There are some people who will tell you, “you can do anything you want to do in life”, and then there are some people who can show you that’s true. Otho Lyon – Director of Support, Public Sector – is one of those people.
For over four years, Otho has been Cloudera’s Director of Support – Public Sector. He leads the charge in the support strategy and execution of our most sensitive and secure government agency clients. Much of his career was spent working in the Public Sector.
Otho will tell you that the work Cloudera is doing is unrivaled.
“If you look at what we do, it’s not just regular technology we’re talking about. We are in a field that is small. AI, Machine Learning, Big Data – that’s not a huge field and you don’t see a lot of people just jump into this. It takes years of preparation to get here. All Clouderans, anyone at this company and in this field, it takes a lot of work to get here.”
And while the road to big data is a long one, Otho’s journey started a bit more bumpy.
Born and raised in a small town called Creedmoor, Otho is candid about his humble beginnings. “The pavement ended right near my house and as you went down the hill to where my grandmother lived, it was all a dirt road.” Living in the south during the post civil rights era, things were different. It was seen and sensed by Otho and his family.
“Living on that dirt road, I always had aspirations for being something bigger and better.”
After college, he spent a couple of years in the US Army then went into his first role as a Math and Science teacher. He shared that, to this day, he still gets past students who run into him and ask, “Mr. Lyon! Do you remember me?” “It’s rewarding to know I made a lasting impact on them”, but his path eventually led him into technology.
He discovered a passion for computers and IT so he went back to school and quickly applied for his first IT role. Though he lacked the necessary skills and experience for the role, he left an impression on the hiring manager, one that would lead him further along on his road to big data.
“It was Gary Butler that took a chance on me. Everyone needs a Gary Butler. You may find someone that isn’t 100% qualified for the position but something will tell you there is something different about that person. That’s what Gary said about me. From there, I stair stepped my way up.”
Building a career in Public Sector technology has come with it’s challenges.
“In Public Sector, there are not a lot of people that look like me.” He’s experienced his fair share of racially fueled comments and attempts at oppression but this self described “pitbull” never backed down. “You can’t falter at the first sign of someone saying something to make you feel less than. No one can make you feel anything, you control that.” It’s the same mentality that led Otho off the dirt road and on to the bigger and better he was searching for.
His path has taken him a long way. It’s taken him so far that he shares with lots of passion and emotion, the same land his ancestors once worked on as slaves, he now owns.
Today, Otho not only leads efforts relating to Public Sector support, he is a member of the EQ Committee.
“I’m extremely proud to work on the EQ Committee. This team has spent hours after their day jobs pouring into this and Cloudera will be proud of what will come out of this.”
He went on to add that there are a lot of good people here that want to see this company succeed in every way, including our continued maturity around our diversity efforts.
Recently, Otho along with Teresa Morris, spent an hour with the US recruiting team sharing insights and perspectives on building a diverse talent pool and broadening our horizons.
“You’d be surprised at the number of people here, both individual and whole teams, that have stepped up to say they want to help out. Recruiting, hiring managers and others.” It shows him and the rest of us that Cloudera truly is committed to making a lasting difference in the efforts to create diversity both in and outside of our workplace.
From the dirt road to bigger and better with big data, Otho is proof that you can create a life you love no matter what challenges arise.