187. Hero: Jonathan Noren – Business & Industrial IT Group Manager at RoviSys Transcript

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00:00 Chris:

Welcome to EECO Asks Why. Today we have a hero conversation. I’m very excited to have with us, Mr. Jonathan Noren, who is the business and industrial it group manager at RoviSys. So welcome, Jonathan.

00:15 Jonathan:

Thank you. Glad to be here.

00:17 Chris:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Looking forward to this conversation and learn about you. Like I said, you’re you were highly recommended. I’m excited to hear about your personal journey. As we get into this, so maybe get us started. Tell us a little bit about your background.

00:30 Jonathan:

Yeah. All right. So, so my background’s a little unconventional, I guess, especially to be in the space that I am today. So I started off in college like many set to graduate and the job market was not looking as hot as I thought it should so I decided to go back and pursue some additional schooling. So I actually applied and was accepted to do a master’s degree and it was being done in fiber optics. So it was fiber optic sensors. And my master’s degree program, I still love this. I still think is really fun. We basically, we’re putting sensors inside of a rail gun so that we could determine what the electromagnetic fields were doing inside a rail gun. And for those of you who don’t know a rail gun is a gun that basically uses electromagnetic force to propel the ammunition. And one of the exciting parts about it is that any little metallic slug can be the ammunition. So instead of tens of thousands of dollars for missile it’s pennies on the dollar for you know, rail gun ammunition.

So anyway, so I, you know, without getting too far into that I had a lot of fun with that. Learned a ton of things. Learned absolutely nothing about networking. I, so, you know, fast forward after completing my thesis, I was job hunting and I was referred to a particular place the, you know, where I started my professional journey and I was kind of relating my experience and I mentioned, oh, you know, that we were doing fiber optic sensors. And what they heard was fiber optics. They keyed in on that fact and they said, oh, you must do networking and I, you know, I’ve been a, I guess, a hobbyist networker for many years. If you could have seen my college apartments, it had way more tech than your average college student. And I was constantly buying servers and other fun things to, I think they’re fun, to just spin them up and do all of these fun things with them. You know, with no other purpose than to see how they worked and to really get down into the nitty gritty. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve broken Microsoft operating systems both on purpose and accidental.

 I was a hobbyist. So I just rolled with it. Said oh sure. Yeah, I can do networking. And they weren’t really, you know, the interviewer was not particularly network savvy and I was able to answer some of the questions. And I came, so I came in and started in the industrial automation industry with some networking. And so I went on from there. I did some, you know, DCS controls and some other, fun projects, MES projects and whatnot. And then it came down to, Hey, we need somebody to network all these things together. So they asked me to do it. And so of course, I went out and bought a book on it and really learned what was going on because I really wanted to understand, you know, I could make it work, but did I understand exactly how it worked at that point?

I can honestly tell you I did not. A lot of self-taught a lot of really good reading online some good mentors in the area who taught me if they need to about networking. So from there you know, I stayed at that company for several years and then I moved over to my current company RoviSys where I didn’t, I won’t say it was a similar journey, you know, but we progressed from doing DCS projects to moving on to networking projects and becoming more and more involved in the networking. You know, once I learned it that original time, you know, that was something that I continued to investigate in and, hone my knowledge and skills in and tell, you know, eventually we were able to offer this locally as a offering from my current company.

04:26 Chris:

Oh, man, that is one impressive journey. My friend, where’d you go to school?

04:32 Jonathan:

So I went to Brigham Young University in Utah. I did both my undergraduate and master’s degree there,

04:40 Chris:

Undergrad and grad there. Wow. That’s great. But I’ve never been to Utah. I hear it’s beautiful out there, man.

04:45 Jonathan:

Oh, it is.

04:46 Chris:

It is good stuff. Good stuff. Well, I mean, hats off some great things you’ve been able to do. You mentioned mentors, so maybe let’s go there because you said how they were so important to you in your career. Any advice you give to people about, you know, seeking mentors and then maybe has there been a mentor that really stood out to you and your career?

