Preston Simmons – A Commitment To Community


By Taroue Brooks

What inspired you to become an Information Systems Consultant?

It’s important that I express how much my work stems from a commitment to Community.  I truly am a product of my community and this is most definitely where the inspiration comes from.  More specifically, I’ve always been interested in the way that communities function.  How people come together to be productive and to provide for one another.  To produce value.

One key observation I made is that, from start to finish, to process of productive communities always included quality information.  Information was delivered, processed, received and exchanged.  And I saw that the quality of the systems by which information flowed through the community had a significant impact on the overall quality of the community.  Being a natural lover of information myself, it kind of became a natural progression for me.  

Over time, I’ve learned a lot about the nuts and bolts of Information Systems.  In my journey, I’ve developed solid technical and functional skill sets.  The different technology solutions, methods of administration, and management practices.  However, ultimately, it all goes back to constantly trying to recreate the experience of well a well informed and well-supported community.

I guess that’s what inspired me down this path, and what keeps me motivated to continue delivering the highest quality services.

Preston Simmons

Tell us about your methods. 
When it comes to Information Systems, everything starts as an initiative to either establish or improve some component(s) of a community.  We must always start with the end in mind.

Another important part of my approach is that I start off in a support role.  Regardless of my experience, education, title, or seniority, when I first step into the project, I don’t yet know the “lay of the land”.  What I do know is a good route to get familiar with it, and that is to take on a supportive posture.  

This is where those fundamentals come in handy.  Initially, I set out to do the work that might normally be carried out by a more Jr. role.  But that’s the best place to start.  It allows me to start producing value, immediately.  In the process of doing so, I get to meet everyone and touch just about everything.  Ultimately, I develop a relationship with the overall team and the different components of the project.  I’ve found this to be a much better approach than coming in blind, fumbling around, making a mess, and throwing around my title.

Once I’m up to speed, I not only have the knowledge to make unique and impactful contributions, but I know the team well enough to know how to do so without being disruptive or hindering their contributions as well.
So yes, every project I take on, I like to start from the very bottom.

What kind of training or certifications have you completed?
As an Information Services Consultant, continuous training comes with the territory, because there is always new opportunity and new demand.
I maintain proficiencies in recognized industry standards and methods, regarding Technical Management practices, Service Management practices, Project Management practices, and Leading Vendor Solutions.

I hold current and valid ANSI recognized certifications, such as ITIL and CompTIA Security+.

I’m also certified in Industry Leading Vendor Solutions, such as Microsoft Office 365

Preston Simmons

What type of experience can a client expect to get when working with you?
My Stakeholders can expect a minimum of things when dealing with me.
The first is an increase in morale because when people receive quality support, it not only affects how we carry ourselves but also how we interact with others.

The second is greater security because I insist on operating with a high level of integrity, and my experience is that integrity is the greatest risk mitigation technique I have ever known.

Finally, my clients can expect to experience value, because I understand that my work doesn’t stop at outputs, but rather I am there to help create outcomes.

What advice would you give someone who is considering becoming an Information Services Consultant?
My recommendation is to start by getting involved in community service because my experience is that the principles of community service are at the very core of what we do.  Yes, we develop a lot of technical knowledge, along the way, but I find that people who start here find themselves facing significant limitations, fairly early in their careers.

I have accrued quite a bit of technical, functional, and business knowledge, throughout my journey, but it was all built around a core understanding of the end goal that is a well-supported community.  Information Systems are vital components of any prosperous community.  It has been like this since long before we facilitated these systems within digital environments.  So, it is not the technical skill set that is at the very core of what we do.  It is a commitment to supporting the welfare of a community.

Sometimes, the greatest journeys begin right in our own backyard.

What does a successful project look like to you?
In my experience, a successful project is when people are even more impressed with the results than they were with the plan.
When we deliver quality Information Systems, it turns a mere group of people into a thriving collective that impacts everyone and everything around it.  This experience is like none other; it’s like poetry in motion. 
If the work we do produces this, at any scale, the project becomes successful

Where do you see your industry in the next five years?
I see us heading to a much more distributed, localized structure.  Institutions becoming many small collectives in multiple places, rather that one large group in a single location.  

Business districts are changing, and distributed organizations are quickly becoming a real thing.  The opportunity for the revitalization of local infrastructure is there, but they will need quality Information Systems.
We helped to build out the corporate offices and data centers around the nation, now, as we mature, it’s time to refocus on the communities that these larger institutions were designed to serve.

In the next five years, I think there will be a lot of work to be done, in the SMB, Not for Profit, and County Government Organizations.  Those of us that have only been used to supporting larger corporate environments may need to prepare ourselves for a slightly different culture.  I’ve worked with several SMB organizations and it’s a different beast.  With an increased demand on the horizon, we need to start having those conversations and preparing for the work ahead. 

Preston B. Simmons | ITIL, MCSE, Sec+


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