Career Path: Matt Houser, Associate Director of Quality Assurance at Eze Software
What does the career path and day in the life look like for the Associate Director of Quality Assurance at Eze Software?
We interviewed Matt Houser to find out!
Where did you grow up? What did you parents do for work? What was your very first job (before or during college)?
I grew up in Portland, Maine. My very first job was working for my uncle’s general contracting company, building and remodeling houses on the islands off Portland. After that, I had much more enjoyable jobs, teaching snowboarding in the winters, and working for a beer distributor in the summers.
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what was your first job after school?
I studied mathematics and football at Notre Dame, in sunny South Bend, Indiana.
That lead me to my first job as an insurance analyst at Liberty Mutual in Portsmouth, NH, and eventually Boston. Going back to answer the part I left out of the first question, my parents all worked in insurance (and a number of other family members), making this a pretty easy selection of the first job between my family and the math.
How did you land at Eze Software and what was your role initially?
Insurance is not the most exciting industry, so after a couple of years there, I decided to go back to school. I returned to Notre Dame and got a master’s in high tech entrepreneurship, with a focus/thesis in financial math.
After living in Boston in my previous job, I knew I wanted to return, so I reached out to the Notre Dame Club of Boston. A fellow alum sent me the opening for a spot at Eze, and the company looked like a perfect fit.
The role was in QA as part of a Leadership Development Program. It combined learning the software, testing, and troubleshooting, with developing towards another role at the company, generally in client service or product management. I went on to our Product Support team, which was our Tier 2 team, dealing with more technical issues and triaging defects. I now manage a team of QA Engineers, and try to make our support teams’ lives easier by releasing as few defects as possible.
You’ve been with the company for a while, can you share the details of what it is about Eze Software that keeps you challenged and moving forward in your career?
The thing that I love about Eze, above all else, is the people. It is full of extremely smart, motivated, diverse, fun, and just all around great men and women. On top of that, we try to be very socially aware, with an entirely employee-run nonprofit charity. I also run an “EzeVember” mustache competition for the past six years and have even managed to win. Coordinating these non-work centric events always invigorates me. Yes, you can see my championship mustache. I had this incredible ‘stache for an entire day at work.
The things that challenge me are continuing to develop myself technically and professionally, and even more so, develop my employees. In an ever-changing software industry, there are always new techniques, tools, and languages to learn. It is great fun learning and teaching everything I can. I also know that since our clients are hedge fund managers and traders, that an emergency can pop-up for R&D on any day. I never know exactly what my day will be when I get to work, which keeps things exciting and challenging.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Associate Director of Quality Assurance?
I have two different lines of responsibilities. First is to make sure my team is fully equipped and able to test, develop, and manage the quality of our product within their individual scrum teams. Second is to manage the overall structure and needs of the QA department (and often beyond) that spans a dozen scrum teams. Each team is unique, has its own needs, problems, and fires to put out.
Day in the Life
Coffee, tea, or nothing?
Two seltzers first thing when I walk in every morning. I drink a lot of seltzer and water, but no coffee or tea.
What time do you get into the office?
I am in at 8 AM. When I get here early, which I’m trying to do less often, I sit at a nearby cafe and read.
Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?
Morning: Attend daily scrums for the teams and products that my employees work on. Manage testing environments and follow up with teams on outstanding issues.
Afternoon: Focus on my individual work. Avoid the scrum teams unless questions and/or issues arise.
Evening: Walk home along the waterfront. Read after dinner and decompress. Later in the week, there tend to be evenings involving drinks with coworkers or friends. Here is one example of a Friday afternoon team outing:
What time do you head out of the office?
Usually between 5:30-6. But it’s pretty free-flowing. If I have something better going on, I will leave early. For example, our company softball team:
Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?
I very seldom log back on at night. I check email and slack on my phone, but at that point, most things needing a real computer can wait until morning.
Any productivity hacks?
My productivity hack is making all my employees productive, so it looks like I am, without actually having to be productive myself.
What are the three apps that you can’t live without?
Ski Tracks is the only app I have ever paid for. It records everything you do during a day of skiing. Distance, runs, top speed, altitude. It is amazing.
Outside of that nothing exciting. Googles Maps (NEVER Apple maps) and Audible.com. I tried Candy Crush, but it didn’t do much for me. I’ll scroll Instagram and listen to Music, iPod style, but could live without those.
What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?
The success of my employees is what I am proudest of. There is no better feeling than promoting someone, which I, fortunately, got to do many times this year. So I guess my accomplishment is being good at hiring? I am extremely proud every time one of my employees checks in their first piece of code or automation.
From a company perspective, I am proud of the huge strides we have made in our efforts towards automated testing over the past two years. It has been an enormous shift, has taken a buy-in from all over, and has begun to really pay dividends. It is also more fun, interesting, and challenging work for everyone.
Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?
My current boss, who was also one of my first bosses at Eze, is an amazing wealth of knowledge for everything I could need to know in my job. Working for him was one of the driving factors for me returning to QA as a new manager.
For broader life and long-term career advice, my moms. They are all extremely smart, experienced, and successful. And I am pretty sure they still love any opportunity to parent by bestowing their wisdom upon me actively.