Jon Czernel, Programme Architect on Hiking

Hi, I am Jon Czernel, and I am a Programme Architect for Qualtrics. I am an American citizen, hailing from the Metro Detroit area of Michigan. I moved to Ireland four years ago on an international assignment with IBM, along with my wife, three boys, who were all in secondary school at the time, and two of our dogs.

When I decided to look at my next career move, I was looking for a new set of challenges that would allow me to leverage a combination of several of my previous experiences to provide me with a new set of challenges in a rapidly growing company, as well as the ability to make a significant impact on the success of an organization. More importantly, however, I was looking for a good cultural fit. Fortunately, Qualtrics provided all of those things.

Outside of my work, I really enjoy exploring Ireland. My wife and I do a lot of cliff walking around Howth, the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, and generally all around Ireland. I have a number of other hobbies as well that help to centre me: I have been learning how to play the guitar, I am a fairly avid runner (I run 2-3 times a week, sometimes coupled with long hill walks), and I love photography, but would definitely consider myself an amateur. I also started taking golf lessons about a year ago, which is truly something I enjoy however it can be monumentally frustrating at times! I just enjoy learning, growing, and trying new things outside of work.

I have always enjoyed the outdoors and hiking, especially while raising three boys! My wife and I lived for about thirteen years near some wonderful trails in Milford, Michigan, where we often went hiking with our boys, family, and friends. Ireland has opened up a whole new set of outdoor experiences, with easy access to some of the most beautiful hiking spots that we have ever seen.

Hiking is certainly a creative outlet in the sense that it helps to clear my mind and put things into perspective. Sometimes I can get stuck on a difficult challenge at work (could be either technical or organisational challenges), and I find that hiking helps me to re-orient my thinking and find a new solution to the problem. It pulls me away from the daily routine and gives me a chance to regenerate. I have found that I need these swings in a routine to remain well balanced.

It has also helped me to avoid burn out at work. When I am on the top of a mountain looking down at the beautiful ocean, serene lakes, or vast panoramas, I think that there is nothing that is impossible and that the challenges that I face at work can all be overcome. It is a great way to release stress and to help clear the mind.  I find that I am not as productive at work when I do not stick to a fairly regular exercise regime, which includes hiking, running and cycling (and more recently, golf).

We often go to Howth to hike the full loop for a good work out. It is quick to get there from our home, and the views are spectacular. When we visit various countries in Europe, we usually try to find a hiking trail in the area. Most recently, I was in Provo, Utah for product training at Qualtrics. I took some time to hike in the mountains there, and it is a beautiful place.

Fortunately, I have not been in any really dangerous situations – although I have to admit I was shocked to see that there were not any barricades along the cliffs when we first hiked in Howth. It was our first hike when arriving in Ireland in 2013, and we were very concerned about our adventurous boys. We have just learned to be very careful!

My personal interests outside of work help me to perform my best while at work.  I often think about solutions to complex problems when I am not at work – while running or hiking in particular. Finding the time for personal interests, including exercise, is always a challenge. However, I would advise anyone to latch onto something that allows you to escape and provide juxtaposition on a different end of the spectrum, even if just for a little while. Hobbies are a great way to express your creativity, try new skills, and give you the confidence to tackle new challenges at work.

I like change, and with change, you will always find yourself pushing your own personal boundaries. I think I am always pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. Moving to Ireland four years ago was a huge push for both my family and I. I have also continuously accepted challenges at work that have allowed me to pivot to new roles over the course of my career. We have talked about hiking, but I always like to try new things, whether it is golf, yoga, cycling, or even playing the guitar. This translates well to anyone’s job – you will always be asked to learn something new, and to adapt to changing environments.


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