Blog : Green Collar Careers: Jenaly Technology Group president, MJ Shoer

By Ken | Mar 30, 2015 | in

By Ken Johnson

Some argue that Information Technology uses too much of our resources with high electrical demand, endless toner cartridges and a nearly continuous use of unsustainable fossil fuels. But is that correct? MJ Shoer, the president of Jenaly Technology Group, Inc., has proven time and time again that IT management can be as green as any other sustainable industry.

Shoer started Jenaly in 1997 as an IT firm that handles small to mid-sized businesses, primarily in New England, but the company is able to service clients around the world through Virtual System Administration services including infrastructure, monitoring and maintenance. Shoer also co-authored The Tech (Multiplier), a how-to book for businesses, and business owners, who want to stay up to date in today's ever-changing technological world. “It's a world in which tech-savvy businesses must be nimble and able to adapt according to trends,” said Shoer.

Jenaly shines as a sustainable business amongst their peers and their clients. Jenaly offers remote support for client's systems to reduce gas consumption, effective document management to reduce paper waste, virtualization where one physical server powers multiple virtual servers, reducing electricity use, and Shoer is adamant about recycling e-waste, which prevents toxins from entering the waste stream. Jenaly also utilizes solid ink technology, a cartridge-free printing system that creates 90 percent less print waste than laser printers. Shoer is also an outspoken advocate of businesses preparedness against the adverse effects of climate change, specifically utilizing Cloud computing to mitigate risk of losing important information vital to a business's operations.

Jenaly is firm in its belief that implementing and investing in green IT services will pay for itself over time, and have a positive impact in the community. Shoer ensures each client is educated about the green aspects, and the available options, of their services. Jenaly also puts out Jenaly FYI.T., a monthly e-newsletter, which includes a Green IT tips column. Not just client friendly and green, Jenaly also thinks locally, and progressively, doing pro bono IT work for community groups throughout the seacoast.

Ken Johnson (KJ): What do you like most about your job?
MJ Shoer (MJ): What I do is in a constant state of change and I love that! In the industry I am in, technology is constantly changing and reassessing itself over and over and over again. So it requires you to be thoughtful, nimble, quick on your feet, adaptable, and a quick learner. There's constantly new technologies coming to the market and having an impact on clients. We have to understand how to leverage that and bring it to our clients in a way that helps them do what they do better. That constantly evolving marketplace is great.

The fact that we deal with so many different types of clients is equally as energizing because in one minute you could be talking to an accountant, or a doctor, or a lawyer and the next minute you could be talking to somebody running an internet startup who's incredibly casual. You constantly have to adjust on the fly. And of course running a business has its own set of unique circumstances and challenges that require you to be very nimble and adaptable. Altogether, it just makes for a very great invigorating environment that you walk away from everyday smiling saying, 'I love what I do.'

KJ: Where did you go to college? Does your college education help with your current job? What skills from college most prepared you for the work you do now?
MJ: I graduated in 1986 from The University of New Hampshire. My college education does and doesn't help with my current job. My degree is in political science and I had a real passion for it. I concentrated in Soviet studies at the time. I loved what I did but I wasn't able to turn it into an actual career. Ironically, I did take a few computer classes when I was there but I was bitten by the technology bug after I graduated. When I was in school technology wasn't really a discipline the way it is now. But what college did teach me is to think outside the box. And it taught me to think of things differently and not necessarily exactly as they present themselves.

What I mean by that is this. I'll never forget I had a class with Professor Tom Trout, who sadly passed away – may he rest in peace – and he taught me an amazing lesson because he used to give one question tests with the infamous blue book. I remember after taking his tests I'd always feel like my hand was going to just fall off my body it hurt so bad. I'll never forget getting one of them back. I got an A, with the entire inside cover written in red pen which said that I actually answered the question wrong, but the way I went about substantiating and defending my answer was exactly what he was teaching. It taught me to really think outside the box and not take everything at face value and realize that there are different ways to get where you want to go and while there may be a right way there may also be a wrong way to get there. Sometimes you could learn more from the wrong way than the right way and I think that's a critical lesson in today's technological climate because it's so fast, things happen so quickly in today's world compared to 30 years ago when I graduated college.

I also held a couple of leadership roles. I was the Drum Major of the Wildcat Marching Band. That was a leadership role which depended on me to set the tone, set the stage and guide the performances that we delivered. That was something that I absolutely loved. I was very active in my college fraternity and was an officer and held several other positions. To this day, my best friends are the friends that I made there and I see many of them all the time. These experiences gave me the confidence and the leadership skills that, once I found my passion, it was easy to just latch on and pursue it. Without those experiences I don't know that I would have had the confidence to do that.

KJ: What do you look for in an employee in this field?
MJ: I look for people that are self-starters; that are motivated; that are quick learners; that are willing to help make things better; that aren't afraid to talk up and share ideas that may help make things better for everyone. I look for people who have that fundamental drive, that you just know they are going to be good at what they do, and add tremendously to the culture, the environment and help drive everyone to be better. There is the old cliché, 'a rising tide floats all boats.' I look for somebody who's going to help raise that tide. I look for people that are confident, but yet confident enough to ask the questions they need to ask to learn what they don't know, but also confident enough to speak up and help be part of the solutions and help figure out new things to move a business forward.

KJ: What made you integrate sustainability into your business/go into a green industry?
MJ: It is the right thing to do. We all know what the impact of the things that we do are on our environment and on our lives. IT has traditionally not been an industry that's been very 'green aware.' It's generated a lot of waste, it uses a lot of hazardous chemicals, it uses a lot of resources in terms of power and what not. And it was just an easy natural thing; to embrace anything we could do to help make a greener footprint in the areas that we have some influence over. So whether it's power consumption, cooling consumption, we leverage different technologies to increase the density of our clients' IT infrastructures, which in turn takes up less power, less cooling, less square footage, and generates less waste. We introduce our clients to greener technologies – like with printers we are big proponents of something called solid ink printing which uses dramatically less waste than traditional toner based printers. So we just look for the opportunity to bring those ideas to our clients to help them be a little more environmentally responsible in their businesses.

KJ: What are you most proud of in your business as relates to sustainability?
MJ: I am most proud about making it known, making it a present issue for our clients. When I look at other businesses in our industry, they don't talk about it very much. I think whenever we talk about something that can have a sustainability component to it, we bring that into the conversation to help our clients understand that they can address this business need or that business need in a sustainable way. Or there are things they need to think about because of the sustainable impact that will have an effect on their business. I don't see a lot a people talking about that in the technology space, I think it's just a good thing and natural thing to do that. For us it's a unique benefit that we bring to our clients, that we are thinking about that and sharing that with them to help them be a better partner in their communities.

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