Meet the Aries Team: Craig Mack, Senior Database Administrator

Tell us a little about yourself – how long have you been working for Aries? What did you do before joining Aries?

I started working for Aries Systems in the summer of 2005, so I’ve been with the company for a bit over 15 years now (wow, where has the time gone?!). Prior to joining Aries, I worked at Ipswitch, Inc. as a systems developer for 7.5 years. I attended University of Lowell (which became UMASS Lowell while attending) in their Computer Science program. I joined Aries as a Senior Database Administrator and have enjoyed working that position ever since. It’s because of that enjoyment I plan on being a DBA for years to come (well, until retirement anyway).

How have your previous roles helped you in your current position?

I have always worked with computers in some fashion since college, but my role as a systems developer at Ipswitch using Microsoft’s Access database system is what lead me down the path a becoming a full-time DBA. I built their first order entry system in Access from scratch; it was a big improvement from their paper and file cabinet system. I really enjoyed the iterative process of working with users and then banging on the keyboard.

How do you stay up-to-date with customer needs and industry trends?

My customers are internal Aries personnel so I’m constantly chatting or emailing with them. In some situations, I’ve attended meetings with Aries’ external customers to better understand their wants and needs on projects being discussed. As for the industry, I’ll read blogs when time allows and I have attended a few training sessions in past years.

How do you collaborate with other departments within Aries?

Most of my communication is with Aries’ Client Services team via chat and email, though I do work with just about every department within the company (IT, QA, Product Management, Engineering, Finance) be it working a bug, generating reports or just answering questions. Then there’s video conferencing when more of a real-time back and forth is required.

Tell me about your department and the people you work most closely with.

The DBA department is a lean but great group that falls under the umbrella of Operations. Our cubicles are adjacent to one another so there’s a lot of talk over the wall… some of it is even business related! Go figure.

When I first started, there was only one DBA (Jen Pittenger, who is still with Aries today) and for a while it was just the two of us. Of course, Aries was much smaller then as was the amount of data we supported. As Aries grew, the DBA group grew too – adding Mike Flanagan, Bob Menard and Wade Ungaro.

I also have to give praise to Maurice Martini, Aries Director of IT and Operations, for being the great guy and awesome manager that he is! His management style and personality far exceed some of the managers at previous jobs (we’ve all had “that” manager at some point).

While there is obvious overlap in our abilities and job duties, we each have our own strengths in areas (due to different schooling, training, employment, etc.) and are always willing to help one another when asked. We also like to “work” in some fun from time to time!

Describe your typical workday.

“Typical” can be a bit misleading. While most of my time involves scripting of data changes or rolling out features, every request is different and that’s what makes it so enjoyable; like a set of mini puzzles to be solved. Throw in some reporting, meetings and “undos” you have an ever-varying day of work.

For almost 2 years now the Elsevier system migrations from EES/Evise to EM has been a top priority, which entails a fair amount of work in itself. At this point in the game, I’m pretty sure Wade Ungaro could build a site with his eyes closed (he’s a legend you know!)

What do you most enjoy about your job? What do you enjoy most about working for Aries?

Besides the obvious, the groups of people I work with, I have to say the varying day to day work is the most enjoyable since it keeps things from getting mundane. Because Aries is a relatively small company, your input truly does matter, which is something that can get lost in mega corporations’ culture.

What are you currently reading, listening to, or watching?

I don’t read books all that often, though I do keep a copy of Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader where expected (doesn’t everyone?). I did manage to get part way through a book about New England beer but found it much more satisfying to just to visit the local store, grab something off the shelf and pop the top. An experience no book can deliver!

As for music I can listen to just about anything other than grunge, rap (90’s style rap is OK) and opera. I’ve been watching more and more Netflix shows, especially The British series. I’m liking The Mandalorian on Disney+ too. Recently, I’ve been drawn into the world of dash cam videos on YouTube. Between the police chases and bad driver fails, it’s no wonder why flying is the safest mode of transportation. Just sayin’!

Tell me about some of your hobbies/interests outside of work.

I enjoy camping/RVing (my back can’t handle the hard ground these days), hiking, snowmobiling, and travelling to different places. Visiting most of the national parks is high on my list of to do’s. Being a Disney DVC member and annual pass holder, Walt Disney World is usually good for a couple of visits a year.

Having spent my childhood summers on Lake Winnipesaukee boating, fishing and swimming were a big part of how the days were spent. I became pretty decent at water skiing too. You really haven’t jumped a wake until you crossed the path of the Mount Washington. Now that’s a wake! I cannot confirm nor deny the boat may have left the water as well.

I’ve always been a bit competitive when it comes to games and sports (still am to be honest). I use to play a lot of tennis and racquet ball; even grew up with a ping pong table in the house (seems to be a theme there). I recently starting shooting pool in the APA league and let’s just say I won’t be quitting my day job any time soon.