Q&A with Jessy Schmit, ESnet’s Network Engineering Group Lead!

Jessy Schmit came to ESnet from Pilot Fiber in New York, NY, where for the last six years, she was the Senior Manager of Network Operations and Support. Before Pilot Fiber, Jessy worked at a creative advertising agency and spent several years in the arts as a performer and director. Her background includes strategic leadership in marketing, customer experience, design, and technology. 

Schmit recently earned her Master’s Degree in Technology Management from New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. 

Originally from Seattle, she currently resides in Brooklyn and spent seven years in the San Francisco Bay Area getting her undergraduate degree. She looks forward to reconnecting with her West Coast roots at ESnet.  

Question 1: What brought you to ESnet?

I had the opportunity to work with Jay Stewart at my last company, his recommendation and an instant connection to the people I met during the interview process made the decision a no-brainer.  ESnet’s mission and values are something I can really get behind!

Question 2: What is the most exciting thing in your field right now?

I nerd out on customer experience and process improvements, so I am excited about the modernization of IT back office, technical support, and self-service for engineering organizations. Increasing automation strategically without sacrificing the beneficial human elements of customer and end-user support can speed execution and ease the burden on engineering and support teams. Network automations can also reduce error and improve availability and resilience. In other sectors, specifically healthcare, we’re seeing how self-service, increased resiliency and the improved application of technology can make people feel more connected to their provider or service.  

Question 3: What excites you most about your role?

The people! The candid and thoughtful approach to questions and discussion was really refreshing during my interview process. And now I have the opportunity to work beside those totally awesome ESnet folks everyday and they’ve surpassed my expectations. I am excited to continue collaborating with such a talented and dedicated team of performers across the organization and learning all I can in my new environment. Working to further such a worthy mission makes it pretty easy to feel passionate about my new job.

Question 4: What challenges/opportunities are you looking forward to tackling?

I’m excited to figure out what motivates my team. I’ve found that what drives an engineer is wildly different from what motivates an accountant or a professor or chef (or any other role). Creating an environment where everyone feels supported and enabled to perform exemplary work that betters the larger organizational goals but also, ideally, their own development goals, is a focus for me.  

Question 5: How do you feel your past experience will transfer to your role at ESnet?

Looking at the typical pedigree of a team lead in technology or science, the benefits of a background in the arts might not be immediately obvious. While traditional technical skills may get a candidate in the door, it’s really the interpersonal and communication skills that allow them to thrive in their role. Entering the realm of technology and science from another discipline provides me with a unique perspective that can add diversity to the viewpoints of the team. My previous role was at a startup ISP in Manhattan and the pace of progress on our network operations and engineering meant I had to be agile, speedy, creative, and responsive – around the clock – to emergencies and customer needs. I’m hopeful the transfer of my work ethic, adaptability, and empathy will allow me to provide individualized support for my team(s) and future customers. 

Question 6: What book, movie, or podcast would you recommend?

I could talk about movies for days, but I’d say “KIMI” for a little tech industry suspense. I would also recommend “The Woman King” for some stellar performances and an inspiring story, and “Severance” (TV show) for a fascinating, and sometimes super funny, dystopian drama.