Christopher Wilson leads Kraft Kennedy’s Desktop Project team. He guides technical design on projects involving thin client, virtualization, and operating system design and deployment. A seasoned expert in software distribution, he also heads our research and development of best practices for operating system deployment and management.
Downtime is our interview series spotlighting the people of Kraft Kennedy.
What is the story behind how you got into your line of work?
Growing up, I was in the Boy Scouts and one of the adult leaders in our troop worked at Compaq. My hometown of Houston has brutally hot and humid summers, so one of those weekends, instead of camping outside, he took us on a tour of the Compaq campus and taught us how computers worked at a hardware and software level. I had always enjoyed playing computer games, but getting a glimpse under the hood at that age really spurred my interest in the technology. With my mentor’s guidance, I was able to complete my first from-scratch computer build (Pentium Pro 200Mhz). From that point on, I was hooked.
Where do you hope to see the field of desktop deployment and management going?
I’m not sure if “hope” is the most accurate word, but I do see the field of desktop deployment and management going more towards the idea of AutoPilot and Intune in the future. The appeal of BYOD, imaging from any location, and assigning and enforcing firm policies and applications via the cloud without local infrastructure is ultimately an ideal solution for many companies and their users. As with so many areas of technology, I think it’s likely that we’ll see more investment in cloud-based deployment technologies as time goes on, and with that comes the requirement of being able to manage devices from those cloud technologies in an ongoing fashion.
What’s the biggest challenge you see your clients having?
From a holistic perspective, the biggest challenge I see my clients struggling with is how to address the use of the cloud in their environments. Many clients have sizeable investments in on-premise infrastructure and also a variety of security, reporting, and administrative concerns about migrating data and workloads to the cloud. Traditionally, IT organizations have had to walk a fine line when balancing capital expenditures and ROI with end-user functionality, but the looming specter of security breaches has forced many in IT to reconsider the metrics they use when considering potential solutions in their organization.
With regard to desktops, the challenge I see many firms grappling with is the fast pace of Windows 10 and Office 365 feature updates and how best to position themselves to perform QA on updates and remediate issues with their third party add-ins.
What client project are you most proud of?
The first major project I led on my own. I was 27, and it was Kraft Kennedy’s first big Windows 7 desktop. It was also our first major implementation with SCCM 2007 as a software deployment solution. So I was flying solo and this was well before information on these technologies had been well-documented on search engines. To further complicate matters, due to the political landscape and some personnel issues in-house, the client ended up being extremely challenging to work with at times. Top it all off with the fact that the project schedule overlapped with the largest recession in memory, and the pressure on both sides to complete the project successfully was palpable. Thankfully, we were able to deliver the new desktop as promised for the client, and many of the processes and documents developed during that engagement became the bases for desktop standards that are still in use today.
What is your signature dish or recipe?
I really like cooking a variety of different cuisines, but I almost always follow others’ recipes when it comes to experimenting outside of my comfort zone. If there’s one dish that I would call “mine,” it would be spaghetti. It’s one dish that I make from scratch without following a recipe, that I’ve tweaked over the course of years making it, and that is a comfort dish for me as it reminds me a lot of my dad’s cooking growing up at home and I learned how to make it from him.
What’s something your coworkers don’t know about you?
I’m a pretty big fan of movies, and if I watch a new movie that resonates with me emotionally, I’ll often watch it again within a relatively short period of time. Most of the time I’ll watch it the next day, but I’ve even watched the same movie back to back in some cases because I enjoy trying to wring all the emotion I can out of the experience. I think the habit developed when I was younger and my mom used to rent a lot of movies from the local video rental store at the front of our neighborhood. We would rent a movie on Friday night, watch it, and then it would be due back Sunday; so, if it was good we’d watch it again on Saturday before returning it.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Those that know me know I’m anything but an extravagant person, but if there’s one thing I’m willing to spend money on, it’s my home computer. I still like tinkering with computers and my home PC also doubles as my TV replacement, so when I rebuild it every few years I always make it a point to get quality parts that will keep the machine running in good order for a long time and in an unobtrusive fashion.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would make myself more comfortable with making decisions in situations where I don’t have all the available information, especially ones where there isn’t a set deadline. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and because of that I tend to spend a lot of time researching and ruminating on decisions… definitely to my detriment at times. I have no problem when it comes to making decisions with defined or implicitly understood deadlines, but I’m the type of person that will spend over an hour reading hundreds of reviews on Amazon for shower curtain liners because I’m looking for particular specifications and one that isn’t going to cause me any problems. The new liner is great by the way.
Where would you most like to live?
In the summer? Colorado. Boulder if I’m more specific. I love the hiking in the mountains and spent my summer vacations growing up scrambling over rocks and through the woods there. In the winter? Anywhere where I don’t have to deal with a lot of snow in my day-to-day routine. I love skiing as a winter activity, but don’t like the hassle of dealing with shoveling or commuting through snow.
What do you most value in your friends?
Dependability above all else. I’m someone who places a high value on reliability in my life, both in personal relationships and physical goods. I like to minimize stress by minimizing potential negative outcomes, so having friends I can count on means a lot to me.