By day, Chris Gamble is a systems administrator at IES Custom Staffing. But in his spare time, you can find him hitting the ski slopes as a National Ski Patrol volunteer.
“When I’m on the mountain, I know I’m exactly where I need to be,” he said. “It’s where my soul is really at peace.”
And surprisingly, there are profound parallels between IT systems and the slopes.
“The mountain is beautiful, but very unforgiving if it goes wrong. Tragically, sometimes. Same with IT. You can get breached, your stuff can get stolen, your environment can crash. One of the things I always kind of keep to heart is IT and National Ski Patrol. There’s a tremendous amount of training that always goes on. So it’s all preparing for an eventuality that you’re going to have to face,” he said.
Gamble is the second IT professional featured in our Modern Workplace Innovators video series, where we highlight exceptional IT administrators who have used technology to transform the way people work. From adopting Chromebox for meetings to making IES paperless, Gamble has revolutionized the way employees work. We sat down with him to discuss his experience architecting a solution based on IES’s needs, as well as his meaningful career switch to IT.
To hear his story, watch the video above.
Crafting a Solution That Improved Both Productivity & Safety
When Gamble first started at IES, he said he was asked to travel once a month or a couple of times a quarter. The company had six branches spread out 300-400 miles apart from each other.
He immediately saw the impending perils, and knew that this wasn’t a sustainable way to work.
“Driving from here [Boise, Idaho] to Idaho Falls can be a six to eight hour endeavor during the winter. [There’s] voracious weather, ice storms. I said, ‘You guys do this? This is crazy. This is not an if, but a when something bad happens.'”
So Gamble came up with an idea.
“I said, ‘I have a solution, and I think it can actually save us money and save us risk.’ And that was Chromebox for meetings. As soon as that product launched, I was very much paying attention to it, talking to resellers, and talking to Google about it.”
Christin Tippetts, VP of Operations, recalled how skeptical she was at first.
“We did not spend money on technology. Dollar signs—that’s what went through my head. There’s no way that that’s affordable,” she said.
“It’s very hard to get people to move from what they’re used to, to something so new and so different,” added Angie Cannon, Risk Manager.
“A lot of it’s fear. A lot of it’s unfamiliarity,” said Gamble.
But Gamble’s “gamble” paid off in spades.
“We had an ROI within six months. My owner was impressed. He wasn’t a big technology guy. He now has one in his own home,” he said.
“Now, I don’t think they can do without it,” added Cannon.
“It’s just much more efficient. We can get things done faster, but we haven’t lost connecting with people. In fact, I think actually we connect more,” said Tippetts.
“It was a huge personal victory for me at that point in time, because it was the first thing I could call my own, as far as architecting a solution based off all the needs they had,” said Gamble.
A Big Career Shift
Gamble started out his career in automotive service, but said it just wasn’t really satisfying.
“Then in 2008, I was kind of forced into making a decision, so I decided to go to school. It was tough to go back to college. But actually it was a very liberating time. Sometimes when you have absolutely nothing, and you’re really worrying where your next meal’s coming from, if you could have a house, or a place to live, everything else is cake,” said Gamble.
“It’s a lot of drive for someone that age, in my opinion, to go back and get that kind of degree. That meant he loved it, that meant his interest was there. At that point in your life you get to choose what you want to be. And he chose that,” said Tippetts.
Making IES Paperless & Moving to the Cloud
“When Chris came around, the servers were dying. They were so loud. When you started one of them servers up, it was like a jet engine,” recalled Cannon.
“I think the best way to describe where we were and where we’ve come in terms of technology is simply saying, we used paper. IES went from that paper to looking to being the cutting edge in our industry. I don’t know if we ever saw ourselves like that,” said Tippetts.
“With the ability to move to the cloud and not worrying about your server architecture, you’re now more strategic,” said Gamble.
“That’s the value when you bring people to your company. Your vision of who you can be changes because of the value that they can bring to it, and he’s brought that to IES,” said Tippetts. “I think what he brings will be able to help us get to the next level.”
“[I’ve] always worked hard, always struggled. Now it’s really paying off. I’m working with a great bunch of people who trust me and who allow me to be to be the best thing for them, which is the perfect recipe,” said Gamble.