Shawn Carney: Herding cats, mitigating chaos, managing expectations

A deep dive with Shawn Carney, Head of IT at Spotify.

What do you ACTUALLY do?
I herd cats, mitigate chaos, and help everyone negotiate expectations.

What types of devices do you support?

I support the humans who support the other humans who support the devices. My (brilliant) team supports Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android and all of the infrastructure devices and endpoints.

What’s your favorite piece of tech?

For traveling, I love my Pixelbook. At home, it’s a tie between my Xbox and my bicycle’s di2 electronic shifters.

What tools or apps are most important to your job?

Because I work in a globally distributed organization and team, it’s crucial to stay connected and work together asynchronously.

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

Whether it’s solving technical, organizational or human problems, face to face is my preference. Enabling others to help themselves is even better.

Favorite thing about your IT environment?

Self-service and enabling our employees is built into our DNA, from help-yourself shelves with consumables and peripherals to knowledge base articles that suggest solutions to your problem as you’re logging a ticket.

Thing you’d most like to change about it?

As a company, we’re highly data-driven. As an IT organization we’re lagging a bit behind, so we’re hard at work changing that now.

What’s on your desk?

A sit/stand desk, my 13” MacBook Pro, keyboard and mouse, widescreen monitor, laptop, water bottle, Farrah (my plant), and some stones to keep me grounded. What you don’t see is my travel Pixelbook, my Bose noise cancelling earbuds, and my iced coffee.

What was your proudest professional moment?

Traveling to China last year to speak at the ISMIR conference about diversity and inclusion. It was a great opportunity to connect my passions for tech, music and inclusive practices.

Most cringeworthy request?

Many years ago, someone’s assistant called in a panic because the executives’ laptop wouldn’t boot up. Turns out the docking station was empty (the executive was traveling with it) and the assistant had been trying to power up… an empty dock.

Do you stay hydrated at work?

Absolutely. Did you see the water bottle on my desk?


These days I prefer a well designed GUI, but I’ll keep the CLI in my back pocket JIC.

DIY or turnkey?

Turnkey unless it’s a unique problem that requires a unique solution.

Who would you love to see interviewed here?

Meri Williams, Moo

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