Learn how professionals in the tech
industry got to where they are today 
and what a day in the life looks like.

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Career Path: Ryan Fournier, Lead Software Engineer at HeathcareSource banner image

Career Path: Ryan Fournier, Lead Software Engineer at HeathcareSource

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What do the career path and day-in-the-life look for a Lead Software Engineer at HealthcareSource look like?

We connected with Ryan Fournier to find out!

Also, HealthcareSource is hiring! Click here for all of the company's job openings.


Where did you grow up?  What did your parents do for work?

I grew up in the small town of Pepperell, Massachusetts. My mother is a systems analyst, and my father is a driver for a natural gas company.

Where did you go to college?  What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?

I went to the University of Massachusetts Lowell. I studied information technology with a focus in computer science-related courses. I also received a minor in business during my time there. Initially, during and right after college, I was doing freelance Web Development for small businesses and shortly after that, I began working at HealthcareSource as a Web Developer.

What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?

I attribute most of my success to passion and flexibility. I have always wanted to develop software dating back to my early high school days, and I still love doing it today. For flexibility, I learned that when a challenge is presented, regardless of how hard the task may be, embracing it and completing it with a positive attitude will open more opportunities in the future. There will always be those assignments that nobody wants to do, but it’s essential to your managers, employees and beyond. In the end, it helps to drive others around you to do the same and has helped me become a better leader.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Lead Software Engineer at HealthcareSource?

My current position is half development and half management. I am fortunate to lead and architect/design multiple projects in parallel and contribute to the developing of those projects. In addition, I am involved with mentoring others on those projects and provide direction to help get their tasks completed.

Any tips for someone considering a career in Software Engineering?

Software engineering is full of opportunities. I believe anyone that has the passion for building software can do it with the correct training. You should never say to yourself "I am not a X type of person, so I don't think I could do it". There is no perfect "type" of attitude, personality, etc. to become a software engineer. If you can be passionate about becoming a software engineer, then one day you will!


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Both

What time do you get into the office?

I usually arrive between 7:30 and 9 AM. The time varies based on the day and my meeting schedule.

What are three things that motivate you in your role?

The first thing is the challenges that arise every day. In a typical day to day, something "unexpected" will happen large or small. This is not a negative thing, and it is just a challenge that I get to accept and work with my teams to solve.

The second thing is seeing growth. It is always exciting when you complete a tough task. It is even more exciting to help a direct report complete a task and see them get excited.

Lastly and most importantly client exposure. This can come in the form of face-to-face or simply word of mouth. Building software is a challenge, but in the end, there is no better feeling than seeing clients get excited to use things that I have built.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

A typical day to day starts with syncing up with my teams and the projects that we are working on. Afterward, I get the chance to help anyone directly who has questions or needs a hand with something. After that, I catch up on any code reviewing that needs to be completed. Once that is done, I work on my own development tasks. Staggered a crossed this typical day to day would be responding to emails, chat messages, and attending meetings. This, of course, is very flexible, and the order may vary based on meeting schedules.

What time do you head out of the office?

Typically, between 3:30 and 4:30 PM. This time also varies based on the day and my meeting schedule.

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?

I typically log in most nights of the week or at least have push notifications on my phone for my work emails and chats. This is however by choice as I have never been asked to work extra hours. I consider developing software also to be a hobby, not just a career.

Any productivity hacks?

Compiling some software solutions can take 30 seconds to 1 minute. Having two monitors is key. How long does it take you to read a typical email or respond to a quick chat? I bet there are some that take less than one minute. Multi-tasking can go a long way if it can be done without losing focus on your primary task. Also, as any Software Engineer will tell you, know and use your keyboard shortcuts!

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

Amazon - As dangerous as "Buy with 1 click" might seem, it saves you a lot of time!

Marriott - I use this all the time to book hotels for traveling. The point system is great.

Uber - There is nothing better than staying inside warm until you can see your driver pulling up from the map!

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

I am most proud of my ability to grow professionally in a company. Over the last seven years it was not always easy, but it was always exciting. Going from doing small, simple tasks to architecting brand new software and enhancements to existing software is a huge step towards where I wanted to be. The tasks I was completing went from small client specific enhancements to large client specific enhancements. After that, I was working on small application enhancements which progressed towards larger enterprise-level enhancements. This eventually grew into building new large, enterprise level applications from the ground up, making architecture and design decisions while doing so. I have certainly had many different job titles, but the more important thing is I took the opportunities to grow professionally as they came which is something that is ultimately important not just to my company but to me personally as well.

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

My mother has always been a great mentor to me. She understands the environment I work in and has also been through similar career advancements in the tech industry. Her encouragement has played a critical role in where I am today!


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Images courtesy of Ryan Fournier

About the
Company

HealthcareSource is the leading provider of talent management software for the healthcare industry.

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Career Path: Maggie Brenner, Product Manager at Ellevation banner image

Career Path: Maggie Brenner, Product Manager at Ellevation

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What does the career path and day-in-the-life for a Product Manager at Ellevation look like?

We connected with Maggie Brenner to find out!

Ellevation is hiring, click here for job openings.


Career Path

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Larchmont, NY which is a suburb of New York City.

Where did you go to college?  What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?

I have a BA from Bowdoin College and a master’s in urban education from Loyola Marymount University. My undergrad degree is in visual arts/art history, but I would say that I have a true liberal arts degree and studied everything from calculus to infant & child development to the arts of Japan. I worked for an orphanage in Malawi, Africa right out of college and then quickly made my way into the education space focusing on charter school operations first at the NYC Department of Education and then for a network of charter schools in Harlem. From there, I applied and was accepted to be a TFA corps member and taught in San Jose for two years.

What has contributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?

Being relentlessly curious, developing and leveraging strong networks and finding opportunities to explore topics/skills that interest me. As a little kid, I was always analyzing which jobs I didn’t think I wanted: crossing guard sounded too cold and garbage person too dirty. Although a seemingly straightforward exercise, this tendency to continuously analyze what I like or don’t like about a role has enabled me to clarify what I’d like to do next and intentionally move towards my goals. I’ve also been incredibly lucky to have worked with a unique number of supportive and collaborative co-workers and managers.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Product Manager at Ellevation Education?

  • Engage in discovery

  • Ship Minimum Viable Products often

  • Curate our backlog - create and prioritize user stories, review any new bug

  • Evangelize our product

  • Track and analyze key metrics

  • Engage our customers to get input and feedback on product development

Any tips for someone considering transitioning to a career in Product Management?

  • Talk to anyone you can who’s an engineer, product manager or designer. Learn about the variations between companies and which type of role you think will be best for you. I also went to a few meetups and introductory courses which gave me some solid baseline knowledge.

  • There’s a ton of great literature out there about the PM role, product teams and how to work best with engineers which I would recommend reading. I found Cracking the PM Interview helpful in understanding what the interview process might look like.
     
  • Think about what your best entry point is. For me, it has been beneficial to move internally. While I’m learning the role, I’m able to leverage strong knowledge of our product and customers.

What drew you to Product Management?

I had the opportunity to participate in a discovery sprint internally. The focus on solving challenges and the iterative nature of the work got me hooked on learning more about product development. I’ve learned that being a PM isn’t just running discovery sprints, but the continuous cycle of developing hypotheses, testing, learning, and iterating to address our customers’ biggest challenges keeps me excited every single day.


