At Zyxel, we believe that our employees are the primary source of our success. We recognize their hard work to achieve the company's goals. We form a positive workplace culture where we recognize our team members and highlight their efforts.
This quarter we would like to turn the spotlight on our team member Erik Jochums, Assistant Manager of the Broadband Support Engineering team at Zyxel. Erik has been working at Zyxel for 19 years now. He is well-versed in computer troubleshooting and achieves excellent results. Erik started his career in computers when he joined the US Marines and was trained in computer maintenance.
Q: How did you get started in the industry?
EJ: I've had an affinity for computers since I was a child. I played and even programmed on my dad's TI-99/4a. Eventually, we had PCs and dial-up. I went into the US Marines and trained in computer maintenance. This led me to also train in Banyan-Vines networking, and eventually IPv4. After my honorable discharge, I did a few odd jobs before landing a support role at Zyxel, working with Tino Freiboth. The rest is history.
Q: Describe your current role?
EJ: As the Assistant Manager of Zyxel US Broadband Support Engineering team, I overview engineering assignments to ensure that our ISP customers are supported in a timely manner. I work with engineers as to how we should troubleshoot issues and resolve support matters. I also oversee our SP FAQs at https://zyxel.zendesk.com/hc/en-us as well as manage our file servers and other backend assets that allow customers and their distributors to access the files and resources, they need to get our devices up and running on their networks.
Q: How has your role evolved over time since you’ve been at?
EJ: When I first started at Zyxel we were supporting Prestige DSL modems and gateways, Prestige 300 series Ethernet routers (which eventually morphed into our first ZyWALL products), and even Omni.net ISDN modems. 802.11b wouldn't show up until a year or two later. Eventually, I transitioned from Support to the first Channel Sales team, and then a year or so later into the ZyWALL support engineer, Training Coordinator, lead Engineer, and now Assistant Manager as of 2022, so I've done a lot of things for Zyxel during my career and seen many different sides of the company.
Q: How have you grown professionally with the Zyxel team?
EJ: Working with Zyxel has allowed me to slowly and carefully transition from an entry-level support tech into somebody who has knowledge in several different aspects of IP networking, and who can help guide and manage a team. It has helped me gain insight into how ISPs work, helped me to develop contacts all over the field, and certainly meet some friends along the way.
Q: How would you describe Zyxel's work culture?
EJ: Our culture is an eclectic mix of high-paced but relaxed. The word "family" in corporate culture sounds cliché, but it applies a lot to Zyxel in the ways it matters. When we lost one of our team members suddenly, for example, all of us felt it keenly, and we were there to support each other. We're a tight-knit group, and this helps us maintain our goals without losing empathy.
Q: What is your favorite part of working at Zyxel?
EJ: Besides the people, I love the investigation side of engineering and troubleshooting. It's very fulfilling to find the solution to a problem that has been causing issues, to get devices working to their full capabilities, and to be able to help a customer lower their stress.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
EJ: I'd tell myself to not procrastinate so much on things I was afraid to do and write down EVERYTHING.
Q: What's one thing people don't know about you that they would be surprised to find out?
EJ: I'm a member of a Star Wars costuming group that dresses up as Star Wars characters for charity. I can thank Zyxel Networks' Shawn Rogers for pointing me in the right direction.
Q: What advice do you have for prospective Zyxel candidates?
EJ: The field is always changing, so study new technology. Study fiber optics like GPON and XGSPON, fixed WiFi, IPv6, CGNAT, WiFi 6e, and WiFi 7, and any new or emerging Internet technology that you can. It will give you the upper hand for the next few years or longer, especially since new standards are usually built on top of existing standards. Tech's always changing, so you need to adapt to it.
Q: What's your mantra?
EJ: I like Occam's Razor - usually, but not always, the solution with the least amount of elements, or the simplest solution, is the best.