Kerber Finds His True Direction at OpsCompass
David Kerber has spent a good deal of his adult life writing computer code. He’s on his way to writing quite the storybook life, as well, one that has had some unexpected plot twists along the way.
Kerber is the Vice President of Development at OpsCompass, a cloud computing security company. The company provides real-time policy and governance-oriented tools and services for Microsoft Azure Cloud, AWS (Amazon Web Services), and SaaS (Software as a Service). In short, OpsCompass helps companies realize the promise of cloud computing by reducing costs with secure and compliant infrastructure.
Education Provides Foundation
It was Bellevue University that gave Kerber a solid base from which to build his entrepreneurial dreams. He earned his a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University in 2003. A 1999 graduate of Bellevue East High School and a veteran of the United States Navy, Kerber was familiar with the University’s military-friendly reputation and an educational model that considered the needs of adult learners. An easy transfer of previously-earned credit helped sell Kerber on his hometown school, as well.
“What Bellevue (University) did that I really appreciated was they said ‘hey, we'll take all your credits from here. We recognize your military experience and what that's worth. We're going to help you get from here to there,’ ” he said. “They get it. They understand I'm a working adult.”
Kerber was guided through the Business Administration program by Bob Cook, a faculty member at the time.
“He was awesome because he had this incredible way of cutting through the nonsense and going, ‘okay, this is what it is. Let's get to it and figure this out’,” Kerber said.
Another impactful figure was the late Dr. Ed Rauchut, who was Kerber’s instructor in the Kirkpatrick Signature Series, the linchpin of Bellevue University’s undergraduate degree programs. The series focuses on various institutions and traditions of Western Civilization that have achieved unprecedented success in the United States. It explores the ground for intellectual, social, and cultural progress through the productive tensions that can arise between tradition, change, freedom, and responsibility.
“What a brilliant man,” Kerber said. “I still think back to that class and all the lessons I learned -- how to really think through something and how to separate out the intentions of something from the side effects.”
An Entrepreneurial Spirit
Kerber started his own software development company, Agape Red, in 2009 before selling the company to OpsCompass in 2018 and becoming a partner in that firm.
“I basically still run the same company, in addition to running product development, helping out in whatever areas I’m needed. Sometimes I'm on sales calls. Sometimes I help them with marketing, sometimes I'm coding. Just whatever needs to be done,” Kerber said.
Kerber wasn’t quite sure what needed to be done coming out of high school, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be done on a traditional college campus. He wanted to get to work rather than to a frat party.
“College really looked like just like being broke and not doing much for four years,” he said.
So when a Navy recruiter gave him a call he was in their office 15 minutes later. He actually enlisted the summer before his senior year of high school. He planned to take advantage of the educational benefits offered by the military to kick start a legal career.
Family Inspires Change of Direction
“I was in boot camp and my girlfriend at the time sends me a letter and lets me know I'm going to be a father. My whole world flipped upside-down,” he said.
Kerber briefly considered staying in the Navy, but knew a 20-year hitch wasn’t for him. He finished out his commitment and returned to Nebraska. After a few starts and stops, he landed at Mutual of Omaha as a Business Analyst. After some in-house training, his job evolved to about 90% coding.
“It turns out I was pretty good at it,” he said. “That really is what set my whole career trajectory.”
Kerber, a member of the Suburban Rotary, spent about four years as Director of Technology at Proxibid and started Agape Red during his tenure there. He’s now been at OpsCompass for right about a year.
Thus, that life-changing letter from his high school sweetheart and now-wife, Abbie Bontrager, has grown to full-length novel featuring four children. Kerber credits his wife with inspiring much of his success.
“She's incredible,” Kerber said. “I have done some really crazy things and she’s always been there for me.