New Clayton County IT Director brings experience and goals to position

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Clayton County IT Director Matt Sherman stands in front of the Clayton County Office Building in Elkader, where he works to upgrade, repair, monitor and modernize the county network.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


New Clayton County IT Director Matt Sherman is still moving in, setting up—and getting rid of—equipment and organizing his office space, but that hasn’t stopped his list of goals and ambitions from growing as he takes over a position he plans to remain in for the long haul. 


Getting to this position stemmed from a childhood fascinated by computers and growing up in a family full of technically gifted people. Veering toward IT seemed a likely path for Sherman, who actually blew up his first computer one day while tinkering with it. 


The explosion of the Apple II wasn’t a deterrent, rather it motivated Sherman to figure out what happened and why. From that moment, computers seemed like the logical career path, and throughout high school, he was the “go to guy” when it came to solving computer problems of classmates and friends. 


He said all of it came naturally, and with the always-changing landscape and innovation within IT, it provided an environment of constant learning, something Sherman considered a good fit for what he liked to do. 


Sherman entered college at Kirkwood for computer science, but the major didn’t seem to fit, so he changed to PC technician. He earned a certificate in the program and almost finished a degree in network administration, but the responsibilities of life and starting a family necessitated a transition from college into a job. Since graduating in 2006, Sherman has  worked in the IT field.   


Before becoming the county’s IT director, Sherman worked at Life Line Emergency Vehicles as a server admin, until the economic downturn eliminated the position. Sherman entered the uncertain world of unemployment while his wife Jordan continued to work. It was a stressful couple of months, but through several contacts, Sherman became aware of the position coming open. Having spent the past 15 years in the IT field, he applied. 


Sherman said the job appealed because of its responsibilities, growth potential, financial benefits and retirement options. It was also an opportunity to showcase his experience and implement numerous ideas. 


Sherman officially started the job Aug. 24. As IT director, the main challenge—and primary responsibility—is being in charge of monitoring the entire network for Clayton County. Basically, if it has to do with the internet for county level services and at county buildings, Sherman is involved in some way. 


This includes maintaining the infrastructure, which includes network connectivity, wireless access points, wiring and cameras. Additionally, daily duties often include checking server activity and functionality, making sure emergency services are communicating, upgrading and replacing equipment, maintaining antivirus features and monitoring network security. 


Some of these tasks Sherman has already done in his short time in the position, such as spending a few days helping fix an issue with the E-911 system, replacing several laptops for the secondary roads department and getting card readers up and running for the treasurer’s office. 


This list of responsibilities doesn’t include the several ambitious goals and projects Sherman wants to accomplish as IT director, starting with modernizing aspects of the county network services. One way Sherman wants to do this is by installing help desk ticketing software for county employees, which will make responding to network issues more efficient. He also wants to enhance security by limiting access based on position and responsibilities. 


Sherman’s lengthy list also focuses on centralizing infrastructure into one main site, rather than keeping it spread around between three sites, while building more secure secondary backup systems to prevent total loss should something impact the network, like a natural disaster. 


Another goal of Sherman’s is creating greater mobility, which essentially means county employees are able to get what they need, when and where they need it. Part of this includes providing internet access and other technology to all county sites, which currently doesn’t exist. 


“We have so much technology that we’re trying to get pushed through at different sites. I want to make sure that, whenever anybody goes to one of our sites to do work, they have what they need,” Sherman explained. “I want the secondary road mechanics, if they got a vehicle broken down at a site, to be able to get on the internet and pull down any information they need to pull to get that piece of equipment running.” 


Some of these goals, such as upgrading and modernizing equipment, are being delayed due to supply chain logistics. According to Sherman, acquiring even the basics like access points, which supply wi-fi, have been running six months behind. There has been a similar six-month delay in receiving server components, and even laptops and cabling have been impacted. This issue has slowed the upgrading process currently taking place at county sites like the courthouse and county office building. 


Of course, Sherman has never met a challenge he didn’t enjoy. In fact, it’s the challenges that make the hour-long drive to work worth it. 


“If there weren’t challenges in coming here, what would be the need? There has to be a challenge in order to make the role feel worth it…because you can’t just come in and sit at a desk,” Sherman said. “I need something that needs to be fixed…and I want to be here for that.”


Sherman isn’t shy in his praise of Elkader, expressing that the community is one of the reasons he took the job in the first place. It’s a community full of nice people he is able to interact with daily. It’s not just another large city with nameless faces and people he’ll never know. This is why Sherman sees himself in the position for many years to come. 


“My coming here…is because I want to help. I want to make things better online for the county services,” he said. “I want to make life easier for folks.”

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