This week we spoke with Erik Brown, Director of Software Development and Network Operations, and Gillian Harlow, RenWeb Portal Product Manager.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
Gillian: I am a lifelong resident of Burleson, Texas, and attended Howard Payne University, where I studied vocal performance. I have three children I adopted out of Texas foster care: a 7-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 10-year old. They definitely keep me on my toes! Before joining RenWeb, I worked in the insurance industry for 13 years.
Erik: I was born in Florida but have lived in Texas for the last 14 years. I graduated from the University of Florida, got married, and moved to Texas all in the same month. (Not recommended!) I met my wife at the University of Florida while I was working on my bachelor’s degree and she her doctorate. We have been married just over 14 years and have one daughter that we adopted from Russia in 2009.
What do you do at RenWeb?
Gillian: I am the Product Manager of RenWeb Portal. I am responsible for client interaction, demonstrations, trainings, public relations and any and all communications pertaining to RenWeb Portal. I also manage several other products for RenWeb, including Donor Connect, Parent Alert and Donate Online.
Erik: My official title is Director of Software Development and Network Operations. My responsibilities are all development activities and support and maintenance of the servers that run RenWeb and the related network and networking components.
Can you tell us a little bit more about what RenWeb Portal is?
Gillian: RenWeb Portal is a browser-based solution that will replace RenWeb Desktop. It provides users access to all of RenWeb’s Administrative and Faculty features from either a PC or Mac using Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Chrome.
Erik: One of the benefits of RenWeb Portal being browser-based is that it means users will not need to download the most current version of RenWeb onto their machines. All updates will happen automatically, which will simplify the process of maintaining RenWeb for school IT staff.
Mac users should be pleased with how Portal will affect their RenWeb experience!
Erik: Yes. Mac users will no longer need Parallels or VMWare to experience RenWeb desktop. They will be able to run Portal from their native web browser. For some schools that can mean a significant savings as they will no longer have to pay for the Parallels license nor the Windows operating system license.
Gillian: We are also thrilled that Portal will be so accessible and easy to use with a modern, user-friendly interface. When our users previewed Portal at the 2012 Power Conference in Anaheim, Calif., they noted very little difference between using RenWeb Portal on a Mac versus a PC.
When will RenWeb Portal be available to RenWeb customers?
Erik: We released a Preview version of RenWeb Portal on December 3, 2012. This Preview is being used by approximately 50 schools that requested to participate in our beta test process. Once we complete the beta testing, we will release the first phase of RenWeb Portal to all of our school customers. We target this release to occur by the end of the first quarter.
What is included in the first phase release?
Gillian: The first phase of RenWeb Portal contains the following areas: Student, Family, Staff, Communication, Report Manager, Security and Configuration. After we complete beta testing and release the first phase to all of our schools, we will continue development on additional feature areas and release those features as the development, testing and documentation are completed. This will take approximately 2 years to recreate in RenWeb Portal all the feature areas offered by RenWeb Desktop.
For our customers in IT, can you share which software development tool was used to develop RenWeb Portal?
Erik: Portal was developed utilizing the Silverlight framework. Silverlight allows us to leverage Microsoft’s .Net platform and gives us the flexibility to provide RenWeb Portal to schools using the major browsers on either a Mac or PC.
Erik, since you work on software development, can you tell us a bit more about other projects in the works?
Erik: We have quite a few things in the works. Library is continuing to be refined as it is being used by more and more schools. We are planning the release of RenWeb Staff HD for the iPad in January which will encompass all of the features in the RenWeb Staff but in a larger format and with a few added features. We have also made some refinements to RenWeb Staff for iPhone which will be released in December. The RenWeb Home app will have a new release in December as well.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us! One last thing: Can you tell us what your favorite thing is about working at RenWeb?
