About the Author
Our MarkSystems Community User of the Month, Ethan Kelly, is the Database Administrator with Elliott Homes, a single-family builder located in Mississippi that builds on average 240 homes per year. In our interview, Ethan discusses his career path, the impact of COVID on the industry, and shares the best career advice he’s received.
What was your career path to becoming a Database Administrator for Elliott Homes?
I started at Elliott Homes 18 months ago. While I had no prior experience in the home building industry, I joined the company as a data entry assistant. Members of the leadership team took me under their wing, teaching me everything they could about the database and homebuilding. In Jan of 2020 I took up the position of Database Admin. It perfectly matches with what I love doing—data and designing good systems and process, so it’s a great fit.
How do you see your role evolving over the next few years?
With Elliott Homes, we are continually trying to solve and resolve. As a database administrator, your goal is to fix a problem and then move on to the next one. So, if I'm doing my job effectively, I should see fewer and fewer problems until eventually, my role will be unnecessary, which is fantastic and is the end goal.
On top of that, Elliott Homes is a home builder that utilizes technology to build homes. We are transitioning into being a technology company that builds homes. The difference is that we're going to be designing processes that are very dynamic, very powerful, and always results-oriented.
I see my role transitioning from “fix this problem over here” to leading, administering, and developing those systems and processes.
What's the most challenging aspect of your job? What do you do to overcome that challenge?
The most challenging aspect of my job is identifying the root cause of an issue. To overcome that, I constantly must be expanding my knowledge base. I'll never, never stop learning. The more you know, the easier it is to locate what is wrong with something.
When figuring out the root issue, I always apply my knowledge of the MarkSystems database. Most of the problems I deal with are when a salesperson or field manager has an issue, such as not finding a PO, or they can't get a sales case to pull up correctly. My first reaction is always to deal with the specific issue and then figure out if there is something beneath that. Is it with the system or the data behind it? It’s much more of an investigative process than a step by step check list.
How has COVID impacted your current operations?
The way I've seen the industry develop has only been through COVID since I only started six months before the initial lockdown. And at that point, I was just learning the ropes and doing data entry.
But from what I’ve seen, I would say it's been an opportunity to refine systems and processes and it has also taught us that the most agile team is the most successful.
We have continuously seen delays. On the product side, it’s been logistic issues where the products are still overseas. On the people side, crews are out sick. It's a new problem every day, so we must be agile, willing to learn, and look for solutions without creating more problems. And that's where I think our team, and our whole company, has really thrived.
What’s the one MarkSystems’ feature that you or your team can’t live without or helps you be more productive/efficient?
For me, replacement options. The ability to replace a product, in the Materials List with any other product is very crucial to our system setup. Using a replacement option is powerful, dynamic, and probably the most useful feature in MarkSystems.
The ITK dashboard is also great because you can view every PO ever created, deleted, or altered. It is incredibly powerful for your vendors to really know where they stand with payments and upcoming jobs.
Do you have any specific successes you'd like to highlight?
Elliott Homes is continuously focused on creating a place where life gets better and continue to deliver a quality home in spite of any adversity. There are a lot of individual success every day, week, and month that go into meeting this goal, but that’s what I’m most proud of.
What was the best career advice you received?
The best career advice I ever heard sounds so cliché but is so true. And that is, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you do that, you will succeed in life.
Do you have any tips or advice for those entering the home building industry?
As a tip for anyone getting into home building, always look for a solution. Don’t defer an issue for later—always look for a solution to every problem you encounter.
Favorite thing to do outside of work?
Probably play games with my family. We're all very competitive and play different kinds of board games and video games—anything we can to spend time together as a family. Our favorite is probably “Fractured”.
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About the Author