Team Member Spotlight Q&A with Scott Kamish
This week we sat down with Scott Kamish, our QA Manager, for our Team Member Spotlight Q&A. Scott joined the team earlier this year and makes sure that our imPowr product is the best quality it can be for our customers.
1. What is your role at Continual Care Solutions?
My official role at Continual Care Solutions is QA Manager. But as in a lot of other startup or smaller companies, employees tend to wear a lot of hats and perform work in many areas. As the QA Manager, I test software after it is developed, to ensure it is bug and error free by the time it gets deployed to our customers. I also provide direct support to our customers, troubleshoot issues, perform demos to potential customers, create and manage documentation, provide training, support IT, HR, operations, sales, and marketing, act as a customer liaison, identify solutions, as well as contribute to the team in any other capacity as needed.
2. Why did you decide to join the Continual Care Solutions team and what makes it special?
I have held many positions and worked for many companies in my working career, but none have been as rewarding as my job with Continual Care Solutions. Not only are my co-workers a pleasure to work with, but I learn so much, each time I talk to them or am with them. Almost all have held multiple positions within various companies – both not for profit and for profit. They have a lot of experiences and knowledge to share and they all openly do that because of their giving and caring personalities and desire to make the company successful. The main thing that I learned about all of them is they all want to make a difference in the lives of others and are not afraid to do whatever is needed to get the job done. This all makes me look at Continual Care Solutions a little differently than I have at other companies I have worked for – I feel I am part of a “family“ instead of just a team player in a company.
As a company, Continual Care Solutions is very special. They empower me to do what needs to be done and provide me with the tools to do my absolute best. They value and respect our customers and are highly responsive partners with them - working closely with them to jointly implement innovative solutions which draw upon all of the team’s knowledge. They stand by their commitments and will work seemingly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if needed, to take care of what has to be done.
The personal and professional experiences of the company’s employees allow them to place themselves in the shoes of others to understand their needs, frustrations and processes. By understanding customer processes, they know and feel the “pain” of the roadblocks which always tend to come about, and they know how to work with and around those roadblocks to address that frustration, so they can provide a product which enables our customers to do their best work. They are not afraid to step out of the box, out of the status quo. They are willing and open to trying innovative solutions to meet the needs of customers when it makes sense to do so.
It is because of all these reasons as to why I decided to join the team and why it is so special to me. They work the way I have always worked, and they share the same values I have always carried within me, and they want to make a difference in the lives of others like I do. They genuinely care about people and their customers – they follow the “Golden Rule” of doing unto others as they would want others to do unto them. It is visible in the support and partnerships we provide to our customers, the products we create and provide, and the way we treat and respect others.
I am glad I have finally found a company that shares in those values and one for which I am happy to be part of the “family”. I’ve been enjoying work each day and can’t wait to see what the future holds!
3. What is your favorite thing to work on as part of your job?
Being in a startup, employees perform many activities other than their primary responsibilities. Startups also provide their employees lots of opportunities to try new things, which I try take full advantage of. In my current role as the QA Manager, I do a lot of testing. I enjoy testing because when I am done, I know when our product is deployed to our customers, the items I tested can be used by our customers error and bug free. That feeling of accomplishment makes me feel good and is something I enjoy doing. I also enjoy supporting users when they experience issues related to our software, training users on processes, and being able to respond to customer questions and feedback. It is that type of interaction that I like best and when I can provide a solution that meets their needs, it makes me happy and confirms why I joined the company.
4. What is something interesting about yourself?
I have had some interesting and unique experiences in my life. I grew up in Chicago. Starting in grammar school, I oversaw the school’s audio visual and safety patrol teams, taught origami classes, was editor of the school’s newspaper, and was in all the school’s holiday plays. I acted as a teacher’s assistant for 2 years, and even had my desk next to the teacher’s, in front of the class. I had a strong interest in art and submitted a picture I made to a contest for schools. My artwork was one of the finalists and ended up going on display across the country (it was lost somewhere in transition to Dallas, TX). I was the Junior Citizen of the Year runner up for the City of Chicago, while in high school. And, among many other things, I also worked in the school’s chemistry lab creating glass figurines with the glass tubing, was a class officer and was responsible for all of the vending machines and fundraisers in the school, and was the basketball manager for 4 years, even though I am terrible at basketball.
