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Meet Bob Thoms, Field Network Engineer

March 25, 2022
Bob Thoms, Field Network Engineer

When did you join the S-NET team?

My first day at S-NET was October 29th 2019. I remember this date well, because my birthday is on October 31st and I like to think that I got myself a new job for my birthday that year!

How did you choose this career path?

I have always had a passion for all things tech. My father was also in IT, and I attribute a lot of my success to his willingness to take the time to teach me what he did. When I was around 6, he started letting me take old PC towers apart with the goal of trying to put them back together. Each time I did it, there were less and less pieces left over, so he eventually started teaching me what each piece did. My family loves to tell the story of an old DOS machine I fixed to play Tom and Jerry on it. When I wasn’t jamming LEGO pieces or chocolate bars into floppy drives, I was a computer whiz kid apparently. [Laughs.]

But while I was always technical, IT wasn’t my first career choice actually. I started out as a GM at a local Chicago pizza place. I have a passion for the service industry, and I was studying Hospitality Management at the time with dreams of owning my own pizza place someday. But after a very severe injury leaving me unable to work, I was forced to choose a different path. With my background in computers and networking, I figured the most logical move was to IT. So, I got a job as a repair technician at a place called TechGator, a company that bought, refurbished and sold old computers. I worked there until I joined S-NET in 2019.

What are your primary responsibilities at S-NET?

Oh boy! I wear many hats at S-NET. My primary responsibilities revolve around configuring and installing networks for our clients. Most of my work is focused on customers in the Quick Service Restaurant industry, but I also do on-site and remote installations for other clients. I’m also responsible for training and mentoring all of the new techs we add to the team. And since I started at S-NET in Inventory and Shipping/Receiving, I still find myself assisting with that when needed.

How often do you interact with clients?

Everyday without fail and I love it! I really like meeting new people and learning about their stories. I make it a goal of mine to have fun with work and brighten people’s day whenever I can. In doing so, I find myself enjoying work even more, and I’ve gained some wonderful friends in the process.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

My favorite aspect has been training new team members. I find that my personality lends itself to training others. I enjoy building people up, watching them grow, and learning from them in the process.

I also love the culture at S-NET. I’ve never worked anywhere like it. To be the size we are, with the number of employees that we have, and to still maintain such a small business feel is amazing to me. The engineering team is such a tight knit group that I don’t think this camaraderie can be found elsewhere in business.

What have been some of your favorite S-NET projects so far?

Our Marco’s Pizza installations project has been my favorite. As an ex-General Manager of a pizza place myself, I can relate to a lot to the store owners I work with on a daily basis. Understanding the difficulties and challenges they face helps me a great deal in my work and allows me to tailor my approach to their needs. I love helping others and I feel that I’m uniquely qualified to offer my support to this community in a way that only I can.

Are there any accomplishments that you are particularly proud of?

I’d say that my biggest accomplishment is my successful advancement at S-NET. Moving up from Shipping/Receiving and Inventory to Field Engineering is a great achievement, not to mention how quickly I was able to do it. I’m blessed to have been given the opportunity to demonstrate my knowledge, work ethic, and thirst for knowledge.

What exciting projects are you most looking forward to at S-NET?

My sights are now set on projects with more complicated equipment. In the last few years, I’ve learned a lot about VoIP and certain implementations of SD-WAN, but I’m excited to start branching out into more complicated hardware like Firewalls and more complex applications of our amazing SD-WAN solution.

How do you like to spend your free time?

First thing I do when I get home after a long day of work is take care of my animals. I have a tabby cat and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier dog that I love dearly. Then, I plop down on the couch and turn on the TV to play some games. I mainly enjoy first-person shooters, but I like RPG games as well. Usually, the dog can barely wait for me to sit down before he hops into my lap. Apparently, sleeping on me while I play games is his favorite part of the day. [Laughs.]

I have also recently rediscovered my love of reading. I tend to gravitate toward non-fiction. I’m currently reading a book called CHAOS: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties which is an amazing read so far. I also enjoy watching TV shows, like the new series of Dr. Who that I’ve seen at least 20 times through. And I also like to learn new thing whenever I can, whether it be messing around with my own VPN network, creating a DNS blackhole using a Raspberry Pi, or trying my hand at coding a Python program. Right now, I’m in the middle of redoing my entire network at home. Leave it to a networking nerd to be excited about it, but I am! [Laughs.]

Are there any exciting personal events or plans you would like to share with us?

I started a drop shipping business that has been surprisingly successful so far, so I’d say that’s very exciting. I have also decided to go back to school and get a degree in networking. When I got injured, I had to interrupt my Hospitality Management studies and never had a chance to graduate. It will be nice to finally do it, albeit in a different field this time. Going back to school for the sake of learning and not just because it’s what you’re supposed to do changes everything about it – so I’m really excited!

 



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