(WACO) – Just like the tools he uses in his job, Jerry McNeal has had to evolve and learn new methods and tasks.
From starting as an illustrator with pens and boards in the 1980s at a Fort Worth defense and aerospace company to now using sophisticated software as a member of Austin’s growing technology sector, McNeal, 52, has to keep up. He is a technical success manager at Bazaarvoice in north Austin where he works with the company’s more than 5,000 global clients on technical issues.
McNeal graduated in 1985 from Texas State Technical College in Waco with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Design and Technical Illustration (now an Associate of Applied Science degree in Visual Communication Technology).
“There are a lot of students that are best suited to go to TSTC because they need to go to work,” McNeal said. “They don’t have the time to invest in going to school for five years. I really do like TSTC. I think it’s a great school and offers a great education.”
Bazaarvoice sets up platforms used for global consumer-generated reviews and content for brands and companies, and it maintains search engine optimization for clients. Social media also plays a role in keeping information relevant to consumers, driving their buying habits.
“It is a very casual place to work,” McNeal said. “It’s much like other technology companies that you run into. We are about 12 years old and that is fairly new.”
Bazaarvoice has about 800 employees worldwide. Some of TSTC’s technical programs that fit the company’s mold include software development, computer science, web design and development technology, and digital media design, said Graham Pionkowski, Bazaarvoice’s director of talent acquisition in Austin.
Challenges, risk, striving for innovation and collaboration are some of the qualities Bazaarvoice’s potential and present employees should have besides technical knowledge, Pionkowski said.
“I feel the company is on a path of growth in the coming years,” he said. “It’s important to have a foothold in the talent market and the employer brand to make sure we are filling the organization with the right lifeblood to continue to succeed. We are built around our employees.”
McNeal grew up in Austin and is a graduate of Reagan High School. He heard about TSTC from his brother, who studied aviation maintenance in the early 1980s in Waco.
“When I got out of high school I wasn’t interested in a four-year college at the time,” McNeal said. “I liked working more than I wanted to go to school. That is why I chose to go to TSTC. It allowed me to take all the courses I wanted to take that were of interest. I worked full time when I was going to school.”
He said he had three job offers upon graduation from TSTC. From Fort Worth, McNeal went on to work in College Station and Tennessee before returning to the capital of Texas.
“Names like Google, Facebook, Amazon and well-known brands in the United States and worldwide are setting up shop and expanding in Austin, which has made it more competitive but also welcome because we are getting some of the best talent across the world in this wonderful city,” Pionkowski said.
For more information on Bazaarvoice, go to bazaarvoice.com.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.