This week, we get to know Jeff Loomis, the SUSE Global Services Director in the Americas. Jeff has been with SUSE for more than 19 years and currently manages a team made up of Consultants, Premium Support Engineers, and Customer Success Managers.
Jeff has a broad background in IT Consulting. After college, Jeff started his career as an IT technical consultant with Accenture, working in their Network Solutions group, primarily focused on designing and building server and network infrastructure solutions. One of his last IT Consulting projects was a Y2K project at a global mining company managing all of the system upgrades.
When Jeff was initially approached by SUSE, he was not interested in leaving Accenture, but took the interview anyway. The combination of being a part of something new and to take an active role in building a consulting organization with a much smaller team plus the culture drove him to ultimately accept the position. Nineteen years later, we are lucky to still have Jeff leading SUSE Global Services in North America.
Jeff, tell us a little about yourself and anything you might want to share.
I am based by the Twin Cities in Wisconsin and went to the University of Wisconsin (Madison). I have always been on the consulting side of IT – first as a technical consultant and in later years in management.
What people may not know about me is that I was in the Army for 7 years and I am a certified tank mechanic. So if you have a Humvee that needs fixing, come see me!
Who inspires you and why?
Besides the obvious like my parents or my wife, the person that most inspires me is Elon Musk (@elonmusk). It could be that we share the same birthday, but his creativity and drive to do things that can’t be done, inspire me to follow him and read his works.
Tell us about the most difficult Global Services projects you’ve worked on.
One of the most difficult projects I’ve worked on turned out to be one of my most rewarding projects.
Very early in my career, I was assigned to a project in Philadelphia at one of the larger pharmaceutical companies. I was asked to lead a small project team tasked with quickly upgrade and modernize Sales Office server infrastructure across 50 North America locations. At the time, the tools available were limited, so we had to creatively work through the logistics and processes for the server system replacement/upgrade. I managed three deployment teams which traveled to two cities each week for ten weeks. The travel was intense and we worked through numerous technical and logistical problems; however, at the end of the project the team celebrated a hugely successful project that most thought would take 2-3 times longer.
Shifting gears away from IT and SUSE, what was the best concert you ever went to?
Without a doubt it was Pink Floyd, on July 3, 1993 at Camp Randall Stadium on a steamy summer evening. It was an awesome experience that I shared with more than fifty thousand people!
Jeff, what is your secret talent that makes you a successful leader for a large IT consulting team? How do you integrate it into your daily work?
I never thought that this was a “talent,” but I have found that my ability to translate the technical features and functions into a business outcome has helped me bridge any gaps between our sales teams, technical teams, and customer needs.
Aside from that, I have learned that instead of trying to have a work/life balance, it’s better to have a work/life integration. What I mean is having the ability to set priorities and work through those priorities, regardless of whether they are work or personal. When I do that I don’t have to worry about figuring out when to schedule work related items and I also don’t feel guilty about choosing to work out for an hour during the day or go to my son’s soccer game. Everything gets done in a purposeful, prioritized manner.
An example of this is that I’ve set a 5 million step goal in 2018. Because I’ve made this a priority I work it into my daily routine — whether that means pacing during a conference call or talking a 4 mile walk after a long day of meetings.
I’m fortunate to be able to work for a company that values work ethic over hours at work.
As a director in SUSE Global Services, I imagine that every day is a little different for you. But, could you give us a glimpse into what a typical day a SUSE might consist of?
The best way to describe my days as a SUSE Global Services lead are that they are very communications heavy. I work with a worldwide team so oftentimes my days start early working with our leadership team in Europe and end late working with the Global Services and Sales teams across the US from New York to California. The days are a constant flow of communications with lots and lots of people, including the consulting teams, sales representatives and customers. I spend upwards to 30% of my time onsite in front of customers, and talk with more than 50 people a week. My job is ultimately ensuring that we have the right team and offerings in place to help our customers’ meet their desired business outcomes.
What’s the book that made the most lasting impression on you? Why?
One of the first books I fell in love with was the Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. Reading this in high school, I was amazed how a set of unrelated stories could be tied together using the external story of a tattooed man. Each story had a relationship to technology (at the time) and how it relates to human society and psychology.
About ten years ago, I came across a business book that I like to recommend to most everyone. The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking by Barbara Mento. This is a business book that should be read by everyone. Ms. Mento introduces her readers to a structured framework developed within McKinsey to aid in clear communications and persuasive writing. The key takeaway principle from The Pyramid Principle is making sure your thinking is easy for a reader to grasp by presenting the ideas organized as a pyramid under a single point. This includes:
- First stating a situation which most everyone would agree with
- Then stating the complications with this situation
- Followed by a question to be answered
- And then finally, the answers your proposing to that question
Jeff, one of the SUSE taglines is that we are an “open, open company.” What does the word “open” mean to you?
“Open” from a consultant’s point of view is knowing that our customers need options and flexibility to reach their business needs. We need to be able to offer them IT Solutions that are flexible and vendor lock-in. We need to continue to provide them with options that make sense for their business. Ultimately in Global Services, we support our customer’s choices and provide them with options to do the right thing for their business.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about learning and going back to school. I have two Master’s Degrees – one in communications and one in business. Being around local universities and spending time in that atmosphere provide me with a whole different perspective from work. There’s nothing better than visiting a college town and hanging out in a college coffee shop!
I am also somewhat passionate about health; I try to eat well, do cross fit, and get my steps in – whether I’m home or traveling.
What is the one thing you love about working at SUSE?
Number one has got to be the culture. I hear this time and again. The people are friendly and willing to help. The atmosphere is ripe with opportunity. And everyone is trying to do the right thing – as a team. This is a special time in SUSE and in SUSE Global Services and we’re having fun as we grow and shape the company.
And SUSE is growing. Check out our jobs page to join our exciting company.
What’s your favorite quote?
It’s what I have taped on my monitor — “Reap what you sow.” I like it because it reminds me daily that I need to lay the groundwork to get the benefits. If I want to get to 5 million steps in 2018, I have to put in an average of 13,700 steps a day. It won’t happen overnight.
And finally, Jeff, what are you watching on Netflix?
“Lost In Space” and “Shameless”
I’d like to thank Jeff for being open during this interview and sharing a little bit of himself with us. You can learn more about Jeff by following him on LinkedIn.