MRO Technician Spotlight: Will Szymanski, SSI Schaefer
The Maintenance Repair and Operations (MRO) editorial team sat down with Will Szymanski to discuss his career as an IT service engineering manager.
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IT service engineering manager
Services Schaefer sites throughout North America, provides first- and second-level remote support and on-site service as needed, hires and trains technicians
MHMRO: How did you get into this industry, and what do you like about it?
Szymanski: I come from an IT background in the military, but I wore a lot of hats there, so I have some mechanical and electronic experience as well. I’ve been with Schaefer for three and a half years, and in this role for the past two. I was in corporate IT and my current boss saw something in me and gave me opportunity to run my own team. This is my first time on the management side of things. It’s a high-pressure environment, like the military, but that’s not something I’m afraid of. Every minute of downtime is dollars lost, so it’s very rewarding to find an issue, resolve it and get a site back up and running.
For example, one customer started having trouble after one of their employees changed the code without letting us know. We were working with them for more than nine hours, back and forth, until I discovered the issue and made a relatively simple adjustment to the code that resolved the entire issue. The CEO wrote a long letter about how much they appreciated our help. Customers are not just customers, they’re partners. If they have an issue, we try to help—without placing blame.
MHMRO: What skills do you look for in a good technician?
Szymanski: When I evaluate new candidates, I especially watch for some kind of programming language knowledge. That’s not to say they have to be coders or even know how to write in the language, but being able to understand and decipher it goes a long way in these situations.
MHMRO: What would you say to those considering a career in this industry?
Szymanski: There’s certainly no shortage of positions. I’m always hiring! You can find a job in this industry anywhere, and work anywhere, since there are sites throughout the country. Then there’s that rewarding factor. It’s a career that won’t ever go stagnant. There will always be new technologies and more to learn. Ten years ago this was a very different job, and you can bet 10 years from now it will look completely different.
MHMRO: How has the technology changed in recent years?
Szymanski: In my world, we are supporting customers with several iterations of WAMAS, our warehouse management system. Depending on how long a technician has been with us, they might be particularly comfortable with one version or another. In the past, all those versions were different, and if the guy who knew the old version left the company, it could cause problems. That software has now evolved to the point where we can, for the first time, upgrade older sites to the latest version. It might be difficult at first to get everyone current, but once we are finished, everyone will be on the same platform. That will make things easier for customers and our technicians, but I expect there will still be plenty of high-pressure scenarios, and I look forward to it.