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Meet Mark Holland
For our August Spotlight, we introduce Mark Holland. He’s been with SSAI for about six years. He is part of our North Carolina contingent and is a NC native with a variety of interests and an intriguingly diverse job history!
Where did you grow up and go to school? Raleigh, NC, Millbrook HS, Wake Tech
What summer jobs did you have during high school/college? School Bus Driver, Gas Station Cashier, TV Repair Shop assistant.
What is your current role at SSAI? My current title is Instrumentation Systems Engineer. But I’ve had many titles over the years (Chemist, Assistant Engineer, Engineer, etc.) while doing the same work, because the fact that instruments need maintenance and someone to do it is sometimes forgotten. So, I get whatever title fits the best at the time.
What excites you most about your work? Getting to engineer, design, and build new and innovative instruments for the researchers at EPA.
If you weren’t working in the field you are right now, what other job would you be interested in trying? Tow truck driver. I watch some of these guys on YouTube, and it looks rewarding.
What is your favorite hobby and what got you started on it? I don’t officially have a hobby. When it’s a side business, you can’t call it a hobby any longer. But it’s videography. I mainly shoot events such as weddings, dance recitals, etc.
I began in high school as a self-styled DJ. (That means no training, and very few skills.) Because I’m an electronics guy, I learned all about sound and sound systems. One day I picked up a 35mm camera and found a professional to help me learn about photography. Eventually, I was asked to use someone’s new-fangled “Home Video Camera” to record their son’s wedding. I was hooked. I now had a way to use my photography experience and my sound experience together. I guess I’ve been shooting video since the early 1980’s.
What got you on the path to where you are now? Ninth grade shop class. There were 4 grading periods that year. Each grading period we took a different shop class. I took woodworking, small engine repair, electricity/electronics, and Home Economics. The boys had to take 1 Home Economics class; the girls had to take 1 shop class. Believe me, it was a progressive program for the time! I still use those skills today. Well, I don’t sew or cook, but I took the class...
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? My family. I don’t know how we managed to raise five wonderful young adults. It’s not like we sat around all day worrying about it. I’ve been told many times it’s the example we set. Ok, whatever it was, it worked.
Share something that not many of your colleagues might know about you. Those I work closely with probably know I was once a Firefighter/First Responder. I also taught CPR for the Red Cross.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be and why? If North Carolina wasn’t available, maybe Texas. But right where I am now (NC) is perfect for me. A little further out from the city would be even better.
Please share your favorite go-to self-care tip that has helped you through the past couple of years. Keep busy. My sons and I rebuilt our deck. It was going to be a simple repair, but it turned into a 95% rebuild.
What is something you’d like to accomplish this year? Take some time off. While many people have worked from home these past couple of years, I’ve maintained the same on-site work schedule. I’m ready for a break.
What is your life philosophy? It’s cliché, but Live and Let Live. I won’t force my beliefs on you, and you don’t force your beliefs on me. However, I’ll gladly discuss our differences. I think we can disagree but be civil about it. Just know that I can be as mean as a wild bear if you threaten me, my family, or those close to me.
Who or what inspires you? I suppose my wife. When we get on the same page about a project, it’s a done deal.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Still here, still working. I could retire, but I won’t.
What makes you smile when you’re having a bad day? It’s rare that I have what I’d call a bad day. Each day is different, and I like to think I roll with whatever happens. But, I feel better with Hard driving Classic Rock, going home to my family, petting the cats, an ice cold adult beverage. It depends on what made the day a bad one.
Would you rather live somewhere remote or urban, and what is it that attracts you most to that environment? Remote, but not too remote. I like open spaces and don’t like crowds. But I like to be near the things I need.
What do you do with your spare time? What is this “spare time” thing you speak of? I’m always working. Either on my videography, the house, the cars, or the part-time job, it’s always something.
Have you ever had a funny nickname and what’s the story behind how you got it?
I was called “Bubba” for a few years. Before trucks became popular, I drove my pickup truck everywhere. On one of the contracts, we had a young guy with long blond hair who drove a yellow Corvette. In his mind, due to the truck, I was a red neck, so he called me Bubba. My wife laughed so much, she gave me a plate for the truck that said, “Bubba’s Ride”.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it? Trying to make a living and support my family. For many years I worked five or six jobs, seven days a week to keep the bills paid. Hey, we’re talking about five growing kids! How did I overcome it? Never quit! It’s easy to say, but it takes will power to not quit. As for me, I’m just stubborn.