In college, I was part of a team that saved my university over $100,000 a year in energy costs, participated in various groups, and mentored others. During a work study program at Kodak, some of my activities resulted in some changes to the entire company’s IT security, I published an article in the Instrument Society of America’s newsletter, I created some data tables that were used in the published specifications for a manufacturer of some temperature measuring equipment, and I worked in a no-light area and got stuck between two sets of light blocking doors for what seemed like hours until someone “rescued me”. I also came up with and submitted an idea for the manufacturing and distribution of a disposable plastic camera. And, once I was situated within my working career, I worked in a coal plant creating electricity (I couldn’t stop coughing the entire time), served as an Electrical Commissioner for the city of Waukegan, Illinois, created and managed a company’s nationwide customer database management system, managed multiple departments including customer service, inside sales, technical support, and international logistics, and created lots of company processes and policies for departments such as IT, Operations, Human Resources, Facilities, and Sales. And, not to forget to mention, I grew a peanut plant, foot tall lemon and lime trees, a three-foot-tall pine tree, and four six-foot tall avocado trees in my office. It was during this time I traveled around the United States doing training for a software rollout. When I was in Austin, Texas, I took a side trip to visit the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival. It was there that the singer, Taylor Swift, and I had a close encounter... we were both walking and not paying attention to what was in front of us, and we both walked right into each other. Fortunately, no one got hurt (I could just imagine what the media would have said about that... they would have had a field day!) and we just smiled and went on our ways.
But in terms of interesting things about me, I found having strong connections with others occasionally creates some opportunities that are unexpected and unique. One thing I did that most people would never get the opportunity to do is something my uncle, who was a Colonel in the Air Force, was able to arrange for my brother and me - a tour the Strategic Air Command at Offutt Air Force Base just outside of Omaha, Nebraska. The Strategic Air Command is an integral component of managing the United States’ strategic air forces in times of combat. If you ever saw the movie War Games, starring Matthew Broderick, from what I remember, that is exactly like how the Strategic Air Command looked. We sat at a balcony, overseeing an area full of military personnel who were watching computer monitors, large screens on the wall, and other notification systems, monitoring the skies and space for any unannounced or threatening planes, missiles, rockets, or even UFOs. We were treated as VIPs while there and even sat at counters with direct phones to the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (we were warned to not touch those phones). It was a great experience and an opportunity that only a handful of people ever get to do.
Another interesting thing about me which most people would not know about, was my involvement as the main fundraiser for a memorial fund, for a period of 7 years. The trustees of the fund told me without my participation they would have had to close the fund in its 1st year. I brought in a few hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of donations over those 7 years. I received donations for the food, beverages, snacks, and give away items, visits by sports stars and celebrities, not to mention obtaining 99% of the donated items for raffles. Not only did I get the donations, but in many situations my wife and I also had to go pick them up. And, at the fundraising events, either I cooked or had local chefs donate their time to cook the food. Although at times it was frustrating because of the pressure knowing if I didn’t do that, there would be no event and no more fund, because no one else was doing anything, it was actually very fulfilling and brought my family much closer to the fund trustees and the others involved.
5. How has Continual Care Solutions changed since you started there?
It’s hard to believe, but in the nine months I have been working for Continual Care Solutions, the company has grown by 50%. We have more customers, have tightened up some policies and procedures, and have implemented great improvements in sales and product development and testing. We are becoming more efficient and more focused on what needs to be done. Our customers are now starting to really see the benefits of our product. It is an exciting time to be part of Continual Care Solutions and I look forward to each day to see what new things are happening and what is on the horizon.
6. Before working at Continual Care Solutions, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
My first job out of college, I worked for an electric utility. Prior to Continual Care Solutions, that was the most interesting job I ever had. After being hired, I began my career in a graduate rotation program for newly hired engineers, where I was exposed to many areas of the company. I worked in a coal-fueled generator building where we made electricity. After a month, I rotated to a sales office where we managed commercial and industrial accounts and spoke to schools and local groups and organizations about electricity. I then worked in a high rise building in downtown Chicago, in the engineering group for the company, and designed a water deluge system to put out the fires on the coal piles in Coal City, Illinois (the fires start spontaneously). After my stint there, I worked in an energy management group where I did energy studies on buildings and thermal storage, as well as billing analysis. I also was involved in speaker groups and gave tours of the coal plant and the Power House hands-on museum at one of the company’s nuclear generator power plants. I additionally participated in nuclear disaster drills including working at the command center where the news agencies, and top governmental representatives would go in case of a disaster.
After the rotation, I ended up in the energy management group, where I continued to do energy analysis studies. One of the case studies I did resulted in a customer receiving numerous lighting awards for design and efficiencies, an ASHRAE Energy Award (ASHRAE is The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers – they set the standards for all those fields) for the design and energy savings of their thermal storage system, and an ASHRAE Innovation Award. Another study I did helped secure a large thermal storage project for the company. Because of all my work on energy analysis and thermal storage, I not only was invited to be one of the speakers at a National ASHRAE Conference but was also invited to publish an article in their magazine. I was also pulled into a committed to help them re-write their published standards on thermal storage, something they did every 7 years. And, during this time, because of my love for art, I created the picture the company used in their thermal storage advertisements.