05:04 Jonathan:

You know, I’ve had several mentors. And over the years that have kind of taught me a little pieces here and there. I will say, I think one of the ones that stand out to me is and I’ll just go ahead and name drop a got a gentleman by the name of Russell. He really kind of helped me grow from being a fledgling engineer, relatively new in the industrial setting to understanding a lot of what’s important to them. And it was through a lot of effort on his part to help me really understand, you know, what the priorities are and frankly, I think seeking somebody to help you really shortcuts a lot of, you know, the figuring it out yourself. And not to say that there’s not value in that there’s tremendous value in doing your own resource research, excuse me, but having a mentor really not just from a technical side of things, but from a soft skill side of things I think is extremely helpful and boosting your career and, you know, you as an individual in your life growth.

06:15 Chris:

No, no kidding. I mean, for the young engineer. What do they need to be looking for? Or how do you even go about approaching, asking someone to be a mentor? I mean, or does it just happen organically? What have you seen over through your career?

06:30 Jonathan:

To be honest, I feel like the best mentors happen organically because there has to be a…. there has to be some kind of connection between you and your mentor. You know, the conversations that I found had the most have had the most impact on me and my career and my life in some ways have been, you know, just random conversations. It was not something that they sat down and looked at a checklist and said today, I’m going to tell you about the secrets and ins and outs of health insurance.

Now, we were sitting down and we were chatting and you know, maybe he got a bill, a health insurance bill and started talking and I learned a whole bunch of things. And so, you know, when you’re looking for a mentor, find somebody that you can talk to that you feel comfortable talking to and then the other thing about it is find somebody find some buddy, you don’t mind spending a lot of time with because, you know, getting the real pearls of wisdom from somebody is not necessarily about being there for a seminar. It’s more about timing being there for the right time to receive what they have to say.

07:41 Chris:

No doubt. Now that was perfect. Great advice. Any other advice for the listener? Someone entering industry, like you said, you went the fiber-optic sensor out, you ended up in networking. So I’m curious just for, in general advice that you would have to just enter the industry in general?

07:58 Jonathan:

This is a potentially a really fun industry. Especially coming out of college, you don’t really grasp the magnitude of this industry. There is honestly, in the manufacturing industry alone, there’s a place for everyone. You just have to find it, right. So if you have interests in one thing or another you know, keep looking, you will find a place where you fit within the industrial setting.

08:25 Chris:

Do you think there are any, you know, perceptions out there about industry that are just wrong. That may be prohibiting people from wanting to come, you know, and be a part of it because anything you’d like to throw out and just knock out the park here?

08:41 Jonathan:

Well, I, you know, sometimes there may be a perception that this is, you know, maybe a less professional. It doesn’t always feel like it’s how to say this. We’re not the Amazon and the Googles of the world. I mean, we get down in the dirt, we roll up our sleeves and we make things, sometimes. But at the same time, there are still plenty of, people who are behind the keyboard. They’re, you know, you get to be involved in as much or as little as you want in the actual manufacturing side of things. So, you know, if dirt’s not your thing there’s still a place So, I don’t know if that is necessarily a misconception, but I could see people going, oh, well, I don’t want to be an industry because it’s, you know, maybe not considered as, I guess white collar, if you want to say that as as maybe some of the IT industries.

09:34 Chris:

It doesn’t have that flash. Some people may think, but you know, at the end of the day we go, you know, it does, it makes a big impact.

09:42 Jonathan:

It does. And you know, it’s fun because I can say I’ve seen an incredible amount and I’ve helped a lot of things make it from, make it to market, make it, you know, when I go in the store and I see a product that, that I have personally helped make. That’s cool.

10:02 Chris:

That’s a cool feeling, man. It really is. Yeah. I think that’s, we need to talk about that more manufacturing because that’s it for sure. I’m curious, you know, anything and your career, when you look back any highlights so far, I know you have a lot in front of you, but just what you’ve done so far, what stands out?