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Coffee

What time do you get into the office?

Usually between 8 and 8:30.

What are three things that motivate you in your role?

  1. Our customers and the students they serve

  2. A desire to solve problems and understand how things work

  3. My co-workers

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

I’m only in month two of the PM role at Ellevation, so I’m still figuring that out a bit but here’s a high-level overview:

  1. Pour myself some coffee and assemble some sort of yogurt/granola/fruit breakfast

  2. Review any new bug or feature improvement tickets that have come through

  3. Look at our health and OKR metrics in Splunk

  4. Troubleshoot/Look into anything that our Product Support team has flagged

  5. Review the virtual stand up where everyone on the team shares what they’re working on

  6. Attend Stand Up with other Engineering/Product leads to discuss what’s up next to go into production and how we’ll sequence it

  7. Meet with Product Marketing to discuss roll out of a new feature

  8. Lunch

  9. Review feedback from usability sessions and identify key functionality that we’ll want to add

  10. Curate our backlog, create and prioritize user stories

  11. Review any new bug or feature improvement tickets that have come through

What time do you head out of the office?

5:15ish

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

I’ve gone through phases of each but for the most part try to shut down completely when I leave and only log back in when there’s something that might require monitoring or night time work. I’ve learned over time the lines that I need to draw for myself to ensure I don’t get burnt out and do my best to stick to them.

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

  1. Slack

  2. Splunk

  3. Evernote

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

  • Becoming a Product Manager

  • Hiring and developing a collaborative team of high performers (in my last role as a Director of Implementation)

  • The relationships I formed with my students

Bowdoin Alum

Who do you call upon for professional advice?

I lean on my family and my boyfriend as thought partners in most professional decisions. We circulated Radical Candor by Kim Scott around the office at one point and there are a lot of concepts in that book that have really stuck with me. The importance of pairing caring personally with challenging directly about reports and colleagues (which I think is fair to call the thesis) is something that I think about often.


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Images courtesy of Maggie Brenner and Ellevation

About the
Company

Ellevation is the first and most powerful suite of tools designed specifically for professionals serving English Language Learners   .

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Career Path: Alice Chiang, Senior Designer at Cantina banner image

Career Path: Alice Chiang, Senior Designer at Cantina

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What does the career path and day-in-the-life for a Senior Designer at Cantina look like?

We connected with Alice Chiang to find out!


Where did you grow up?  What did your parents do for work?  

I mostly grew up in Columbia, MD in a Taiwanese-immigrant household. My parents immigrated to the states in the mid-80s with no American education or English language proficiency. As you can imagine, it was hard to find work and raise two rambunctious kids! So, they had to be resourceful and scrappy; my parents worked in various different roles, from a flea market in California (where we first planted our roots), to the food-services industry in Maryland (where we eventually settled).

My parents worked incredibly hard and modeled the importance of education, discipline, and optimistic resourcefulness.

Where did you go to college?  What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?

I studied architecture for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees! I guess I was really committed to becoming an architect, haha. I attended the University of Maryland, College Park for my undergraduate study.

After college, it was really hard to find work in 2009. Like my parents, I had to be scrappy! I ended up doing freelance design work for a small housing developer in Baltimore, MD and waited tables at a local sports bar. Later, I found a great opportunity in Shanghai and decided to move there solo and to explore the global architecture field in China.

I returned to the states in 2011 to earn my Master of Architecture at the University of Cincinnati. During that period I was first exposed to human-centered design (HCD) principles in my education and training.

My interest was piqued! I pursued a sociological and anthropological approach to my architectural master’s thesis. My thesis explored how the built environment could influence cultural identity and revitalize undesired areas in Chinese immigrant urban communities. My design focused on addressing a highway underpass that cut through the middle of Seattle’s Chinatown District. It was a terrible, ugly, giant thing that completely divided the neighborhood. I interviewed community stakeholders, local business owners, and individuals to get a sense of what could work in the neighborhood. The research and design work I did eventually won the American Association of University Women Selected Professions Fellowship and a Citation for Design through the university.

Alice Chiang's Master Thesis
An example of Alice's thesis work.

You started your career in architecture and then pivoted towards UX and Product Design. What sparked your interest in that career change?

I am reluctant to diss architecture because I do love the built environment. But after working in the industry for a few years, I was frustrated and jaded. I didn’t find the profession invested in integrating human-centered design principles into the practice. The industry tended to be more hierarchical and focused on pleasing a client (and the bottom line).

I decided to explore how my design and strategic skills could apply to different disciplines. I reached out to peers that had pivoted into UX/Product Design or Research. I loved hearing about the blend of HCD with business and technology and decided to move my career towards that direction. I took a boot camp course through General Assembly to supplement my knowledge, and four months later I had made the career shift.

What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?

A huge part of where I now has to do with my willingness to try new opportunities, my work discipline, and my eagerness to work with others.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Senior Designer at Cantina?

My main role as a Senior Designer is to help our clients innovate and grow through experience strategy and design. Depending on their needs, this may involve helping our clients work through research initiatives, identifying problem areas and opportunities, or facilitating strategic ideation sessions. Since I am a consultant, I am usually required to be flexible and adept at working high-level or very deep at a problem area.

Any tips for someone considering a career in Product/UX Design?

Really explore your options; the field is so vast and diverse (it’s really great!) - it can feel overwhelming to find a focus. Reach out and talk to as many people in the industry as you can to get an idea of what it’s like working for a small/large startup, a small/large established company, an agency, for a B2B company, a B2C company, in education, finance, healthcare, etc.often I find that methodologies/practices vary depending on the type of company and the industry.


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Both! Really depends on my mood that morning and in the day. Lately, I have been trying to wean myself off coffee and shift more towards tea.

What time do you get into the office?

Depending on the location of the client office and traffic, I aim for between 8:30 AM and 10:00 AM.

What are three things that motivate you in your role?

  • The people; I have wonderful colleagues.

  • The work; we are often supporting our clients in doing the best work they can for their business.

  • The opportunities in the design space; I address design in a holistic manner that includes research and strategy for a variety of different disciplines (interface design, product design, service design). I get crazy excited whenever I think about the opportunities in those realms.
     

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

Each day really is so different! For me, the workday starts before I walk into the office. I aim to get up early and to give myself time in the morning to be centered and prepared for the day. Having a morning routine that sets me up for success is absolutely critical for both my productivity and my mood.

The rest of the day is usually a mix of meetings and heads down focus time. I am usually working with both Cantina and client colleagues. The work I do depends on each client engagement, but it could range from user research sessions to strategy discussions to technical meetings with engineers. As the day progresses I assess if I’ve addressed the things I wanted to that day. If not, I will re-prioritize my goals for the day.

What time do you head out of the office?

Depending on when I head in, I usually aim for between 5-6 PM.

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

I am a huge advocate for a healthy work-life balance; so I avoid doing additional work after the workday unless I have high priority tasks that absolutely need to get done for the next day.

That being said, I am absolutely guilty of checking slack at night to make sure I’m not missing anything! (FOMO with work?)

Any productivity hacks?

The biggest challenge to my productivity is boredom. I get bored easily when I do not feel challenged or when I am not making progress. Therefore, I am most productive when I diversity my workload in a structured way. I tackle specific types of work at different times of the day. For example, any tasks that require heavy mental focus I address early in the morning, when I am refreshed and well-rested. Any “quick win” tasks (like emails), I aim to do in between these focused time chunks. This approach to structuring my work keeps me engaged.

