Tech team Tuesday: Sophie Bunce
Senior Systems Architect
Q: Describe your role at SRG Technology.
A: Although I’ve functioned in various roles during my five-plus years at SRG Technology, my primary focus is in Change Management, which includes Build and Release Management (i.e. Website Upgrades). In this “behind-the-scenes” role, I act as a gatekeeper to our Production websites. In addition to managing over 150 website instances, I serve as the administrator of our Team Foundation Server, a system that supports our source code, documents, and work items and our integrated development environment. I’m also a general “go-to” resource for a wide variety of needs, ranging from supporting our development and executive management teams to researching new technologies.
Q: What kind of projects have you been working on? What makes those projects interesting to you?
A: In order to ensure that our customers enjoy the best possible experience, I’ve created automated systems that significantly reduce the cost of managing complex website upgrades. Sometimes a single upgrade can include thousands of changes. This project was highly satisfying because of the dramatic difference it made to the development team and to the accuracy and efficiency of our builds and deployments. It was first implemented in Spring 2012 and has been in daily use ever since.
I have also contributed in the areas of server management, cost analysis, security, and research of various technologies. One of my favorite projects involved analyzing our product’s software architecture and making recommendations that would position us for growth back in 2013 and 2014 because it made a difference. It was a joy to look at the code again last month and see what the development team in Hyderabad did with those recommendations after I moved on to a different project.
Q: What do you feel is your unique contribution to SRGT?
A: The most obvious answer is the automation of our Build and Deployment process. Beyond that, I would say it’s my versatility. I’m not afraid to tackle complex new areas of technology, but I’m also willing to do the small, routine tasks.
Q: What is your favorite part of your work? What is the most challenging?
A: What I enjoy most about this job is the diversity of my responsibilities. One day I am deeply engrossed in a coding project, and the next day I’m helping someone on the development team or researching a new technology.
I get a lot of satisfaction in the pursuit of excellence, in knowing that I’ve done a good job on something even if it’s not something that will be noticed by anyone but me. I enjoy supporting our development team because this gives me a chance to creatively solve problems. Most of all, I appreciate the opportunity to learn, and I’ve learned so much here at SRGT. I work with a very special group of people, and I’m never bored!
My biggest challenge occurred during the year I was both Director of Information Technology and Change Management Lead because of the sheer number and variety of responsibilities that I handled. It was difficult to juggle that many balls especially since I’m a bit of a perfectionist and never like doing a job half-way.
Q: If you won the lottery, what would you do with it?
A: I would keep enough to allow me to serve as a full-time volunteer for one of my favorite charities (and maybe to travel a little), and put the rest into a Foundation or Trust that could wisely give to worthy causes and make a difference to those in need. I would favor organizations that “teach someone to fish” rather than just “giving someone a fish” in order to break cycles of systemic poverty.
Q: What is your favorite hobby?
A: I don’t have just one. I enjoy cooking (sometimes), piano, needlework, travel, volunteering for my favorite charity, counselling, “High Tea,” English literature and having deep conversations with my friends.
Q: What is your favorite book and why?
A: Although I adore the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Dickens, Tolstoy, and Jane Austen, my favorite book is the Bible because it teaches me how to live and contains inexhaustible treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Q: Tell us about your family:
A: My parents were generous people who gave of their time and talents and who continually opened their home and their hearts to our community.
My father was a farmer with a degree in engineering from Georgia Tech. He worked hard every day, and I felt he could fix almost anything. Later in life, he enjoyed making furniture, and he restored the 1887 home that I live in today. He did such a good job that the home was used as a fundraiser for our local historical society. He welcomed my mother’s aunt into our home and cared for her for 29 years as well as opening our home to a foster-daughter.
My mother was a musician with a Masters in Music, who taught voice and piano. When I was growing up, she was president of almost everything in town (Library Board, PTA, Symphony Guild, First Methodist Women), was a Deen Day Smith award recipient, and was recognized as one of the Gracious Ladies of Georgia by Rosalynn Carter. She was the most hospitable person I’ve ever known and treated the least pretentious person the same way she treated the most important ones. She knew how to see the hidden talent in each person she met and knew how to bring out what they could contribute. People loved her for it.
My brother followed in my father’s footsteps by managing the family farm and caring for the land until a back injury made it impossible for him to continue; he is the last of an unbroken line of 150 years of farmers in our family.
Q: Where did you grow up and what makes that place special?
A: When I was growing up, Statesboro, Georgia was still small enough that most people knew each other. There was a real sense of community. Apparently, there still is, because it was recently awarded a one million dollar prize as the third best community in the country to live in!
Growing up in rural Georgia, I’ve also developed a love for the land and an appreciation for the people who grow our food.
Q: What is something unusual about you?
A: I love Panera chocolate chip cookies!