IT Director and Production Manager, Fuel Quality Services, Inc.
Festival Coordinator, Sets at Sunset
What do you do professionally?
I do two things. Right now, I work as an IT Director and Production Manager for a small family-owned business called Fuel Quality Services, Inc. in Flowery Branch, Georgia. We sell fuel additives, test kits, and microbicides to improve fuel performance and help aid fuel issues. I help manage their IT infrastructure, upgrade their platforms, create technology based solutions, and help them manufacture their additive solutions from start to finish. We are currently moving their business to an online B2C model and I am leading the transition.
I also work as a music festival coordinator of Sets at Sunset, a house and techno festival here in Atlanta, Georgia. As one of Georgia's newest and most innovative music festivals, we have made it our mission to bring together the segmented Atlanta dance music community by providing an unparalleled lake front experience that happens on both water and land.
I also run a radio show in Atlanta showcasing, interviewing, gaming, and tag teaming with DJs/artists all around Atlanta called Spin & Chill. It is a live audio/video stream here in Atlanta. The show is a roughly a 3-hour stream combined with music, games, and interviews. To see how it works, check out some of the latest streams on www.chew.tv/echobreaker. In the last year, my shows have been featured over 20 times on the front page of Chew.TV; we have had over 120,000 minutes watched and over 35,000 views and over 2,000 sessions on my personal website. We just started doing live shows within Atlanta and partnered with Imagine Music Festival and Bullet Music to interview some very large names.
I have worked and showcased material with Imagine Music Festival, Moonshine Music Festival, Bailo, Eddie Gold, Afroacid, Sam Ash Music Store, amongst many others. We are just moving into a new studio location in Flowery Branch, as well as partnering with a multi-million-dollar studio in Atlanta to expand our services and abilities. We are also working on creating a mobile rig for music festivals. We will have more information on this soon.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
I think there are a few facets I enjoy. I enjoy working with my family and helping them achieve their goals while simultaneously working on mine. In terms of Spin & Chill, I think it's watching everyone having a good time on Monday. We get to play music, laugh, and play games and people tune in! It always overjoys me when a DJ has only good things to say about the radio show. In terms of the music festival, I think the most enjoyable part would be the end result of when you sit after a long day of working and you get to watch hundreds of people dancing and enjoying themselves knowing it is the product of an environment that you created yourself.
What is the biggest challenge you face?
The biggest challenge for me is building the right team and time. I will be honest in saying I have spread myself thin, but it's nothing that Duke hasn't trained me for! I just have a little time while I am working a full-time job and working on start-ups that I want to produce income. In the music industry, there are a lot of unreliable people, so I am constantly having to re-evaluate my team and see who fits best. It is hard to find good talent. When I find the good ones though, I try to not let them go.
What sorts of interesting places has your position taken you? Do you have a favorite?
I went to Austin, Texas for SXSW this year by myself just to interact and network. I had an amazing time there. There is a reason that Austin is the live music capital of the world, and it definitely showed that week. I look forward to trying to be a speaker this year.
What is the best professional advice you've received?
I would say, "If you don't build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs." That's been the inspiration for me to leave my job at the investment bank and start working on Spin & Chill and my music festival instead. I just got tired of working on other people's dreams, so I started working on my own. Turn "One Day" into "Day One".
Aside from your current role, what is your dream job?
My dream job would be to make Spin & Chill studios and Sets at Sunset my full-time job. I feel it is heading in the right direction. I just brought on my first investment partner for Sets at Sunset. We are moving Spin & Chill into a studio with better facilities, so I feel we are gaining some traction. We just signed up for next year's Sets at Sunset date, so I am excited to see this idea grow.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love to snowboard, hunt, and be in the outdoors-that is something I want to do more of. But right now, I do what I love, which is go to music festivals, interview amazing artists, and throw excellent shows.
What is the most important thing you learned during your time at Fuqua?
For me, Fuqua taught me how to manage my time effectively, communicate professionally, and better understand team dynamics. I am a huge advocate for how Fuqua sets up teams for assignments. In life and your career you don't really get to choose who you work with. Even when you get to choose your team, they all have their own desires, wants, and needs. To be a good teammate and leader, you must be able to adapt your style to each of their needs and move everyone forward in the right direction.
Who was your favorite professor?
My favorite professor was Scott Dyreng. That man is a rock star. To be honest, I hated and loathed accounting, but Scott made that class exciting and thrilling. I always looked forward to his classes and his insight. It seemed that he cared about each student individually, even though we were in his class for such a short time.
What is your favorite Fuqua memory?
My favorite Fuqua memory is doing camp out for season passes. It was one part party and one part competition. I can't remember another time I was so dedicated to getting season passes for any sport, and I wasn't even a big fan of basketball at the time. My Duke experience turned me into a basketball fan for sure.
Why do you support the Fuqua Annual Fund?
I look at myself and I don't consider myself a typical Duke student, just a kid who worked hard to get where he is today. I was so appreciative that Duke even considered me for their program and accepted me. I felt honored to be under the Duke flag. Since then, my life has been forever changed and has altered course, and I really owe that to my Duke experience.
I support the Fuqua Annual Fund because I want to make sure that Fuqua continues to support diversity and hard workers like me, to inspire others to become whatever they want, to instill creativity, and give people the tools they need to succeed in the real world.
What does Team Fuqua mean to you?
Team Fuqua to me, to simply put it in Coach K terms, means "One Team." Fuqua has consisted of some of the smartest people that I know who also are some of the most supportive people I have met. No matter how far apart we are or how long it has been since we have talked, we still consider each other family. That's what Team Fuqua is all about, and that's what I value most from my Duke experience.