Barnes & Noble College Network Analyst and Lead Desktop Analyst Jamel Felton talks about the misconceptions surrounding technology, the importance it plays in business, and why he can’t help fixing things.
What was your first job?
I flipped burgers at Burger King as a teenager, but my very first job was selling penny candies to the kids at school. I would get my allowance on Monday, spend all of it on candy, sell it, and double my money by Tuesday. I guess I was a bit of an entrepreneur.
How do you describe your current role at Barnes & Noble College?
My official title is Network Analyst and Lead Desktop Analyst for Executive Support — and I also manage special projects for mobile devices and other company applications.
Your job requires you to ‘fix’ peoples’ technology problems. Were you always interested in fixing things?
I was always interested in fixing things. At Christmas, I would open all my presents and by Christmas night, every toy would be taken apart in pieces, but I could always put them back together — and they would always work! I had to know how everything worked — and I’m still like that.
What is perhaps one of the bigger misconceptions we all have about technology?
People think they can live in today’s world without technology. Everything we do requires you to use some type of technology, whether it’s driving your car, using your phone, shopping, entering your workplace — it all requires technology.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
I would be in real estate selling houses, flipping houses, or both. I previously worked in construction, so it helps having an understanding of how a room can come together when it’s just a room of wooden beams and studs. I enjoyed every bit of it … minus the dirt.
What is one piece of technology that you can’t live without?
My phone. It begins and ends each day. It’s the first thing I reach for in the morning and the last thing I check before I go to sleep each night. It’s my work-out buddy, my GPS, my bike trainer and my life-line to work.
You deal with people across the company at all different levels. What’s a common characteristic you find among Barnes & Noble College people?
Everyone wants the same thing. Everyone wants to come and do their job, have everything work – fast enough and reliably to enable them to do their jobs. That’s the same across the board at all levels. They want to be able to do their jobs efficiently. People are passionate about their jobs, so they need their technology to work — and that’s why I’m here.
Favorite book – or book you’re currently reading?
Empire State of Mind. It’s about Jay-Z, the rapper and business mogul. I just found it very interesting to read about how Jay-Z the artist and Jay-Z the businessman mesh.
Digital or hard copy?
Hard copy. My whole world is digital. Everything I do involves technology, so it is great to escape to print. There’s something about the smell of a book, the weight of a hard copy and the feel of the pages.
Most valuable thing you’ve learned at Barnes & Noble College?
Patience. When people come to me, they’re usually panicked and frustrated because their laptop, phone or tablet isn’t working. I have to remain calm so I can hear what the problem is, so I can fix it. I’ve also learned not to take things personally. I know it’s just out of frustration.
Best day at Barnes & Noble College?
My best day — I should say two days — at Barnes & Noble College. The first day is at our Annual Meeting and the other is at the Annual Luncheon. Until you are there and hear the speeches and meet the people, you don’t fully get the culture of our company. It’s an amazing experience that really captures who we are as a company. It always recharges my batteries — and reminds me why I work so hard. This is an incredible company.