The Many Faces of SUSE Global Services: An Interview with Michael Brookhuis
In this edition of the “Many Faces of Global Services” blog series, we travel to Europe to get to know one of our Technical Consultants – Michael Brookhuis. Michael started in Novell on the front-line support team in 2000, and when Novell bought SUSE, he moved on to supporting SUSE products. Because of his interest in helping our customers choose the right solutions for their business, he ultimately joined our Consulting team. For the past 5 years, he’s been a lead SUSE consultant in Europe. You’ll find him working his technical magic on a variety of projects that involve SUSE Manager, SLES for SAP, and even helping our customers upgrade to the latest version of SLES.
Michael is based in The Netherlands but does much of his work in Germany, so you might say he is a real “road warrior.” However, when Michael does find that rare moment of downtime he relaxes by diving, which is quite popular in The Netherlands, and mountain biking. Fun fact about Michael is that 25 years ago, he was a licensed cycle racer! (You never know what fun facts you’ll learn about our Global Services team!)
Michael, tell me who inspires you and why.
I find that you can find inspiration in just about everyone; I try to tap into that good/inspiration in everyone. However, the one person that I can name is my wife. She is very strong and she supports me. She often helps me to relax and come back to myself.
That’s pretty awesome! Let’s move back to SUSE and Global Services. What was the most difficult project you’ve worked on?
Every new project has his challenges; some more than others. The most difficult projects are the projects where management has a total different view then the workers I have to deal with. In this case, I work with the the customer to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Conversely, if it’s a technical challenge that I have never dealt with, I try to remain calm (learned from many hours of diving!) and find the right people at SUSE to help — often in the product management or engineering team. In general, I find that my SUSE colleagues are enthusiastic and passionate about finding the right solutions to help our customers.
I love that in general about SUSE; we definitely put our customers first! Tell me a bit about the most fun project you’ve worked on.
Most of the projects I’ve worked on have been fun, but a special one was at Eurocontrol. We had to invent many new “tricks” to successfully complete the project and get to the customers’ desired outcome. This was because had a lot of situations that were different than our standard use cases. There was a lot of fun in that challenge.
Moving away from work — what is the book that has made the most lasting impression on you?
I’ve read a number of books by Ken Follett and really enjoy him. My favorite is World without End. World without End is the second book in the Kingsbridge Series, and is the sequel to 1989’s The Pillars of the Earth. The novel is inspired by real historical events, and it is so realistic, you almost feel how life was in that time. The characters really come alive in the story and I could not put the book down.
Michael, tell us what you are passionate about?
I am passionate about my family, my wife, and my dog (she is a rescue dog). And, as we talked about, I am deeply involved with my cycling and diving and find joy in my job and my customers’ success.
Do you think you have a secret talent? And if so, how do you integrate it into your daily work?
I am not sure that it’s a secret talent, but I love diving and I’m even chairman of the diving club. One of my favorite places to dive is in southern Netherlands – a region called Zeeland, where hundreds of kilometers of dykes and dams protect the Netherlands from the sea. Together, these form the Delta Works – the largest underwater artificial reef in the world.
I bring some of my diving skills to work. For example, diving has taught how to relax, take control of my environment and not panic. These skills have enabled me to be calm under pressure, move forward and complete projects successfully.
Moving back to SUSE, can you give us a picture of what your typical day looks like?
This is very hard, as no day is the same. It really depends if I visit a new customer or a customer where I have been onsite before. I am on the road Monday through Thursday, with Friday being my home office day. I work with 4 or 5 customers regularly; although I do have some customers that I only see once a year.
As a SUSE Global Services technical consultant, I am most often at the front end of a technology decision helping to determine the solutions that will best meet the business needs. I then work with their teams to implement, integrate, and customize the solutions to their environment, providing knowledge transfer and helping customers get comfortable with the technology.
Michael, how did you get started in this field?
I was involved with IT at school but didn’t really study it, but I loved it. I started with Cobol and Basic and have evolved with the technology Was already involved at IT at school, and never get away from it. Loved the support job I did for 13 years, but wanted to start building environments. To achieve this, I moved to consulting.
What are the three things that you love about working at SUSE in Global Services?
- The culture and people are very open. You can talk honestly and people respect you.
- The products that we make are cutting edge.
- The customers that I work with really are the best and have a true desire to better their environments through technology.
What’s your favorite quote? Why?
It’s a take on you have to know the bad to really appreciate the good. That is, when you are always happy, do you know why you are happy? Do you know what unhappy is? Things tend to balance and if you never experience unhappy, how do you know what happy feels like?
Thanks Michael for speaking to me today! It’s been great getting to know you and look forward to seeing you “on the road” and at SUSECon!