Erik: When I first started at RenWeb someone asked me, “What part of the family are you from?” I thought that was a strange question until I started to experience what they meant. RenWeb is made up of an incredible group of people that are dedicated to their jobs and have a very high expectation of the level of support they provide to our schools. I am amazed every day to see the lengths that RenWeb employees will go to in order to make sure we are taking care of our customers. It’s a pleasure to go to work every day with people that truly love their job and are dedicated to providing the best possible product and world class support. I believe it is this commitment and dedication that separates us from our competition.
Gillian: What I love most about my job at RenWeb are the people that I get to work with every day. It is a blessing to truly enjoy going to work each morning! There are tremendous opportunities for professional growth within the company and I feel as though I learn something new each day. RenWeb strives to create an environment in which employees work in their areas of strength and that allows my role to be an ever-changing and evolving one. I feel both challenged and satisfied with my job every day and that's a great feeling.
This week we spoke with Doug Tucker, a Software Engineer with RenWeb.
If you are interested in learning more, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week we spoke with Ginger Reed, a Project Manager with the RenWeb Team.
Hi Ginger! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family? I am a Texas girl and can’t really imagine living anywhere else. I am blessed with a wonderful husband, Paul, and the two most amazing girls. Molly is 7 and is in first grade. Riley is 3 and enjoys going to preschool where she can be the class clown. We have two dogs that drive me crazy, but I allow them to stay since my girls love their “brothers” so much. What kinds of things do you like to do in your free time? As a mom and wife, the majority of my free time is spent with my girls and husband. We enjoy finding ways to make new memories with our girls. We also enjoy watching and attending baseball and football games. We are big Rangers and Cowboys fans. Also enjoy watching our hometown TCU Horned Frogs – Rose Bowl Champions! What drew you to working for RenWeb? I had an interest in working for RenWeb long before I came onboard. I was drawn to the company because of its wonderful reputation. Individuals I knew within the company always spoke of how much they loved RenWeb. When a position came available that aligned with my previous experience in managing clients and coordinating events, I jumped at the opportunity. I LOVE my job and can’t imagine doing anything else. How did you get involved with managing so many products at RenWeb? Before joining RenWeb I worked for 11 years in sports marketing – 8 years with the Texas Rangers and 3 years in collegiate baseball. While in sports marketing I managed 120+ corporate clients on an annual basis. So I guess you can say I have managed clients and their various needs for awhile now. When I started with RenWeb I managed Parent Alert, Customization Kit and School Site. Currently I am overseeing School Site and RenWeb’s new integrated partner product, Online Application. Both are wonderful and offer our clients innovative solutions to their marketing needs. What are some of the important things schools should consider when thinking about adding a new RenWeb product? I want our schools to see how much less stressful these products can make their job! School Site offers beautiful websites with an easy-to-use content management system & it integrates with your RenWeb database. Online Application offers your school an innovative way of capturing applications online & then syncing them directly into RenWeb. How great is that? Seamless integration with your database to streamline your processes! Can you give us a few examples of how you assisted a school or a school community with a RenWeb product? I love to hear the excitement of customers when they figure out how much School Site or Online Application makes their job easier. I have had schools contact me that are dependent on outside, undependable sources to update and maintain their websites. Then they realize that School Site’s Content Management Solution (CMS) provides them the ability to manage their site independently using a super easy editor that anybody can use. I am looking forward to hearing all the exciting stories from our schools using Online Application once the admission’s season rush is over. As one of the coordinators of the Power Conference, what is something you are looking forward to at this year’s conference? I am thrilled that we are having our 2011 Power Conference in Orlando! The Power Conference is an awesome opportunity for us to put faces with names of our clients and for us to learn more about them. For our clients it gives them the opportunity to really dive into various areas of RenWeb to learn how it can better their students, faculty and campus. Here is my shameless plug – I encourage everyone to learn more about the Power Conference by going to powerconference.renweb.com. See ya in Orlando! What is your favorite thing about working at RenWeb? I love the family-friendly atmosphere. I feel that our organization is truly a family – from my coworkers to our clients.
If you are interested in learning more about the products Ginger mentioned in this post, feel free to email us at email@example.com.
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