Meet John, Lead System Administrator

Criterion Careers | Day in the Life Series

Meet John, Lead System Administrator


What do you do?

I’m the Lead System Administrator of a small team that provides on-site sustainment and maintenance support of the Air Force Distributed Common Ground System (AFDCGS). The service we provide is primarily focused on hardware support for all Commercial-off-the Shelf (COTS) systems that make up our customer’s client network of a larger enterprise system. That support includes troubleshooting and identifying hardware faults and repairing or replacing equipment as needed, with the ideal end goal of high system availability as it relates to our customer’s network infrastructure.

What are 5 things you do almost every day?

  • Since our customer operates 24/7, the first thing I do is every day is engage with all the on-site support teams and my customer to ensure I haven’t missed anything while my team and I were not on-site. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, when a simple conversation can bring a wealth of information not normally at your disposal.
  • Go over my customer’s maintenance tracking systems, including email, logs, and online databases, to rack and stack the day’s “to do” list.
  • Engage my team to plan out the day’s events.
  • Log into my customer’s client network(s) to educate myself about the system we support.
  • At the end of the day, re-engage my customer and my team to assess progress on the day’s goals.

Do you have a morning ritual? Something you do to start your day?

Drink coffee until my brain tells my body I’m awake.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

My team is one of many contract teams our customer incorporated into their overall technical solution. To be effective in this collaborative environment, I need to understand my role, the role of other contract teams, and how they relate to all technical solutions my team might provide the customer. So, while having the skillset to troubleshoot and solve technical issues is certainly required, effective communication is key to team success and understanding my role in meeting all of my customer’s needs.

What do you like best about your job?

I’m recently retired from the military squadron that is now my customer. So, I have deep understanding of my customer’s end goals and dedication to duty. From that perspective, it’s quite easy to align myself with my customer goals and value the service we provide.

What advice would you give to someone looking to become a Systems Administrator?

If you don’t have any experience in IT, take a couple of classes online or watch YouTube for anything that catches your interest on technology topics. If you decide it something worth pursuing, start anywhere: coding, hardware, networking – it really doesn’t matter because I utilize all the skills at my disposal in my job. But wherever you decide to start, have no fear. The best learning opportunities come from fixing things that need fixing.