Alongside ZAG’s solution architects and client services team, the engineering team serves the important purpose of ensuring technology infrastructure is up and running – and figuring out what’s going on when there’s an issue involved.
That’s how Systems Engineer Nathan Hildebrand approaches his role. Having been with ZAG for just over six years, Nathan is an integral part of serving one of ZAG’s clients with engineering support as needed.
“I am considered a generalist who can jump into whatever is needed by way of support,” Nathan said. “My role is also about connecting people to the right resources within ZAG as needed.”
Here, we learn a little more about Nathan and his role at ZAG:
Bachelors in Computer Science from the University of Phoenix
How and when did you get your start in the technology industry?
I got started in IT later in my career while working for an accounting firm. At the time, I thought I was going to become a CPA, but I worked through one tax season and I realized quickly that it wasn’t the job for me (I hated staring at spreadsheets all day). Like most IT guys, I always had video games and computers as a hobby, but also enjoyed helping coworkers with whatever they were doing and enjoyed that more than my actual job.
At the time, I was living in Seattle and I answered an ad for an IT assistant. I didn’t get the job because I didn’t have experience, but I hit it off with the IT Director – and the person she hired didn’t last so she called me. She spent a lot of time doing hands-on work, so the first six months of my job, I spent a lot of time watching and learning how people used the technology to do their jobs and “save clicks” as we used to say. Because of what we were doing in that company, we were able to compile a report that highlighted how IT saved time and increased productivity, which meant we were able to increase our IT budget.
Why did you decide to join ZAG?
After my first IT job, which was in insurance, we were acquired by a larger company. I formed a relationship with the new company’s CTO and he offered me a role in their Santa Cruz office providing support for the ERP system they used. I moved to Monterey and essentially worked on commission out of my house for this organization.
After about five years, I received a message from a recruiter who was looking for a support engineer with ZAG Technical Services and the personalization of the message intrigued me. The job description was aligned with my skills, so I wanted to see what it was all about. I went to San Jose, where ZAG is based, and interviewed with about eight different people over a couple of hours.
What stood out to me about ZAG is when I asked the question, “How long have you been here?” so many people had been a part of the company for more than five years. Longevity and stability are important to me, so when they offered me the position, I took it.
What are the responsibilities you have in your role at ZAG?
Unlike many of the engineers on our team, I don’t have a specialization, but I work a lot with networking issues and as part of an on-site team for one of our clients. I am considered a generalist who can jump into whatever is needed by way of support. My role is also about connecting people to the right resources within ZAG as needed.
How would you describe your job to a class of kindergartners?
I help people do their jobs better through the use of computers or electronics – and making sure they work.
What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t in IT?
I’d love to own a food truck near the beach. Maybe a taco truck or something like that. And I’d want to be the food truck where locals KNOW this is the food truck to go to.
What do you like most about your job?
I spent my 20s working for a manager for a retail produce company, so I was super involved in produce and now I do work for produce companies. When I drive around Salinas, I see all the labels that I used to work with in my first job and I like to contribute in some way to making the produce world stronger.
And for some personal questions…
What was your first job?
Disneyland – I worked in Tomorrowland. There’s a big fast-food place in Tomorrowland Terrace and I worked in that restaurant making fries and burgers. I typically closed and picked doing dishes or trash so I could be left alone and listen to the radio.
Do you have any hobbies or interests you’d like to share?
I love traveling to Europe. My wife, Jennifer, and I have been to Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy – and love getting to do that. Specifically, I love the logistics and the planning of all of it. Figuring out where to go, which restaurants to visit, and having options in mind. I also love cooking (hence the food truck) and trying different cuisines wherever we go. I can say video games, too – but all of us IT nerds love video games!
What is your dream travel destination?
Italy was the dream – and I went there, and it was better than I had in my head. I want to go back. Next on the list though is New Zealand. We go back and forth between choosing trips related to history/food and more sightseeing.
Tell us about your family.
I’ve been married to my wife, Jennifer, for 25 years next year, and we have 4 cats (no kids).
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to NOT buy that house in 2007 – the market is not as low as it’s going to go.
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