I also set small deadlines and “wins” for myself each day so I feel like I am making incremental progress towards my larger goals. This helps keep me feeling happy, motivated, and productive!

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

Weather Underground (I am in the outdoors year-round), Relax Melodies (for meditation and sleep), and Spotify.

Alice Chiang Outside

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

I am honestly incredibly happy with where I am today. I’ve successfully transitioned careers from architecture to user experience design and strategy. That alone was a huge personal and professional milestone for me. Now I get to work with a fantastic company that gives me a breadth of experience in diverse industries. Building strong relationships with clients and helping them grow their practice has been an incredibly humbling and rewarding experience.

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

I really admire the tech and design community in Boston. It is diverse, talented, and collaborative. I am very fortunate to work with an exceptional team of people at Cantina.

I am also grateful for my immediate support network. I am surrounded with incredible friends, a loving partner, and a strong family. These people are my foundation.


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Images courtesy of Alice Chiang and Cantina

About the
Company

A strategy design & development agency. We work customer-focused organizations to harness the power of design and technology to deliver experiences that matter.

 
 
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Career Path: Gabe Mulley, Engineering Manager at edX banner image

Career Path: Gabe Mulley, Engineering Manager at edX

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What does the career path and day-in-the-life for an Engineering Manager at edX look like?

We connected with Gabe Mulley to find out!


Where did you grow up?  What did your parents do for work?

I grew up in Norwich, VT. I affectionately refer to it as a rural suburb of Dartmouth College. Many of my fond memories from that period of my life are of time spent in the forests and rivers of Vermont. There are some great swimming holes there. Not sure why there isn’t a swimming hole culture in Massachusetts, I definitely miss it!

My parents are both educators. One of my parents is an autism specialist who has worked closely with schools throughout Vermont and New Hampshire throughout her career and has taught in the education department at Dartmouth. The other is focused on early childhood education and teaches kindergarten at the Upper Valley Waldorf School.

As you might expect, education is a big deal in my family!

Where did you go to college?  What did you study and what were some of your first jobs out of school?

I studied computer and systems engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). I knew I was interested in computer programming and was drawn to the intersection between software and the physical world. I retain that interest to this day. I love hacking on hardware.

My first job out of college was as an electrical engineer at Design Continuum. I was primarily writing firmware for medical device prototypes. From there, I did a stint at Vistaprint and then jumped into a database startup called Hadapt. Hadapt was an incredible experience; in 18 months I learned an incredible amount. Since we didn’t have a big team to lean on, I had to learn a little about a lot of different things -- DevOps, databases, distributed systems, automated testing, package management, etc. I’m a generalist, so this was a dream come true! Hadapt was also the first company to take a risk on me and put me in more of a leadership role. It was a great opportunity to learn and grow.

After I left Hadapt, I joined edX as an entry-level software engineer and have happily been learning and growing here for the last five years.

What has contributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?

I think one of the biggest factors has been a willingness to take responsible risks. There have been a couple of key moments in my career at edX where the company took a big risk on me, and I leaped into the unknown, trusting that I could figure it out. I then tried my best not to mess it up and contain the blast radius of any damage I caused making mistakes while learning. In each case, a great team patiently helped me learn and together we did some incredible things!

That said, I don’t just blindly try out new ideas. I try to take calculated risks that have low cost and high potential upside. In order to figure out what to try out, I have often relied on finding good ideas generated by other people. I’m not brilliant - but there are lots of bright people out there sharing their insight with the rest of us! This includes both my direct mentors at edX as well as authors, bloggers, and other idea publishers. I do go out of my way to read a fair amount and find great mentors. It’s really hard and time-consuming to learn it all from scratch by yourself, it’s a lot easier to learn from the best!

Ultimately, I think I had to trust that fundamentally I was good and valuable, and even if I failed, I would still be good and valuable. Once I was able to truly believe that, I was able to take some bigger calculated risks and try different things. Sometimes they were failures and I learned something. Sometimes they succeeded. As long as the cost of the failure is relatively low, that’s a win-win.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as an engineering manager at edX?

I’m the engineering lead for one theme at edX. We have aligned our staff around particular groups of business problems that we call a “theme”. To solve these business problems we built cross-functional teams composed of staff from marketing, data science, product management, user experience, education services, the executive team, and engineering.

My primary responsibility is to ensure engineering is able to do our part to enable the team to solve the business problems. I am responsible for making sure we have the right staff, that we have the right tools, that engineers are aligned and that we can rapidly deliver prototypes and production-ready features. I focus a lot on process and people, but ultimately I do whatever it takes to solve the problems. One day five of us stopped what we were doing and did manual data entry for an hour since it was faster than writing a script and it needed to be done immediately!

To me, it’s about creating an environment where this cross-functional group of humans can build incredible products. How do we create a team that feels inspired and excited to solve the problem, is proud of their work, is more effective together than apart, has a big impact, and feels valued as individuals and as a group? It’s a really hard problem. Much harder than any engineering challenge I’ve faced!

Any tips for someone considering a career in engineering?

Be persistent. I was never terribly good at math, or at least, I thought wasn’t very good. It wasn’t until I took calculus in high school that a great teacher showed me that I wasn’t actually bad at math. I looked around me and saw people for whom it came naturally to, they were taking math courses at Dartmouth while still in high school. I was always comparing myself to them. This teacher helped me see the beauty of calculus in a way that I could appreciate independently. It wasn’t about being good or bad at math, it was just learning something amazing. It became clear to me that I could be successful at something even if I wasn’t naturally talented.

This was true throughout my college and professional careers. I really struggled in my first data structures and algorithms class, while it came much more easily to others. I still ended up with a very good grade because I realized that just because it was harder for me, it didn’t mean I couldn’t do it.

To this day, I know that I’m not the most talented computer scientist. I will never be the next Donald Knuth, however, I can leverage my other natural talents and I can compensate for my weaknesses with willpower and still provide a lot of value.

My advice is: when it gets hard, that’s when you get to show off -- show the world how strong and persistent you are, embrace the challenge, and problem solve!


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Coffee for sure! Followed by a lot of water. I realized I had been dehydrated a lot of the time, felt great to be properly hydrated once I figured that out!

What time do you get into the office?

I usually get in around 8:30 AM. I do some of my best work in the mornings.

What are three things that motivate you in your role?

  1. Having a big impact
  2. Being on a team that is executing effectively
  3. Learning!

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

I usually do a chunk of deep work in the morning. Right now this often communication and coordination, sometimes I do data analysis or programming during this time. At 11 AM every day we have our team stand-up. I then typically have a mix of meetings and free blocks in the afternoon. Lately, it’s been a lot of recruiting related activities (interviews etc). I also have a number of 1:1 meeting with the staff I manage, mentees, and upper management.

I try to avoid taking mission-critical programming tasks since I don’t allocate that much time to that type of work. Most of my contributions to development work are code reviews. I also will take quick, simple, tasks that I can do quickly and would require a lot of context switching. I try to save the big complicated work for engineers who have bigger chunks of uninterrupted time.

What time do you head out of the office?

I try to leave by 4:30 PM every day so I can catch an hour or so with my daughter before she goes to bed. She charges my batteries for the next day!

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

I usually log back in around 10 PM and work for a bit before going to bed.

