Continuing our series of profiling our IT leaders at Tech Superpowers, (check out last month’s profile on Adam Fisk), we chatted with Paulo Rodrigues. While Paulo has worn many different hats over his many years at Tech Superpowers (TSP), he is currently the Director of Analytics and Quality Management, focused on keeping our internal processes in check and working for us and our clients. Always striving for improvement, Paulo is continually searching for ways to streamline our workflows and improve efficiency in everything we do.
What brought about your interest in IT?
I’ve enjoyed working with computers since I was very young. I wouldn’t think of myself as an IT person until recently, but I’ve always loved computers. I remember playing on computers at school (before we had computers at home), going to the science museum, and hanging out at the computer section of the VCU bookstore. I would always check out the new Macs, get the brochures with the specs and learn all about them.
That early enthusiasm led me to apply for a part-time sales job at Capitol Mac when I was 15. I couldn’t work very long hours, but I would help the sales team on the weekends and after school on weekdays. I did that on and off throughout high school and college. It was a lot of fun and certainly kept my love of computers alive. I would help people pick out their computers and accessories. It wasn’t until after college that I started doing service. Working at the same Capitol Mac, I started doing repairs, diagnostics, data recovery, and more. I did that for about a year and a half before moving to Boston and working at Tech Superpowers in 2006.
There was a bigger division between Mac and PC back in the day. What led you to be more interested in Macs than PCs early in your career?
I had used both growing up. My grandmother had a Microsoft DOS-based computer I played with as a kid, and my mother used Windows at her workplace, which I would sneak onto. So I had exposure to both. But at school, we used Apple II systems, and the VCU bookstore I frequented was all Macs. I just thought Apple was more interesting. They had sleeker designs, better programs, and a more intuitive system. And back in the day, they weren’t this mainstream tech giant. They were kind of this scrappy niche company with a cult following. Also, I wouldn’t be with TSP today if I wasn’t so focused on Apple systems. In 2006, TSP was far more Mac-focused than today, where we tackle hybrid environments.
Looking at your evolving experience at Tech Superpowers, how has your MBA played into your current leadership role?
Elon Musk was in the news recently saying MBAs are overrated, but I think sometimes MBAs get a bad reputation. They have a reputation of being business consultants that only look at numbers at the expense of everything else. But I loved my MBA program at Northeastern. It was very cross-disciplinary, cross-functional. We learned about everything you would expect from business schools like finance and accounting, but also things like business innovation and what differentiates a successful business from an unsuccessful one. I feel like I’ve been able to leverage that knowledge at TSP. I try to balance what I learned with real-world experience and blend the two. I love bridging the two to find solutions that work for everyone when I look at projects.
I think my MBA has also helped me from a leadership position and helping TSP internally. It’s helped me to be able to make positive contributions to our processes and align our services with different types of customers. Helping our clients get the most value out of their relationship with us. That’s something I really enjoy about our line of work, is what makes us successful, also makes our clients successful.
What is on the horizon of IT that interests you the most?
The thing I’m most interested in is privacy or the return of privacy. There’s such a conversation right now that’s occurring now around the sharing of everything on social media, sharing everything in the cloud. With everyone, particularly in the pandemic era, working in a variety of independent locations, we’re putting more things online than ever before. And there’s been a lot of apprehension from people about how big tech companies have access to everybody’s data and being transparent about how they’re using it.
I think there’s a coming shift and a sort of age of people reclaiming agency of their personal information. That’s what I’m really interested in. How you bridge this remote work and dependency on the internet with protecting your identity. Because it’s really nice to go into a document like in Google Docs and collaborate with someone who’s 500 miles away. But the consequence is people are giving up athority over their data to these big tech companies.
So what I’m most excited about is how companies in the future, especially big tech, have a role to play in this privacy discussion and if they’ll take a step back and allow people to regain agency and control over their information, while balancing the real world needs of collaboration and remote work.
What is a project at Tech Superpowers you’ve been proud to be a part of?
My favorite project was actually not a client project, but an internal one that helped TSP. Last year we transitioned our help desk system to ConnectWise and I was the project manager for the whole transition. It took a lot of work and a lot of learning, we transitioned our help desk system overnight with no client impact or interruptions at the end of the day. It took quite a bit of effort to set up and plan, but it had huge benefits both internally and our clients. With this, we automated a lot of our billing, scheduling, and tracking of trends and patterns. It took just over 6 months from start to finish, and while we still have a continuous improvement process, it’s made things much better across the board.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in IT?
I would say start by asking yourself what you like to do. What are they interested in. Do you like helping people out, or do you just like computers? Because that last question is important for which direction in IT you take. A lot of people don’t have a customer service orientation, which is fine. But if that’s the case, you should maybe look into a role in the Computer Science field. At its forefront, IT is a human field. In IT, you need to listen to people, have empathy, and validate people when they come to you with issues. That’s my biggest advice. Take a look inward and determine what you want to be doing. Because if you’re in IT, you’re going to be doing customer service and helping people.
Interested in starting or continuing to develop your IT career at Tech Superpowers? Check out our company culture to see how you would fit in, and see our current job openings on our career page to apply to any roles you would be a good fit for! Want to bring a human-focused mindset to your organization’s IT? We’d love to chat. Contact us today to see how we can help you and your organization’s technology.