Surviving the Uphill Climb: Four Years Building an IT Infrastructure, Department and Culture

Speakers: Chris Dawe Lucas Hall Mallory Tallquist

Level: Fundamental, Lecture

Excerpt: After years of rapid, organic growth, one business lacked the infrastructure to support its users or business objectives. Over four years and a dozen service migrations, the business built a professional IT department and transformed a system that lacked functioning DNS into a thriving environment supporting four offices around the world. Join three IT professionals as they reflect on the process of overhauling the infrastructure and building a department from the ground up.

Description: Many of us work in environments that have grown organically or rapidly, and which are lacking critical infrastructure to adequately support the business. Given the rapid pace of change in technology, it often feels like an uphill battle. So what’s the best way to the top? How can you prevent injuries along the way and emerge victorious?

Join Mallory Tallquist, Chris Dawe, and Lucas Hall for a retrospective and lessons learned from a company that has overhauled its entire infrastructure over the past four years.

General outline (specific examples from our experience at this site will be included along the way):
-Assessing your IT environment (including figuring out what there is to assess!)
-Seeking outside assistance- when and how to get help from experts
-Establishing departmental values and strategic vision
-Developing a project list
-Prioritizing projects and recognizing dependencies
-Establishing strategic plan to execute projects
-Getting buy-in from management, shareholders and users
-Identifying and allocating necessary resources (personnel, training, time, budget, etc)
-Building a staff and building a team
-Emotional survival, keeping the team, yourself and management engaged and motivated
-Accommodating changes to your projects/plan/technology/business/world

About the speakers

Chris Dawe – Principal Systems Engineer – Wheelwrights, LLC (Twitter: @ctdawe)

Chris is a consultant focused on MacOS, iOS, and networking. He handles a wide variety of work, including customer assessment, system design, deployment, and support. When not working, Chris dabbles in American history, cooks in a kitchen containing an unreasonably large collection of seasonings, and appreciates both whiskey and whisky. Chris lives with Emily in Seattle, Washington.

Lucas Hall – Apple Systems Administrator – Saturna Capital (Twitter:

Mallory Tallquist – Director of Information Systems – Saturna Capital (Twitter: @lesstangled)

Mallory Tallquist is the Director of Information Systems for Saturna Capital, where she manages a global, highly regulated, mixed platform network and a four person IT team. In her free time, Mallory enjoys woodworking (i.e. building furniture from pinterest) and has a love/hate relationship with running. While she, her husband and dog live in Bellingham,WA they love to travel and often find themselves in Seattle, Portland or Vancouver for the weekend.

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