From the Energy Management Group, I moved into a few positions and to a few locations as an Account Representative, Account Manager, and Account Executive role, where I was the middleman between the commercial, industrial, and governmental customers and the company, within a territory, a region, a vertical market, or which a certain industry. I handled all aspects of their energy from giving presentations on energy at their company events and groups, to resolving billing issues, obtaining or relocating new sources of electricity, revising their electrical service feeds, coordinating meter reads, troubleshooting their electric issues, performing EMF (Electric Magnetic Field) studies, helping coordinate service restoration when there were outages, leading teams from other states when we had wide-spread outages, and consulting on all energy issues, whether electric or other. I was recognized for attracting and retaining three companies from leaving the State of Illinois. I won numerous awards for the company’s largest all electric project (a mile-long single level shopping mall), the first all-building system validation system, the sale of the company’s largest cogeneration system, and for coordinating and arranging the company’s first joint venture co-generation system with a very large pharmaceutical manufacturing company, at their facility in Arizona, where also I had to go and do some preplanning covertly, so as to not raise property prices once word got out that a new facility was being planned.
The best part of the job was I was able to tour all my customer’s facilities and see how things were made. My favorite customers were the food, chemical, pharmaceutical, and petroleum company key accounts. Almost all were very high profile and had names a lot of people would recognize. My connections got me into the Candy Manufacturing Shows (now known as the Sweets & Snacks Expo) which included candy companies from around the world and where I could taste all kinds of candy (it was like going into a candy store and being able to eat whatever you wanted, for free), food distribution and restaurant shows where manufacturers from around the world showcased their new products and new foods – where you can drink or eat whatever they had to offer, as well as into some related manufacturing, industrial and facility professional groups. Some of the processes I got to see were fascinating and I learned so much about them, like how food and medicine were manufactured, and how candy was made. Others were so unusual that I never would have expected to see what I saw, such as a manufacturer of panko breadcrumbs who electrocuted bread so it would not form any crust – which was wasted product for them.
Other than samples given to me from the brownie, cookie, candy, snack food, or bread companies, or the company stores I had access to (like Brach Candies, Jelly Belly Candies, Keebler, Kraft Foods, Blommers’ Chocolates, etc.), one that my family also got to enjoy was when I had a Six Flags amusement park as a customer. Any time I wanted tickets for my family, all I had to do was ask and we would have tickets waiting for us at the gate. Another benefit I was able to have my family enjoy were the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox baseball games where we had access to our company sky box or the horse racetrack where we had access to a guest suite at. And, because of the great relationship I had with my customers (many of whom I developed friendships with outside of work), my family and I were also invited to their company events like Chicago Bulls basketball games, Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Wolves hockey games, and their company/employee picnics.
Because I established myself as a valued partner to my customers, I not only had access to people at all different levels of their organization (including top management), but some even gave me employee badges so I could come and go as I pleased. My relationship allowed me to do things like help them when they needed it, obtain consultants and experts for them on all topics whether energy related or not, and even allowed me to do things like I did for Borden Foods, where I proposed a new product and packaging for them as a way to reduce scrap (years after I left the company, Borden did come out with an almost identical product) and increase revenues. In return, other than purchasing electricity from our company, my customers did beta testing for us, provided testimonials, case studies, allowed us to use their facility when needed, and worked with us in partnership.
Being able to see so many processes and products “behind the scenes” – and getting to meet with and speak with the people who thought them up, designed and implemented them, and who worked them, made this the most interesting experience I ever had before coming to Continual Care Solutions.
7. What is on your bucket list?
Having a bucket list is really something I have never had. I have been fortunate and have been able to do the things I have wanted to do, get the things I feel I need, and have a loving and caring family and group of close friends who we treat like family. If I had to have something on a bucket list, maybe it would include some travel to somewhere exotic or to invent a new product and get a patent on it. But other than that, for right now, there is really nothing special I would put into a bucket list.
8. What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I like to spend time with my wife and family and my two granddaughters. We like to travel, entertain at home, and be with friends and other family. When we are at home, I like to cook, bake, garden, do all kinds of art projects including drawings, paintings, sculpture, and do arts and crafts. I also do work around the house doing little electrical, carpentry, plumbing, landscaping, and painting projects.
I have always liked anything related to the arts - whether paintings, sculpture, wood carvings, or musicals, plays, and productions. In college, I won a photography contest, when I did my work study at Eastman Kodak (my brother thinks he submitted the winning photograph, but I was actually the winner). And, since then, I have been continuing to do art-related projects with my kids and grandkids. Cooking wise, I like to try new foods, cook Chinese foods (my family signed me up for a Chef Experience at Benihana Restaurant where I learned the art of hibachi cooking, and cooked two meals under the watchful eyes of a Master Hibachi Chef), experiment grilling, smoking, and barbequing food, and baking breads. My new “toy”, that I just got for my birthday, is a wood pellet smoker on which I have already smoked salmon, two types of pork ribs, a beef brisket, and pork belly. For gardening, I used to have a garden in my backyard at home with tomato and cucumber plants on trellises, but now, I have an Aero Garden inside my home. Aero Gardens are hydroponic gardens where plants grow in nutrient rich water. I have grown tomatoes, eggplant, herbs (basil, sage, savory, spearmint, chives, cilantro, parsley, and oregano), beans and peas, and flowers. Hydroponic gardens are the best kind of garden to have – there is no dirt, and the weather has no impact on the plants (they yield year-round inside the house or office).
9. Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
I don’t really have one particular best place I’ve traveled to in terms of locations, but I do have two of the best trips I’ve taken. These were a cruise to the Mediterranean with my wife, and a trip to Germany and France with my daughter. It’s funny, for the longest time, I never had an interest traveling outside of the country. Yes, I had gone on cruises to Alaska (where I flew onto a glacier by helicopter and hiked the glacier with my family), Mexico (where we stayed in resorts and visited all kinds of sites), the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Hawaii, Bermuda, and multiple islands in the eastern and western Pacific, and I had also gone to Canada, and some places in South America. I had even gone to the Republic of Kiribati. But these were not the same to me as going “out of the country”. None of these compared to when I went on a Mediterranean cruise and to Germany and France, a few years ago.
My first European trip was when I traveled to Germany and France with my daughter, accompanying her when she was on a business trip. In Germany, we traveled to Cologne, Frankfurt, Kemnath, Nuremberg, and other cities – we drove around and toured castles, visited the Lindt Chocolate factory, saw museums, drove on the Auto Bahn, visited some small towns and walked around, tried new foods, and ate and toured around with locals that she knew from work. We then travelled to France and went on a bullet train to one of her work locations. We toured a few cities in France, including a small fishing town whose buildings and stores are all located within an ancient medieval city. We toured all around Paris, visited the Versailles Palace, Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, castles, medieval areas, Cathedrals, factories, and did lots of walking.
For my Mediterranean cruise, my wife and I flew to Barcelona a few days before the cruise began. We were able to travel around the city including getting a private guide and touring the famous sites like Sagrada Familia, the Picasso museum, Casa Batllo, Montjuic, Park Guell, La Pedrera, Port Olimpic, the Gothic Quarter, La Rambla, Placa Catalunya, Barcelona Cathedral, the Santa Maria del Mar Basilica, the Christopher Columbus statue, and the Boqueria Market. We then boarded our ship and cruised around Italy, spending a few days in Valencia (where we took a cooking class, bought our food in a large market, and learned to make paella). Upon returning to the ship, we were treated to a private tour of the galley and a private dinner by the ship’s captain and head chef. We also visited Florence (where Pinocchio was created and where we connected with and had lunch with the owner of a leather company), saw Rome (where we visited the Parthenon, Colosseum, Vatican, Trevi Fountain, museums, and Basilicas), stopped in Croatia, Malta, and Montenegro (where we visited sites where movies were filmed, the beaches, and did general walking tours ).
And we finished our trip with a few days in Venice, where we took gondola rides, stayed at the Rialto Hotel next to the Rialto Bridge at the Grand Canal, toured Doge’s Place, St. Marks’ Basilica, St. Mark’s Square, visited Murano to watch glass blowing, the Lladro factory to see how Lladro statues are made, Venice Bay, and many other locations.
On the cruise ship we met and became good friends with someone who, if you didn’t know better, was just like a long lost sister to my wife – who lived in the same area my wife grew up in, and had the same personality, mannerisms, and same values as my wife. My wife and her continue to talk and we have made some future plans to visit one another. We also met a family that owned a vineyard, who we stayed in touch with for a few years, and many other amazing people. The trip was the best cruise we had ever taken – we met amazing people (and developed a lifelong friend), saw amazing sites, and ate all kinds of amazing foods.
These two trips were the best trips I have ever been on – I would recommend them to everyone. They were nothing like I ever could have anticipated and will be hard to ever top.
10. Where is your favorite place to eat?
A quick and simple answer to where my favorite place to eat is, is that I really don’t have a favorite place to eat – I just like to eat. I like to try new restaurants from all cultures and ethnicities. I like to try new foods, foods from around the country, and foods from around the world. At home, I like to cook and bake. My favorites are using my grill and smoker to BBQ, grill, and smoke seafood and meat products using both hot and cold techniques (I just received a new wood pellet smoker for my upcoming birthday – to replace the charcoal offset smoker I have been using), cooking Chinese foods, making sushi, baking breads, and experimenting with various combinations of spices and types of foods. In the near future, I plan to expand working with the smoking of foods and baking. And now that I have two grandchildren, I plan to teach them and hope to pass along my cooking passions to them.