E21 - Jeff Clark at Fortinet | Hamilton Barnes

E21 - Jeff Clark at Fortinet

Harry Baily
Jeff Clark

By Harry Baily & Jeff Clark

On today’s episode of The Route to Networking podcast, we’re joined by Harry Bailey, Head of Contract USA and special guest, Jeff Clark Systems Engineer at Fortinet. During the episode, they discuss a wide range of topics including one of the most important things he’s learnt during his time in the industry. Jeff also tells us more about what an average day looks like at Fortinet and some of the daily challenges he faces in his role.

Jeff’s fascination with technology can be traced back to his childhood. Growing up, his dad loved playing around with gadgets, although not particularly technically inclined. It was Jeff who, at the age of 5 or 6, displayed a knack for tinkering with gadgets. When his father brought home one of the first Motorola phones, initially believing it was broken, Jeff took it upon himself to troubleshoot the device. To everyone’s surprise, he successfully fixed it, becoming the go-to IT troubleshooter for his family.

From a young age, Jeff found that he had the gift of the gab, which led him to initially consider pursuing a career in public speaking or sales. While working in the mortgage industry, he took networking classes alongside his sales job. Realising his passion for technology, Jeff started a podcast called “Tech Tip Tuesday,” where he discussed various tech-related topics. This endeavour not only helped him refine his public speaking skills but also opened doors for his first IT job. Despite lacking experience, Jeff obtained relevant certifications and embarked on a new career path that would shape his future.

Jeff’s career began as a network engineer, and over time, he honed his skills to become a proficient network security engineer. However, an opportunity arose at Fortinet, a company whose gear he had worked with extensively, and his sales background made him an ideal fit for the role. Seizing the chance, Jeff transitioned into the position of a Systems Engineer, further expanding his expertise in the field.

One lesson learnt…

In an industry filled with smart minds and technical expertise, it is easy to assume that the smartest person in the room is the one who dominates the conversation. However, Jeff has learned a valuable lesson throughout his career: true intelligence lies in listening rather than talking.

He has come to understand that true wisdom comes from being attentive and receptive to the ideas and perspectives of others. By actively listening, you can absorb a wealth of knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges at hand.

Average day…

A typical day in the life of Jeff Clark, a Systems Engineer at Fortinet is lots of things. Juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, he finds himself seamlessly transitioning between engineering, sales, architecture, babysitting, and even playing the role of a therapist at times. On any given day, he could be giving a presentation on a conference call or working closely with an existing customer to address their technical challenges. The dynamic nature of his work necessitates versatility and adaptability as he dons different hats throughout the day.

When asked about the best traits to have when entering the IT industry, Jeff emphasises the importance of curiosity as the most crucial trait for success. Having an insatiable desire to learn and explore is paramount. Jeff believes that cultivating curiosity, particularly through a willingness to break things, is the key to personal and professional growth.

Tune in on the 30/05/2023 to hear the full episode!