Any productivity hacks?

  • Take handwritten notes.
  • Don’t use devices with screens in meetings, instead take notes by hand. This dramatically increased the value I could add since I was actually paying attention to the whole conversation. I generally feel that if I have something that is so important that I have to do it during the meeting, I should probably just not go to the meeting and do that thing instead.

  • I use an adapted bullet journaling system - this has made it a lot easier to keep track of lots of different things I need to do and prioritize my time. I take my notebook everywhere!

  • Suppress interruptions.

  • I try to mostly ignore Slack and email and respond when I’m between meetings or deep work blocks. Most things can wait!
  • Figure out what time of day you are most effective and do your highest priority work then.

What are the 3 tools that you can’t live without?

  • Google Docs - Collaborative editing and version control are killer features

  • Email - My go-to async communication tool

  • Git - Version control all of the things!

What tools are overvalued?

  • Slack

    • I prefer face-to-face for synchronous conversation since there is a lot communicated nonverbally.

    • I prefer email for asynchronous communication because it encourages more thoughtful, fully formed responses.

    • I find it to be more distracting than helpful most of the time.

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

One team, I was on found and implemented a change that resulted in a ~30% increase in overall revenue for edX. That was a huge impact!

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

Mark Haseltine, Ed Zarecor, Alyssa Boehm and Katy Willemin are my go-to resources. All are brilliant leaders, managers, and thought partners!


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Images courtesy of Gabe Mulley

About the
Company

edX is the education movement for restless learners.

 
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Career Path: Addison Maupin, Technical Recruiter at athenahealth banner image

Career Path: Addison Maupin, Technical Recruiter at athenahealth

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What does the career path and a day-in-the-life look like for a Technical Recruiter at athenahealth? We connected with Addison Maupin to find out.

Visit athenahealth's BIZZpage for their latest job opportunities!


Where did you grow up?  What did your parents do for work?  What was your very first job (before any internships)?

I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. My dad owned his own landscaping company, and my mom was a teacher. My very first job was starting my own lawn mowing business.

You graduated from Boston University in 2008, right as the financial crisis was about to hit.  What were your initial jobs out of school and what did that period teach you?

My initial job out of school was to lead the writing program for an ESL tutoring organization. I was laid off after a year-and-a-half there. Following that, I was unemployed for the better part of a year. No period of time post-college has taught me more. It’s what I think of the most as I interact with job-seekers. I’ll never forget how brutal it was to search for a job during that time with minimal work experience that was relevant to the areas I wanted to take my career.

How did you get into recruiting?

I fell into it. I was called by a recruiting firm that was willing to train me, and I didn’t have many other options. I realized very quickly how much I loved it. It allowed me to help people every day, and eventually teach and train new employees on what I had learned. Those were two things I was interested in doing before starting my career in recruitment, so it was a natural fit.

What did you learn in terms of running recruitment process outsourcing programs at large companies like CVS Health, General Motors and other companies?

I learned that even the largest and most successful companies in a given industry undergo large-scale, tumultuous change with surprising frequency. Companies are merging, getting acquired, and buying out other companies like never before. It helps me greatly to structure conversations with people that get caught up in those situations and are affected personally by them.

Why did you decide to join the recruiting team at athenahealth and can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Technical Recruiter?

First and foremost, I wanted to join a software company that builds products that genuinely help people. Athenahealth is the epitome of that. Secondly, I wanted to find a team that I liked as much as my team at my last company, which set a high bar. I’ve never felt more aligned with an interviewing team as I did following my interviews with athenahealth.

As a Technical Recruiter, I support some of the most niche areas of the business, including Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform Engineering, and Business Intelligence. IaaS and Platform are working towards enabling microservice architecture via automated solutions across the entire technology stack. Business Intelligence is working towards providing reporting services across all areas of the business. Needless to say, it’s an exciting time to join any of these three groups!

I spend most of my time fleshing out a sourcing strategy for finding the best talent in these areas. I’m always exploring new ways to source, organize and present information, and collaborate with technical teams to build an airtight end-to-end hiring process.


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Coffee

What time do you get into the office?

Usually 8:30 AM.

What is something you look forward to everyday in your role?

Using tools that are new to me, and discovering ways of using them to make my life and my managers’ lives easier.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

I’ll always spend a chunk of time in the morning organizing my day. I’ll usually source and reach out to candidates in the morning, and schedule phone screens for the afternoon. These activities are spread around meetings I have with my internal team, and also with my hiring leaders. I do also spend time every day learning more about the roles i’m staffing for and the techniques I can utilize to best fill those roles. This involves watching online classes in Cloud Engineering and other subjects, watching product demos, etc.

What time do you head out of the office?

Usually about 5:30 PM.

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

I log back on. Often candidates cannot talk during working hours, so I need to make sure I make myself available to them as needed.

Any productivity hacks?

Yes - the system that I use to track all progress on a given position is the same tool I use to correspond/collaborate with the hiring teams that I work with. It’s saved me a lot of time.

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

Mint, Spotify, and Reddit

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

My best stretch of hiring when I was supporting Equifax for Sevenstep. I went over 13 months without a single offer decline, which included a month with 18 hires (3 of which were SVP level, 1 of those 3 had been open for over two years before I filled it).

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

My best friend Tom. He began his career for a marketing agency, and he’s made his way into a DevOps engineering role without a degree in Computer Science or any formal training on the subject. He’s a great example of how much someone can do professionally when they dedicate themselves to moving into areas that might be out of their comfort zone.


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Image courtesy of Addison Maupin.

About the
Company

athenahealth is a leading provider of network-enabled services & mobile apps for medical groups & health systems.

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Career Path: Garrett Rapp, Senior Solutions Architect at Bullhorn banner image

Career Path: Garrett Rapp, Senior Solutions Architect at Bullhorn

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What does the career path and a day-in-the-life look like for a Senior Solutions Architect at Bullhorn? We interviewed Garrett Rapp to find out.

Visit Bullhorn's BIZZpage for their latest job opportunities!


Where did you grow up?  What did your parents do for work?  

I grew up in a town called Harvard, Illinois near the Wisconsin border. My mom was a teacher of all different types (she also has a law degree). Although we lived pretty far into the country, my dad worked as an attorney in downtown Chicago. As a kid, I spent a lot of time roaming around the woods surrounding our property and both reading and emulating Calvin and Hobbes comics. Pretty much the rest of my time was spent playing piano.

Where did you go to college?  What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?

I attended Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU) in Bloomington, Illinois after a tough decision against pursuing piano performance. Instead, I enrolled at IWU as a biology major. By sophomore year, I switched to a religion major while I worked at the campus newspaper and the campus radio station. By junior year, I added an English and writing double major, and going into senior year, I was editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper. I still credit my time behind the wheel of The Argus as one of the most eye-opening and best educational experiences of my college and early career.

After school, I had a brief stint at the University of Chicago in a religion graduate program, from which I ended up withdrawing. At the same time, I was working the phones in an hourly job for TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson (a F250 transportation and 3PL company). I also did contract work in search engine optimization and content development for a company called L2T Media.

Garrett Rapp, Bullhorn
Garrett and his wife, Linda Martin, in London

What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?

For better or worse, if I’d continued in the graduate program I was in, I wouldn’t be here now. That’s not to say I regret it at all though: I got some real exposure to handling debt, grappling with sunk costs (and their associated fallacies), and weighing my pride and the idea of quitting against the likely outcomes and my personal happiness. I made the right choice, and I believe that you can learn a lot from agonizing over hard choices.

