The Minds Behind the Innovation: A Deep Dive with General Informatics Engineering Experts

One of the key differentiators of General Informatics is our team, which includes some of the most outstanding engineering experts in the field. By enhancing our solutions with these exceptional professionals, we consistently deliver unparalleled service to our clients. In this piece, senior engineers John Cain and Sloane Banks, owners of eBrook Technologies, take us through their backgrounds, experiences, and the contributions that have brought them to their current roles as integral members of our engineering team. By uncovering their stories and insights, we aim to give you a deeper understanding of what drives these experts and how their contributions are shaping the future of General Informatics. 

What Drew You to the Field of Engineering?

John Cain: “I attended the University of Phoenix and started working in the IT field in 2007.  I enjoy Engineering because of the challenges in finding the path between what a client needs and what is a solution for that need.”

Sloane Banks: “In 2000 I decided to start my IT career path by taking a few microcomputer specialist courses at our local junior college, which at the time, was called UAB/Walker College. I took a year’s worth of classes and at the end of that year, I was awarded a Microcomputer Specialist associate’s degree. During my time at UAB/Walker College, I took a PowerPoint class taught by the CIO of Drummond Co., Inc. At this time, the MIS Department at Drummond was just being formed and Mr. McClendon offered me a job at Drummond to help form their Helpdesk. During my time at Drummond, I was fortunate to be sent to several boot camp-type IT classes ranging from Microsoft cert courses to CCNA classes. From this, I received several IT certifications.”

What has been your career path up to this point, and what are some of the key projects or roles that have shaped your professional journey?

John Cain: “I started working at the Drummond Company as a Helpdesk Technician in 2007, moved into an internal onsite position for Drummond, and eventually found a job in Engineering at Teklinks. After Teklinks was bought up, I transitioned to an owner\operator role at a startup in Jasper called eBrook Technologies.

We’re now working at GI do similar things that we were doing when we were at TekLinks, but now we are more focused on implementations and onboarding of new customers.  I like the idea that I am one of the first engineering experiences that our customers get, I take great pride in that.  So anyone looking for a great IT experience can rest assured that GI can provide our clients with a more robust engineering group and administrative backend.”

Sloane Banks: “I worked at Drummond for 13 years covering a wide range of responsibilities ranging from your basic helpdesk support, telecommunications, and satellite communications. These services were maintained for locations in Alabama, Florida, and California, and backup support for the staff in Colombia and South America. I left Drummond to join the team at Teklinks. Working there I learned to expand my skills in server administration and basic networking tasks. I was there for 6 years when CSpire took over and it was about a year after that John Cain, and I decided to try our hand at running our own IT company.  The move to Teklinks allowed me to understand the needs of many diverse types of businesses and the jump from CSpire to our new Company, eBrook, I would say was our greatest accomplishment which has taught me many things about our industry.”

How has your role evolved over the years, and what new responsibilities have you taken on?

John Cain: “The role of an Engineer in IT is to constantly be on top of new and emerging technologies and figuring out when and if those new technologies will be beneficial to our clients, this hasn’t changed much but the technologies sure have, keeping us constantly learning new things, which I enjoy a lot.”

Sloane Banks: “Over the years I have grown from a 1st Tier Helpdesk support engineer all the way to a business owner. In that journey, I thought that I had experienced it all, but my newest responsibility of dissolving a company has become quite challenging.”

Specialization: What areas of engineering do you specialize in, and how did you develop your expertise in these areas?

John Cain: “I’m not necessarily specialized in a single area but have grown into specializations in Layer 2 and 3 networking and Windows Servers. I enjoy meeting new clients and figuring out how we can work together to leverage new technologies to resolve their problems.”

Sloane Banks: “Over the years, I’ve had many opportunities to learn from many different IT gurus that allowed me to learn through class lead instruction and trial and error. From basic IT skills, server installation and administration, telecommunications, networking, and IT business administration. Because of the last 5 years of running eBrook, I seem to have found my wheelhouse which is a hybrid 2nd tier Engineer/Sales/PR/Customer Relations person. My best attribute is being able to explain IT methodology and terminology to clients that have trouble understanding the complications of the IT world.”

