How long have you been working in tech for and what is your technical background?
As a life-long tinkerer, and problem solver, I’ve always had a hand in technology. I started my career in earnest as an associate software engineer 12 years ago and rapidly grew from there.
My drive in technology has always been agnostic to the tools and languages used to solve problems — I learned very quickly how to absorb new skills, and build teams to effectively overcome obstacles. Moving from general consulting, to healthcare, to a digital marketing platform, I learned both to architect complicated enterprise applications and build high-performing organizations to deliver on product needs.
What are you focused on right now?
Continuing to grow a rockstar team’s velocity for Dealer Teamwork as we’ve shifted to a normalized corporate atmosphere, while still maintaining that small company feel. Dealer Teamwork’s Merchandising Personalization Optimization Platform (MPOP™) — a platform to syndicate to multiple marketing channels — is the core of our product suite, and we are continually enhancing this system with feature functionality to keep it best-in-class.
What are the some of the technologies within your company and IT environment?
We make extensive use of Cloud computing to maximize our product scalability. We leverage containerization, high-speed caching, and database replication to keep our product fast and reliable. Our stack includes PHP, MySQL, and Angular with comprehensive automation for our Continuous Delivery platform.
How do you ensure that IT plans, projects and objectives are aligned with business outcomes?
I work closely with my team leads, product leads, and business stakeholders to ensure projects in the pipeline are planned, prepared, and executed to meet business objectives. Core to this is an emphasis on the ability for the development and QA teams to deliver towards a consistent velocity. Our goals on the technology team are to ensure we can deliver to business goals in a timely manner and quickly adjust to changing market demands.
What is the size of your department and how is it organized/managed?
Our technology organization consists of 20+ individuals, with a mixture of development, QA, and DevOps team members. The teams are aligned to specific workstreams allowing for parallel tracks of work to be planned and executed based on business needs.
How does your company approach recruiting and retention for technical positions?
Dealer Teamwork hires on Attitude, Effort, and Ethics. We actively recruit via job boards and personal contacts to find individuals that are driven by these core values, and we often will hire those with less experience but a drive to improve. Our teams are tight-knit and exemplify the idea that we are a team working towards the same goals. The people we retain want to stay not just for the challenges and successes, but also for the feeling that we’re in this together.
How do you personally keep up with the ever changing technology landscape?
I’m a tinkerer, and I am always testing out new technology ideas and practices. This comes from seeking input from peers, following new technology trends from larger companies (Google, FaceBook, Apple, etc.), and searching popular technology sites for up-and-coming approaches to enterprise solutions.
What excites you about where technology is heading?
New ideas come out every day that make aspects of our lives, and our businesses, easier to manage. I see the push toward automation as providing more freedom for people to focus on bigger and better things.
I’m most excited to see innovation around the process of developing new software. I have a passion for making development processes maintainable, scalable, and consistent. I’m continually on the lookout for ways to reduce daily minutiae developers face and allow them to dig in on harder problems.
What concerns you about where technology is heading?
Technology innovation moves so quickly that some industries aren’t ready to keep up. The more that gets added to the melting pot of languages, frameworks, platforms, and tools, the more fragmented our technology stacks become. This can lead to sudden and massive failures of critical systems that can sometimes have life-threatening impacts in people’s lives. It’s important as technologists to stay vigilant to this fragmentation and continue to push for innovation while keeping an eye towards stability.
What is your opinion of Minnesota’s tech industry – how could it be better?
Minnesota feels like a hidden tech gem with a large number of technology businesses to support. The challenge is that much of the technology talent is tied up in larger corporations with slower growth in innovation. We have a fairly healthy startup market, however, the competition over talent means it’s more difficult to recruit top technologists.
Supporting local technology bootcamps could be a way to introduce new talent and cutting-edge technologies to the industry. I’ve seen great success with building fresh bootcamp grads and quickly training them to be high-performers.
What are you into outside of technology?
I tend towards more quirky activities outside of work, which includes swing dancing with my wife, rock climbing, and training at American Ninja Warrior gyms. Of course, time with two children tops the list, and I have a particular interest in cultivating a desire for play and creativity (because Dads like to play with LEGOs too!).
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I spent seven years of my technology career as a remote developer and manager. It wasn’t until recently that I became immersed in the Minnesota technology culture, and I’m very much enjoying the change. Despite opportunities to move for other CTO positions outside of the state, settling with a locally grown company like Dealer Teamwork has suited me well — there’s something about the culture and drive of Minnesota companies that just seems to fit.