The Man Behind the Awesomeness
It recently dawned on me that in order to give my three devoted readers an inside glimpse of the inner workings of Tripwire, I needed to get up close and personal with a real Tripwirian. For, as I have mentioned previously, it is the people that make this company great. With so many fantastic people in the company, however, choosing an interview subject proved quite challenging. But after careful consideration, I could think of no better subject for my first interview than Chris Rowland, Tech Support Manager!
On a cloudy Portland morning, I sit in Café One Four, at a window table overlooking the Waterfront, awaiting Chris’ arrival. He strolls in casually, wearing a black Mt. Hood sweatshirt and baggy jeans. He has the confident, cool demeanor of someone who knows who he is and where he is going. “Over here, Chris!” I beckon him, as he starts wandering upstairs.
Chris sits down and orders the chicken salad sandwich. Unfortunately, there is no food service here; it’s just an employee kitchen. No problem, though, it is only 10:03 a.m.—lunch can wait. Besides, the remnants of the Quarter End Sales lunch will be rolled in soon, and nothing beats a free lunch! Ya with me?!
I want to set a casual tone for the interview, to make Chris feel at ease, so I consider a fluffy question. Should I lead with the age-old boxers/briefs thing? I refrain. It’s too soon for that level of familiarity; I don’t want to scare him.
Although Chris is a star in his own right, I am curious as to whom he would cast in the role of himself, in the future blockbuster, Safe Times at Tripwire, Inc. “Jude Law,” says Chris. “I like him as an actor. He’s a surprising actor, who has good range. And I think he looks like me.”
“Yeah, I can definitely see that,” I say.
KC: How would you explain the Tripwire products in three sentences to my nine year-old daughter, or to an adult who cannot even figure out her iPhone? I am not asking for me, of course—just for a friend.
CR: Our software basically takes a picture of what your computer looks like. We compare it each day to see if anything has changed, and if something has moved or changed color, then we let you know about it. If someone has been sneaking around your room we can figure out who it is. (Author’s note: I get it now! I mean, my nine year-old will get it now!)
KC: What gets you excited—either good excited or not good excited?
CR: Challenges, solving problems, things that get my wheels turning. I’ve been that way since childhood. Also, I enjoy helping people—not just because it’s my job. (Damn, this guy is good!)
KC: What do you do for fun?
CR: I’ve tried the running thing. Now I’m mostly doing Tae Kwon Do, Martial Arts. I like the physical and mental aspect of it. (Chris has completed numerous running races, including a half marathon. He is also a member of the Tripwire Running Club, the best club at Tripwire!).
KC: On numerous occasions, as I’ve peered into our large conference room, I noticed that when a candidate comes in for a Tech Support position, there are more people interviewing him/her than at Jennifer Beale’s dance audition in Flashdance! What up with that?
CR: We don’t like to do four, five or six interviews. We [the Tech Support Team] like to get the same perspective and picture, and be able to express concerns with the interviewee. We don’t want any secrets.
KC: Well, that makes sense to me! It always just looked like some poor kid in a tie and suit was getting the third degree by ten techies in t-shirts! Well played, support team, well played.
KC: So, what do you look for in a Tech Support Engineer?
CR: Drive, enthusiasm, general excitement, basic core qualities you can’t teach.
KC: Hey, I possess all of those qualities! Could I be a Tech Support Engineer?
KC: Have you ever had to fire anyone?
CR: Yes, and it didn’t feel good. I took it as a personal failure, that I couldn’t turn that person around and help them to succeed. But [Ed] Kraft has shown me great leadership and management skills, and told me not to take it personally.
KC: Ah, Ed Kraft…I know that guy. He’s a legend! So, who has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?
CR: Ed Kraft. He has taken me under his wing (author’s note: Duck wing), taught me a lot about business, big corporations and management. He has taken me to another level. He has given me deep product knowledge that I can use to help people. He shares books and stories with me. In my personal life, it would be my grandpa. He was “Mr. Old Fashioned,” holding doors open and pulling chairs out. He had core values.
KC: Do you have a hidden talent? Or a non-hidden talent? A partially-hidden talent?
CR: I have a good memory. I remember faces well—and names. I can retain knowledge very well. I can learn something and will know how to do it for a long time.
KC: Then, you will always remember this amazing interview with me?
KC: Chris, if you could have any other job in the company, what would it be?
CR: I would not want to have any other job.
KC: Chris, if you could have any other job in the whole, wide world, what would it be?
CR: I would not enjoy doing anything else.
KC: Chris, why? Why this job? Is there nothing else for you?
CR: I like where I’m at. I like the computer aspect of it, the problem solving. As long as I’m doing that, it doesn’t matter where I’m at. I like being the team leader. I enjoy guiding people. I have my dream job now!
KC: And when you win the Mega Millions you will…
CR: Go on vacation, pay off my house and buy a really nice car. I wouldn’t quit my job. I don’t do it for the money; I do my job for personal satisfaction. (Damn, again!)
KC: What do you like best about Tripwire?
CR: The people and the type of environment we have here.
KC: Hey, I’m a person who works at Tripwire! So, do you like me, Chris?
KC: What would you like your tombstone to read (that is, if you have one)?
CR: Here lies Chris Rowland, the Man Behind the Awesomeness.
KC: Will you be buried in boxers or briefs…or commando?
CR: Combination boxers-briefs—for active people.
Well, that’s Chris Rowland for you—active until the end! You know, it’s great to talk with someone who loves his job, his company, where he’s at in life, medium-spicy foods, and Jude Law. Chris is an inspiration to me and to so many others in the company. I feel fortunate that I get to work with him.
As wonderful as he seems, though, I wanted to know what his team thinks about him. Well, here are the words that his peers in Tech Support used to describe him:
Funny, committed, fair, knowledgeable, detailed, persistent, helpful, reliable, hard-working, dedicated, genuine, brilliant, diligent, efficient, stellar, excellent, intelligent, Cobra Kai, standup guy. And from his boss—and main influencer—OUTSTANDING!
I’d like to thank Chris for taking time out of his busy schedule—and sheer awesomeness—to speak with me. He may not remember the 17.5 minutes we spent together in the kitchen, but I always will.
P.S. For the record, the questions about Chris remembering the interview, allowing me to be on his team, and liking me were entirely fictitious. This guy would never say no to a friend–he’s just too awesome!
Categories: Off Topic