There may be a way in which that decision caused me to double down at the job I was working. I really dedicated myself to my career, and over the next several years at TMC in Chicago, I worked my way through several promotions into a key role in their internal Operational Excellence group. This role stoked my interest in consulting as a general career path and in technology (especially automation) as a focus.

What made the most difference at that early stage of my career was an obsession with efficiency, including typing speed, automation, templates, and organization, which freed up time to self-teach. There was no problem that I wouldn’t try to figure out myself first before I asked someone else. If you can afford to spend some time digging around and trying things yourself, you can learn all you need. If you don’t have time to do that, you have to make time for it first.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Senior Solutions Architect at Bullhorn?

Solutions Architect is a broad term, which can mean varying degrees of pre-sale business engagement and technical delivery engagement depending on the business. At Bullhorn, the role truly encompasses both, but a descriptor that really resonates with me is “Solution Owner.”

If we’re implementing our software for a client, we have a project manager who is the delivery owner, but we, as Solution Architects, are responsible for helping to ensure that the holistic solution works for the client. This goes beyond ensuring that our software does what it’s intended to do as outlined in the statement of work. We also need to know what systems the client depends on for their day-to-day operations beyond our software and how our data needs to interact with theirs.

Any tips for someone considering a career in Client Services?

A genuine interest in positive interactions with other people, even those you know little or nothing about, is the single most important piece. Dedication to your customer’s success is table stakes; to excel, you have to put yourself and the urge to blame aside, and refocus on the problem you have in front of you.

If you can find a way to build a rapport with your clients, you’ll enjoy making them successful. Face-to-face interactions make this easier, so I’d recommend opportunities to connect in-person with your clients. Bullhorn hosts an annual conference series called Engage that creates an opportunity for everyone in our company to meet our customers, and it’s consistently a highlight for me.

Beyond this, building your personal toolset is a key ongoing project. Whatever your specialty, try to broaden your horizons. For me in the technology and software space, this means looking at methods of conflict resolution and negotiation (I love the book “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher and William Ury), trying to understand profit and loss and balance sheets, and brushing up on consulting skills. Some classic consulting case interview preparation and practice is invaluable for anyone who aims to grow their career.

Garrett Rapp Bullhorn
Garrett Rapp in San Francisco 

Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Lots of coffee! Not too picky about it - I’ll trade quantity for quality here.

What time do you get into the office?

About 7 a.m. I get a lot of mileage out of the first 1.5 hours of office time before my email, phone, and Slack messages start increasing. If I’m onsite with a client, the goal is arriving a minimum of 15 minutes before any meetings with them start, but ideally 20-25 minutes so I’m ready for a productive conversation.

What are three things that motivate you in your role?

  • I care deeply about my team and my department. I’ll go a long way to help other people in my organization because I like seeing them succeed.

  • Getting to be a problem-solver. In most jobs, when you get handed a problem, you actually have a plethora of resources, tools, and some time allocated to solving it. Real-life problems aren’t always that accommodating!

  • Getting to meet, understand, and make a difference for customers directly. I love working with end users of our software (especially in-person, like during user acceptance testing cycles) and helping them learn new things about the tool.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

This varies throughout the year based on what project I’m working on, but it can involve:

  • Participating in client calls (design and requirements, demos, handoffs, and defect reviews)
  • Participating in internal calls with our sales department
  • Creating statements of work for services engagements
  • Creating functional specifications for custom apps and automations
  • Troubleshooting or testing our software and custom automations
  • Deploying our software

What time do you head out of the office?

Anywhere from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., depending on what’s going on that day. All bets are off when I’m on-site with a client though - spending from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. with a client in their “War Room” builds camaraderie!

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

I often will log back in at night, if only to file away emails that I don’t have to respond to, or hit off quick answers. I don’t find it stressful to keep up on things after hours - it’s worth it to me to have less noise waiting when I kick off in the morning. It’s relatively rare that I need to get on the phone with my project teams or clients for urgent matters. That said, as a project and implementation consultant, there will be occasional evenings or weekends for working on big deployments and go-lives.

Any productivity hacks?

  • I couldn’t live without organized folders in my inbox, my desktop, my Google Drive, etc.

  • Know when to block yourself off and “hide.” If I have a deep, detailed technical specification to write, I’ll minimize email and Slack, silence my phone, and work in an obscure conference room to avoid interruptions.

  • I think it’s pretty common to freeze up or procrastinate when faced with tough problems. The key thing is to start on them anyway: start simple and don’t aim for perfection, but just start producing something. You can always improve it later, but you haven’t wasted time avoiding your main problem or displacing it with lower priority issues and requests.

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

  • Slack isn’t “the email killer.” Email has a very clear purpose and utility, but I do think that Slack is the ultimate office chat tool, and its iPhone app is excellent.

  • For traveling, ExpenseIt lets me photograph receipts and automatically puts their costs, comments, and allocations into my open expense reports. It’s a great way to not lose track of the money I spend while traveling for business.

  • I use the basic call, calendar, and mail apps a lot, but the other key apps in rotation would be podcasts and Spotify, especially for when I’m traveling.

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

Working my way into a technical and software specialist role over the years, given my lack of a technical and software degree, is my proudest accomplishment. The challenge now is staying up to speed!

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

If I call someone for professional advice, it’s likely to be a parent or sibling (who are all pretty accomplished). In terms of admiration, it would be one of my first managers - Adam Gerdel. He ran the Operational Excellence team at my first job, and he became a big role model for how to develop teams that want to work together, how to deliver results while also making time to think outside of the box, and how to support employees both personally and professionally - all while staying ruthlessly focused on efficiency and innovation. He’s a one-in-a-million team leader, and I’m grateful for all that I learned from him.


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Top photo courtesy of Maximillian Tortoriello Photography, other photos were provided by Bullhorn.

About the
Company

At Bullhorn, we’re transforming the way businesses create an incredible customer experience.

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Career Path: Elaine Milardo, Senior Director, Data Platform at DraftKings banner image

Career Path: Elaine Milardo, Senior Director, Data Platform at DraftKings

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What does the career path and a day-in-the-life look like for a Senior Director, Data Platform at DraftKings?

We interviewed Elaine Milardo to find out!


Where did you grow up?  What was your very first job (either pre-college or internship)?

I grew up in Middletown, CT and Wethersfield, CT. I have a huge extended family (25 first cousins). I think the last name “Milardo” took up about half of the phone book in Middletown! It was amazing growing up in a small town where everyone knew the family.

When I was in middle school, I was a papergirl delivering the Hartford Courant, on foot, around my neighborhood...in rain, ice, and snow.  I think it’s where I got into the habit of getting up before dawn and acquired my aversion to the cold. I also worked as a cashier Sears for many years during high school and college.  I really enjoyed retail. I’m an extrovert and learned a lot about how to be a good manager from watching my supervisors at Sears. For example, on a busy holiday evening, the manager of the store came down to my department and worked the registers with us for hours, regaling us with stories. That stuck with me - he wasn’t above jumping in and helping out his team while bringing the positive vibe.    

You graduated with a Psychology degree from Smith College.  How did you get into the tech industry?

