Meet the Aries Team: Jen Pittenger, 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’ve been with Aries for 19 years, starting in November 2002! Prior to Aries, I worked for a startup company called Tilion where I was the Network Administrator responsible for all servers and desktops from the Domain Controllers inward. Before that, I worked for Ziplink Internet (remember dial-up ISPs?) where I started in customer tech support and eventually moved into the IT department for network administration and desktop support.

What have your roles at Aries been?

When I first joined Aries, my role was a combination of Tech Services and IT. I used to spend a lot of time in our server room building out Web Servers, Data Servers and Asynch Servers (although they were known as PDF Builders at the time). During my first year, Aries Systems’ founder Lyndon Holmes casually mentioned he was looking for a backup person to do “undos,” which is a back-end data fix on a small scale, typically to a single manuscript or people record (they were done by the Engineering team at the time). I had SQL experience and loved it so I raised my hand – the rest is history!

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

When I started my previous role at Tilion, I had not yet been exposed to SQL Server. The company bought a new CRM program that used a SQL back-end. Because I was the only Microsoft Administrator at the company, I was responsible for any support. The company sent me to training classes and I started working on earning Microsoft SQL Certifications on my own. I found that I loved being a DBA and even though I wasn’t originally hired to be a DBA, the SQL experience I had helped get me in the door for an interview.

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

Although the work I often do is for Aries’ customers (EM/PM end users), I consider the employees at Aries (especially the members of the Aries Client Services (CS) team) to be my customers! I try to communicate with my colleagues as much as possible to ensure I understand their needs and support them. For example – If I’m going to write a query to get the raw data needed for a report, I want to be sure I know exactly what information they are looking for. Aries also offers opportunities for continued learning and growth, so I take advantage of Udemy courses to keep myself up to date with current technology.

How do you collaborate with other departments within Aries?

I do most of my work for the CS team, although at times I work closely with Quality Engineering (QE), Product Management (PM) and Engineering as well. Communication generally happens through email, slack and zoom meetings.

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

Until recently, I was part of the Aries Operations department, which consisted of IT and DBA. I was responsible for helping to maintain and administer the production servers with DBAs focus on the data servers of course. The Aries Operations team is currently transitioning into the Aries DevOps team, so my position has shifted to the Engineering team. Although my role has evolved to another department, I am still connected with my previous Operations team members, chatting amongst ourselves everyday as DBA duties fall cross-departmentally. I know that at any time, I can go to any one them for assistance if needed. As I continue to adjust to my new role in Engineering, I look forward to working closer with my new team members!

Describe your typical workday.

I generally start my day by checking the Asynch Queue to confirm that jobs aren’t backed up and that all the Asynch Servers are working properly and taking jobs. I also check the overnight Batch and Reaper tasks to verify they completed in a timely manner and without errors. After resolving any issues I find (if any), most of my day will be spent completing tasks assigned to DBA either through NetSuite or JIRA. Of course, there will be meeting sprinkled in from time to time as well.

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

As weird as this might be, I LOVE investigations! When I get a case that involves figuring out how the data ended up in the state it did, I love to dig in try to figure it out. This usually means taking a look at the data itself along with any logs that might be relevant. I also really enjoy writing SQL Queries. Not only does it give me opportunities to improve my T-SQL skills, it also helps me learn more about EM and how the tables relate to the different features.

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

Currently listening to All the Things we Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer. My favorite genre is historical fiction (especially anything related to WWII). One of the reasons I’m looking forward to going back to the office is having more time to listen to audio books. I am not watching anything right now but am looking forward to the next season of Outlander, Cobra Kai and Stranger Things!

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

I have two young boys (14 and 12), so much of my time is spent taking them to activities or just spending time with them in the limited time I have left before they go off to college. We do spend as many weekends as we can at our lake house in Barnstead, NH. This past summer, I got a paddleboard and really enjoyed taking it out on the lake. My oldest son is in scouting, and I do some volunteer work for his Troop as well.