What skills do you find most critical to your work, and how do you stay updated with the latest advancements in your field?

John Cain: “The most important skill for any Engineer is the ability and the willingness to learn new things. As quickly as IT changes, we must adjust to those changes and learn new environments and systems. It’s a challenge but I enjoy that part of Engineering.”

Sloane Banks: “Due to the breadth of my career experiences, I am one of those professionals that can say “I’m a jack of all things IT and a master of none.” Because of this, oddly, I feel my most critical skill is client relations. Being able to speak with a frustrated user in a way that they can understand and either resolving their issue on my own or pulling in the right people goes along with solidifying a strong client relationship or even saving a relationship that has soured.”

Future Outlook: Where do you see the field of engineering heading in the next 5-10 years, and how are you preparing for these changes?

John Cain: “I believe more and more IT systems will be automated but there will always be a need for good Engineers who strive to learn new things.”

Sloane Banks: “That is a great question! To be honest I believe the number of Engineers in an IT company will start being reduced as AI becomes stronger. Instead of troubleshooting IT issues, an Engineer will manage AI. Right now, the best preparation for this is using apps like ChatGPT and learning about the various data collection companies that are feeding AI.”

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in the engineering field?

John Cain: “Be open to learning from anyone, never assume someone doesn’t have the answer to whatever problem you’re having, ASK QUESTIONS!”

Sloane Banks: “For the past few years, John Cain and I have been invited to speak with several of our city and county high school students who express an interest in IT. Unfortunately, we found that time after time most of the students want to be game designers. John became great at explaining the unlikely hood of becoming a game designer while I pivoted to the vastness of types of IT jobs. We show them how they can learn high-level IT skills through technical schools that allow them to get secondary education without the prohibitive cost of major universities. This goes a long way with students who are not fortunate enough to be able to afford those opportunities. Students also seem to gravitate towards the option of working from home.”

What led you to want to return to General Informatics?

John Cain: “I’ve worked with a lot of the Engineers currently at GI and know the competency level of the Engineering at GI to be very high. Working in these types of environments helps me learn and grow and become better every day.”

Sloane Banks: “Simplest question of them all. The potential of recreating the IT culture I experienced at TekLinks.”

What differences do you see in your experience as an engineer at General Informatics in comparison to others in the industry?

John Cain: “I came into GI having worked with a lot of our Engineers already so for me it was almost like coming back home. GI has a great group of men and women who work really well together to best support our clients. It’s a team environment that isn’t seen at very many other companies and I’m stoked to be here.”

Sloane Banks: “Being that I came straight from the corporate world where there is no creative engineering straight to TekLinks and then trying to recreate that on our own, the GI way is really all I know. In the brief time that I have worked in big Corporate IT companies, I saw the return of the “corporate way” which becomes stale very quickly and often times not synonymous with  “the customer way”.

Could you share more insight on how General Informatics serves clients through advanced engineering?

John Cain: “GI can serve all clients, both large and small, to meet compliance requirements, security needs, email, servers, PCs, networking and so much more. There are so many services that are generally ‘out there’ and GI has done an incredible job of ensuring the services they offer to meet these needs are both industry top standard and will work for the clients’ needs. It’s the level of care they provide to their clients on an individual basis that really drew me to GI.”

Sloane Banks: “At General Informatics we offer a wide range of support options. Onsite technicians mixed with software tools add multiple layers of client productivity along with protection from malicious attacks. On the productivity side, General Informatics uses industry best practices to implement server and networking configurations that allow for a high-productivity process. On the network protection side, we use automated monitoring of PCs, servers, switches, access points, and firewalls that allow real-time remediation and updating by AI and alert technicians to act accordingly.”

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The Minds Behind the Innovation: A Deep Dive with General Informatics Engineering Experts

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