Erik Webb – aka "Southern Gentleman" within his team – Senior Technical Consultant with Acquia's Professional Services group helps some of the "biggest Drupal users" in his job. In any given week, he might be doing anything from training people brand new to Drupal, to performance tuning and everything in between to make projects succeed. "I helped a Fortune 100 company move their entire web presence to Drupal." At this scale, Erik's job is about how to take Drupal to that next level and making it something that works for millions of people," day in and day out. "The Drupal community is really about trying to make an experience and make something that people want to come back to."
Deep roots in open source
Erik is a long term user of GNU Linux, with a sysadmin background, he's also Red Hat certified. Though he didn't know it when he set out on his road to Drupal, it was a series of logical steps that got him where he is today. "Being a good systems administrator, you know how to program, you know what languages look like, so you pick up PHP. Once you pick up PHP, you write some really ugly applications and you realise other people are doing this, too, so you pick up frameworks. I worked with Symfony and Code Igniter. Then you say, 'well a framework's great, but there's still so much I have to do," and you eventually reach Drupal. Now you can focus on the cool part of the website and you can let all the really basic stuff that you'd have to do all the time, you let Drupal take care of that for you so you can enjoy your job more.
Contributing to Drupal
Since Erik finds himself in many different parts of the United States in the curse of his job, he uses any opportunity to go to local Drupal user groups, meet ups, and events like Drupal Camps: LA, Georgia, Boston, North Carolina and more. "That's what sets the Drupal community apart. You can be out there and sharing source code – and that's fantastic – but at a certain point it's really great to see people, talk to them about what they're doing with Drupal. I don't think there's any better feeling than seeing someone at a Drupal Camp as a new Drupalist and then a year and a half later you see them again and they say, 'Hey, I've been working on this really cool project!' To see all that grow, that's what makes community to me. Not the size or the content, but how we bring people into it and how we mature those people.
"One of the things I love most about the travel in my job is that I get to see so many different people. Being able to connect them, creating a sort of mesh-network, I can bring all these people together. Once they're sharing, then they know someone else, and they can share experiences. I fee like being at Acquia and having the luxury to travel and see all these cities and people, we're in a unique position to be at the center of this kind of matchmaking.
This interview was recorded in 2012.