From Shipping to Directing IT Infrastructure: 23 Years at Glidewell Dental
By: Edsel Labao
When I arrived in the United States, it wasn’t my intention to come and work at Glidewell Dental. I was 22 at the time, and had just migrated from the Philippines after receiving a degree in Sports Therapy. By chance, one of my friends who was a manager in one of the departments told me about a job opening in shipping. Since I was looking for new opportunities in America, I went through the interview process, was offered a position, and gladly accepted.
I was hired a week before the company moved to our current Newport Beach location. Because I was at the lab in Orange for a short time, I watched the company transition from a small business, to a much larger one. The first big push happened within the span of a week and it was amazing to watch how fast the company grew over the next year. The move alone provided us the space to take our lab to the next level. Since then, we’ve only continued to grow from there, both in size and how we are pushing the boundaries of dentistry.
Origins of Glidewell’s IT Department
Another big part of our growth involves the new technologies that we are using. It’s incredible to see how much we’ve developed in that respect, as well.
When I first started, there was no IT department at all. I was actually the first person on the Glidewell IT team. While we had a contractor who lived in Atlanta, he only came once every three months to fulfill any issued IT requests. Unfortunately, that meant that when something broke and he was not there, our only option was to wait for him to come back.
I have a bit of a technical background in gaming, so when things started breaking and he was away, I stepped in and began volunteering to fix things. I moved from the Shipping department to Accounting, but after a few months, our CFO decided that it was time to establish a true IT support person. Since I had already helped with previous IT problems, they chose me.
Throughout the years, I’ve noticed a big change in terms of the company’s position when it comes to IT. Back in the past, we only bought computers as needed, which was the major extent of what we were doing in terms of technology.
Over the last eight years, the ways in which we are using technology has grown tremendously. Rather than IT being solely used as a tool, it is now utilized as a true business driver. This has changed a lot of the ways that we operate, as well. We’ve created more job opportunities within our department and hired more IT personnel.
Career Advancement Opportunities
Glidewell is also strong believer in further enhancing the careers of the people who are already with us, which I’m a great example of. Currently, I lead the Infrastructure teams for Glidewell Dental’s Information Technology department, where we globally monitor IT resources like servers, networks, and phones. We also maintain all other internal IT operations, such as our in-house data center and cloud systems. In addition, IT Procurement is also under me. This team handles IT budgeting, contract management, and IT asset lifecycle.
Last year, I formed two other new divisions, Information Security and IT Operations Monitoring. These teams work 24-hours a day to monitor our entire global system in terms of functionality and resolution of any arising problems.
In the technology field, people always jump from business to business. But here, there’s something that retains people a lot longer than they might have anticipated. I honestly believe that our company culture allows for a long career at Glidewell Dental. We really are like a giant family, and everyone is always striving to better themselves alongside one another. That energy of working hard and supporting each other filters through everything that we do.
At the center is Jim Glidewell, who I’ve known for over 20 years now. He’s a phenomenal person to work for and really does love his employees. I personally know him and have been his IT guy for 23 years. Why would I go to another big company and just be a number? He’s never treated us that way, and that’s what has kept me, and so many others, staying for so long. I’m proud to have been a part of our growth in the IT department at Glidewell, and I can’t wait to see, among other developments, how we keep pushing the dental industry forward through the use of new technologies.