Meet Jon-Paul Herron, ESnet’s New Department Head of Network Services

July 6, 2021

By Linda Vu

This month, Jon-Paul Herron joined ESnet as the new Department Head of Network Services. Herron comes to Berkeley Lab after 20 years at the Global Research Network Operations Center (GlobalNOC), which serves as the network operations organization for many research and education (R&E) networks, including Internet2 and NOAA’s N-Wave network. 

“I spent most of my career at GlobalNOC and grew from a network engineer to the director of networking. These roles put me in contact with ESnet a lot over the years. I’ve always been impressed by the level of innovation, the talented people, and the sharp mission focus of ESnet,” said Herron. “So when the Department Head of Network Services position became available, I jumped at the opportunity because it allowed me to take what I really liked about my job at GlobalNOC and ramp it up at ESnet.”  

A self-described builder, Herron notes that it’s the combination of contributing to the buildout of a world-class network — ESnet6 — and the organizational buildup around this project that excites him most about this new role.

“On the technical side, I’m interested in the way that networks are shifting away from just transporting data to building flexible services for lots of different user needs, as well as the technology behind that to make it all work,” said Herron.

On the people side, he sees ESnet in a state of evolution and growth. “You have a lot of really sharp dedicated people, but the organization is big enough where you have to think about how to organize and motivate a team of 100 people, rather than a team of 50. I’m excited for the opportunity to be innovative and contribute to creating an organization that is nimble, and sharply focused on the unique needs of our science users,” said Herron. “Moving from network engineering into management, I realized that instead of making things out of networks, I’m now making things out of people — creating successful, high-performing teams. That’s a passion for me.”   

Born and raised in Indiana, Herron says he has always been a bit interested in computers and technology. But by the time he arrived at Indiana University, his interests in English and philosophy won and he decided to pursue both majors. Halfway through his undergraduate years, he realized that he’d need to find a job after graduation and decided to minor in computer science.

“This was the late 1990s and everyone was looking for technical people, so I thought the minor would be useful. Of all the computer science classes I took, the networking classes were the most interesting to me. I liked seeing how the machinery came together and learning about how the Internet worked,” said Herron. “After graduation, I went to work for IBM in Chicago. Working for a big company, I really felt like a tiny gear in a big machine. I enjoyed the job, but I wanted to work for a smaller company to see how my work would affect the world, and that’s what working with R&E networks has offered me.”

In his spare time, Herron likes to build furniture, a skill passed down from his father and grandfather. He will be working remotely from Indiana.