Like many, after I graduated, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue on with graduate school and was eager to start working (and my parents were also eager to have me start working!). I was able to focus on a few things that I knew I wanted in a new job.  I wanted to work in the Boston area, at a startup, in a field adjacent to psychology or medicine, just in case I wanted to revisit the decision on pursuing an advanced degree. I was fortunate to find an opportunity with a startup that focused on conducting a meta-analysis of clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies. Twenty years ago, those studies were reviewed and compiled, prior to analysis, manually. So, I spent a lot of time mastering a photocopier at the Harvard Medical Library!  On the flipside, though, I was introduced to methodologies behind consolidating, cleansing and preparing data in order to enable the statisticians to run their data models.  In essence, at a much larger scale, that’s what I continue to do today!

Your career has been centered around data. What is it about working with data that has been a passion for you?

In my first job, I was able to have a significant impact on the efficiency and value of the business by wrangling data - as an entry-level assistant research analyst! That was powerful and motivating to me, especially at that point in my nascent career.  After that first role, it helped me define and focus on what I enjoyed doing at work. I began studying and learning more about data engines, administration, transfer processes, design principles, reporting and delivery tools, and analytics use cases. I took classes, read a ton, developed, and, eventually, got an entry-level data warehouse job at AT&T working on their local AdSales warehouse.  In each of my roles, with the mentorship of highly skilled data technologists and really good managers (I’ve been exceedingly fortunate), my technical skill set grew and I was able to take on designing more complex and large-scale data infrastructure.  

The data industry is dynamic; there is always something new to check out and dig into.  It could be a new design pattern to consider, a new storage engine to test, a new way to deliver or visualize data or a new data product to build or iterate.  

To distill it, I love being able to create a platform that enables folks to more easily diagnose, discover and action data.  I love working with a broad set of teams to make finding that value, easier. And, finally, I love working in an industry that is never stagnant.  I’m never bored.

How has the use of data evolved in terms of its ability to drive businesses forward since you started your career?

When I first started my career, it was typical to have a small database that was updated, with few transformations, nightly. Analysts leveraged the data to see what happened and, potentially, did some diagnostic work into certain patterns or trends. They would run database connected spreadsheets or direct data queries. The users were specific to teams like Finance or Operations.

As the accessibility of the data changed, the user profile changed. Data wasn’t just for a specialized team or users. There was a push to democratize data to the broader population of an organization. Everyone needed access to self-serve reports, dashboards were pervasive and intraday updates were essential for improving operations.

Data volumes continue to balloon. Near-real-time batch and streaming are now essential. Descriptive and diagnostic analytics are still at the core, but enabling predictive and actionable insights through machine learning has become critical in driving better decisions.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Senior Director, Data Platform at DraftKings?

The Data Platform organization at DraftKings is made up of two amazing teams that I am grateful to lead: Data Engineering and Data Science Engineering. On the Data Engineering side, we are responsible for designing, developing and managing the data infrastructure at DK.  We are the builders and plumbers - we assess data sources, build pipelines, design data stores, transform data, enable a variety of delivery methods, ensure governance and support the users of the infrastructure. These folks are a keystone in enabling our wide-ranging data capabilities.

On the Data Science Engineering side, we are responsible for the creation of data products.  Our Data Science Engineers are just that...they are software engineers with excellent quantitative skills. They leverage both of those skill sets, extensively, and are responsible for the curation of a portfolio of data products ranging from personalization and recommendation engines to customer modeling to fraud detection. These folks are essential to realize and achieve value from our data.

I’m responsible for leading and managing these teams and enabling and supporting our technical leaders in creating a scalable, speedy, and well-architected data environment.  I spend time in planning organizational roadmaps that align with DK’s strategy and I work closely with our Product folks to help drive product vision through specific initiatives and projects that can be implemented in a highly iterative fashion

Tl;dr:  I get to do both technology and management and it is awesome.


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Coffee.  So much of it.

What time do you get into the office?

I’m a morning person that likes to ease into the day.  I’ll get up around 5:30 AM, make a coffee and hang out at my kitchen table with my cats and my laptop.  I’ll catch up on email, review my calendar and prepare for meetings I have that day. Once I get into work...my butt isn’t in my chair for more that 30 minutes a day, so this is my time!  I end up heading in around 9-9:30 AM.

What are three things that motivate you in your role?

I love mentoring and coaching. I have strong satisfaction with seeing others grow and achieve their goals.  It seems trite, but it’s been an evolution over my career. I used to be a kick-ass individual contributor and felt successful when I personally delivered awesome stuff.   Fifteen years ago when I started managing, I stepped away from IC work and shifted my worldview. It’s common, of course, as you grow as a manager. I am successful (and feel amazing) when my folks succeed.  That is the biggest motivator for me. I’m a quintessential manager.

There are always new technologies out there for data.  Like many, I have to balance my desire to try a new data processor technology with successfully maintaining our existing infrastructure.  My folks are pretty effective in pushing me to let them try new stuff. My vocation, for many years, was data engineering. With the integration of data science engineering into data platform and the hiring of a fantastic head of data science and his team, I’m continually learning.

The Data Platform team has a huge, positive impact on DK.  Whether it’s, for example, providing a data product that increases revenue or reduces risk, or providing a data store that allows for both the rigor of a single source of truth and the flexibility of multi versions of the truth, our team is so valued and valuable at DK. It’s a good feeling and huge motivator to feel the love.
 

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

I need to get myself organized before I get into the office.  I prepare notes or comments for each of the meetings I have that day and I should have a priority of tasks that I need to accomplish.  I’ll usually meet up with the technical director, leads and product, informally, each morning to catch up on their evening and if they have any potential concerns or issues.  Then, I’ll end up in meetings for most of the day. These range from discussions about new product dev, product, and technical planning, recruiting/interviews, 1-1s, or key technical design discussions.  I’ll usually end up walking around and checking in with the teams, again, in the afternoon and make myself available if folks want to quickly chat on a project, an approach, or anything that’s forefront of the mind.  At the end of the day, I’ll either be ready to go home or feel up for hanging out with people in the office, after work.

What time do you head out of the office?

I’m usually out around 6:30 PM. I’m social, so I do try to wind down the day with some good conversation with folks from around DK.  We have a bunch of after-hours groups or events at DK from D&D, board games, trivia or, even, karaoke!  My favorite (and I’m a bit biased since I started it!) is WhiskyKings, a bi-weekly get together where we do whiskey tastings (though we have expanded our portfolio to bourbons, recently). Just like I like to ease into the day...I also like to ease out of the day!

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

Yeah, me and Slack have been pretty tight in the eve.  With my wife’s encouragement, I’ve gotten better at putting down the phone when I get home so I can cook and chat with her about our day.

Any productivity hacks?

I try to bundle all my 1-on-1s and staff meetings on the same day.  I find that it helps me keep on schedule and allows me to be more focused on the conversations.

I do tend to move from one meeting to another.  Sometimes, though, I require uninterrupted time to just, well, think.  So, I secretly block off an hour during the day to focus on a particular problem or project.  I’ll leave it to my coworkers to try to figure out what hour that is...and attempt to book over it!  

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

  • Slack - Because I don’t want to miss a thing
  • Spotify -  ‘Big Band‘ and ‘Deep Focus’ playlists
  • Starbucks - see above
  • (and, of course) DraftKings

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

In my previous job, I relocated to Europe and established corporate Business Intelligence teams in Barcelona, Spain and Winterthur, Switzerland. It was an amazing experience for me, professionally and personally. I learned so much about hiring, communication, and collaboration across regions and cultures.  I made meaningful connections with colleagues and friends whose expertise and judgment I value immensely.

