A Day in the Solstie Life: Nolan McConnell, IT Coordinator

When people ask me what I do for a living, I say, “I work in IT.” This usually elicits the question, “Well, what is that exactly?” I proceed to ramble on about all of the internal things that we are in control of — think G-Suite, Zoom, and Slack — but usually forget about the spontaneous tasks that pop up throughout the day and the impact they can make.

My journey at Solstice started in the summer of 2017 as an IT intern. I’ll admit that it was hard to leave and go back to school for one final semester. But I had already made my mind up: I wanted to come back to Solstice. Why? There are a handful of principles that stand out, but one of the more important ones to me is servant leadership: the leaders in this company are willing to pass on new projects and responsibilities to people who may not have experience in a particular area — giving the less experienced people all the tools and guidance needed for them to succeed. They do this because of Solstice’s emphasis on the idea that it’s not always about how good you are at your job but rather that you can help other people become better at their jobs.

So, without further ado, I’m honored to kick off our new series, “A Day in the Solstie Life”, in which we’ll share glimpses of how Solstice employees — or “Solsties”, as we call ourselves — are helping others be better at their jobs. It’s the people here who make our culture unique. They are why working in IT (or product, engineering, or UX) at Solstice is different. Follow me on a typical day to see why.

6:30 AM: Wake Up

You know what they say: we’re creatures of habit. My routine every morning looks about the same — I eat breakfast, shower, brush my teeth, check the weather to see how many layers I need to wear (gotta love Chicago seasons), and walk to the train. While I ride to work, I typically look at my schedule; read up on technology, market news, or sports; or listen to a podcast (TED, NPR, Tony Robbins, or Gary Vaynerchuk).

8:30 AM: Welcome to Solstice

This is when I usually arrive at work on a normal day after getting coffee (always iced from Dunkin' Donuts). I get off the elevator, say hi to Ginny and Carly, who are a part of our office management team, head back to our IT office, and set up my desk.  

9:009:15 AM: IT Team Stand Up

Our team meets three times a week to discuss what we're working on individually, what we need to work on as a team, and other issues that we might need to collaborate on. Like many teams at Solstice, our team has members in both Chicago and Buenos Aires, Argentina. We help provide global support for both of our offices, and we also help support New York and our sister companies in London. Although we do not all get to work with one another in person every day, we are one big team and we have fun doing it. One of my teammates, Katie, decided to join our Zoom call with an old school picture. I have added the picture below for your enjoyment.

IT Team Stand up Solstice

9:25 AM: Welcome New Solsties

I step outside our office to the IT bar to help our new employees. We usually have a group of new hires every Monday. Our team helps the new Solsties make sure they have the best of the best, setting them up with their laptops, monitors, keyboards, and any other tools they need in addition to our favorite “New Solstie” red balloon.

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10:0012:00 PM: Circle Meeting

Instead of a typical hierarchical structure, Solstice is organized in networks and circles to push objectives forward. I recently joined a circle to drive our continued salesforce implementation, and I’m even becoming a scrum master for it! This move isn’t uncommon at Solstice. You’re not limited to the typical roles and responsibilities here. Everyone may have a title, but that in no way limits what you can accomplish or be a part of. 

12:1012:35 PM: Lunch

I usually eat around 11:30, but today we had a “lunch and learn,” brought to us by David Bell, a board member of our parent company, Kin + Carta. We had attendees from every office throughout our global connective dial in to a Zoom call and hear him give his presentation from New York. We’re starting to have these types of talks fairly often, and it’s always crucial to make sure that we have all of the tech set up correctly (with all 1,500 employees dialing in from offices and client sites across Chicago, New York, Buenos Aires, London, Edinburgh, and places in between).

David talked about how courage, connection, and compassion have made an impact on him professionally and personally. It was a great talk and went off without a hitch.

I try to always meal prep on Sunday and bring my lunch but couldn’t say no to the catered pizza for the talk!

1:302:30 PM: Phone Call

I had to call one of our service providers to see where we could cut some costs and figure out future pricing quotes. Believe it or not, we still have some landlines in the office. 

3:20 PM: Meeting-Room Trouble

As I was going to refill my water glass, I was called into a room to assist with a video-conferencing issue. Luckily, restarting the camera did the trick! The classic “Did you turn it off and on again?” joke went over really well.

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6:00 PM: Wrapping Up

Today was definitely a full day at the office. I always decompress at my desk by putting my headphones on and getting some upbeat music going. I make sure that I have completed all of the things that I needed to for the day and have made appropriate notes so I can pick it back up in the morning.

7:00 PM: Dinner

Spaghetti and garlic bread. 

8:009:00 PM: Gym

I don’t know why I enjoy going to the gym at such a late time but I’ve done it since I was in college. Ending the day with a run, some weights, and then hitting the sauna to relax is the best way to unwind.

10:00 PM: Winding Down

Last but not least, the day always ends with reading from a book (or playing some video games). Solstice gives each employee a generous training budget, some of which I use to buy new reading material, including my current choice, Start with Why, by Simon Sinek.

Bonus Piece: Here is a picture of our Chicago IT team dressed up as the Golden Girls for our Halloween day at work. We got 2nd place in the group category!