Many of us make a big career change at some point in our lives, but Mark’s was a bit more drastic than most—before becoming an IT professional, he was a pastry chef. “It comes as a shock to people when I tell them that,” he chuckles.
He actually spent two years in training and then seven years working for one of the major hotel chains in downtown Toronto. That background hasn’t helped him much in information technology, but he did wind up making about 50 crème brûlées for his Farber colleagues at the last holiday party. “Generally, I’ve tried to keep it under wraps so people don’t develop expectations of getting regular desserts.”
From Tarts to Tech
Mark’s move to IT came about a few years ago when his employer decided to undertake a major renovation of the hotel. “I considered it a sign and, since I’ve always loved tech, I took advantage of an Ontario government retraining program that led me back to school for technology.” Joining Farber in September of 2019 was actually his first opportunity in tech and he’s making the most of it.
Serving Internal Clients During COVID-19
Mark shared his thoughts on the COVID challenges while holed up at home in April 2020. “I actually find working from home more efficient,” he muses. “With the technology these days, all we really need in IT is a laptop. I’ve taken a spot here at my home office—alongside my wife and close to our sleepy dog–it’s perfect.”
That said, helping everyone at Farber transition to working from home was still a major undertaking. “Even though the technology was already available, we really needed to move quickly. Within a matter of days, we had to ensure everyone was comfortable with their new remote working set-ups. We went from a handful of remote workers per week, to everyone—overnight,” Mark recalls. “It was tough at first since we couldn’t just stop by to help them with their tech issues in person. Fortunately, things have settled down and everyone’s getting used to it and adapting very quickly.”
Staycationing with Home Projects
Mark and his wife managed to get in a European cruise last summer that featured Greece and Italy as well as some other destinations on either end of the trip, including Rome, Florence, Venice and Paris. Unfortunately, that will be all the travelling for the next while. “I really hope the cruise industry recovers after all this,” he says. “It’s such a great way to see the world—we covered 10 cities in 13 days.”
For the time being, Mark is content to tackle projects at home, especially since he just bought a house that needs some renovations. “There’s a wall I have to tear down, but I may need help with that. So, for now it’s painting and working on the backyard; but I’d rather be outside fishing though!” he jokes.
“I know it sounds cliché, but it’s the people that make Farber such a great place to work at,” says Mark. “When I left my job at the hotel, I really didn’t think I’d find a corporate job where everyone was so connected and friendly, but Farber has surprised me.”
For Mark, that culture has been key to enjoying his new career in IT. “I’m realizing how important cooperation and patience are in IT, since you’re often having to assist people who struggle with tech issues and are understandably frustrated.” He compares himself to the local barber who listens patiently to everyone’s problems in life. Perhaps so, but maybe a pastry chef could get some mileage out of a crème brûlée here or there as well.
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