Patrick Kelly ’17 believes strongly in the importance of understanding and supporting people’s technology needs. As the manager of customer success at Metallic—a software-as-a-service startup venture of Commvault, a leader in the data-protection industry—Kelly has combined his talent for grappling with technology as a former systems administrator with his soft skills and leadership abilities into a flourishing career. “I think everything comes down to the human connection, to us trying to figure out this whole crazy game together,” says Kelly, who holds a bachelor’s degree in information management and technology from Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool).
At Metallic, Kelly seeks to build positive relationships between the business and its customers, ensuring the needs of both are met. He oversees an international team of about 60 people—who are located in the U.S., France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland, India, Australia and New Zealand—that focuses on emerging cloud workloads and cloud-based architecture, providing enterprise-level data backup and recovery that protects companies from ransomware threats, data corruption and other dangers. “Customer success management is a relatively new field,” he says. “It’s not customer support, it’s not sales. It’s connecting customers to departments and teams they have to work with.”
Tangling with Technology Issues
For Kelly, helping a company deal with a cyberattack, accidental data deletion or other nightmares that can disrupt or endanger its work is part of the daily routine. Ultimately, he believes it’s vital for a company to have a data strategy in place, so people are connected to the right resources and can avoid catastrophes. In one way or another, Kelly has been solving technology issues since high school. He likes to say his “first tech job” was as a game room technician at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant. “I had to fix games when kids were putting pizza in the coin slots,” he says.
Thankfully, Kelly moved on from there to a position as an information technology (IT) specialist with his school district in Brick Township, New Jersey, logging time in summers and during breaks. An interest in broadcasting led him to Syracuse University, but it was the introductory-level course Information Technologies—taught by Professor Jeffrey Rubin ’95, G’98—that fired him up about IT and the iSchool.
That’s all technology should be—providing solutions to help everyday or large-scale problems and connecting people.—Patrick Kelly ’17
Embracing a Collaborative Atmosphere
Kelly joined the iSchool as a sophomore and hit his stride, believing the school prepared him to have the technical know-how, the ability to explain complex issues to nontechnical audiences, and excellent presentation skills. He embraced opportunities, enjoyed the “collaborative and family-like atmosphere” and thrived on the curriculum’s mix of business and technology, which he calls “world class.” He worked as a teaching assistant for several courses and appreciated the mentoring and compassion of Professor Alex Corsello, who instilled in him the importance of enjoying the moment and ensuring that those around you are also thriving. “I can’t say enough good things about Professor Corsello,” he says.
Most influential among his iSchool experiences was working for nearly three years with the Information Technology Experiential Learning Laboratory (ITELL) team as a technical manager. He gained hands-on experience under the guidance of another mentor, technology services manager James Powell ’08, G’14, helping faculty match technology to their curricula, and managing the office and the iSchool’s data center hosting over 3,000 virtual machines.
I want to make sure current students feel confident knowing an alum is looking for talent just like them.—Patrick Kelly ’17
In 2017, Kelly landed a summer IT internship with Commvault, whose headquarters is based in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, near where he grew up. What he discovered was a “fun tech company” with basketball courts, baseball fields, a cricket pitch and a slide from the fourth to the third floor. “To a 19-year-old kid, it was like, ‘What is going on here? This is insane,’” says Kelly, who became a systems administrator with the company in 2018. “Ever since I’ve been with Commvault, it’s maintained that same level of fun.”
Not only that, but Kelly has also maintained his relationship with the iSchool and its talent. He recruited Powell and Eric Struski ’18, G’21, who also worked at ITELL, to join his team and has welcomed several interns.
Kelly’s recruitment efforts haven’t ended there either. Prior to a recent return to Syracuse University for an iSchool career fair, he fielded several questions from us.
What are your plans for the career fair?
My goal is to establish a pipeline of Syracuse and iSchool students to have internships and job opportunities with Metallic and in the data-protection industry. I want to make sure current students feel confident knowing an alum is looking for talent just like them.
What do you look for when you’re recruiting interns or employees?
Energy. When it comes to technology, if they have some technical aptitude, a lot more specifics can be taught. Those intangibles are what we, and I think other companies, are looking for. Are they waking up every day motivated, ready to take on the world? Are they focused and willing to learn? If you’re willing to learn, life gets a whole lot easier.
What advice do you have for students aspiring for a career in the IT field?
Every single person brings something different to the table. Try to find one or two differentiators that you’re bringing—whether it’s a technical strength or being highly motivated.
What drove your interest in working in the technology field?
The opportunity to help people. That’s all technology should be—providing solutions to help everyday or large-scale problems and connecting people.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I most enjoy connecting and helping people. When I get to solve a problem for somebody, there’s no better feeling. We also have a culture of fun at Metallic that I don’t see at a lot of other companies.