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West Michigan Woman Magazine features OST’s Meredith Bronk

3 Jun
Meredith Bronk in West Michigan Woman Magazine

Meredith Bronk, President of OST, featured on the front page of West Michigan Woman Magazine

AUTHENTICITY. You hear the word frequently from Meredith Bronk. Some say she’s often the only woman in the room. Meredith says there are plenty of women in technology; that leadership isn’t about gender; that collaboration at Open Systems Technologies, where she was promoted to president April 1, is so strong no one notices when she is the only woman.

OST is big on authenticity, on being the best at what you do. But employees and families come first. Maybe that’s why OST feels like family—another Meredith word. One of three daughters, she has three daughters: Tori, Talia, and Ainsley; fourteen, twelve, and ten. She and her husband, Kipp, worked together at OST for nine years; since 2007, he’s run the household as a stay-at home dad. It’s about making the choices that work best as a family. “There’s no playbook.”

Meredith and Kipp have a partnership. “I’m modeling to my daughters that we’re equals.” That’s huge. She tells them, “Your dad does things differently than I do.” That’s hard. “I want to be the über everything—wife, mom, employee. Am I giving enough of what it means to be ‘Mom,’ not just a strong woman? Will it ever be enough? Still, she connects. “We have a dinner table game. You talk about your day’s high and low points. We all do it. When I’m gone, I call and say, High/Low.”

Authenticity colors Meredith’s world: “Demonstrating authenticity—deliberately, in a humbling manner.” She thinks about it with her daughters, telling them we don’t always have the answers. She seizes opportunities. She wants to be an influence for young women. “I have the opportunity to teach them every day.” She’s had an opportunity to tell her daughters she didn’t do her best on an exam, because she wasn’t well-prepared. “Sometimes, you won’t do great—but it’s what you do about it.”

Meredith began playing softball as a nine-year-old, and continued through her Alma College years. She’s coached since Tori began playing; she’ll cease when Ainsley stops. It’s a chance to be influential; a message for her daughters. “I love teaching. I love the life lessons we learn from team sports.” At a parents’ meeting each season, Meredith talks about her goals for their daughters—teaching them love and respect for softball, helping them learn and understand. She learned to love the game when her dad coached, and carries the lessons learned: Authority matters. Show respect. Seek to understand. “I apply that in so many areas of life. Figure out what you need to do to be successful.”

The lessons go back to an All-Star game when Meredith, twelve, lost her cool at bat. The umpire ejected her from the game; her dad ejected her from the field. She couldn’t fulfill her pitching role, and her team lost. She let failure affect what she needed to do. “We can’t afford to not be a team.” Teaching that in business is part of leading. OST employees aren’t big on titles and reporting structures; they do what’s needed. Meredith recalls co-founder Dan Behm (former president, now CEO) pulling weeds. “It sets an example. No one is better or worse than anyone else. We all have a role to play.” She’s proud to work with Dan. “He’s authentic. He puts himself out there.” He’s a mentor who was instrumental in her recent graduation.

Meredith grew up in South Bend, Indiana, enjoying Notre Dame and its surroundings. Her father is an alumnus. (She applied there as an undergraduate.) In May, she graduated from the university’s Mendoza College of Business Executive MBA Program. For nearly two years, she spent a weekend monthly on the beloved campus. “So many people sacrificed for me to be able to do this.” Her family was supportive: parents, sisters, husband and daughters, Dan and his wife, Barb. The OST team shared pride in Meredith’s pursuit. “I think part of it was aspirational—inspirational—people wondering, ‘Could I do that?’” Success at Notre Dame was a dream come true. She learned confidence comes in embracing yourself as a leader; knowing you don’t have to have all of the answers, because capable others could help; exploring strengths and gaining from others’ strengths.

She’s authentic. “I’m humbled by the fact I’ve been given certain gifts and talents.” Meredith wonders whether she does them justice. During a conference, she thought a conversation was missing the boat and said so. “As a woman, you have to challenge the absurdity of what you see around you, in a respectful way.” There’s a desire to see everyone do better. Meredith strives to maximize her talents, and help others improve. She welcomes those who help her, calling on folks who tell her if she’s getting it wrong. She advises, “Be who you are, all of the time.” OST has grown substantially, but remains “who we are.” There’s trust here. Dan, Jim VanderMey (chief innovation officer and cofounder), and Meredith have run OST for sixteen years. Jim is the visionary—“chief geek.” Dan knows sales. Meredith “gets it done.” Everyone has weaknesses, but they leverage each other’s strengths. Shortly after Meredith’s promotion was announced, an application development team leader asked if she was nervous. “Of course! I have a responsibility every day to one hundred fifty families. Am I ready? Yes. Am I confident? Yes. Am I excited? Yes. Am I nervous? Yes. All of these are true.”

