Interview: 5 minutes with ... Steve Mariano

Steve Mariano, IT manager, eBay Australia and New Zealand.

What were your childhood ambitions?As a child I always wanted to be a special detective or special agent. I've always been enamoured with all the cool gadgets television, movie, and comic-strip detectives had. As I grew older I was taken with Bond, James Bond, as he had the gadgets and the girls.

In my career I've managed to surround myself with gadgets, but thankfully my job isn't as dangerous as Bond's.

What was your first job?

Like most students my first job was at McDonalds, flipping burgers.

How did you get into IT?

I started doing various work experience jobs in the technology sector both during and after school. By the time I'd done my HSC I knew what I wanted to do and went straight into tertiary studies in technology.

What does your current position involve?My role involves managing eBay Australia's IT requirements, planning and implementation of new technology structure, supporting LAN and WAN, IT auditing, backup strategies and support, virus support, and NT administration and licensing requirements. These are just some of the things my role entails.

What projects and issues are you working on at the moment?I'm working on a new file server, the implementation of a backup library and UPS. I just recently completed installation of new LAN switches, IIS Baystack Boxes, and a firewall restructure.

What is the most challenging part of your job?The most trying part of my job is definitely trying to please everyone. I've decided that it's impossible, so I just try to please the majority.

How many IT professionals make up your team?Just one (a very good one).

What is the most pressing issue you face as IT manager?Being IT manager for Australia's leading online marketplace involves constant pressure. I'm constantly juggling and can't afford to drop any balls. For most businesses today a well functioning IT system is very important - for a dotcom company it's absolutely crucial as it's the bones of the business and the primary tool for both employees and members.

Briefly describe your average week:My average week usually involves providing support to all Australian staff, backing up critical data, monitoring the Internet connection, equipment purchasing, liaising with our parent eBay in the US, updating security, services and patches on systems, virus support, and troubleshooting hardware and software issues.

If you could walk in the shoes of any other IT professional, who would it be and why?It would be Bill Gates as he has achieved so much and dominates a large portion of the market. I really admire someone who has come from nothing to monster big.

What is your favourite IT gadget?My favourite IT gadget that I own would have to be my Pocket PC with its cordless keyboard and cordless mouse.

If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be?Being able to work at home, and not having to get up at really crazy times such as 4 am. It's hard being at your best at that time when you're not much of a morning person.

What would you do if you could rule the world for one week?If I could rule the world the first thing I'd do would be to extend weekends. No more Mondayitis! I would, of course, also implement a worldwide compulsory upgrade of all computers and software after two years - thus making every IT manager's job much easier!

What is the most difficult IT decision you have had to make?Gee, I can't really think of one.

What are some likes and dislikes about your job?Likes: I love the team we have at eBay. Everyone is so driven yet still knows how to have fun. It is a fantastic work environment. It's also awesome to work for a dotcom that not only achieves its goals, but surpasses them and all competitors. It's amazing being part of an organisation with such a successful business - especially in this dotcom day and age.

Dislikes: having to wake up really early, I'm a night owl by nature.

What is your company Web strategy?It was really the members that shaped eBay, and they saw it grow organically. Our strategy is about always listening to and working with our members. Now that there are over 42 million of them it's a pretty big job!

Name five people, living or not, you would invite for a dinner party and why?Shakira, let's just say dinner would not be the same. Britney Spears to entertain the kids. Alex Perry to enlighten us with the latest fashion gossip. Bill Gates so we can get all these wonderful IT goodies, and I'd better ask my wife or I'll be in BIG trouble.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you at work?Having to explain things several times and trying to make users understand that the monitor is not broken - it's off the swivel base, that's all.

Do you plan to undertake any additional training courses?Definitely. Technology is so fast tracked you need to keep educating yourself to keep up with the ever changing trends.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?How about owning my own empire?

What do you like to do in your spare time?I like to turn my brain off! Music, movies, dining, dancing, singing, sports and the beach are my favourites.

What is the worst IT disaster you worry about?The worst thing that could happen is to have every single server just collapse.

Where is your ideal holiday location?Italy! I recently went to Italy for my honeymoon and fell in love with the country. Italy is all about food, wine and passion - three of my favourite things.

What is your IT prediction for this year?It's going to be a great year with exciting new technology. Both consumers and businesses are learning some hard lessons about how to best use the Internet. In the long run it's going to make a much smarter resource for all of us.

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