Aaron’s Path to Virteva

Aaron SnyderHello there! My name is Aaron Snyder and I am currently a Lead Technician on the ServiceNow team here at Virteva. It has been quite the ride for me so far and I can’t believe I will only be hitting my 3-year anniversary with Virteva in March of 2017. I would have never guessed when taking the opportunity to work at Virteva that I would be where I am today. With that being said, a multitude of things played key roles in being where I am today. I’m going to take you on a magical journey, well maybe not magical but a journey nonetheless, on where I started and how I attained the base that I am standing on today.

Just so you can get an idea of where I am and how I got here, I’ll let you take a peek “between the sheets” and maybe, just maybe get a feeling for who I am. Ultimately I feel that will give you a better understanding of the journey that I embarked on a few years back. My work history speaks for itself. Before Virteva I worked in the wireless industry for around 9-10 years. I worked every location from Cottage Grove to Blaine, over to Plymouth and everywhere in between. That may sound like a farce but I assure you it is 100% legit. The roles I played were anywhere from Sales Representative to Lead Phone Repair Technician and even some Management because, why not?  Before that, I was in the food industry for 4-5 years so by no means am I a job jumper. While finishing my days at a company downtown I decided that I was going to go back to school. Low and behold 2 years later I had my Associates of Applied Science: Software Development.

Shortly thereafter, a current Virteva employee, Greg Lohman, who I actually worked with at the company downtown, said I should check out Virteva. I was amazed at how excited he sounded, just the pure honesty in the tone of his voice captivated me every time we would talk about it. I asked for a phone number and email of someone from HR and that is how it all started. Now, it is worth mentioning that the only “IT” experience I had was when I would watch the computer being taken over remotely at my previous job, so I was as green as they come. I figured, I like computers, I like technology, how hard can this really be? Oh lord, I’d be eating those words soon enough, I just didn’t know it at the time! I updated my resume and away it went.

A few days go by and I get a call from one of the nicest and friendliest people I have dealt with in a long time, Rachel. Rachel and I chatted for a bit and she suggested that I come in and meet a few people and just get a feel for the place, so I did. Mind you, this was at their old location and I’m no stranger to dealing with people but I was nervous. Hey, it has been about 10 years since I even had to think about the word “interview”. Even though this seemed to be a lot more casual I still wanted to make that one-of-a-kind first impression. You only get one chance for that, right? “Ding” goes the elevator as we hit the floor and as I step out Rachel is there with a smile and just a look of honest happiness. “You must be Aaron,” she said. She shows me around and next thing I know I’m in a conference room, alone, waiting. I think to myself “Wait, is this an interview?”

The door opens and without skipping a beat a hand is extended, “Hey, I’m Dan, nice to meet you.” He was so cordial, it put some of that anxiety I was having at ease. We chatted for a bit just about myself and the company and I’ll never forget this next part. He said to me “So, you’re on the desk, you get a call and someone’s computer isn’t working correctly. What do you do?” I chuckled a second and looked at him, realizing he was being serious. Calmly, without missing a beat I simply said “Well, I’d probably have them reboot their machine.” At that second, the look on his face, a simple grin and the small chuckle that came a few seconds after, I knew the answer I gave him would suffice. To make a long story short, we kept in communication a month or so after since Virteva was in the process of moving to a new location and they would let me know about next steps.

Well, me being me, I wanted to peruse any and all employment opportunities. I was getting calls from other connections I had made while working downtown and actually had a few alternate job offers on the table. But, I really liked the vibe I got from everyone I had come in contact with at Virteva and everything Greg had mentioned and just knowing how happy he was where he was at, made me want to work there. I had to attain Virteva glory! A week or so went by after the month wait and I received a call from one of the alternate jobs I had taken an interest in and I was presented an offer. I was stuck, what do I do? So, I did what I felt was right. I shot Rachel an email, explained the situation and even though the other job may pay a few extra dollars more per hour, I was looking for somewhere I could grow and etch myself into the fabric and become part of the company, not just an employee of the company. The next day I had the job offer from Virteva and without even putting a second thought into it, I made one of the best decisions of my life. I now worked for Virteva!

Knowing full well that I was going to start out working on the Service Desk, even with the degree I had, I was completely happy. I didn’t take the job thinking that I would be on the Service Desk forever (not that if I was, it’d be a bad thing). This was my foot in the door to prove myself, to learn and to pursue that constant company ladder climbing. My first day on the job I remember just being in awe of the teamwork and fun that people were having and still grinding hard at work. This to me was almost an alien concept, happy at work? What is that all about? I would soon know. I’m pretty outgoing and had no issues making friends with everyone in training or any of the staff for that matter, no matter title they held. That caught my attention immediately. There were no “us vs. them” mentality with L1 Service Desk and L2 Technicians or even the L3 Engineers. I just went around being me and everyone accepted me for who I am, even though I was new, had no IT experience and would most likely need help.

Speaking of help, training was something that I got excited about. Learning new things, who doesn’t like that? I sure do! I soaked up as much as I could at every opportunity possible. That was the one thing they kept telling me, “It’ll be like this for the next 6 months. Just try and absorb as much as you can and we’ll help you with the rest.” My initial trainers were some of the Service Desk guys that had been there for a little under a year. Just shadowing them, watching them navigate a user’s machine and how calm and collected they were in the face of user adversity was astonishing. The best thing about it was they had no issue explaining anything they did, how they got to the conclusion and if they had to escalate how to determine where the ticket would go.