Meredith enjoys talking about being a leader first and woman second. Drawing girls into technology is big. Other strong women in technology usually represent more typical leaders; Meredith encourages girls to explore their passions, to pursue them wildly. She talks of problem-solving, working with people, empathy, analysis. She wants to lose stereotypes and see more innovation—getting that female Steve Jobs. “It takes a societal change that’s only just begun.”

She wants to empower girls. “I have a responsibility to further movement, to encourage their passion.” The unwitting, not unwilling face of a movement. “As a female technology leader, you have an opportunity to spur a movement—to be a face that represents possibility. You can’t be what you can’t see. Create the idea.” She asks, “Where are you getting your influences?” and “Do we use influences for good?” With power comes great responsibility. And for that, she’s grateful.

“Gratitude is one of the biggest gifts you give.” Meredith thanks Kipp for his role in their home, and when he does things. He does the same with her. “Satisfaction from gratitude is powerful.” She’s grateful for what she has, and never stops teaching and modeling gratitude. “I have been blessed beyond belief.”

Which leads to a favorite phrase: “I’m spoiled, but I’m gratefully spoiled.” Spoiled—but not rotten! When her girls “throw it back,” saying, “We’re spoiled— but not rotten,” Meredith doesn’t mind. “They’re modeling behavior.”

With authenticity.

—–

By Amy L. Charles, West Michigan Woman Magazine

OST London: Open for Business

17 Feb
ost, london, office

OST London

After many nights dreaming of fish ‘n chips and pints of Boddington Ale we have established an official location in the United Kingdom!

On December 1st, 2013, we decided it was time to take a trip (one-way) at the request of one of our multi-national clients and open up shop.

Although expanding into another country has its difficulties – from opening a limited corporation, to creating distribution channels for re-selling HP, Cisco and Dell products – the expansion into London is a move we’ve been planning for the past two years.

At OST London we offer everything from managed IT services, data center solutions, architecting, virtual desktop infrastructure, cloud design services to even hardware reselling. We have also recently become an authorized reseller for HP, Cisco and Dell in the UK. We’ve just completed our first order and it looks like another is not far behind!

Dan Behm, President of OST, believes that “having a global presence will make OST even more desirable to our existing enterprise accounts, and it may be a part of what attracts new multi-national companies to do business with us.”

We’re hopeful the next 12-18 months will be a blast – from the English Breakfasts and rides on the London Eye to the anticipated $10 million in revenue.

Above all, however, what makes this such a neat experience is being able to bring our unique culture with us – one that values its employees and their families first. As Dan always says, “If our focus is on our people first, then we get the kind of people who focus on our clients. Then the rest comes.”

If you’re ever in the area, stop by. We’d love to chat and have coff.., wait, I mean tea. See, we’re learning?

Our office is just southeast of Robin Hood Gardens and just north of the River Thames, at 1 Paul Julius Close, Blackwell Yard, Blackwell Way E14 2EH.

We are really excited about this expansion and look forward to doing what we do best! #WeLoveThisStuff

Never Get Too Big for the Little Things

6 Jun

By Jeremy Wise, Managing Consultant at Open Systems Technologies – May, 2013

Most high school students start their working life with a fast food job or stacking boxes at a grocery store.  My first employment was as a software developer.  I thought I was pretty cool for a high school sophomore.  Then I showed up for my first day of work.  I cleaned the bathroom and mowed the lawn.  I was pretty ticked. I thought I was coming in to sit in an air conditioned room and write code all afternoon and I wind up cleaning a toilet and mowing a lawn in dress clothes in the mid-summer heat.But I learned something once my pride cooled down a bit.  Every business has jobs that have to be done if it is to run successfully.  Bathrooms need to be cleaned; trash needs to go out; the lawn must be mowed.  As a company grows, those jobs are quickly handed off to service providers who are all too happy to make money doing what others are too busy or good to do themselves. That experience taught me, though, that I’m never too good to do what needs to be done.  If there’s paper towel on the bathroom floor, it’s worth the time to pick it up.  If the trash can is overflowing, I can bag it up and take it to the dumpster.  The little things say something about an organization.  A clean, orderly bathroom leaves employees and customers feeling like they’ll be taken care of.  Overflowing trash says no one cared enough to remove the eye sore.Maybe it is someone else’s job.  But never become so important or wealthy that you can’t step in and help where help is needed.  An employee watching a CEO take a bag of trash to the dumpster feels a bit better about helping the company day in and day out.  A customer notices trash along your walkway that no one has removed.Manage the big things.  Make tough decisions.  But never pass by a chance to take care of the little things.  They matter, too.

