Introducing Julie Pepper, Systems Assurance Advisor, Murphy, McKay & Associates.
Huh? For those of us who like language a bit plainer, think of Julie as your information technology “IT” girl. In other words, she’s your source for all things IT — at least if you’re running PCs.
I met Julie through our San Francisco BNI chapter, and was instantly drawn to her great sense of humor and warm professionalism. If you or your office mates are looking for high quality IT with a smile, Julie in my opinion really is your girl.
Here’s more from Julie:
Julie’s Life Pre-IT
I was born on the East Coast and moved to Southern California roughly twenty-three years ago in pursuit of an acting career. From the time I could make believe, I dreamed of being an actor. I loved to dance as a child but I could not sing at all, which did not stop me from getting one of my first parts, the part of “Baby Gypsy” in the musical “Gypsy.” If you’re familiar with this story you’ll remember that Baby Gypsy could not sing or dance, but she’s a survivor, so she transcends both dancing and singing and becomes one hell of a successful stripper! [laughs]
Which has little to do with how I got into IT, except if you recognize that providing support to small and medium sized businesses compels companies to strip down their preconceived notions of their businesses and share where they are and where they’d like to be in 3-5 years and what vulnerabilities or weaknesses are acting as barriers in getting them there. The process of uncovering this is a kind of stripping down, a “baring all” that is keeping them from transforming their IT from chaotic defense into strategic offense.
Our philosophy [at Murphy, McKay & Associates] is helping people deal with technology and learning as much as we can about a company’s particular business to help them use technology to its greatest strategic advantage.
About Murphy, McKay & Associates
Our services are customized to each company based on its specific needs. In the IT world, managed service practices are a long term relationship type business and so sometimes we get to know companies and their IT environments for months before we are officially partnered with them. That’s okay with us because we want to understand how they are using technology today, and what their vision is for the future, and just like individuals take time to get to know, so do companies.
Clients can expect us to explore their environment, when they trust us enough to do so, and from there, ask lots of questions to identify the ways they are using technology and the ways they can better use it. Once partnered with a client, we do in-depth analyses of what we’re seeing, daily, weekly, monthly, and we meet face-to-face to discuss what’s working and what might work better. Then we assist them in strategic planning for changes that will serve them and collaborate with them on how to budget for those changes. We look for ways to save them money in all of this, and we work on a fixed monthly rate so they know what they will be paying and won’t be surprised by huge variations in their costs.
Managed service practices like ours protect our clients against costly time and material models, where the more things break, the more a time and material providers make by coming out to fix them. We operate from a proactive model because we believe it is more efficient and cost-effective to prevent issues, rather than spend lots of time troubleshooting and attempting to fix things that break.
In our world, the more we can prevent things from breaking, and the less we time we are spending on site, the better it is for everyone. We’re monitoring and maintaining our clients’ environments 24/7 so we already have eyes on their systems. That said, we do like to see our clients and in our quarterly meetings we get to sit down and talk about the stuff that matters, in a non-crisis, calm context that allows for forward moving action as opposed to reactive action.
What Makes Julie Pepper Unique
I think the same thing that makes Julie Pepper unique is what makes Murphy, McKay unique. We have a genuine interest in working with people, no matter how difficult that can sometimes be, that makes us who we are. We are always striving to be better and looking at ourselves through personality tests and team building, peer groups, and education. The same way that technology never stands still, neither do we.
I was drawn to this company because I loved the way they treated me and immediately respected my ideas from day one. Murphy, McKay is a very entrepreneurial place, driven by a quest to develop all its players into great leaders. It very much feels like a team to me, and I value that. Even when we disagree about something we can move through it with honest and productive discourse.
We are always refining and developing our current offerings because we like to stay focused, intently, on what we do best: Relocation, augmented and managed [IT] services.
Julie’s Role in the Bay Area Business Community
We love to do events to bring people together and share knowledge. We do Lunch & Learns at our offices in Lafayette and it’s great to have clients and prospective clients, or simply members of our business community, attend. We also love to do team building that supports the community. The last team building event our team did was a trash pick-up and our team worked hard and had fun doing it. Our VP of Consulting Services has done some really valuable speaking events, as well, for CPAs and Attorneys.
What Makes the San Francisco Bay Area Great
I love so much about the Bay Area that it would take too long to list, but I’ll start with the beauty, culture, and diverse pockets of the city. Knowing I can have a great urban experience of dinner and a play and follow that up with a peaceful day in the wine country is very exciting to me.
Julie’s Stay Healthy Tips
I’m not at a desk all day and I’m grateful for that, but on those days when I am, I recommend popping up from your desk and getting a good stretch, and if time allows, getting outside and taking a brief walk. Personally, I think every business should have a mini gym where people can take twenty minutes to refresh their bodies and their minds, with as much ease as pressing the refresh button on their computer.
Behind Every Great Woman There is a . . . Team
I work with a great group of engineers on our Systems Assurance team, and I know I can count on each of them. Each one has different and unique capabilities and I count on them in different ways. Not having a tech background, I can tell you it is thrilling to have so many smart tech guys around to ask any question, no matter how seemingly stupid. In addition to my team, there is the Relocation team and the Augmented Services team and it is great to collaborate, intersect and overlap with both. I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful combination of new talent, and the strength of wisdom that comes from many years of experience.
One of the things I’m very proud of is that I’m told there can be a lot of turnover in this business, but in our case, people have been with the company for a long time. So even though we have very well developed processes and systemization and automation in place, we also have the added value of the same people interacting with our clients over long periods of time. I have a significant relationship with everyone in the company from our CEO, CFO, and President, right on through.
Julie’s IT Insights
Don’t let yourself be fooled by the fact that you have never experienced a major catastrophe. Consider yourself lucky, and take the steps to get your backup and disaster/recovery plans in place so should your systems ever go down, you don’t lose critical data you can’t ever get back, you don’t have down time you can’t ever regain, you don’t lose credibility with your clients or worse — you don’t lose clients because you’ve allowed their personal information to be exposed. Get prepared, because it’s a lot more costly to lose vital information than it is to put a plan in place that really protects when you need protection the most.
Julie’s Top 3 IT Tips:
- Make sure if you have an IT person or team in place, that if they say they’re backing up your data, you’re seeing the evidence of that through backup and restore tests.
- Do what you do best, and let a team like ours support you so you can use technology strategically.
- Keep your systems up to date so that they are supported and you don’t have to spend a huge amount of time and money playing catch up.
Digital Marketing Strategies
To be honest with you, we aren’t focusing a lot of attention on that at present. We do like to tweet about events we participate in, we have a regular blog and newsletter, and we share our services through our website. We don’t find that many of our clients look for IT support through our website because it is such a relationship-based business and involves a lot of trust, so we get much of our business through referrals, which we are very grateful for.
More Tips for Up and Coming Bay Area Businesses
If you’re a company that is growing and you don’t have a bunch of skilled IT people on your team, don’t makeshift it. Talk to us, or someone like us, about what kinds of best practices to have in place, so that you have the best possible foundation to scale.
Julie’s Bottom Line
Story. Story is to me the most important thing in life and business. I love stories, and I love learning about other people’s stories. That’s one of the things I love about what I do. I get to hear people’s stories and help them to create new ones.
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