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Meet Kyle Ball, a Technical Specialist at AlphaKOR Group. Kyle has been an integral member of the AlphaKOR Tech Department for two years. He had originally applied for a triage position, but AlphaKOR determined he would be a better fit in the Technical Specialist role and, according to Kyle, they were right!

Every day, Kyle brings his best foot forward attitude and loves to take a hands-on approach to fix IT issues.

Before Kyle joined the AlphaKOR Group, he began his career as a Chemist- “It was a lot of fun!” he said about working for a black oxide and aluminum anodizing company. Soon after, Kyle found his love for the IT field.

In this employee interview, we learn what it’s like working as a Technical Specialist for a Managed Service Provider (MSP).

What does an average day look like for you as a Technician specializing in MSP?

My day always looks different depending on where I am working. When I am in-house, I work on projects remotely, help colleagues and clients, and attend client meetings. At meetings with clients, I use a lot of problem-solving skills to determine what the best way is to move forward in their environment and resolve an issue that is occurring.

When I am off-site, I drive around the city [Windsor, Ontario] resolving various issues at different places. Because my days always look different, I’m always kept on my feet.

Have you always worked for a Managed Service Provider?

No. For my first job, I was a Chemist for a black oxide and aluminum anodizing company and that was a lot of fun! I’ve worked in call centers, factories, and for a privately owned company as their in-house IT.

What is the biggest difference between working for an MSP and performing IT for a single company?

The biggest difference is the level of experience you get. Working for an MSP, you’re exposed to so much more. Whereas performing IT for a single company you might do a server migration once in four years. And after you perform the server migration you may not run into any issues, or if you do you fix that issue and that’s the only experience you have with that. This means that you’re only ever exposed to an environment that you’re already familiar with.

Working for an MSP, you’ll be performing server migrations for many clients in different environments and situations. Doing so, you’re also running into different issues and fixes and can learn to solve issues faster by applying your experience from working with other clients. Working for an MSP really helps broaden troubleshooting skills, the way you address an issue, and changes the way you analyze tasks because you’re exposed to so much more.

What was the transition like working for a single companies’ IT department to an IT Firm?

Drastic; the pace is completely different. As an in-house IT for one company, you focus on one project for the company you work for. In the MSP world, the pace is much faster – you’re working on forty different projects simultaneously for forty different clients.

How do you manage to work on multiple projects at a time?

To manage my workflow, my time is scheduled for each client. Unless I’m called off a task for an emergency, the customer that I am scheduled for has my complete focus for a prescribed amount of time or until whatever issue I’m working on for them is resolved. It’s really the only way you can do it because otherwise if you’re worried about something happening with one project while you’re working on another, that client won’t get the full attention they deserve.

What is your favourite thing about working for an MSP?

Hands down, the variety! Being able to get my hands on so many different things and find out what makes me tick as a tech- the things I enjoy doing, and the things I don’t enjoy so much.

If I were to ever move to a more specialized field, I would know telecommunication is an avenue I might enjoy, but I don’t enjoy it as much as I do networking, server maintenance, physically fixing computers, or working on program support.

Working for an MSP really allows you to focus on where your love for the field is or determine if it’s there at all.

Has working with clients provided you with a unique insight than the job itself?

Yes. Working with clients has taught me to recognize the different levels of importance people attach to things. Something that may seem like a minuscule issue to me could completely change the work process for someone who uses a system every day. If I were to look at something and think “you have to click this extra button to do this or change this extra setting to do that” as a non-issue, it could completely derail someone else’s work process.

It’s important to find a way to put the customer first; if they think something is important, it becomes important for you.

What is your greatest challenge working for an MSP?

For me, the greatest challenge working for an MSP is taking the time to record everything that I’m doing. Documentation is necessary everywhere; you need to record your work- it’s just that I want to keep fixing things and the administrative tasks tend to slow down my day. Taking notes is extremely helpful though as it provides us with a record of what we did so that other technicians can refer to it in the event of an issue reoccurring. It also helps for future troubleshooting and keeps us accountable and transparent.

Another challenge is balancing my work/home life when I am on-call. It can be difficult to balance life with a family, seeing my daughter, and potentially having to respond to a call.

From your perspective, what are the greatest benefits of working for an MSP?

Working in a think tank! Everyone works together. If an issue arises and I can’t figure it out on my own, I have thirty other people I can ask about the issue. There’s always somebody there to help. When you hire an MSP for your IT services, you hire a team- not just one person.

What have you learned at AlphaKOR that has helped you grow as a person?

Patience. Learning how to be patient with everything because everyone has their struggles; everyone has their issues and off-days. If you’re not patient, you could set things back and nothing will get fixed by adding more frustration to an issue.

Being patient, understanding, and caring is a big part of what I do. I’ve been able to bring these lessons into my personal life as well. These are qualities that need to be part of your lifestyle, not just something you can turn on and off- it’s important to be authentic.

How do you hope to grow within your field of work?

In my field of work, I hope to grow by moving to a senior role or management position where I can help others move forward, excel, and teach them new ways to address issues and expand the knowledge they have. There’s a level of satisfaction I get when I help others.

Do you have any advice for Technicians looking to start a career in MSP?

Do it! The level of experience you get in the amount of time that you do the work is incredible. If you focus and want to grow, MSP is the way to do it.

Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom and take the time to learn, otherwise, it can be a lot. Be brave and ask questions- nobody knows everything.

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