At the age of seventeen, Russ Calderon experienced true adulthood for the first time when his family moved to the United States from their native Costa Rica. “I came here in the summer of 1997 and the temperature was 115 degrees. I grew up in a tropical country and suddenly I was in a desert. From having a lot of friends and being a part of a community, I went on to having none of those. It was a big change,” Calderon says.
Costa Rica, where he grew up without any responsibilities, was a literal paradise for him. In the United States, he had to work hard to avail every opportunity. He started taking ESL (English as a second language) classes, and the first US purchase his family made was a PC.
Calderon began working as an administrative assistant at a behavioral health services organization to support his family financially. “Back then, the office did not have an IT department, but I started to provide basic IT support and soon became the internal IT guy in the branch office,” he says.
This spurred his interest and he enrolled at Collins College in 2003 to obtain a bachelor’s degree in IT. After graduating, he applied to CompuGroup Medical, and has worked there ever since. With five promotions and a master’s degree under his belt, Calderon is currently the vice president of operations and hosted services.
“It has been thirteen years since I joined this company,” he says. “I came in as the IT guy, and today I proudly but humbly oversee everything that has the word IT in it. I got my master’s degree four years ago when I was already an experienced engineer and so was able to achieve a lot. Everything happened at the right time.”
Calderon oversees two core subject matters: client IT and platform and server applications. Under client IT, he is responsible for dispatched services as well as the installation and maintenance of all client end points across collaboration spaces, such as videoconferencing devices in meeting rooms. “While we have all these responsibilities, we also focus on trying to deliver the best service possible not only from a technical standpoint but also from a customer service perspective,” he explains. “We want our stakeholders to know that they can trust us. This is why we have a good reputation and are well respected.”
With the platform and server applications team, he handles the infrastructure for branch offices and data centers. The team creates cloud solutions for the stakeholders and their hosted services, and it provides consulting services as needed for ongoing projects.
Calderon’s team also performs services required for CompuGroup’s business operations. This includes R&D systems, such as source code repositories and testing systems, as well as supporting web servers and database management systems.
“In summary, the spectrum of what we do with the platform and server applications team also has subcategories wrapped around everything, such as information security and regulatory compliance,” Calderon notes. “All these things are embedded into our day-to-day.”
Since 2014, he has been migrating and consolidating services from multiple data centers nationwide, and it all started coming together this year. CompuGroup is currently building its next generation of products, and Calderon’s department plays a vital role as they are the foundation for the firm’s external services.
His team is working on delivering a cloud platform that can be used in a more autonomous way by staff. “This cloud platform provides an improved cloud application management and enables more simplified orchestrations and automation,” he explains. Though the product will be used by the staff, Calderon recognizes its larger impact, as well. “I like to look at these products as something that delivers value to our customers.”
Customers—and staff—of CompuGroup Medical span the globe, and in building new products and delivering services, one of the major challenges Calderon faces is maintaining consistency across cultures. “There are different healthcare systems in different countries and we have to comply with other governments. We are building frameworks so people have the freedom to be productive by innovating and creating new products and services,” he says. “We want to be open minded and synergize with other cultures. We want to give opportunities for changes and adjustments and provide great services so as to retain our customers. The key is to take an analytical approach and listen to the concerns of the staff and customers. I believe our people are our biggest asset, and this not up for debate.”
Calderon says humility is the most important quality in a leader. Coming from a different culture, he understands the need for open communication and the importance of creating a collaborative work environment.
“I think what really sets us apart is that we call this a family,” he says. “This is very powerful; it creates collective intelligence, and that is how culture is created. We understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which not only enables us to be creative and innovative, it also makes us more productive and efficient by matching each person’s capabilities to where they are best.
“The other day, a team member said, ‘When I am with you, I never feel as if you are the boss. I feel like I’m working with someone of my level,’” he recalls. “That’s exactly the experience that I want to create. This sense of equality and inclusion improves our morale and enables us to work towards the same mission.”