Manuel Bernal: Laser focused on driving productivity

A deep dive with Manuel, Head of Technology at Greylock.

What do you ACTUALLY do?

Loaded question given I wear many hats but it really boils down to being laser focused on driving productivity for our customers. That means empowering users with the right apps and services, responding to their needs quickly and efficiently, keeping them informed, secure, proactively finding and resolving issues before anyone notices, and ultimately having IT seen as a trusted Business Partner, not just an Operational function.

What types of devices do you support?

We want the team to be at their most productive, so we support whatever devices they chose to use.

What’s your favorite piece of tech?

My Samsung S9. It’s easy to forget what a powerful resource our smartphones are now. If needed I can do most of my work on it, just not very fast.

What tools or apps are most important to your job?

Do you prefer hands-on, or troubleshooting from afar?

Hands-on for sure. I need to get my hands on things and prefer working in person to communicate (both listening and talking). My guess is they prefer this too.

Favorite thing about your IT environment?

I inherited a pretty well built and architected network infrastructure (thanks to my predecessor)

Thing you’d most like to change about it?

Simplify the shit out of it. Too many on premise services, which I see as a huge opportunity.

What’s on your desk?

Besides my trusty Macbook Pro 13”, external monitor, and hacky NOC dashboard (the one on the right) a combination of essentials such as water bottle, my private library (3 books) to impress passerbys, beer coasters (for water bottle, typically) desk phone (collecting dust), and photo of my beautiful wife (just behind the monitor) and Ollie device (stress reliever). Non-essentials, which show my age, a real calendar, large post-its, and collection of pens/pencils (I’ll be prepared for the big internet outage people).

What was your proudest professional moment?

I guess it would have to be my promotion to IT Director at Vontu. This was over 10 years ago. It’s my proudest moment because I had no idea it was coming, and from a leadership team that took these very seriously. Thanks for making me remember.

Most cringeworthy request?

Not really cringeworthy, but memorable. Back around 2002, when things for startups were a little bleak (see I was working for, no, surviving, at a startup that was going thru its 3rd round of layoffs in 6 months. The IT team got a list of 50 employees to start off-boarding. Being the helpful person I am, I instructed by teammate to give me half the list – “I’ll do last names from A to M, you do the rest”, I suggested. He looked at me wide-eyed and slowly handed me the list and said, “Sure, but do the B’s last, because you are on it”. So I did and eventually off-boarded myself.

Do you stay hydrated at work?

Totally. Still love my water and mix it up with the occasional “Le Croix” berry flavor (mainly to look hip)


GUI. I’m lean towards info that’s visual.

DIY or turnkey?

Depends on many factors (importance, timing, etc) but I lean toward DIY. You learn so much more failing and trying again.

Who would you love to see interviewed here?

Damon Lim of Collective Health.

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