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

I’m fortunate to have excellent relationships with many of my current and former colleagues. The data community in Boston is relatively small, so it’s easy to stay in touch and keep up with everyone. I definitely have a few fellow data and management experts who I got to for professional or technical opinions.

My mother, father and sister are all incredible listeners and when I’m stuck on something I’ll run through different scenarios with them - just having that objective and balanced sounding board usually brings insight and clarifies the situation for me.  And I can always rely on my wife to help me work through scenarios; she’s a creative professional, and helps bring a different perspective. I am lucky to have a large pool of people to call on for valuable points of view!


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6

About the
Company

It’s simple, at DraftKings, we believe life’s more fun with skin in the game.

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Career Path - Morgan Bradford, Project Team Manager at Toast banner image

Career Path - Morgan Bradford, Project Team Manager at Toast

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What does the career path and a day-in-the-life look like for a Project Team Manager at Toast?

We interviewed Morgan Bradford to find out!


Where did you grow up?  What did your parents do for work?  What was your very first job (before any internships)?

While we moved around a bit when I was very young, I grew up north of Boston. My mom was an extremely involved stay-at-home mom (who was always the president of the PTA), and my dad worked in the tech space. My first paying job (outside of babysitting) was scooping ice cream at the local stand. They were ahead of their time and tried charging per ounce- it wasn’t long after they implemented that they went out of business!

I noticed that you studied Applied Science - Food Studies at NYU and after you graduated, you pursued a career as a Pastry Chef.  What prompted you to pursue this career path initially?

I grew up baking with my mom all the time. We had the staples for any basic baking adventure at any given time. I found it very alarming when I would go to a friend’s house, and we couldn’t make a batch of chocolate chip cookies because they didn’t have any flour! As I grew older, that evolved into me dreaming of opening my own bakery (serving chocolate chip cookies of course!). Studying food as an undergrad and attending culinary school was each a step towards that goal.

Following your time at Flour (a Boston favorite), how did you make the career switch into tech by becoming a Project Coordinator at Toast?

When I first left the kitchen, I thought I wanted a complete 180 away from my past to make a fundamental change. I took a couple of months off to regroup and came to terms with the fact I shouldn’t turn my back on my strong restaurant background simply because I was burnt out. I had heard about Toast as I was leaving Flour (they were starting the implementation process) so it was a natural place to start the search. After an informational phone call to hear about a few open positions, the project coordinator role seemed to be the perfect way to leverage my background while stepping my foot into the corporate world.

Since joining Toast, you have already been promoted a couple of times.  How have you been able to achieve such a rapid ascent in your career path?

I came in the door with a fair amount of management experience, but not very much corporate expertise, so I understood that I needed to start at the bottom. I made it very clear, when I started that I was interested in growth and threw my hat in the ring whenever there was an opportunity for stepping up.

Morgan Bradford with Toast

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Project Team Manager?

I currently manage a team of nine, comprising of Project Coordinator and Project Managers. We are responsible for taking our customers to live on the platform, and we manage everything that goes into successful implementation. My role is to ensure that my team can be as efficient as possible, stay on track to meet our goals and that our customers are as obsessed with Toast as we are.  

Any tips for someone considering a making a major career change to a new industry?

It’s very humbling to make a career change and feel like you are starting over. Coming out of college, I thought I was ahead of the game and knew exactly what I wanted out of life (professionally, at least!). I fell behind in a sense after leaving the kitchen, so making a change into an extremely high growth company made sense for me to fast track my development.


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Must always have coffee.

What time do you get into the office?

Around 9 AM.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

The day always stars with clearing out my inbox and unread Slack messages that piled up from the night before. Given that our customer base is restaurants, a lot happens after our typical work day so mornings can sometimes equal catch up. My days are packed with meetings, and whether they are one on ones with my team members, discussions about how to best institute process changes and standardize our communication strategies or interviewing amazing candidates to support our ever-growing company, I generally don’t have very much time just sitting at my desk. The days absolutely fly by.

What time do you head out of the office?

Usually between 6 and 7.

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

Absolutely! Especially if I left the office earlier to try and squeeze in some exercise.  

Any productivity hacks?

Do all things all the time. No, but seriously, with this job, if you cannot multitask, you are DOA. In order to stay productive, it is essential that I own and manage my own calendar - I have very little free time each day, so it’s imperative for me to buckle down and focus on the task I’ve assigned myself. One thing I’m consistently working on is being more present in meetings - Slack is such a distraction and an implementation can fall apart at any moment. You can be “unavailable” for 30 minutes and miss everything.

What are the three apps that you can’t live without?

Spotify, Instagram, and Zillow (love searching for real estate!)

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

My Dad! He and I are very similar, which tends to result in us butting heads (we are both very opinionated and very stubborn) but at the end of the day, he had an incredible career primarily in the tech space and is a great sounding board both when I was in the kitchen (though he had a hard time understanding some of the characteristics of that life!) and is especially helpful now.


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6

About the
Company

We empower the restaurant community to delight guests, do what they love, and thrive.

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Career Path: Thomas Salah, Sales Manager at SmartBear banner image

Career Path: Thomas Salah, Sales Manager at SmartBear

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What does the career path and day in the life look like for a sales manager at SmartBear?

We interviewed Thomas Salah to find out!


Career Path

Where did you grow up?  

I grew up in Gloucester, MA, a small fishing community located 45 minutes north of Boston.  

What did you parents do for work?  What was your very first job?

My parents owned and operated a restaurant for 25 years of my life. I think I washed my first dish at 10 years old. I was in the kitchen cooking with my Dad at 12, and I was waiting tables by 14. My grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins all worked at the restaurant – it was a family affair.

Where did you go to college?  What did you study?  

I graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in economics. My goal was to attend a NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) school and continue playing hockey. NESCAC schools offer a top-tier liberal arts education combined with highly competitive athletics. Wesleyan felt like the right fit for me from the other NESCAC schools I looked at, and I have no regrets in my decision. The classes were very challenging, we had the best hockey season in program history during my time, and I met people from all areas of the world with different perspectives that made me who I am today.

What was your first job out of college?

As senior year winded down, many of my friends were interviewing for finance and investment banking roles, but I knew that wasn’t for me. I am a people person, and I knew I didn’t have the patience or interest in living behind a spreadsheet and crunching numbers all day. I connected with people in my network across several different industries and liked the idea of technology sales. A family friend had been selling software at PTC for 15 years and helped me to get a job as an Inside Sales Representative (PTC’s word for Business/Sales Development Rep). This was six years ago, and I have been selling software ever since.

What are the details of your current role at SmartBear as a Sales Manager?

I manage a team of six-quota carrying representatives for one of our top product lines. As a sales manager, my focus is teaching my team sales strategies from the initial discovery through close to help each rep reach their goals. While I am involved in all deals that reps need assistance with, I pride myself on coaching and developing my reps rather than writing an email or taking a call for them. I really love working with my team to understand the “why” a particular result occurred to scale that approach if the result was positive and adjust the approach if the result was negative. All sales reps will tell you their goal is to hit their number, and I am responsible for helping them do that at SmartBear, but I believe my true value is helping my team develop the skills that are going to result in them always hitting their number and enjoying long-term success.

