How long have you been working in technology for and what is your background?
I’ve been in technology for over 22 years. I started out in a small company I co-founded configuring desktop computers and building local area networks for small businesses. In 1995 I started helping neighborhood organizations use the Internet and soon after moved into software development, where I spent most of the next 15 years.
What are you focused on right now?
At Gravie we are continuing to build out our core feature set while at the same time scaling the company, so my focus is on maintaining that balance. In a fast-growing company it’s important that as you create new functionality, you do it in a way that will allow you to scale when the time is right.
What are the some of the technologies within your company and IT environment?
We take advantage of as many “as a service” platforms as we can to ensure that we stay focused on where our technology can differentiate us. Our core applications are hosted on AWS, which allows us to try things out quickly and to deploy highly available applications that can scale as we do.
We leverage and contribute to a lot of open source. One of the technologies we really like is Salt Stack, which allows us to manage and keep an eye on our growing infrastructure with a small devops team. We are also big on test automation and we use Geb/Spock for our Groovy/Grails applications.
How do you ensure that IT plans, projects and objectives are aligned with business outcomes?
I work with our leadership team and head of product on the road map to make sure we have a vision towards our short and long term goals while also being flexible so we can change with the market and with what we’ve learned from our customers.
On the tactical side, our product development and engineering teams are completely integrated. We have small, cross-functional teams that each include product, development and quality assurance. Team members sit next to each other to ensure open and easy communication and our head of product attends our daily standup.
What is the size of your department and how is it organized/managed?
Our software development is organized with multiple cross-functional teams supported by a small devops team. We also have small teams focused on data & analytics and desktop support.
How does your company approach recruiting and retention for technical positions?
We have recruited most of our technical employees from our personal networks, but for a few positions we have tapped talent firms to help with the search. We’ve found that when we tell people what we’re doing and how we operate it’s an easy sell.
How do you personally keep up with the ever changing technology landscape?
I read a lot and try to talk to smart people. Twitter has become my news feed and since I recently moved to Gravie from Best Buy Mobile, my feed has a mobile technology bent to it. Check out @asymco for good mobile market analysis and people like @mamund for the latest in REST/Hypermedia. I also listen to a number of tech podcasts, including several from the twit.tv network.
What excites you about where technology is heading?
I’m personally excited about how access to information has made the world feel a lot smaller.
What concerns you about where technology is heading?
I think we still have a long way to go in security. Being in the healthcare industry this is an especially big concern for us. We are still seeing too many vulnerabilities in widely-used software packages and the number of major breaches across all industries is really staggering. Security is obviously still really difficult to get right and as technologists we need to get better at it.
What are you into outside of technology?
I am an endurance athlete. I work out a lot and enjoy long distance running and cycling. I spend my winters snowshoe racing if I can.
I’m also an avid fan of live hockey and soccer and attend most Gopher’s and Minnesota United FC home games. I have been fortunate to be able to attend a few Soccer World Cups, including Brazil this year.
What is your opinion of Minnesota’s tech industry?
Having been in the industry for over 20 years I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of smart people building great things. We have important companies across a number of industries and are a healthy place to live which will continue to attract and retain good talent.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
You can find the right health insurance at gravie.com.