So now, fast forward 3-4 months in, I’m on my own and no longer have the training wheels on. It seemed like every day I would learn something new and I’d actually remember it. Things are clicking, I’m feeling good, so why not ask for more queues to be in. Without hesitation my Finesse queue went from the 2-3 companies I was in to about 10 (most had multiple queues so it was more like 35-40) queues and it looked intimidating but I wanted to “crush tickets” as I heard people often say. I realized quickly that the more I could help out in different areas, the more opportunities I was offered to learn and grow personally and professionally. Not once was I ever questioned on why. I was granted opportunities and the one I can really speak on is Event Management. I had no idea in the beginning what this was but I would learn quickly the importance of it. I kept asking questions and wound up helping with the Logic Monitor initial set up. I didn’t do much but I wanted to be there, to learn, to soak it up as much as I could and to help with whatever I could because that’s the type of employee I am.

I continued taking every opportunity I could to learn, to help and to do. The next opportunity I would get seemed so random you couldn’t even make it up. There was one day where one of the companies that we support had a power outage. It was no fault of anyone, but nearly 90% of their sites were offline, people were panicking and they had to go back to the “pen and paper” approach for a day. This day merited a drink with my buddy Greg. Hanging out at JJ’s having a beer we hear, “Hey, you guys should come join us, we’ll get you a beer.” We looked over and it was Dan and Matt. I’ve had dealings with Dan quite frequently as he was ultimately our boss, but not as many with Matt. Usually I just saw him in his office with his sweet monitor set up and would think to myself “How do I get to be where he is?” Little did I know, that was going to be set in motion. So we rolled our chairs over, free beer, why not? Now this next part I don’t even remember how we started talking about it but it was about the logic behind the universal search in ServiceNow. Matt, in the most nonchalant of voices says, “It’s just basically an and/or statement.” Dan immediately looks at me and says “Hey, don’t you have your degree in Software Development?” Wait, what? I thought to myself, “He remembered that from almost 4-5 months ago during our first meeting.” To have someone remember what degree I have really spoke to me!

A few weeks later I got an IM from Dan, “Come to my office when you can.” This was a death sentence in any of my previous jobs so I started racking my brain for anything and everything that I could think of that I may have messed up on or not put 100% into. Did I have garbage notes on an escalated ticket? Did I make an end user really unhappy with something I said? After finishing the ticket, I was working on I went to Dan’s office. As I walk in, I see Dan and Matt standing there and I think to myself “Great, he has back up.” “Why don’t you take a seat, Aaron.” Oh man, this isn’t good. Not even a second later Matt and Dan tell me there is going to be an opportunity on the ServiceNow side at Virteva and I was the front runner. I was floored. ServiceNow is the platform the entire company of Virteva runs their business on AND they have they support over 100,000 users worldwide! I didn’t know what to say so I probably smiled and the second I walked out of his office pure bliss coursed through my entire being. I’ve been noticed! The work I am doing is paying off but now I need to show them I have what it takes.

Slowly my time in the queues shortens as I get more responsibility within ServiceNow on an administrator level. This is my chance, sink or swim Aaron, you can do this. I don’t think I would have done as well as I did without everyone on the R&D team there to help me. That same culture of helping make someone better was there on the L2 side as well. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted it to be official, I also didn’t want to rush anything. It’s just not who I am. I was told about this “Virteva University” program and instantly enrolled. Now this was when it was in its infancy and I was more of a guinea pig than anything, I jumped at the opportunity. How unique, a company offering internal classes to help you grow yourself within the company. It reminded me when I went out to my welcome lunch as a new Service Desk Analyst what our CEO Tom said, why go externally for L2s when we can home-grow our own? That thought stuck with me and still does, because that is exactly what was going to happen (and still does to this day) but I wanted it to happen now. Time was my worst enemy and I would keep asking and I was assured over and over it was a question of if and not when, which proved to be completely accurate. September of 2015 I was promoted to ServiceNow Technician. YES! I made it!

I swam in a sea of ServiceNow incidents for longer than I can think and at times would occasionally get down on myself because I wanted to develop. I just kept on with my nose to the grindstone. I started to have a love/hate relationship with the Incidents that were seemingly endless. I loved them because I got to fix things and that really helped me learn but I hated looking at my bucket and seeing 20-25 Incidents. Yes, you read that correctly I was barely keeping my head above the ServiceNow water. Luckily I had the team, the resources and the drive. Month by month my queue would lessen and I would ask for more development and the second that would happen the Incident queue would fill back up. A constant state of balance that became second nature. Just as with the Service Desk and queues, I would gain access to new customer ServiceNow instances and would have to understand the client’s set up, integrations and everything internally within their ServiceNow instance. Little did I know: this whole new program was being built around the type of work I was doing which paved the way for people in the future to be in my position. ManagedNow was born. What a concept for an ITSM consulting company, we’ll manage your ServiceNow instance so you don’t have to.

In December 2015 I became a Certified ServiceNow System Administrator. One of the coolest, most rewarding things I’ve done in quite some time. The help I had was endless, the questions I asked were also along those lines. I had study guides, practice tests all with the help of Virteva and ultimately could put that accolade on my belt. As I continued on, I started becoming a Mentor to other Service Desk Analysts who also had an interest, and I trained them to the best of my ability and showed them the same as everyone did with me. Now we have 3 other ServiceNow Certified System Administrators and I trained them in. How cool is that? Slowly I was etching myself into the Virteva fabric and not only training myself out of a job but also training myself into a higher position. Now in 2016, 1 year from when I was granted the title of Technician, I have attained the title Lead Technician. Next up I will shoot for my certification of Implementation Specialist and make another jump to Engineer.

I feel that here at Virteva they give you all the tools you need to succeed and if you don’t think they have them, they will get them. I have never worked for a company that has talked the talk and then walked it, in a straight line mind you. The programs regarding training specialized to what you want to do are as priceless as the people who work at Virteva. I’ve never once been scoffed at for asking for help and my worst day here beats (by a landslide!) my best day at any of my previous employers. I am, IT Yes.