Nate JohnsonInvesting in people, winning clients’ trust, working with leading-edge technology, and providing holistic solutions makes Prowess stand out, says VP of Engineering Services Nate Johnson.

Q: How did you get into technology?

A: For as long as I can remember, we had computers of one sort or another growing up. My dad was a hobbyist. I spent middle and high school building computers. From there, I went on to do end-user support at Packard Bell, and then on to college.

Q: What brought you to Prowess?

A: I had been doing IT consulting for several years, mostly for small businesses. I wanted to work more on the server side, on bigger and bigger networks. I wanted to move to the Pacific Northwest. And I had met [Prowess CEO] Aaron Suzuki and knew what he was capable of. It was a great opportunity to get my hands on a new generation of technology, and I knew I would be able to help define Prowess.

Q: In terms of technological change since you started in IT, what stands out to you?

A: When the Internet first became widely available, it was so painful to use. You had to approach it with a specific task in mind. Now, we have access to information from desktops, mobile devices, or any endpoint to offices around the globe, or to the cloud. Cloud and mobile are just taking off.

Q: What stands out to you about the early days at Prowess?

A: Most people who have been at Prowess for eight-plus years have been in some crunch scenario. In 2005, we staged a keynote demo in Barcelona for Bob Muglia. We had to move a server into the building, up and down corridors and up and down the stage. Close to show time, something went wrong—a kink in a fiber cable. This was right when high availability virtual machines were starting to be exposed in hypervisor. It was Microsoft’s chance to show how a VM could move around. It was a delicate situation that we worked through, and we had several layers of back-up plans. The 2006 Bill Gates keynote demo was another touchy situation. Gates came in 12 hours before the show and had a lot of feedback. So we had to change things up. The driving factors in both cases were quality, quick execution, and hard work.

Q: And what keeps you at Prowess?

A: Over the past 10 or 11 years, it has been exciting to see Prowess grow, and to have a place in that, to be trusted to fully contribute. At the core, we drive for high quality, and we’re always working at the sweet spot, on the leading edge of technology.

It’s about working with good people. We put a high value on the individual. We push for employee retention. If you have to swap people out of your engineering bench, you set yourself back in a project by about two or three months.

Q: What else differentiates Prowess?

A: When we engage, we identify the client’s problem and what success looks like for them. That [information] might not have come through in their initial request [for assistance]. We help the client understand their options and what’s best for them. It’s not about upselling. It’s not a question of trying to steer the client towards a specialty area.

Within Engineering Services, we have consulting and managed services capabilities, covering short to long-term engagements tailored to the client’s needs. That holistic approach and expertise in leading edge technology make our clients successful.

Q: Where do you see technology—and Prowess—going in the next year?

A: Engineering has an aggressive forecast for the coming year, which should equate to a significant amount of growth. As the cloud matures, there will come a time when clients can start fine tuning their data centers. Eventually, there will be better standards as to how and when new data centers are built. Clients will also want to clean up their generations of legacy systems. As content continues to grow, clients are challenged to serve and manage it. Access to data through mobile devices comes into play. We want to be there for our clients as they grapple with so many changes.

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