October 2017 – Robbie Phillips


Robbie Phillips
Green Bay, WI, USA

What Citrix technologies are most important to your work?

We deliver applications, including line of business applications, through XenApp and utilize NetScaler for a lot of our underlying network functionality. We currently manage about 350 applications hosted across 60 servers which are used by 7,000 users around the world. Like most companies, our top priority is to provide our users with easily accessible, responsive applications that allow them to be as productive as possible. At the time of writing this, we are currently finalizing the design phase of our new Citrix upgrade from XenApp 6.5 to XenApp 7.15 LTSR, which we will start building next week. I’m most excited about simply modernizing the way we deliver applications to our users by utilizing Director, WEM, EDT, MAS and Storefront.

What are the biggest tech challenges in your work environment, and what Citrix-related solutions have you implemented or hope to implement?

WAN latency is always one of our biggest concerns. We are a global manufacturing company with some highly-regulated sanitation requirements, so our workstations are generally thin clients and tablets that can withstand extreme temperatures and environmental conditions like dust and water. Since we have sites all over the world that need to access centrally-located information like our ERP data repositories, it is critical that user experience is the same no matter where a user is in the world. Using XenApp and optimizing traffic through NetScaler has provided our users a great solution regardless of geographical, device, network or application constraints.

You lead the Fox Valley CUGC, which began in February of this year–what’s that experience been like? 

Yes! The Fox Valley CUGC is great and still growing! When I became the administrator of our Citrix environment, I felt like I was on an island. My internal team at work is great, but I didn’t know about any outside resources and I was curious what other companies were doing for solutions to their environment. I figured I couldn’t be the only one that felt this way, and my former Citrix field team came to me with the idea for a local group, but the timing wasn’t possible for me. I was also unfamiliar with the concept of CUGC, so I went to a Milwaukee CUGC meeting with my coworker and Citrix counterpart, and on the two-hour drive home, I was on the phone with our Citrix rep on how to get it started.

Fox Valley CUGC covers a pretty large region and this was by design. There aren’t any big cities in the Northeast Wisconsin region and outside of football, the region is unfortunately not well-known, although a lot of very large organizations are headquartered or have a significant presence here. I really don’t like calling myself “the leader,” since I feel it separates me from all of the great members that make up the Fox Valley CUGC, especially Katie Heidkamp of CUGC HQ, who I feel is the most instrumental to the success of the Fox Valley CUGC. I have such a great level of support and such a great team, I really cannot take any of the credit for the group’s success.

In starting Fox Valley CUGC, my main goal was to try to get all of these different companies, system administrators and users together and provide them with a platform for comradery, technical and non-technical discussions. I envisioned a place for people to come together to discuss their daily challenges, get in touch with people who’ve experienced similar struggles, and learn how to implement solutions. So far, feedback has been tremendously positive and I was blown away by the response and demand. At our first meeting in April, I was overwhelmed and humbled by the turnout. We had close to 60 people there. I had no idea what I was doing at that first meeting but people were willing to help me with name tags, raffle tickets and every other logistical thing I forgot all about. Greg Duescher (formerly of Unidesk) gave a great presentation. I saw and met so many people it was really a great experience.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned so far from the group?

You cannot make everyone happy, but listening to your community is the top priority for someone in a role like mine. I always take the feedback following a meeting very seriously and I try to set future agendas around what went well, what needs to be improved and what sort of topics members want to see covered. I’ve always tried to be an inclusive person in my everyday life and I try to incorporate as much of that as I can for the Fox Valley CUGC.

You’re also involved with the Great Lakes XL meeting coming up, how’s that going?

Yes, I’m very excited about this! I was able to meet the guys from the Madison CUGC and the Chicago CUGC during Synergy this year. It’s been great working with everyone, Greg Tiber from Madison CUGC is leading the charge on this so huge kudos to him for taking on such a role! There’s a lot of brilliant people in these groups and there have been a lot of great ideas on how to pull off this Great Lakes XL. The meeting takes place November 2, 2017 and registration is open!

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

It’s hard to pinpoint, but I’ve been very lucky in having a lot of great leaders and mentors throughout my career that have helped me in more ways than I could ever imagine. The technique I try to practice the most is being humble. I’m surrounded by so many smart and wonderful people every day that I just try to listen and learn as much as I can. This is hard for me because I consider myself a bit of a class clown and I enjoy talking to people, but you learn so much more when you simply listen to others. I also think there’s some truth in the old adage “Do the work nobody else will do.” I see new challenges to overcome every day and this mindset has helped me develop into a very different person than I was just a few years ago. Like I said though, I am lucky to have such a great team and great leaders that have helped me achieve so much more than I ever imagined.

Finally, tell us about your life outside of work–what do you do for fun?

My wife’s name is Morgan and we have a 12 year old son, Preston. We enjoy the great outdoors and one of our favorite family activities is hiking. We recently came back from a week-long trip to Yellowstone. It was our first time out there and is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I also love music and I try to learn as many musical instruments as I can. My current favorites right now are my bass guitar and banjo. In the future, I’d love to learn the mandolin and didgeridoo.

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