Wired Differently: Matt Gomez Reboots Payroll
The Labor Day weekenders swarmed the trails at Mount Rainier in Washington state. Suddenly, the Disneyland hubbub hushed as the crowds stopped to gawk at several mysterious figures descending from the peak. Strange gear. Strange clothes. Aliens?
The puzzling figures were actually mountaineers, but to the crowd’s credit, at least one of them was, technically, an alien. He was Matt Gomez, an “IT guy” like no other and newest addition to the Payroll Department, Inc. team.
“One thing I’m really good at is explaining complex computer things in a really simple way,” he says.
But that talent alone isn’t what makes Matt a standout in the information technology field. R&B artist Drake is his soul brother. Risotto is his kryptonite. Star Wars is his dogma. His curly locks make Halle Berry jealous. And he absolutely loves being around people, especially if he can help them.
That’s right. He’s the world’s friendliest “IT guy.” Unlike the stereotypically taciturn, antisocial IT technician depicted in pop culture, Matt is chatty, smiles easily, laughs loud, and is supremely socially adroit.
As the Director of IT at PDI, Matt manages things like the phone system, cloud storage, software, upgrades, automations, and more. He likens the role to an engineer because he assesses all the steps processors and clients follow, then tries to make each procedure easier and more efficient.
“I measure success at my job if, at the end of the day, our clients and my co-workers have fewer problems. If they find their jobs easier than the day before; if they’re happier, I’ve succeeded,” he says.
Frequently, he can be found researching and testing for hours on end in order to find the most reliable and compatible systems. Luckily, he adores what might bore other mortals. “Playing with new technology,” he croons, “diagnosing and fixing a problem. Setting up servers. Helping people. Getting code instructions to successfully run a task. It’s so fulfilling. It’s so fun. There’s no better feeling in the world than that!”
Although…mountain climbing nearly ties that feeling. It’s one of the few hobbies that challenges Matt on as many fronts as working in IT. It requires physical strength and endurance, gear, trained techniques, gear, assessing dangers, gear, planning, gear, and more. (If gear was not included in that list, it should be. Matt loves gear.) Subtract from all that a steady supply of oxygen to the lungs and brain while maneuvering at high altitudes.
“I never imagined liking it,” Matt admits. Whenever he saw the harrowing TV documentaries about mountain climbers he cringed seeing their tents battered by gales or their sleeping bags serving as flimsy cocoons against the below-freezing temperatures.
Then came the chance to summit Mount Rainier. Matt adopted the endeavor and soon found himself jumping across bottomless icy crevasses on the peak’s glacial top. One crevasse was so vast and deep, he had to traverse it on a bridge made of three ladders roped together while wearing spiky crampons with harsh wind gusts shoving him sideways.
“You don’t really feel alive until you could die,” he says. “But then the sun rose over the clouds with the tops of other peaks poking through…that’s something you can never put into words.” He reflects a moment, then says, “It’s such a feeling of accomplishment.”
Strangely, successfully crossing impossible divides is at the heart of Matt’s philosophies on all things tech. As he sees it, technology is often designed to bring people together; however, the way it is implemented often results in driving people farther apart. He points to the smartphone as an example, noting, “It was something that was designed to bring us closer together, but in fact, you see people at bars next to each other on their phones.”
If he has any say in the evolution of technology going forward, Matt advocates for dissolving the technological interfaces we need to interact with devices. “I hope it gets out of the way, where you don’t see it or have to stare at it.”
And no matter what technological advances he may introduce into payroll processing, he is devoted to retaining PDI’s trademark human interaction. “You could do payroll with a million other providers but you’re not gonna get that human interaction. Humans as a service (HAAS). That’s where we really shine.”
Certainly seems an odd, downright alien way of thinking for an “IT guy.” Wouldn’t he rather set everyone up on VR headsets and keep them all working remotely…alone? Wouldn’t he rather have more cables than conversations? When confronted with these discrepancies, Matt shrugs with an easy grin, “I’m just wired differently.”