Don Swalinski

Occupation: Director of Professional Services, Prolifics

First Car: 1965 Bel Air

Favorite Restaurant: Tijuana Flats (Mexican) and Goodfellas (Pizza) in Orlando

What are three things most people don't know about you?

a). One of my first real jobs was as a school bus driver at the age of 16
b). I was famous for a weekend being on the cover of the Washington Post’s “Living” section about 10 years ago
c). I started college classes a year before actually graduating from high school.

What's been your greatest adventure in life?

Outside of raising a family I’d say my military experience.  I believe it had a strong influence on my life and helped me focus as a young adult.

What's your best childhood memory?

Growing up in western NC my family and I use to go to abandoned mines on the weekends and hunt for gems.  A young boy taking a hammer to a million rocks all day long.  I even found a gem (aquamarine) once that my mother had made into a ring.

If you could have a conversation with a person of your choice, past, present or future, who would that person be and why?

Always a tough question, but I think I’d choose going into the future and speaking with my two daughters when they’re my age to see if I taught them to make good decisions.

What's the hardest thing you've ever done in your life?

In my professional life it would be laying someone off.

Tell us about your favorite hobby.

I think playing with new gadgets is my favorite hobby.  There’s nothing better than getting a new tech toy and spending an hour (or 5) figuring all the cool little features it has.  My latest is a Sonos player.

What are you currently reading? What is your favorite book?

Mines, Miners, and Minerals  OK, so it’s because my uncle wrote it but he’s a really funny guy.

Is there a particular place or thing you want to see?

There are still several places on my list to see but for now I’ll pick the Pyramids in Egypt.

If you could give $10,000 to a charity, what would that charity be and why?

St. Jude’s.  My wife and I have experienced the pain of a child going through health issues and we are always looking for ways to give back.

If you weren't on the professional services career track, what would you be doing?

A software developer.  It’s what I started out to do but found I wasn’t nearly eccentric enough to make it.

What is the path that led you to Professional Services/Consulting?

While working at Oracle as a developer I learned that I had more talent in explaining common sense approaches to our customers than writing code.  My slightly blunt but honest approach resonated with customers and it made me feel as though I was making more of a difference.  “A difference” is what I strive for in anything that I take on.

What advice would you give to a recent graduate who just took a job in professional services?

Regardless of your skill set you must develop the ability to build and maintain solid relationships with your customers.  It will make harder decisions you’ll be faced with at times much easier.  It’s also what makes the good ones great.