Life At Net Friends

Q&A with Bob Casey, Senior Business Advisor

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Net Friends

Meet a Net Friend: Q&A with Bob Casey

At Net Friends, #OurPowerIsOurPeople and our success is attributed, not just to the solutions we build, but to the people who power them. We're introducing a new series where you get to meet your favorite Net Friends. These are the people who help your organization grow, thrive, and remain secure and productive. Up first: Meet Bob Casey, our Senior Business Advisor. Did you know that Bob spent a month in his twenties on his bicycle, riding across Europe? Bob shares:

I rode hours and hours every day, visiting centuries old palaces, chateaux, and cathedrals I had only read about in school. I rode past massive sunflower and hemp fields in the Loire Valley, and through the glorious and imposing peaks of the Swiss Alps. It was an incredible experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Bob (left) snowboarding with his friend, Todd (right), in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

We interviewed Bob about his 17+ years in the industry and why he loves helping Triangle businesses.

Tell us about how you landed in the IT industry.

I turned 50 this year! At this stage of life, it’s worth taking stock of where I am and how I got here, where I’ve been and where I’m going. I began my career in IT in 2004 at the age of 33 and continue to work in the field to this day. A late start compared to other peers in my industry.

After college I travelled a ton and had a lot of different professional and personal experiences. You could say I wasn’t ready to settle down! After I got married and my son was born, I wanted to provide more financial stability for my growing family and decided to continue my sales career, so I landed an IT sales position. For the next 17 years, I built a career around helping Triangle businesses grow through IT.

I’ve met some amazing people in this industry. I like to surround myself with smart people who do good things.

Not having any IT background when I started, I quickly began learning a lot about the industry, and gained a deep appreciation for what technicians do. I became very aware at how critical IT is to a successful business. IT is never static or boring; technology is constantly improving, allowing growth in productivity and security. The longevity and growth I experienced during my IT career have allowed me to meet a lot of great people, help a lot of great organizations, and develop my professional reputation.

What has surprised you about technology in your 17+ years?

I found it fascinating watching small businesses shift their reliance from on-premise (server-centric) computing to embracing the cloud. It’s taken time for cloud technologies to mature and become more secure, reliable and accessible. It’s been a significant change for small businesses who no longer have to invest many thousands of dollars into computing infrastructure.

The shift from one-time large Capital expenditures (CapEx) to smaller ongoing Operational expenditures (OpEx) allows companies to free up capital and access more reliable IT performance and security.

What has the pandemic and remote work taught you about business and the future of technology?

Many businesses were fortunate to have had a solid business plan in place to allow them to switch from an on-premise work environment to an off-site one. Other businesses unfortunately did not. Remote work technologies have been around for years, allowing employees to work from anywhere, anytime, on any device. Some businesses embraced this reality, and some did not. Of course, there are some industries whose entire business models rely on in-person interactions for success (movie theatres, restaurants, travel, etc.), who were negatively impacted by the pandemic.

What I love about people is that we are innovative: when faced with challenges (like a pandemic) we can course-correct and find better and more efficient ways to live, work, and play. I’ve never been more confident in technology’s future: we’re able to work, shop online, get household items and meals delivered, read books online, and chat with friends & family.
Bob with his wife, Suzanne, boating in Lake George, NY.

What are common IT-related pain points that you see many businesses struggle with?

Typically, business owners and leaders are faced with pressure to improve security, performance and their employees’ end-user-experience while containing IT expenses. The reality is: a better IT experience just costs more! Not a ton more, but typically more than what they’re paying now. My job is to help business owners and leaders see that their investments in IT will yield ROI that will help them grow their business and sleep at night.

What’s a common IT question that business leaders ask you?

They usually ask me if we can take them from where they are and guide them to where they need to be. There’s a certain amount of pride mixed with embarrassment that business leaders have when it comes to technology. They feel like they understand a good amount of it, but not enough to take them to the next level. The challenge then is to earn their trust and let them know that my intentions are for a win-win scenario: they will have a better IT experience when they choose Net Friends, and our services and partnership are worth their investment.

Who in business has inspired you in your profession?

Two people: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (Ben & Jerry’s). When I was an economics student in college, I wrote a paper on their revolutionary approach to paying their employees. Back in the 90’s these self-proclaimed hippies made a great product, their business was booming, and they declared that their top-executives would earn no more than 7 times more than the lowest-paid employee. Pretty impressive.

I always wanted to work at a place where people are valued. I have that at Net Friends.
Bob (middle) with his kids and Patrick Pipino (right), his former boss, at Ben & Jerry's in beautiful, historic Saratoga Springs, NY.

What qualities do you think make good leaders?

Good leaders possess self-awareness: they know their own strengths and weaknesses. They surround themselves with smart people who excel in their positions and realize the important roles their employees play in making the company successful.

Good leaders listen. They show respect. And they provide guidance. They paint the picture of the vision they have for the company, and they invite their employees to help bring that vision to fruition.

The Casey family horseback riding in Cody, Wyoming.

- Check out our Women at Net Friends Series
- 9 Net Friends Share What 2020 Taught Them
- A Tech CEO Shares 4 Lessons Learned the Hard Way
- Creating a Media Disposal Policy for Remote Workers

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