Aaron Berquist, IT Team Leader

Team Lead in IT, ERP Projects and Architecture
OpenText

“IT is not about hiding in a cubicle. My job is about understanding what tools I have in my tool box to help people!”

Aaron and his team provide enhancements to OpenText’s internal accounting system. “OpenText people around the world use this system.  It has to have a global flavour.” When an OpenText office in Germany needs to put the “ship date” on a customer order, Aaron makes sure it’s in German!

Aaron's CareerMash

Aaron mashes up accounting and technology. He has to customize and constantly update the accounting system to meet OpenText’s needs. OpenText is Canada’s largest software company. Its software lets businesses manage digital content including text documents, images, videos, audio and websites.

Aaron works in the operational business systems group (otherwise know as back-office assistance which includes accounting, finance, accounts payable/receivable etc.). “We mostly support OpenText financial systems.” These systems are typically custom versions of Microsoft products.

One of Aaron’s most exciting projects was upgrading the entire OpenText financial system from an old one to a new one. “It was one of the most challenging things I’ve worked on because when you make major changes there are tons of new features and functions to learn. It was a huge upgrade.” He also had to translate the ins and outs to fellow employees, those who understand technology and those that don’t.

A Day in the Life

Aaron and his team can work on three to five projects at a time. “There is a lot of hands on. I write code but I also talk to OpenText business customers.”
In other words, Aaron deals with many areas of the company.  “Our job is to figure out what each department needs and find the solution.” So, he has to be up on the latest technologies. “Whether I’m writing code or designing a solution, I have to know all the new tech inside out.”

OpenText sells many different software products. “We have a lot of information about each product.” The info was stored in 150 separate Microsoft Word documents. Salespeople and internal staff needed easy access to this info – not just in a pile of individual documents. “I wanted to take the data in all these word docs and put it into a system that’s easy to use.”

Aaron and his team took that info and built it into an easy to use database. “Ten different OpenText  groups needed this info (sales reps, order desk etc. ). We found out what each group needed and figured out how to make the information easy for them to get.”

Aaron also has to understand what’s going on in the wider tech market. How innovations like smartphones and tablets change the way people do their jobs. “New technology is always making an impact.” For example, Aaron can put an alert on a sales rep’s smartphone that a product on order has arrived.

Why this Job Rocks

  • “My job keeps me on top of new trends in technology. For example, mobile is exploding. I get asked: Can I get a sales report on my iPhone? And I have to know how to make this happen.”
  • “There are lots of opportunities at OpenText. I started at a junior level and have risen in the ranks.
  • OpenText offers a great work/life balance and there’s Starbucks coffee on demand!”

Roadmap

  • Aaron took a commerce program at McMaster University but decided it wasn’t for him.
  • He then took software engineering at Mohawk College for one year.
  • While at Mohawk he founded a small computer business with a friend.
  • At a telemarketing summer job, he spoke with an IT person at the business, and he moved into the IT department. Aaron ended up liking the job and put school on hold, staying at the company for two years.
  • Aaron got a job as a data administrator at OpenText in 2003. He did a lot of hands-on learning in accounting systems and then moved up to become a senior tech analyst.
  • Aaron is currently Team Lead in IT, ERP Projects and Architecture.

Speed Bumps

Aaron tried a few different areas of study after high school. He found his way after taking a job at a small computer company and realized IT was for him!

Tips for Success

  • Be a jack of all trades! Step out of your comfort zone and learn about new things. “My job is broad in terms of things you need to know.”
  • Be Positive! Have a good attitude and always remember to put your customers first. Aaron and his team approach every problem as a challenge they can solve. “It’s important to stay positive, smile and to know how to communicate” Aaron thinks this equally important as having technology skills to find the solution.
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