This month on GovDataDownload, we sat down with Brian O’Donnell, North District Manager, State & Local Government and Education (SLED), NetApp, who joined the organization just a few months ago to learn how his past experiences with SLED customers translate to what he’s doing today. Read on to find out more about Brian’s role at NetApp and the organization he is most passionate about working for in his spare time. Spoiler alert: the organization he volunteers with also involves the public sector.

GovDataDownload: You recently came on board to NetApp as District Manager, SLED North. Can you tell us a little about what you’re doing in this role?

Brian O’Donnell: I am responsible for leading the sales and engineering teams that support our SLED customers from Pennsylvania to Maine. My team is responsible for building relationships with SLED customers in this region and helping them accomplish their goals by mapping NetApp solutions to their objectives. Government agencies and educational institutions use data in so many unique ways every day to meet their learning, research or citizen services objectives. Managing, protecting and making data available to them is critical in helping them identify new opportunities and services for their customers. A large part of my job involves understanding how our SLED customers are using data to achieve outcomes and developing solutions tailored to their needs.

GovDataDownload: How have your experiences prior to working at NetApp prepared you for this role? What were you doing before joining NetApp?

Brian O’Donnell:  Prior to NetApp, I worked at Cisco for about five years. I started on the commercial side of the business and then transitioned to the public sector and ran the second largest state account team in the country for Cisco covering the state of New York. Cisco has a broader portfolio of products and a lot of products in unified communications, but the primary goals and objectives of the job are similar. At Cisco I had to gain a solid understanding of the customer objectives, build relationships, and align technologies to help them solve their challenges. It also included supporting customers post-implementation as their needs evolved and changed over time.  It involved partnering with industry leading systems integrators and other business partners to design, deploy and support these solutions. I’m doing similar work today at NetApp but covering a larger set of public sector customers across multiple states and leading a team focused on understanding the needs of thousands of customers from state, local government and education.

GovDataDownload: What do you enjoy the most about working with public sector customers? 

Brian O’Donnell:  Being able to see our solutions impact citizen and student services and day-to-day lives of folks within the community is really what I enjoy the most about working with public sector customers. Government agencies, universities and schools are all using data to change lives everyday. Whether it’s a university using data to do ground breaking research or a state health agency using data to address the opioid crisis in our country, data and critical information is at the center of their ability to meet their mission. NetApp helps empower our customers to change the world with data and use it in meaningful ways to meet both today’s challenges and opportunities with flexibility to prepare for whatever tomorrow brings. What we can do for our public sector customers is exciting and our team is committed to understanding how they use their data and developing solutions to help them maximize its potential.

GovDataDownload: Tell us something we can’t learn from your LinkedIn profile.

Brian O’Donnell:  My real passion is fly fishing, which is something I got into about seven years ago. I enjoyed it so much that I began working with a group called Project Healing Waters, a non-profit dedicated to physical and emotional rehabilitation for disabled active military service and veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.  The organization takes service men and women injured in the line of duty and uses fly fishing as a technique to relax and enjoy the therapy nature provides. We teach them how to cast a fly line, tie flies, and catch fish. It’s pretty remarkable to be able to do something I’m so passionate about while interacting with some of the bravest heroes in the public sector.