Your career path has consistently been on track for a promotion every 1-2 years.  What has attributed to your success?

This is no mystery - work hard, be accountable, and never settle for less. I’ve always had these core values at the top of mind. As in sports, if you put in the effort and stay focused on consistently delivering on your goals, then coaches/managers/leaders will continue to trust you with more responsibility and give you a chance in big-time situations. I’ve always wanted to have the ball in my hands when the game is on the line or a deal teed-up that gets the company across the revenue target. I see those high-pressure situations as an opportunity to prove my worth, and all I can ask for is the opportunity. What I do with that opportunity, well, that’s on me.  

What is your most proud accomplishment at SmartBear?

Without question - rolling out “Personal Development” sessions. Each rep on my team has a 30-minute recurring meeting on my calendar to discuss the topic of their choice in an open discussion format. Topics include written and verbal communication, objection handling, adding and selling value, creating urgency, negotiating, and many others. My intention in rolling out “Personal Development” was to offer each of my reps the opportunity to focus their attention on a specific skill that they would like to improve on and separate from the day-to-day grind of sales, separate from the forecast, the calling, and emailing. I want my reps to look back on their time at SmartBear working for me as being the most impactful years of their career. I hope to be a mentor for them for years to come.

Thomas Salah


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Coffee

What time do you get into the office?

I get into the office between 8:30-9. My team covers the West Coast territory, so work starts a little later than most.  

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

I get up every morning at 6, gym from 6:30-8 and then head to the office. I have a good idea of what the day is going to consist of from reviewing my calendar the previous night and listing out my highest priority tasks.

My highest priority task daily is reviewing my pipeline and identifying the key opportunities that are going to get me to my goals and ask myself, “What can I do today to progress this opportunity?" I then look to start knocking down other high priority tasks before the rest of my team arrives, and the day starts moving along quickly. I have meetings to attend daily, but I strive to be at my desk at all other times.  

When I am not in meetings or on customer calls, I spend time reviewing our activity metrics, adding value to my team, and teaching. Around 6 o’clock daily, when the day is winding down, I spend time finishing any outstanding tasks and set my plan for the next day. I also like to spend some time before I leave catching up on the news for the day on Twitter.

I get home around 8:30, which is also when my fiancé gets home, and we sit down for dinner. Dinner usually consists of whatever we meal prepped on Sunday. Rinse and repeat.

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

As much as I try to shut down, I really have a hard time doing so especially when I almost always have my phone in my hand. It’s nearly impossible for me to ignore my Outlook inbox, but I do try to limit myself to only responding to customer emails and discussions impacting revenue. The other topics can wait until the morning.

Any productivity hacks?

In a fast-paced technology company like SmartBear, it is very easy to get distracted. I work on staying organized and focusing on results, but if there is one issue I have, it’s thinking that I can do everything.

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

My Dad. While he has never had a corporate job, he has been managing people for much of his life running a restaurant, and he provides unique perspectives on how to overcome challenging situations. He is even-keeled and soft-spoken, so whether the day was good or bad, he usually knows what to say to bring my expectations and feelings back in line, if needed. He always taught me never to get too high or too low and keep grinding. I talk to him several times a week about sports, business, and just about everything else.


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Image courtesy of Thomas Salah and SmartBear.

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Smartbear's tools are built to streamline your DevOps processes while seamlessly working with the products you use – and will use

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Career Path: Riti Naik, Customer Success Analyst at Salsify banner image

Career Path: Riti Naik, Customer Success Analyst at Salsify

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What does the career path and day in the life look like for a Customer Success Analyst at Salsify?

We interviewed Riti Naik to find out!


Career Path

Where did you grow up?  Where did you go to college and what was your first position after graduating?

I grew up in Redmond, Washington, which is close to Seattle. I went to Tufts University and majored in psychology, with a minor in entrepreneurial leadership studies.

After college, I was a Product Analyst at Liberty Mutual Insurance performing pricing and profitability analyses on our Umbrella Insurance product.

What are the details of your current role at Salsify as Customer Success Analyst?

Our team works as analytical resources for our customers. We work with customers to help them find the best way to represent their product content within Salsify and complete various projects for them as well. The members of our team also act as experts on content requirements for top retailers such as Amazon, Home Depot, Overstock, and Instacart.

What was it about Salsify that attracts you to join the team?

Insurance is a highly regulated industry that began to feel a bit dry, so I started looking at startup companies hiring, hoping to work in a more fast-paced environment. I was not only attracted to the fact that Salsify falls in the ever-changing space of eCommerce, but also excited that my role would be a combination of behind the scenes work and also customer facing.

What do you find to be the hardest thing about your job?

I think one of the hardest parts is that there is never one right answer for problems we solve, but there is a better answer. The more exposure you get to diverse business problems, the more efficient you’ll become at helping customers with data modeling tasks.

Do you have a hidden talent/fact that many people don’t know about you?

I have my Group Exercise Certification from AFAA (Aerobics & Fitness Association of America) and am a part-time faculty member teaching Physical Education at MIT. I currently teach two workout formats, POUND Fitness, a drumming-inspired workout, and BollyX, a dance-cardio workout.


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Both! Or if I can’t decide, I’ll go for a dirty chai.

What time do you get into the office? 

It varies, but usually between 8:45 AM and 9:30 AM.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

  • Morning: The first thing I do when I get in is usually going through my emails and Slack channels to see if I have any important messages that need immediate attending to.
  • Afternoon: From there, I take a look at my Wunderlist (a free app that helps create and manage "to-do" lists) and see what tasks I have lined up for the week, to decide what to work on for the day. Wunderlist is fantastic because you can set due dates and also check tasks off as you complete them, so it makes it easy to prioritize my workload and not forget about anything. We assign work a lot through a ticketing system called JIRA, so usually my Wunderlist will consist of those JIRA tickets and any other ad-hoc projects. 
  • Evening: Some days are meeting heavy, some days aren't. Depending on the day, I may also spend some time preparing for and attending meetings, which can range from internal to customer facing.

What time do you head out of the office? 

At Salsify, we receive a lot of flexibility with our working schedule, which is awesome! We are, obviously, expected to complete good quality work on time, but there is no company policy around strict hours. I teach my physical education classes in Cambridge on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I'm pretty much always out by 5 PM those nights. Otherwise, it depends on my workload. If I have a more substantial workload, I'll stay at work later, but I'm often out by 5:30 PM latest so that I can catch my favorite workout classes in the city. I'm a huge believer in an active lifestyle, so I'll often sometimes use an earlier workout as a "break" and then log back on to wrap up some work at home later.

Riti Naik teaching phys ed

Apple or Microsoft?

Most of my electronics are Apple, so Apple. Except I’d take Microsoft Excel on a PC over a Mac any day.

Reading or watching TV?

I watch a couple of shows, but I'm definitely been trying to read more recently.

Favorite movie?

Hmm...maybe Moulin Rouge!?

Looking towards the future, where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully, I’ll still be in an analytics-focused role, and maybe I’ll have added another fitness format to my skill set. Oh, and possibly owning a pug!

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to be in your position one day?

Excel will be one of your best friends, so learn as much about it as you can.


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Images courtesy of Riti Naik and Salsify.

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Company

Salsify empowers brands to win on the digital shelf.

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