Concentra Colleague Spotlight: Michael West
At Concentra, we take pride in employing some of the brightest and most hardworking people anywhere. Our colleagues are all valued team members who contribute in a number of diverse ways to making us the leader in occupational medicine. We think it’s important that we take the time to recognize those employees who uphold our high standards of excellence, and then go above and beyond.
One such employee is Michael West. Michael West is an IT Development Manager who works at our corporate office in Addison, TX. His real title is Problem Solver. Michael is very instrumental in the management of Concentra’s online resources. He works hard to keep things running smooth, and true to his problem solver mentality, he is constantly figuring out new and innovative solutions.
Recently Michael West was named a Sitecore® MVP. Sitecore ® is a customer experience management company that provides the software Concentra uses to operate and maintain our web operations. This award signifies that Michael has demonstrated a mastery of Sitecore ® and made significant contributions to the Sitecore ® community. Michael has established himself as a thought leader in the space and Concentra could not be more proud.
To celebrate his achievement, we took the time to sit down with West and ask him about his role at the company and his recent MVP award.
How long have you been with Concentra?
This year marks six years with Concentra. I have so many interesting stories to tell.
What sort of tasks do you work on? Which ones do you like the most?
I like to consider myself a problem solver and technologist. Quite often I look for opportunities to help other colleagues perform tedious tasks in a way that’s more efficient and automated. I enjoy most figuring out how things work, usually related to building software, and then share my discoveries with others so they too can learn something interesting. Far too often we get stuck in a rut of doing the same task day-in and day-out; I like to stir things up and make work more fun.
When were you awarded Sitecore ® MVP status?
I was given the opportunity to learn the Sitecore platform in 2013 when Concentra Marketing decided to move onto a Web Content Management System. Through my community contributions in 2014, such as YouTube videos and User Group Presentations, I was awarded the MVP status for the year 2015.
"The Sitecore MVP Award is given to exceptional community leaders who foster the free and objective exchange of knowledge by actively sharing their real-world expertise with users."
-Lars Nielsen, Co-Founder, Senior VP Technical Marketing Sitecore
What advice would you give for anybody that wants to start a career in programming or IT development?
Do you have a passion for solving problems and working with a lot of great people? Then I would first start by writing out SMART goals that you want to achieve. Find training material that is free or low cost (like CodeAcademy.com and Pluralsight) that can help you learn really quickly whether or not a technology is interesting to you or worth the time. It’s not likely that you will be an expert after a few days of training so please don’t be discouraged when something doesn’t make sense or that website you’re trying to build looks terrible.
I began my programming career while working on a Technical Support team, answering calls and solving customers’ problems. During my down time I hacked away on a website and showed it to friends and family. I try to learn enough about enough to get the job done and be dangerous and have meaningful conversations with other professionals. Save some brain capacity to imagine how all of those things you learned can come together to create something cool.
What do you enjoy doing when you are outside the office?
I’m a geek. I like to program even outside of work for fun. I interact with a community across the world. This year I’ll travel to Boston, Milwaukee, and New Orleans to meet up with other Sitecore junkies from the US, Australia, Netherlands, and even Poland! There are so many other countries represented in the Sitecore community that it could take a lifetime to travel to them all.
Myself like other celebrities (I’m kidding) watch television, walk the dogs, eat sweets, and build relationships. Whatever I’m doing as long it helps make a positive change in my life and theirs then it’s all worth it. You can hear me share a little more about myself here in an interview called Catching Exceptions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCu4kzoswxk.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Boy that sure is a big question. I was fortunate to have travelled to several countries on different continents while in college. Right now my top places to visit include Israel and Australia.