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Featured Actifian: Paul Martell

Actifio is chock full of talented people. To showcase some of the amazing talent we have here, Actifio will highlight a particular employee—an Actifian if you will—that is an expert in his or her chosen field. We’ll learn how these incredible individuals help Actifio flourish, as well as what occupies their time when they’re not in the office. For our first feature, we chose our educator extraordinaire, Paul Martell.  

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Paul Martell knows how to keep a conversation going. Which is a blessing, as he’s in a job where he is paid to talk (and to talk a lot). Paul has been the Actifio Education Services Delivery Manager for Customer Training since 2012. He is tasked with teaching Actifio’s customers the specifics of using their newly purchased product, as well as with keeping up with any issues existing customers may run into. With nearly forty years of technology education experience, Paul is undoubtedly an expert in his field and can offer invaluable insight. Listen in.

What kind of issues do you find customers most often run into with their data protection?

“After customers start to use the product, they bring in more and more devices. As such, it’s very easy for them to outrun their Service Level Agreements (SLAs). SLA’s have to change as the environment changes. Most customers don’t modify their SLA’s often enough. They’ll wait until they start racking up violations and then they’ll go in and change their SLA retroactively. A lot of issues could be avoided if it were done proactively.”

You’ve probably taught hundreds of Actifio training classes. What are the most common questions your trainees ask?

“Yes, probably hundreds of classes and thousands of students. At the end of each class we do a survey, and the last page asks what during the class was most useful and least useful, and also what during the class was covered in too much detail and what not covered in enough detail. Two things show up all the time: SLA’s and troubleshooting. Everyone says that section was most useful and that they would like us to cover it in more detail. That SLA section keeps getting improved with each running of the class and with each new release. With 7.0 coming out, enhanced SLA’s will now fully allow images to be held even if the system is offline for up to seven days.”   

How has learning changed over the years with new developments in technology?

“From my own experience, the first series of classes I taught (which were forty years ago) had desks with ashtrays on them. The instructor stood behind a podium, wrote on a chalkboard, and lectured. Today it’s more hands-on. You let the students do the task and you measure them against their ability to do it. And now we’re integrating blended learning, which is a mix of online and physical learning. With live online training we can instruct students all over the world- this week’s class is for Germany and Kenya and I have a webinar tonight for the Asia-Pacific region. Also, a class used to be many days long. But now we cover the material in five online sessions in the local timezone. The only thing is, now that most learning is done virtually, I can’t see the students so I don’t get visual cues. All cues have to be verbal.”   

You’ve been at Actifio for over four years now. How has the company changed since you first started?

“When I started we were in the earlier building down the street. It was very tight, cramped quarters. My employee number is seventy-nine. At that point there were only three women in the company headquarters building (I remember hearing that the ladies’ room had three stalls so they never had to share). You ended up doing a lot more things outside your job. In start-ups, the number one goal is ‘do whatever it takes to make the customer satisfied’. As we’ve gotten bigger, that goal gets distributed. There are other experts here now, so sometimes I ask another person to answer a customer’s questions. Our ability to respond to the customer has gotten a lot more efficient and we have more established procedures in place instead of just doing things on the fly.”

What made you decide to become an educator?

“A lot of people kind of fall into jobs. I was actually teaching ground school aviation, teaching people the things they needed to know to fly a plane. I did that to pay for my own flying lessons. I used to have a pilot’s license, which I actually got before I got a driver’s license. I found I really liked teaching. As my boss Mike Ehasz says, “inside every instructor is a frustrated actor trying to get out.” I definitely believe that, especially since I did theater for so many years.”

Think Paul’s interests start and stop with technology education? Think again.

What do you like to do when you’re not at Actifio?

“I have way too many hobbies and interests. My number one passion is wine- I have a very extensive collection of wine. It’s a subject in which I will probably never stop learning things. Other than that, I have over one hundred different types of kites: fighter kites, two-string, and four-string. A lot of times when I want to get away I go camping. I like to camp near an ocean and go kite-flying. I also garden and do theater.”

What is your favorite…

Place You’ve Traveled To:

France. I like outside of Paris because my passion is wine.”

Ice cream flavor:

Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia”

Actifio Tradition:

In the services and support group, we have our own little thing where someone will say “It’s ice cream time” and we’ll all get up and go walk down the street to get some. We have a very distinct rule about meals; as long as there’s food on the table we’re not allowed to talk about work. So because of that, we all know each other’s hobbies and kids.”

Movie:

The Hunt for Red October, but that’s tied with The Goonies.”

Book:

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. I have read that book over two hundred and-something times. And every time I read it I put the date in the inside cover of my hard copy. I was introduced to that book by a 7th grade English teacher, and I have been in love with [science fiction] ever since.”

Gift You’ve Ever Given:

“I have a habit of giving my wife surprise changes around the house. For example, when she was away for a week I completely demolished and redesigned a bathroom. Or other times she’s come back and there’s been a flower garden where there was a bare patch of ground. When it comes to my kids, I’ve given them all a very personal piece of jewelry- something that has some symbolic meaning.”   

Fill in the blank:

I couldn’t live without my:

“Glass of wine at dinner.”

An interesting fact about myself is:

I lived in Australia for four years. Two of my children are Australian-American. We lived just north of Sydney at Freshwater Beach. I went there to help a company put in their education system.”

The three people I’d be alright with being trapped on a deserted island with are:

Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein (scientists and science fiction authors). Then I’d also want someone like Einstein. If I’m going to be trapped on a deserted island I want there to be intellectual conversation.”

Paul Martell is not only a tech educator. He is also a wine connoisseur, an actor, a world-traveler, a reader, a DIY-er, an intellect, a former Australian, a camper, a husband, and a father. Paul is, at heart, a teacher, and it is clear there is much we can learn from him.