Arrogant admin exposed by rogue routers

A brash IT pro lands a job as a senior network admin, but soon his errors cause problems for the top execs

Not that long ago in an enterprise not very far away, I had the displeasure of working with an IT person we will call Eric. For a couple of years, we worked side by side on the desktop support team for the North American world headquarters of this company.

Self-confidence was never a problem for this brash, arrogant young man. More than once, he had been reported to HR for behavior that employees are warned about in those harassment prevention seminars. He was also a compulsive know-it-all. Cooking a steak? His recipe was better than yours. Working out? His routine was better. Trying to fix an issue on a user PC? His solution was best.

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Somewhere along the way, he picked up an entry-level networking certification, which he immediately felt gave him the know-all, be-all status of networking god. When the position for senior network admin for North American operations became available, of course he applied. Eric's swagger and self-confidence as he bluffed his way through the interview must have appealed to the director of IT -- or perhaps there were no other qualified applicants. Somehow, the stars aligned and Eric got the job.

Eric's predecessor had done an excellent job designing and maintaining the network, so there wasn't much to do in his new role other than routine tasks an intoxicated one-eyed monkey could carry off in his sleep. Then the day came when Eric was assigned a real project that required real networking knowledge to carry out.

There were certain areas in the building where the corporate Wi-Fi signal was a little weak, so Eric was tasked with finding a workable solution to the problem while staying within a $5,000 budget. "I know exactly what we can do about that, and we don't even need $5,000!" he bragged.

A week later, I had just sat down for lunch when the phone rang. It was the administrative assistant for the CEO, having a bird because the CEO couldn't get to any of his network resources: no email, no printers, no network drives, no Internet -- nothing. I went running to the executive floor to see what was going on.

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