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Coworker Corner: Jon Overton
There are many different roads that lead our coworkers to Mercy Home, but IT Business Analyst Jon Overton may have one of the most unique paths.
Jon was working as an archeologist when he took his first steps into the world of IT. In the early 2000s, he was working in the Pullman District in Chicago at the original factory, investigating what kind of artifacts were left on the site. His specific responsibility was mapping different types of cultural resources and different historic sites, he explained.
“[It wasn’t] necessarily excavating … [we] used survey equipment to pinpoint where these different kinds of items were at on the ground,” he remembered. “And as we continue to do so, more and more of this research there needed to be [logged].
“We were just figuring it out on the fly. So that’s how I started working with databases.”
From that point on, it seemed that Jon couldn’t escape the world of databases.
“The job I had needed somebody to redo their Access database right afterwards,” he said. “So I started doing that and then my job also took over managing different computer labs. So then I got more of a start in IT.”
Jon ended up doing project management work, eventually becoming the head project manager of all database projects while working at the Chicago Better Business Bureau. He quickly realized that the job wasn’t the right fit for him.
“I knew that it wasn’t for me, because, again, I had a degree in archeology,” he said. “I didn’t feel capable to be managing every single aspect of a help desk department. So I looked for an opportunity where I could just only work on databases, really interface with end users and try to build better things, improve workflow, stuff like that. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past five years, and that led to my current role.”
There’s nothing ever easy with IT.
As a business analyst, Jon acts as “the middle man between internal stakeholders and external resources who are … building things in the database.”
“So what will happen is somebody at Mercy Home will have an idea or maybe they’ll notice some problem with the way something works,” he said.
For example, someone will ask for a button to be added or another similar feature that will act as a shortcut. And while it seems like an easy ask, things are often more complicated than one realizes.
“There’s nothing ever easy with IT,” Jon laughed. “There’s things that are often times built like a house of cards, and sometimes you can’t see the way things are put together. So if you start changing things one way, it will impact other things in the system that you hadn’t really anticipated. So it’s my job to translate the wants from the internal stakeholders into something that’s actionable by higher level tech resources at Mercy Home. … What I end up doing is creatively coming up with a solution and then trying to make sure that solution is implemented effectively.”
And while creativity may not be a term many associate with IT, that’s exactly what Jon likes about his job.
“A lot of times it surprises people,” he said.
“There’s a lot of problem solving that’s involved with this type of work. And sometimes you have a chance to either come up with a creative solution.”
Though Jon’s background in archeology may make his current career in IT seem confusing, he actually believes ending up in this field was inevitable.
“You know, I think I saw it coming, but I think I tried to avoid it,” he said, explaining that he was always tech savvy growing up, and even had working with computers recommended to him as a career path in high school.
“So many people are me were getting into tech, and I just wanted to buck the trend,” he explained. “I’d always been interested in history and culture, so I just drove myself that way. But no matter what, the waves of IT kept crashing back.”
Working at Mercy is the first time I’ve ever been happy to be in a scrum meeting.
Now that Jon has been at Mercy Home for almost a year, he is settling into the field and the position that feels a bit like destiny—“right from the get go, the job description seemed right …it just fell into place, like it was meant to be,” he recollected—and couldn’t be happier.
He particularly enjoys the daily scrum meetings the IT team holds, where they talk about what they’re working on and how they can help each other.
“Working at Mercy is the first time I’ve ever been happy to be in a scrum meeting,” he said. “We have very effective team meetings. We have great communication on our team.”
Even past the way IT works together so efficiently, Jon has seen that attitude throughout all of Mercy Home. He appreciates the collaborative spirit and teamwork that has become a hallmark of our Home.
“Everyone is just so much more of a team, [even] across departments,” he said.
Jon added that he has particularly bonded with his co-business analyst Christine Wilson, who originally interviewed him for the position.
“She and Steve [Snyder, the Vice President of IT] just made me feel really welcomed,” he said. “She’s been an amazing resource for anything I need.”
And because the currently COVID-19 crisis has limited many coworkers’ time in the office and interactions, Jon has also been taking advantage of Jasmen Mickey’s Jazzy Lunches to get to know more of his coworkers.
“When they [were announced], I was really excited,” he said. “Like all right, cool, this is a connection I’m able to make aside from the immediate people on my team. … It’s been really cool.”