10:22 Jonathan:

For me, you know, my journey has been rather circumspect, but I will say that making it all the way to you know, the point where I am, where I get to talk to people about networks and security. You know, for me that has been a really big highlight because, network security is a hot button topic in the media, but it has been a hot button topic prior to it being picked up and will continue to be a hot button topic once it stops being talked about so much all over the place. And so, but being able to bring this discussion and bring to individual facilities who might think that, you know, that they don’t have a path to getting cyber security has been really fulfilling to me and then been a definite highlight in my career.

11:15 Chris:

So let’s say it’s the end of the day. And you get to share, you know, something great that happened with your significant other, you know, what happened that day? What brings you the most joy in your work?

11:26 Jonathan:

Being able to see the value that I brought to the, you know, to our customers. As well as, you know, as a manager, I get to try and bring value to our internal employees. So, so bringing this, the, this, you know, value to both sides of the table is really what I, you know, I like to talk about when we get home. I got to help this person and I got to help this company. I got to help this process and really that’s, what wakes me up in the morning and has to be ready to go, is being able to go out and help people kind of achieve they’re best.

12:02 Chris:

That is great. Now we’re both based in North Carolina, so I know you and I’ll get this. Hopefully our listeners will too. We’re going, to head off the main path and go down a dirt road. Okay. Let’s just talk about you outside of work. So the EECO Asks Why loyal fan base know that I’m country at heart, so that’s just part of who I am. So let’s talk about. What do you do for fun? What’s some hobbies you got?

12:26 Jonathan:

So, couple of things, you know, I actually, I have a young family. Okay. So, you know, I love being with them and doing things with them and sharing some of my hobbies, which I know is what you’re asking about. So bringing one of the things that I do, a lot of it’s a 3D printing. So I really enjoy getting in and tinkering with 3D printers and getting them to print things. It’s part of why I mentioned my kids because you know, they’re there, as soon as they found out that I could make anything each of them wanted something different. Right. And so we, you know, it’s been fun to kind of work with them and see them and see their eyes light up as it, as what they envisioned, what they drew on paper comes to life on a 3D printer. So 3D printing is one of my hobbies. We live out in the country. One of the reasons we live where we live is so that I can have a workshop. So I’m really pleased to have a workshop where I can do some woodworking and electronics tinkering, and just kind of have fun. I like building things whether it’s software or physical or, you know, whatever it is.

13:37 Chris:

That’s awesome. There’s some great hobbies there. And now you mentioned you have a young family. What can you share with us about your family? What do you have going on?

13:44 Jonathan: Well, so we have you know, my wife and I, we have four kids. At the moment the oldest is eight, just turned eight and the youngest is gonna turn two in November. So, it’s quite the spread and they keep us quite busy.

14:02 Chris:

Boys or girls or mixed there?

14:04 Jonathan: One girl, the oldest and three boys. Okay. Yeah, we have quite the handful and you know, it’s just, it’s a lot of fun to see them growing up and learning and yeah, we also have two dogs. So we have a, an, you know, an older dog and then, my daughter wanted a little dog, so we got her a little dog. That’s one of the nice things about living in the country. They can go outside, right.

14:31 Chris:

That’s right. That’s right. What kind of dogs did you get?

14:34 Jonathan:

So, the older one’s a labradoodle you know, really smart doesn’t shed as much as a lab. Oh yeah. Part poodle. And then the second one is a king kava pu And so that one’s a she’s a small little dog that again, it’s not supposed to shed very much, but you know, it’s very enthusiastic about all things.

14:54 Chris:

That’s right. Those personalities come out in those little dogs. Yes, they do. Very good. Very good. Now how about things you enjoy for fun from a book standpoint, podcast, you know, maybe YouTube channels? We just like to share with our listeners, you know, it could be professional or personal items, anything you’d like to share there.

