OneVisionaries: George Gennis
From setting up Internet access on a yacht in Majorca to facilitating billions of dollars of automated trading across three continents, George Gennis relishes tricky technological challenges. At OneVision he’s a Technology Specialist responsible for providing the best possible experience for our clients, especially on days when every piece of technology on earth seems to be malfunctioning. We sat down with him to find out more about the man behind the machines.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was really little I wanted to fly fighter jets. Then I got into a commercial plane for the first time when I was 7 and found that my stomach isn’t really a big fan of flying… A year later, we got our first computer and technology was where I wanted to be.
Let’s assume that every week you spend a third of your time working, a third of your time sleeping, and then you could spend the remaining third doing absolutely anything you wanted. What would that be?
I play on some type of sports team 1 to 3 days a week depending on the season, and I’d do that 5 days a week if I could. I’d just do that until my legs couldn’t move anymore.
What’s the best part of your day?
The hour right before I go to bed. Things are quiet and I’m able to get some real thinking done without distraction.
What’s one recent client experience you’re particularly proud of?
Well, every win for a client makes me feel great. Our clients often have issues that appear really messy and stressful, but because of our experience with technology there’s a really clear-cut solution. I love making a mess go away. One example: We recently had a client whose iPhone 5 died a day before a big trip. She had 24 hours to get ready for 2 weeks abroad and all of a sudden she was phoneless. We got her a brand new iPhone fully restored and delivered to her in 3 or 4 hours. So what started as a stressful situation became a shiny new upgraded iPhone 6.
Where are you originally from, and do you think that has any bearing on your personality?
I’m from Concord, MA. It’s a pretty quiet town and I think it helped me learn to be patient. I worked in the NYC area for five years and was amazed at how restless a lot of people were.
Everyone at OneVision has a desk mascot. What’s yours?
I got a cool sculpture of a robot-guy sitting at a computer desk. He’s made of old bolts and screws and other bits of iron welded together. It’s a pretty cool piece of art. I’d like to think I got it because it’s so unique and creative.
What’s different about working at OneVision compared to any other place you’ve worked?
The focus on client experience and service. We really strive to be at a level of excellence that’s ten times better than anyone else in the industry. Up until now I had worked in the finance industry in NYC and it was really about optimizing for speed and efficiency. At OneVision we prioritize the client experience over everything. Of course, getting things done quickly is often a strong factor in the client experience, but, for example, we would never just throw out a quick and dirty solution that could potentially cause more headaches down the line.
I worked on a trading desk and one time half the phones went down so half the traders couldn’t place orders with brokers to unload their trades. I quickly pulled all the phone cables out and crawled under several feet of panels so I could plug the phones in to the other side of the room. The crawlspace was a nest of cables along with other things that had fallen off of desks and into the cracks over the course of several years and you could be sure it was never cleaned. It felt like that scene in The Shawshank Redemption. I emerged very dirty on the other end, but the traders were able to hit the phones again. At OneVision we would never let the technology get in such a messy state – our team’s success isn’t measured in hours or profitability, but rather client satisfaction – that’s what motivates us to continue going above and beyond.
Favorite book or movie, and what do like most about it?
I like both my movies and my books to be a mix of reality with a hint of the surreal or magical mixed in with lots of dramatic themes. For movies I like things like Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. For books I like authors like Murakami or David Mitchell. I also like things like Harry Potter, Despicable Me and How To Train Your Dragon. Who doesn’t?
What’s your absolute favorite kind of project or client-related task to work on?
I really like diagnosing problems and designing solutions for things at the team or company level. OneVision has a great culture for people who want to make things better and evolve the company. It’s great to see the impact you can make in a small company that encourages people to speak up. At OneVision I know that we’re just trying to get better and age/rank/whatever doesn’t matter it’s really just the merit of your ideas.