“When you think engineer, you normally don’t think or see black guy” Those are words from Mario Johnson, a businessman that has lead a career in tech only to establish his own firm in a field that is among the fastest growing industries around: technology. With years of experience, Mario has seen the rise of networks like email and web-page design soar into multi-billion entities. While “blerd” may be a common moniker for black men in tech, this man of Alpha Phi Alpha is bringing a cool factor that includes each one teach one principles in essences. MJI IT Solutions LLC is a three-headed animal that provides tech services that covers all problems your business may face. I was able to catch up with the man and have a conversation that covered his journey through the tech world and were he wants to go from here.
1. So just to start, how have you gotten to where you are now?
Computer and system engineering. I worked at the medical center at the Ohio state University where I was a backup server engineer and redesigned their backup design. I Worked for Sprint, when it was just one Sprint building. Engineered for them, corporate email to be specific. Then broke off and went with what became Brighthouse,
which was the turning point for my career, because I was the domain manager; which means I was able to do everything under sun in a sense. Worked in the IT department at JP Morgan. Then I got into independent contracting.
2. What did being an independent contractor teach you?
It taught me the greatness of working for myself. It pays more for sure!
3. What kind of contracting did you do?
Well I contracted with Sears, Lowes Home Improvement by redesigning their networks. Did the virtual network for a construction company.
4. So working with these companies, you are essentially giving these companies new legs, right?
Pretty much…yeah. It actually translate to what I do now with MJI-IT Solutions.
5. Cool, tell me more about it!
Well that is more of the consultant side of things. See, there are many companies; especially in Troy, that are behind times but are ready to make that leap into the tech side of growing their business. We can automate anything that you feel is necessary. We want you to get the most out of your employees. Because if you have someone dealing with an entity that could be automated, that person is not able to fulfill his or her duties that you may have hired them for.
7. I gotcha, so how would you label your company?
Well we wear three hats, a tri-fold company if you will. We consult and do IT services like I talked about earlier, we provide technical support services, as well as remote services. The third aspect is coding and programming, with web-page and app development.
8. So how does this help the area of Troy?
One it allows the area to have a local support system that elevates them from having to wait an hour to come in from Dothan or Montgomery; and two, I have experience in essentially all areas of tech support that can solve whatever issue. I cover from A to Z rather than C to F so to speak.
9. Ahh that’s cool, so you are more of an auto shop; rather than a tire shop?
Exactly! We can assess all parts of the computer and network.
10. Now with you being black in a field that does not see many of us in, do you find any barriers with that plus owning your own business?
Man first off being black is like, the main hurdle. Because of all the companies that I have worked for, it was only once that it was another person like me in the entire corporate office! We did not even work in the same department he says laughing. Even at Brighthouse, they had two offices, one in Syracuse, New York and the other in Orlando, Florida I was the only one between the two!
11. What do you think plays into that?
Well at first, I just figured that it was not a lot of us in the field; but my experiences have lead me to think differently. We are all just fighting that fight I feel. Which those experiences lead me to start my own business in general. Taking control.
12. So how do you feel about being a leader in your field from an inspiration standpoint?
I am glad you said that because we are actually starting a program with the Boys and Girls Club that teaches STEM programs called Coding Our Community. We have 14 kids that we are going to teach coding and robotics through a curriculum that I created. They are so talented! Cannot wait to work with them.
13. That’s dope man!
Yeah we are having a kick off on March 15!
14. What do you see this program doing for the community?
Well this is just my way of giving back and knowing that tech is the future, what better to give back than to give the kids a tool that can promise a stable future. I do not want to see the next generation being left behind the curve. We want the youth to be able to save themselves within this lane of the future.
Written By: Leebo Tyler, Intern Youth Marketing Associate for LWL Magazine (Instagram: @baux_)
Connect with Mario Johnson on Instagram: @nuke16 & @mji_itsolutions