Ada Health is one of the most disruptive health-tech companies on the market. The company is making healthcare more accessible by enabling people around the world the better understand their health and get guidance on the next steps of improving it. We had a chance to talk with Neil Rooney, the company's IT System Administrator. He told us more about his role at Ada Health and the career path that brought him there.
How did your career start?
I started my career with a degree in Forensic Science and Criminal Investigation at the University of Central Lancashire. Originally, I planned to focus on crime scene forensics. After realising that I could combine my love of computers with my degree, I made the jump to Digital Forensics. I graduated in a pre-Snowden era, so finding a job in this area was difficult. I decided I would embrace my inner nerd and decided to work in IT System Administration.
I've got my big break/working for a company called Carphone Warehouse (The Phone House in Germany) and worked there for a year. The store I was working in was located in one of the biggest shopping centres in the north of England, and we had hundreds of people with broken phones and laptops coming every day. You learn quickly working in conditions like this. You also get to deal with a lot of different people as well — people who are under stress, who are more easy-going, British celebrities, and so on.
After that, I went back to Germany and completed a few more trainings in project management — I wanted to add more skills to my portfolio. Then I ended up at idealo doing Content Management. It required me to deal with a ton of data that had to be sorted out in different categories. I've created rules that made it easy to process millions of the offers available on the website. Idealo was a great company to work for, but IT was where I belonged.
Then I went back to working in system administration with a company called travel audience, which belongs to the Amadeus group. I worked there for a couple of years and even got promoted to work as a Team Lead of the System Administration team. I left the company to work for uberall.com as a Senior IT System Administrator. After 1.5 years there, I joined Ada Health.
What's your typical morning routine like?
I'm an early riser and like to get to the office before everyone else. I like to focus on a lot of organisational stuff in the morning, like going through emails and tickets and planning my day.
How would you explain your role at Ada Health?
My role at Ada is to remove the boundaries between IT and the user, secure and manage all of our IT infrastructures and introduce new tools and services to meet our growing needs.
What's the most exciting thing about your job?
I'm a big nerd — I love trying out new things, fixing stuff, automating them. If some task is boring, I bet I can make it quicker. I'm constantly looking for areas that we can improve in. When working in system administration, no day is the same — there are always different problems to solve and different people to help.
What challenges do you face at your work?
My work impacts everybody in the company. Creating solutions that will fit the needs of the whole company is very challenging, especially with the growing number of employees at Ada. However, in the end, it makes my work fun, and my role is much more special thanks to that.
Is there a book that had an impact on your career?
It's a thick book that's called UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, and it's written by system administrators for system administrators. Every time I go into it, it's just so helpful. When I read it for the first time, I found it very interesting. I was always fascinated by books about security.
Do you have a work playlist?
I have a work playlist that's called Chilling. Actually, all of my playlists end with -ing: Rocking, Melting, Punking. The work one is full of songs from movie soundtracks, for example, Hans Zimmer's compositions. It's perfect for focused work time.
What would you tell someone who is looking for a similar job to yours?
I've done much recruiting in the past, trying to find new admins. I can always teach people the technical stuff, but I need someone who burns for technology, somebody who loves playing around and breaking stuff. If you're not just stuck in one system like macOS and you like to play with Windows or Linux, their functions, new services — you've already made it. The rest of it, you are going to learn through experience.
You should also be customer-oriented, communicative, and friendly. You have to listen to people and understand their problems. You have to know that you'll be working with people, not technology.
How can people reach out to you?
Join Neil at Ada Health! Check out open roles at the company.