How long have you been in the technology industry for and what is your technical background?
I have been in technology for over 20 years. I started on the product and business side and gradually moved to cover the core technology as well. I have been lucky enough to work with many facets of technology from data transport (USWest) to data asset creation (Sony) to data manipulation and storage (Sun Microsystems).
What are you focused on right now?
In the past few years I have changed my focus from infrastructure to end user value. eCommerce (Digital River), Healthcare Technology (Optum/United Healthcare) and Enterprise Work Management (AtTask). Engaging technology and seeing how it provides benefits to end users is a blast. The current space I am working in with AtTask is an amazing green field. The knowledge worker space is one of the most underserved by technology.
What are the some of the technologies pursued by your company?
We are a SaaS-based solution so we are always looking for security, scale, speed, and elegance. Using more services in our software architecture, becoming more cloudy, getting more value out of our big data and lowering overhead burden on critical management functions.
How do you ensure that tech plans, projects and objectives are aligned with business outcomes?
While this sounds very self-serving, we use AtTask. Having a tool that people like to use and therefore adopt, provides visibility to what’s happening. That simple. And when you can see the facts, real time, without any special presentations or extra gathering of information, then keeping things aligned is a simple management exercise of reacting to high fidelity data.
What is the size of your department and how is it organized?
The team is about 120 and growing fast. I have four teams; Product & UX, Infrastructure, Development for the Utah and Minnesota campuses. Teams like QA, UI, PE all reside in the Development teams.
How does your company approach recruiting and retention for technical positions?
We put energy into our culture. From our CEO down, culture and people are where we start everyday. By fostering the right culture we are able to add the right people who are attracted to that culture and you get this flywheel effect of people happy with the culture and the culture making the people happy.
How do you personally keep up with the ever changing technology landscape?
In addition to the normal things like blogs and readers, I travel to places like the Silicon Valley and San Diego fairly often. I am lucky enough to work at a company that has a lot of great technology providers as customers. I also have been lucky enough to work with some of the most amazing people in technology and I hit them up for a coffee or an adult beverage.
What excites you about where technology is heading?
We are finally getting to the inflection point of simplification. Technology has always been about being able to do more. That’s cool, but now it’s about being able to do less, yet be more effective.
What concerns you about where technology is heading?
The foundation of legacy vendors. I spent many years at Sun Microsystems and learned the value of open technology. When everyone can innovate the world gets better, faster. So much of the fabric today remains these closed systems and interfaces that will continue to impede progress.
What are you into outside of technology?
My two daughters (Alexis and Addison) and I seem to do a lot of things on boards (Wakeboard, Snowboard, Wakesurf, Surf)
What is your opinion of Minnesota’s tech industry?
Awesome. That’s why we opened here. There is so much talent and we are this cool SaaS startup. There are great companies in MN but so many are big and there are a lot of technologist that are not looking for neckties and process. They want to hack, go fast, and change the world. So for us to be here and fairly unique in this market….good spot to be.