A short interview with Ben Lesh, KCIT Applications Developer Master

This article is featured courtesy of Jamie Holter, Communications Manager, Department of Information Technology

ben-leshBen Lesh has been with KCIT for about 10 years. He came from a career in the private sector designing and building custom Learning Management and Content Management systems for Fortune 500 companies.  He chose King County IT because he wanted to serve his community and be a part of a larger organization tackling difficult IT problems.  Ben has carved out a bit of a niche for himself as a go-to person for new IT stuff. He even curates a blog …. because he’s pretty much obsessed with all things tech. Here’s Ben’s story as he tells it.

“I enjoy sharing things that inspire and remind us of why we are in IT in the first place. Big concepts, new ideas, ramifications of technology, contemplating the future, that kind of stuff.”

“For example, I recently sent out an email to my team about how Google’s translation engine uses artificial intelligence technology to get pretty close to a working ‘universal translator’.”

“I love being a Mentor in the IT space, and I have always encouraged deep in-depth discussions around topic such as code structure, design patterns, standards, commenting etiquette and various ways to think about problem solving in IT.  Many of our team meetings have been spent on these types of discussions as well.”

“And honestly, seeing my fellow teammates come alive and light up as we talk has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had here in KCIT.”

His comfort and confidence inspired me to ask a different question: what’s a dangerous idea that you want to talk about that people are generally afraid to talk about.

“I’ve found that the most dangerous concept we’ve been facing over the years is not feeling comfortable speaking up and sharing your own opinion with everyone.  We tend to remain isolated and siloed in our work, and getting out of that mindset is incredibly hard.  It takes a concerted effort sometimes to encourage open and respectful dialog.

“Tamara Davis, our IT Services Manager, has been instrumental in helping us bridge that gap. She has structured her team – I am App Dev Team Lead under her – in such a way as to allow these types of discussions to thrive and grow amongst her staff, and she has encouraged a cross-pollination of ideas, skills, and responsibilities so as to reduce the silo effect. This last year has seen some really great improvements on that front.”

Being an expert in IT, I was also curious about the blogs Ben follows.

“That’s a really hard one to pin down. I read a lot! But Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of my favs – I even extended an invitation to my team to go with me to see him in person recently.  We had a blast and we learned a lot!“