The role that Albert Brown plays as Director of Strategic Initiatives can be likened to an entrepreneur within ZAG. He’s responsible for working on new business initiatives within the company, conducting research, testing concepts, and formulating initial trial runs. Most recently, Albert helped establish the IT Security & Compliance (ITS&C) line of business.
“My job allows me to be involved at the beginning stages of new lines of business for ZAG, which is exciting,” Albert says.
He calls on the more than 30 years of experience he has working in IT as the basis for his work – with 13 of those as part of the ZAG team.
Here, we learn a little more about Albert and the work he does.
Where do you currently live?
Berkeley, Calif. – I grew up on the East Coast but moved to California in the middle of a snowstorm nearly 40 years ago and never looked back.
How and when did you get your start in the technology industry?
I have been in IT for over 30 years. As with many people who work in IT, I didn’t get into IT at first. I was working in real estate and the company I worked for needed a database to handle property management. I had some personal experience with software because I was interested in computers, so the job fell to me to figure it out. I developed a database for the company. I then transitioned into systems engineering and architecture and ultimately, ended up in project management, where I’ve spent the last 15 years. I have a PMP certification from the Project Management Institute.
Why did you decide to join ZAG?
I joined ZAG based on a recommendation from [ZAG Client Services Manager] Austin Ahern. He and I worked together, and when he came back to ZAG, he called me and said, “You should come here. It’s a place that you’d want to work.” I initially interviewed with [ZAG CTO] Jim Hunton, and liked what he was saying. Then I met [ZAG President] Greg Gatzke. I was hired initially as a Project Manager as ZAG wanted to mature the organization and add a professional PM to the team. Ultimately, I created what’s now the PM line of business.
What are the responsibilities you have in your role at ZAG?
My role gives me the opportunity to work on new business initiatives within the company; it gives me a chance to be in the beginning stages of new lines of business, such as ITS&C. As the company starts new programs and areas of the business, I get to conduct initial research, test new concepts, and perform initial trial runs.
How would you describe your job to a class of kindergartners?
My job is to take ideas and find a way to turn them into something we offer to our customers.
What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t in IT?
If I weren’t in IT, I’d probably be doing something in construction. I come from a family of carpenters and I love building things.
What do you like most about your job?
The team I work with. The people, the vision of the leadership, and the people they have built around them to implement that vision.
What is the best career lesson you’ve learned so far?
Change is inevitable. Be open to it as an opportunity.
What is one piece of professional advice that you’ve received that stuck with you through the years?
I’ve needed a lot of advice in my career. But when I think about all of the advice I’ve heard, “Trust yourself” sticks out.
And for more personal questions…
What was your first job?
Delivering newspapers in Plainfield, NJ, when I was 12. I delivered The Courier News on my bike.
Do you have any hobbies or interests you’d like to share?
I love camping, building furniture, and I love music – listening to live music and especially jazz. I am currently restoring my 2003 Volkswagen Eurovan to prime camping condition.
What is your dream travel destination?
I would love to travel from Europe down through to the horn of Africa.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Ask for help. You don’t have to figure it all out yourself.