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How Being A Geek Is Good For The Company

My first experience at Dyn was several years ago as the company’s financial auditor. As part of any audit, the auditor is required to understand the IT environment of its client. I remember the day I had a meeting with Dyn’s Director of Infrastructure and IT to discuss this.

Walking in the door, I could sense this individual was attempting to process how to explain an open source IT environment to an accountant who lives in a Windows world.

Here’s the funny thing. Even coming from a financial background, I understood the vast majority of what he was talking about. OpenLDAP, MySQL, FreeBSD, BIND…it all made sense, giving me a broader scope as to what these technologies were and how they were used here. While attaining my undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont, I was given the opportunity to take six computer science classes and dabbled on my own with open source software while learning the basics of computer systems.

I used PHP, MySQL, Apache and other software partially to learn about computer systems, but mostly because I found open source software more stable than the Windows counterpart — not to mention much cheaper.

What was my major you ask? Accounting.

While my basic knowledge of these systems helped document the IT environment for the audit, it is far more useful here as an employee. Since the vast majority of Dyn runs on top of open source technologies using open standards, it was easy to program my own reporting systems against a MySQL database which contains financial information — something that would have cost hundreds or thousands of dollars with “proprietary” software.

Further tech knowledge also helps as we discuss purchases of network cards, routers, switches and how to record them in our accounting system. Knowledge of systems and software saves our CTO and CEO time reviewing invoices separating the component pieces.

It also saves us money as the accountant can decipher certain items on purchase agreements (ex. fibre channel is not in the cereal you eat in the morning!) which limits external legal counsel review/follow-up.

Lastly, being a self-proclaimed geek also enables for better communication between the finance function and the development team who works on internal systems which manage certain financial information. By having basic database and programming knowledge, we can have shorter and more productive meetings as we all “speak the language”, getting them back to work quicker on a better customer experience and new product features.

So while some use the term “geek” in a derogatory manner, I’d like to propose that being a geek is in fact a good thing for Dyn. Have you hugged your resident geek today?

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