This article originally appeared on Jeremy’s personal blog, nerdtoleader.com, where he writes about his lessons learned in IT field.

Jeremy Wise, Managing Consultant at OST

Jeremy Wise, Managing Consultant at OST

Jeremy Wise, a Greenville, Michigan native, has invested over twenty years in software development and business consulting. With a knack for high-quality software and a passion for helping businesses operate more efficiently, Jeremy is currently employed with Open Systems Technologies (OST) and is constantly spinning off new web ideas with a mission to help businesses across Michigan leverage computing horsepower to reduce cost, improve customer retention, and compete effectively in the twenty-first century.

OST’s Karl Sanford featured on Mashable

28 May

Time Lapse Shows 9 Months of Curiosity’s Mars Mission in 1 Minute

BY KATE SOMMERS-DAWES

NASA’s Curiosity rover, the 1-ton mobile laboratory that’s been tooling around Mars since August 2012, has sent tens of thousands of images of the remote planet back to Earth. Now, thanks to one YouTube  user, you can see nine months’ worth of those photos in just over a minute.


In what he claims is his first attempt at the time-lapse process, Karl Sanford has compiled raw images from Curiosity’s mission, creating a stunning visual chronicle of the rover’s movements on Mars. He  even posted the code he used to create the video on GitHub.To assemble the time lapse, Sanford used images taken by Curiosity’s Front Hazard Avoidance Cameras, or Front Hazcams, which were snapped from Sol 0 to Sol 281. (Sol is the term used to refer to a  Martian day.) The resulting video covers some nine Earth-months of the rover’s data-gathering mission on Mars.

As each sol begins, NASA scientists play a different “rover wake-up song” to usher in a new day. On Sol 5, for instance, engineers blasted Wagner’s portentous “Ride of the Valkyries” while on Sol 27, “Stronger” by Kanye West was deemed a more appropriate melody. To get the full Mars experience, we suggest you queue up one of the tunes while you watch the rover at work in the video, above. The full playlist, categorized by sol, is visible here.

Curiosity, an avid Twitter user, even tweeted Sanford’s video to its 1.3 million followers:

If you’re wondering what, exactly, Curiosity is doing on Mars, Avi Okon, lead hardware engineer for the rover’s drill, explains the mechanics of gathering samples on the planet’s surface in this video.

The rover itself is the result of NASA’s $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission, which is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech in Pasadena, Calif.

SEE ALSO: Stunning Mars Panoramas Show Curiosity Rover at Work

Launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Nov. 26, 2011, Curiosity successfully landed in the Red Planet’s Gale Crater on Aug. 6, 2012 UTC. The rover’s radioisotope thermoelectric power-generator, supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy, produces electricity for its journey on the planet’s surface. Drawing from that long-lasting energy source, Curiosity is expected to be operational for at least a full Mars year, or 687 Earth days.

The rover has already achieved its chief goal, which was to find out whether Mars could have once sustained microbial life. As determined by the mix of compounds in a recent sample, it could have.

Despite technically completing its mission, Curiosity will stay on the planet gathering data, and continuing to examine our distant neighbor. As Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program told Space.com, “Mars has written its autobiography in the rocks of Gale Crater, and we’ve just started deciphering that story.

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

Karl Sanford, Application Developer at OST

Karl Sanford, Application Developer at OST

Karl Sanford is a thirteen year veteran of the Information Technology field, currently working as an Application Developer for Open Systems Technologies (OST) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During his career, Karl has worked in numerous technology disciplines, including: networking, infrastructure, administration, support, business intelligence, systems analysis, and software development. When he isn’t working or tinkering with new technologies, Karl spends his time with his wife Tovah, and their dogs and cats. You can connect with Karl via LinkedIn or Twitter