Downtime with Brian Podolsky: On 80-Hour Work Weeks and the Beauty of New Jersey

Brian Podolsky leads Kraft Kennedy‘s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) group. Based in the New York office, he heads our research into the latest ECM technology and strategy. Brian is an expert in the design and implementation of NetDocuments, iManage, OpenText eDOCS, and Worldox, as well as third-party integrated add-ons.

Downtime is our interview series spotlighting the people of Kraft Kennedy.

Brian Podolsky

What is the story behind how you got into your line of work?
Junior year of high school, I took an engineering drafting and design course. I always figured I’d be an engineer, and I enjoyed drawing, so this class seemed perfect. The first half of the year involved old-school drafting, including the drawing table, t-square ruler, triangle, and various protractors. I did a lot of hands-on, isometric drawings that took considerable effort. For the second half of the year, we switched to AutoCAD software, and it was like I had an epiphany. You mean to tell me I can use software and keyboard shortcuts to make perfectly parallel lines and angles? I caught on to AutoCAD rather quickly, and I suppose I could have been gone into civil engineering still, but the thought of how computers can digitize manual tasks made me choose Computer Engineering as my major in college. And here I am 20 years later, continuing to use software and computers to make lawyers’ jobs easier.

Where do you hope to see the field of enterprise content management going?
I hope to see more cloud-to-cloud platforms and services, with client-side functionality being delivered via the new Office365 add-in model. I want to see the old COM or VSTO client-side add-ins disappear. The benefits would be a more stable client workstation environment, and ease of deploying new features and functionality.

What’s the biggest challenge you see your clients having?
One of the biggest challenges I see clients having is just trying to get a grasp of where their documents are. They may have a DMS, but we often see a subset of attorneys using other systems such as Google Docs, SharePoint, DropBox, or just plain old file shares. The challenge is making sure the DMS is able to provide everything the attorneys need, so they don’t have to rely on other systems.

Which client project are you most proud of?
In 2012, I completed a global conversion and consolidation of over 30 distributed DocsOpen libraries into two iManage libraries for a global firm of over 2500 users. It entailed a ton of custom SQL scripts, and a lengthy, detailed conversion checklist. It also involved a series of what seemed like 80-hour work weeks, as we migrated the documents for nearly 200 users each week for 12 weeks. I gained so much experience on that project, and it really helped improve both my SQL skills and time management skills for future projects. I never want to work 80-hour weeks again!

Describe your perfect Sunday.
If it’s winter, my perfect Sunday would involve some fun activities with my family, a nice beer, and football on the TV with a roaring fire. If it’s summer, all the same things but replace football with baseball, and the roaring fire with air conditioning.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Walking and exploring an old city for the first time. Finding a small, tucked-away restaurant on a side street and discovering they have the best squid ink spaghetti you’ve ever had in your life, along with a bottle of their house red wine (which is better than any expensive wine you’ve had back home). I’m basically describing the trip my wife and I took to Venice about ten years ago.

What is your greatest fear?
Unexpectedly losing a loved one.

Where would you most like to live?
It might sound lame, but right where I am. I love New Jersey and have lived here since I was three years old. Having pretty easy access to New York City, Philadelphia, and the Jersey Shore is fantastic, and the town I live in is kid-friendly, diverse, and has an express train that goes right into Penn Station.

What is your most treasured possession?
I have a jar tucked away in my closet that contains the ticket stubs from every movie, concert, and sporting event I’ve attended since the early 1990s. Nowadays many tickets are digital or just QR codes, but if I can get a ticket stub, I will try, so I can add to my collection of memories. I’m sure I’ll look back and wonder why I saw Congo in theaters back in 1995, but I’ll be happy I saved the proof that I’ve seen Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, the Foo Fighters, and Weezer (back when they were good).

What is your greatest regret?
In 2006, I lost my wallet in a taxi. I was able to replace almost everything. I replaced the driver’s license and the credit cards. I collected a few replacement lucky $2 bills that I tucked away into my new wallet. But the one thing I couldn’t replace was my ticket stub to the old World Trade Center Observation Deck, from when I was up there last in August 2000. I regret not putting that into my ticket jar, and instead wanting to keep that on me instead. I still wonder where it could be.