, and still am, impressed with all of the people I’ve met – they are very open, honest and candid. There are no politics or big egos at SUSE. I feel very comfortable saying what’s working and what’s not. It’s a big plus that I really like the people.
Finally, Jason, what is your favorite quote?
“No plan survives first contact with the enemy.”
The spirit of the quote is that you can come up with a plan but you also have to be flexible enough to be able to change it when things, as they always do, change or don’t go quite as planned. And our jobs as consultants are to change or plans to meet the needs of the customer.
Thanks Jason for sharing yourself with us. Be sure to revisit some of the other Many Faces of Global Services that we’ve highlighted in 2018. Who knows who we’ll get to know in 2019!