Giving at Now: How colleagues are empowering each other to keep giving back

  • Life at Now
  • Alex Mittell
  • Culture
  • 2020
March 19, 2020

Firefighting is in my bones: My uncle was a volunteer firefighter in the town where I grew up in England, and my father-in-law was a fire chief in the English city of Lancaster. I carry on this family tradition as a volunteer firefighter in my own community—Amherst, New Hampshire. 

For the last three years, I’ve been firefighting while also growing my career at ServiceNow across roles on the DevOps and Solutions Consulting teams. In my current role as a partner solution architect, I provide technical support around various integrations and help our partners make sure they are following best practices. Throughout the intensive firefighter training, my managers and colleagues have provided incredible support so that I can juggle both of these parts of my life.

Firefighting is definitely different from my day job but I enjoy helping people and I’m happy that I get to do that in many ways. I want the firefighting work I do in my community to inspire my children to feel passionate about contributing to the world, just like my family inspired me.

When I began the volunteer firefighter program, I wasn’t sure if I would have enough time and energy because the training requirements are physically draining with a demanding schedule. I completed 350 hours for the initial training over several months. The training was a combination of work in and out of the classroom. It covered everything from ropes and knots to water rescue, radio communication and chain of command, to the complexities of wildland fires. Can you imagine learning all of that while still making sure that ServiceNow is delivering powerful products to our customers? I couldn’t have balanced the two without the support of my manager.

While training as a firefighter, my role at ServiceNow involved a lot of travel to meet with customers—something I loved doing—so my manager, Justin Bogli, worked with me to make sure that I could stay local to my community on nights when I needed to attend firefighter training. One weekend was dedicated to hose blocks—carrying giant hoses full of water to put out simulated fires, learning to climb up the buildings and into windows to learn different angles of attack. That was one of the most physically demanding weekends. 

My teammates were also very understanding and willing to help me cover work commitments when needed. There was one day when I needed to drive 300 miles to a team meeting in New York City, and I needed to be back in time for my training that evening. My teammate, Jerome Bomengo, offered to stay and handle the customer meetings for the team so I could make the long journey back to New Hampshire. I walked in the door one-minute before training began.  I always made sure I could return the favor when possible, it formed a great sense of kinship among us. 

Now that I’m certified, I work on-call as a volunteer firefighter, and my pager goes off whenever there is an incident. I respond to situations like car accidents and medical calls or brush fires and building fires. Our fire crew also hosts community outreach events to engage with residents and raise money for local causes—many of which my ServiceNow teammates have generously supported with donations.

Recently, they helped raise over $2,000 for the New Hampshire 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, an event that honors firefighters who gave their lives on 9/11. The money raised will go to programs led by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, including providing support to the families of fallen firefighters.

Some of the firefighters who rushed into the World Trade Center towers that day climbed dozens of stories with full gear—an incredible feat of physical endurance. In the Memorial Stair Climb, I climbed the equivalent of 110 stories to honor the heroism of the 9/11 firefighters. I thought I would be fit enough to handle it but I had aching calves for about three days afterward. It made me all the more appreciative of the superhuman effort of the 9/11 first responders.

I’m aiming to spend at least 10 years as a volunteer firefighter and I’m grateful that I have such an awesome team of managers and colleagues at ServiceNow who have supported me in giving back to my community. By empowering my volunteerism over the past few years, I know that they have my back. And they know that if there’s ever anything I can do for them, I’ll gladly be there to contribute however I can.


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