When the pandemic forced everyone to work from home in March 2020, our IT department did some very heavy lifting; transitioning all of us online at home and adapting to our needs in our new working environments. One year later, we check in with Steve Quinney and Jason Corrigan, stewards of our IT department at CMRRA.
Can you take us back to March 2020 and let us know what challenges you faced and how they were overcome?
Steve: In March 2020, we were suddenly faced with the COVID-19 pandemic which forced all of us to work from home. All businesses were forced to be closed. We were able to provide remote access to our staff which, in part, involved some laptop and software purchases. We were also fortunate to have the support of our colleagues at SoundExchange for help with remote access software. Since then, we have adapted to the new normal, including conferencing virtually and increased use of couriers to move equipment to our home workers.
Jason: When COVID-19 hit, Steve and I went to work on migrating the office to a workable and affordable Work-From-Home solution. The transition was relatively smooth, and like so many other IT departments across the globe, had forced us to re-evaluate how we can best support our people in this rapidly changing landscape. The most notable thing I’ve noticed throughout this transition has been how smooth everything went on a technical and psychological level. The team at CMRRA has been both patient and understanding, and management has navigated the choppy waters with commendable aptitude. I’m impressed how we, as a company, have set our sails to the right side of the wind, and have taken advantage of the situation with COVID-19, as opposed to waiting around for it to be over.
What was your road to CMRRA? What does your role focus on?
Steve: As a kid, I was surrounded by lots of electronics and learned to take apart and repair various broken devices. In the early 90’s, I was intrigued by computers during the infancy of the Internet and began learning and building my own computers. By the late 90’s, I got a job in an office environment as apprentice IT support position. Shortly afterwards, I was managing computer systems for a few different companies. I also worked for a computer recycling company where I repaired computers in a retail environment. In 2006, I joined CMRRA as an IT Support Specialist. Since then, I have worked with and helped many people. Much of my job involves interacting with staff to help resolve day-to-day computer related issues that crop up. I manage the computers, both software & hardware, including repairs and upgrades. My colleague, Jason Corrigan & I work very closely to keep all our people online. I also work with a team of IT professionals and am involved with new developments.
Jason: I started getting into IT seriously when I saw the film, “The Matrix”, back when it was originally released. My career in IT since then has been pretty much exactly like that movie. Prior to that I had gone to school for film and had been working in that field in Toronto, when I made this decision. A career in IT offered more stability and more of a work/life balance than the rather tumultuous film industry. I landed jobs in a couple of different companies, where I worked in a quality assurance (QA) capacity – building servers, imaging computers, placing asset tags in the exact right place they were supposed to go – that kind of fun stuff. All the while, I studied networking on the side, and in 2009, after obtaining a few certifications, I was able to get onto the Network Operations Centre (NOC) team at an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that served a large number of business and residential clients. It was a rather fast-paced and, at times, grueling environment, but the frenetic urgency of everything tended to act as something of a boot camp for networking. I learned a lot there, and after a couple of years, I was asked to manage the ISP environment. Taking on both networking and infrastructure at a relatively small company definitely took a toll on me after a few more years, and while I had been positively inundated with experience, I yearned for something more stable and focussed.
When I came to CMRRA in 2015, I found an incredibly warm and welcoming environment. From my new boss, Ken Porter, to the executive team, and my work colleagues; the atmosphere was relaxed, yet professional, and it was just the change I was looking for. I took on the role of network and infrastructure administrator, but on a smaller and more focussed scale. My early years at CMRRA were mostly spent modernizing the in-house systems, and assisting Steve Quinney (the professional Garfunkel to my Simon), in keeping things up and running.
Where does music fit in your life?
Steve: Music has been a big part of my whole life. As a youngster, I was surrounded by music. My mom & dad exposed me to many of their pop favourites and I was also exposed to many classical pieces by my grandfather & uncle. My grandfather got me “Hooked on Classics!” and I was hooked! I developed an interest in film music at an early age. When I was 10, Star Wars was just released and like a lot of people, I saw it countless times in the theatre. One of the first albums I ever bought with my allowance, was the John Williams score for Star Wars. Since then, I have been in love with many film music composers like John Williams, James Horner, Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith and many, many others. As a teenager during the 80’s, I was heavily into new-wave/electronic music like Depeche Mode (which remains my favourite band) and other synth-pop groups. I also got into electronic music pioneers, Tangerine Dream, and proceeded to try and acquire pretty much everything of theirs I could get my hands on. I prefer CD’s to MP3’s where possible.Jason: While it’s common for someone to say, “Oh, I love music!”, I’m not sure that captures the gravity of how much music has influenced, and continues to influence, my life. My formative years were spent worshiping bands like: The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Pixies, Suede, etc. I went through a short but intense industrial phase where I lapped up Skinny Puppy, Nitzer Ebb, and Ministry. In my mid-20s I started getting more involved with singer/songwriter type music: Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and Nina Simone. By the time I hit my thirties, I started playing the piano regularly, and found myself drawn more and more to the intricacies of various types of ambient music. While I stopped playing the piano several years ago, to this day I continue to listen to ambient music on a nightly basis – in fact, it’s pretty much impossible for me to fall asleep without it, much to the chagrin of my partner, as she isn’t quite as enthusiastic about it as I am. I have a formidable CD collection, which I keep in pristine condition, and there is little I enjoy more than cracking open a bottle of wine and blasting the latest Godspeed! album. Some bands, I firmly believe, should never have their work broken down into singles.
Thinking about becoming a client of CMRRA? Already a client but you have questions? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll get you the answers you need.