40 Under Forty: Adam Hanel, senior network engineer and client service manager, Eide Bailly

2014-02-02T00:15:00Z 2014-02-10T16:40:17Z 40 Under Forty: Adam Hanel, senior network engineer and client service manager, Eide Bailly The Billings Gazette
February 02, 2014 12:15 am

When he got his first computer, Adam Hanel wasn’t content to simply play games or type up his homework. The curious 9-year-old disassembles the machine to see how it worked.

“I had it torn apart, and every part was on the kitchen table. I remember my dad coming home, and when he saw me, he wasn’t happy at all,” Hanel said. “I got a stern talking to, but it worked when I put it all back together.”

That first computer had a 20-megabyte hard drive, ran on a 286 processor and likely used MS DOS as its operating system, Hanel recalls. It’s a dinosaur by today’s standards. But in those days, it provided hours of entertainment for a young boy, and it helped spark an interest in technology that he turned into a career.

Hanel attended two years at Montana State University Billings and finished his degree at Rocky Mountain College. He worked in School District 2’s technology department for seven years, then moved on to Eide Bailly, an accounting and consulting firm, where he is senior network engineer and client service manager.

Working in the fast-changing technology field is often compared to the story of the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” — “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

“You have to keep on top of it. There are a lot of training sessions that our vendors provide,” Hanel said.

One recent training opportunity focused on ransomware, an insidious type of virus that encrypts files on an infected computer. The victim is usually ordered to pay some kind of ransom or the computer’s files will be wiped clean.

What’s the toughest challenge in your business? Being recognized as more than a tax and audit business. I’ve always thought that Eide Bailly Technology Consulting is one of the best-kept secrets in Billings. Spread the word.

What did you learn from that challenge? I’ve learned to not be timid in talking to others about the awesome ‘nerdy’ things we get to work on.

What’s the best business advice you have received? “Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time.” Seems odd, but it was the right advice at the right time.

Who gave you that advice? My dad. I remember him giving me this advice because I was super nervous to meet the CEO of our company as part of my interview process. Before the interview my dad reminded me that our CEO was just a regular guy, even if he had a different set of responsibilities.

Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I’ve always wanted to start an open-air theater that operates on the weekends in Pioneer Park during the summer. Classic movies and food provided farmers-market style from local vendors for all generations in Billings to enjoy.

Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Relationships. Success is all about the relationships. Projects can run ahead or behind budget.

Which living person do you most admire? I most admire my dad. He’s taught me that in life you have to give, not take. He’s set a great example of how to serve our community.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Our two kids.

I’m happiest when… my feet are in the sand or on a mountain top.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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