15:12 Jonathan:

So to be honest, from a listening standpoint, I listened to books on tape. Because I found that I don’t have as much time to read as I would like, so, you know, I like to listen to the books on tape in the car really makes the trip go quickly. You know, one of my favorite authors, just go ahead and throw this out there is Brandon Sanderson and Isaac Asimov, the kind of the father of science fiction there. So you know, those are two of my favorite authors. I just kind of listen to a wide variety of things in those genres.

15:46 Chris:

Very cool. Well definitely add EECO Asks Why to you’re listening, you know, you’re downloads. Absolutely. Now we do, we love playing this Jon. We do a lightning round and we just ask a bunch of random questions. And, you know, you can go deep if you want, but we will keep them kind of quick. Okay, so we’ll start off easy with favorite food?

16:07 Jonathan:

Cheeseburgers.

16:09 Chris:

Cheeseburgers, simple, very simple. How about any adult beverage to go with that cheeseburger?

16:13 Jonathan:

Not so much. We steer clear of those, but you know, a good cheeseburger at a cookout I’ve been corrected by my wife, many times that a barbecue does not have cheeseburgers. That’s a cookout. She’s from North Carolina and she’s very insistent that a barbecue serves barbecue.

16:30 Chris:

How about favorite dessert at the cookout?

16:32 Jonathan:

You know, banana pudding pie. It’s yeah, you’re speaking my language. Yeah definitely, really good.

16:40 Chris:

How about what’s your favorite app on your phone?

16:42 Jonathan:

Oh, my goodness. I’m monitoring constantly my 3D printers. So I’ve got an app that does that. It’s really kind of, it’s kind of lame, but that’s what it is.

16:55 Chris:

All right. How about a guilty pleasure you have?

16:58 Jonathan:

You know what I will say. I like looking at networking things and building networks. And so I, I have way more networking equipment in my house than anyone has a right to have.

17:12 Chris:

Very good. Very good. How about a favorite sports team?

17:16 Jonathan:

I really can’t help you there. I’ve got my hands full.

17:19 Chris:

Gotcha. I understand that. I understand that. How about the the coolest place you’ve ever been?

17:26 Jonathan:

Oh, you know, so my family is actually from Nicaragua originally. And my mother moved to the states when she was a little bit older. So we have gone down there a lot and some of the beaches down there just amazing some awesome waves for, you know, surfing and relaxing and getting burnt. Sunburn really bad out there and just having fun.

17:54 Chris:

Very cool. Very good. In the last one, I think I know the answer. Dogs or cats?

18:01 Jonathan:

Cats.

18:01 Chris:

Oh, no, you got me caught me off guard. Okay. Yeah.

18:05 Jonathan:

Yeah. But we do dogs at our house cause my wife is allergic to cats.

18:09 Chris:

I got you. I did not see that one coming. You threw me off there.

18:16 Jonathan:

That’s the thing

18:20 Chris:

So this has been wonderful. We call it EECO Asks Why, Jonathan, we always wrap up with the why and that talks about, you know, what’s your personal passion. So somebody wants to know what your personal, why is, what would that be?

18:35 Jonathan:

My personal, why? I like learning. I like doing new things and I like helping other people. I know that sounds a little bit trite, but I love to grow and to understand more about what’s going on. Especially when it comes to technology. Technology is a huge passion of mine. That I love exploring and learning more about.

18:52 Chris:

We’re all better off that you’re out here. So thank you for what you’re doing. Thank you for sharing your story for the listeners that want to learn more. Check out the show notes. There’ll be links there to Jonathan, as well as to RoviSys, to get in connection with those guys. And thank you again for just taking the time for sharing your story today on EECO Asks Why.

19:13 Jonathan:

Of course, my pleasure. Thank you.

19:14 Chris:

Yes, sir. What a great conversation from rail guns to networking, man, he covered it all. And that was a ton of fun. All right now, remember we need your war stories, submit those on Facebook and Instagram, because they’re really trying to build something fun. And I think you all will like if you’re loving EECO Asks Why hit that five star rating, give us a quick review and remember, keep asking why.