Today’s advanced technologies and digital transformation initiatives are revolutionizing the way in which all organizations across every industry operate, from government agencies to private enterprises, to healthcare organizations, to educational institutions. IoT sensors and devices are generating mountains of data, data analytics tools are helping organizations pull actionable insights out of that data, and AI tools and solutions are helping organizations eliminate redundant, repetitive, and low-value tasks so that employees can focus on high-value, more mission-critical ones.
To power this modernization and digital transformation trend, there has been a boom in the demand for, and construction of data centers, and the services of infrastructure and technology integrators.
To meet this demand, infrastructure and technology integrators that outfit data centers and deliver end-to-end technology solutions are staffing up – looking to hire professionals with a wide range of backgrounds and skillsets. To learn more about this rapidly growing industry and the career opportunities being created, we sat down with Matthew Easton, the Director of Operations, Strategic Accounts at end-to-end technology solution provider, E2 Optics.
Government Technology Insider (GTI): Can you give our readers a glimpse into your professional journey prior to joining E2 Optics?
Matthew Easton: I began my career in the low voltage industry as a Field Technician at a small cabling company in Nebraska. I then accepted a Field Technician position at the State of Nebraska, where I worked my way up through the organization and was promoted to a supervisory-level position.
I later became responsible for managing the low voltage connectivity for all of the state government and its related entities. That role included design and consultation, project management, estimating, and RFP review. It was a position that basically encompassed all-things low voltage management.
Four years ago, after 18 years with the State of Nebraska, I joined E2 Optics as a Project Manager in charge of building a team in Nebraska to support a long-term hyperscale data center project.
GTI: What drew you to the infrastructure and technology integration field, and to E2 Optics, specifically?
Matthew Easton: My responsibilities managing data centers for the State of Nebraska sparked my initial interest in data center-specific operations and support. The opportunity to build an organization from the ground up and get into the hyperscale data center market was quite intriguing to me.
At the State of Nebraska, we operated fairly small-scale data centers that were not nearly to the scale of the customer data centers that I support now. By entering this field and working with a company like E2 Optics, which services some of the world’s leading hyperscalers, I’ve gained more knowledge and experience in the rapidly-growing hyperscale data center space.
“This industry is growing and expanding rapidly to keep pace with demand. There are many opportunities available with a wide range of roles and responsibilities. There are many different jobs, which require different skills, just in this industry, alone.” – Matthew Easton
The increased reliance on digital services and systems across both the public and private sectors has created immense demand for what our industry does. E2 Optics has a very long-term pipeline of projects, which keeps us busy, and provides incredible job security and stability.
GTI: Professional growth is important for employees in all industries. What has E2 Optics done to help you grow and advance in your career?
Matthew Easton: In the first two years of my tenure here, I had more professional growth than I had within the entire previous decade. There was a lot of growth opportunity, as well as a need to grow in order to keep pace with how my role was expanding and developing within the company.
For most of my life, I’ve always been an instinctive natural leader of people, and that has really served me well in previous positions. But when we’re talking about growing a team of 180 people, from scratch, it forces you to quickly grow your people management and leadership skills.
E2 Optics not only gives us opportunities like this for growth, but also provides the necessary training to learn the skills and abilities we need to advance. A great example of this is our professional development program here at E2 Optics, which our employees affectionately refer to as E2IQ.
The initial intent of E2IQ was to create and mature a complete career pathing development program. It’s embedded into job descriptions and our performance evaluations. There is also a curriculum to support our team members’ professional growth, whether it be field-level instruction or professional development.
We have curriculums on effective leadership, project management skillset development, as well as a new curriculum focused on our technical field-level staff.
GTI: How have employees responded to the E2IQ program?
Matthew Easton: We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from current employees and new hires. It’s also been well received by longer-tenured employees at E2 Optics who may have felt like they were stuck in a specific skillset or felt limited with their opportunities to improve.
We offer a job rotation program, where we cycle employees through our different teams to give them an opportunity to grow their experience in all parts of our installation team. This gives our employees more insight into the different job roles and responsibilities which are available within the company and helps them develop a more well-rounded skillset. We also have a skills assessment process which assists us in tracking their proficiency in those skills.
“We’ve really put a lot of focus and emphasis on developing a comprehensive program, both from a new hire and an onboarding perspective, but also guiding them on their career paths and helping them discover the potential that exists for them individually.” – Matthew Easton
We’ve really put a lot of focus and emphasis on developing a comprehensive program, both from a new hire and an onboarding perspective, but also guiding them on their career paths and helping them discover the potential that exists for them individually.
GTI: What do you enjoy most about your position? And what has been your proudest achievement since joining E2 Optics?
Matthew Easton: People is always going to be the answer for me. I have an opportunity to make positive impacts on a significant population of our organization. And I really take a sense of pride in that.
We’ve worked hard to instill a culture of inclusion and to make our people feel like they’re valued parts of the team. We’re always actively soliciting feedback and working to act on this feedback. And that ties into my greatest achievements: the cultural awareness and cultural management that we’ve been able to implement within the organization.
It has been extremely rewarding overseeing the creation of the company’s mentorship programs, safety committees, employee advisory committees, job rotation program, and the developmental program. I am extremely proud that I had the opportunity to oversee the evolution of those employee programs – from initial ideas into actual program development and program charters.
Seeing these programs get anchored, witnessing the positive impact, and receiving the positive feedback from our team members, that is one of my proudest achievements.
GTI: What advice would you give any readers who are potentially interested in beginning a career in data center operations?
Matthew Easton: This industry is growing and expanding rapidly to keep pace with demand. There are many opportunities available with a wide range of roles and responsibilities. There are many different jobs, which require different skills, just in this industry, alone.
“The increased reliance on digital services and systems across both the public and private sectors has created immense demand for what our industry does.” – Matthew Easton
So, when someone comes into the industry, it’s critical to identify which career path they want to follow. Do they want to be in project management? Or do they want to be in leadership? Or maybe they’re not comfortable leading people, and they instead want to be an individual contributor, or a technical subject matter expert.
Programs, such as the job rotation program at E2 Optics, can help employees identify and understand the different opportunities that exist for them. But I would highly recommend that people think through where their passion and skillset lies, prior to joining the industry.
You may come in as a Field Tech with aspirations to be a Project Manager. And if we identify that early on, we can then start putting you on a career path to get there.
To learn more about E2 Optics, click here.