Blog

May 14, 2019

Career Path: Matt Young, VP of Cloud Operations at EverQuote

What do the career path and the day-in-a-life look like for the VP of Cloud Operations at EverQuote?

We connected with Matt Young to find out!

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


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

New Jersey is the first place I remember. In 4th grade we moved to Dryden, a very small town outside Ithaca, NY.  From grades 4-8 I went to a small church school in a renovated barn. There were seven kids in my 8th grade class. I attended a public high school, with 133 kids in my graduating class in 1994, then left behind cows, corn, and countryside and headed to college.

My father was an inspector for animal food mills and later a Feed Microscopist - “QA zoomed in.”  My mother is a first generation American who grew up working my grandparent’s flower farm in NJ. She continued the family business as a florist and caterer with my Aunt. I grew up prepping massive quantities of food and flowers for weddings and parties.  

In the first half of college, I frequently went home for the holidays to work with food+flowers to fund food+school.

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

I attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), starting as a physics major. After a semester I switched to Chemistry. Two-and-a-half years into my undergrad I felt that while Chemistry is fascinating it wasn’t my passion. I was staying up WAY too late at night playing with the unix servers on campus. Rendering raytraced images took DAYS on my i386 and a few hours when the servers were idle at night.

I pushed my own reset button, changed my major to Computer Science, and took a full year off.  I joined an enterprise storage management startup (HighGround Systems) writing test automation code. When I returned to school I transitioned to an engineering role and worked 20-40 hrs/week while finishing my degree. I found that the job as an engineer lent perspective and context to what I was studying...and food.

As part of my time at WPI I did 2 projects with companies. The first was in London developing a marketing and business plan for a research group’s Internet rollout (1998). The second was with an industrial automation company (Intellution, 1999) where we designed and implemented a “Distributed Object Brokerage” - connecting management software to robot controllers via C++, DCOM, and graph theory.

Matt Young

What was your path from 2000 to EverQuote?

After graduating I moved to Seattle to join Microsoft. I spent six years on a hard real-time OS team (Windows CE): two years working on a kernel debugger, a profiler, and compilers, and another four in a “boots on the ground” engineering role. The latter was formative for me.

If we were engaged, a partner’s project was behind/failing or was using a new OS feature. My job was a mixture of debugging, diagnostics, training, and acting as an engineering conduit between our engineering teams creating the OS and hardware companies wanting to use it. I was able to work on video streaming devices, VoIP, routers, and some of the first “personal digital assistants” - precursors to smartphones. I got to learn ARM & MIPS and work at all layers of the stack from hardware to UI.

I found that I loved giving talks and working across teams/companies in a technical capacity. I discovered that I loved jumping on planes and not knowing the local language. I enjoyed debugging thorny issues with others more than creating new ones. I still do.

I moved to Germany and spent a couple years working with a Research team on embedded hypervisors and P2P networking research. I then returned to the US in customer facing support and engineering roles for MS’s application virtualization products. Again I gravitated to deeply technical and customer facing teams and tasks. After nearly a dozen years with Microsoft life events motivated a change.

I spent the next 7 years with Dell, VMware, and Red Hat. Virtualization, IaaS, orchestration systems and dev tooling formed a common thread throughout. I had a chance to learn and work with NetBSD, Linux, Windows, OpenStack, and Azure in a variety of languages. Throughout I found myself drawn to collaborative opportunities vs. individual contributor roles.

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

Being enthusiastic about bridging traditional roles and intentionally seeking out opportunities in multidisciplinary settings is perhaps a factor. Nearly every job where I’ve been successful has been a blend of Dev/QA/PM/Support. When an organization’s culture rewards solving problems irrespective of “role,” I have been the most engaged. It’s one of the many reasons I’m so excited to be a part of EverQuote.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as VP of Cloud Operations at Everquote?

Our team combines aspects of Site Reliability Engineering, Service Design Consultancy, and Operations. We...

  • Ensure that our infrastructure continues to enable our growth and business objectives.

  • Create, curate, and champion patterns and best practices for cloud native designs.

  • Partner with our engineering teams to produce solutions that are scalable, observable, and sustainable.

  • Provide development tools, systems, and methodologies that allow our engineering teams to manage their own services in production.

  • Manage our infrastructure, responding to operational issues that impact our workloads.

  • Manage our relationships and costs with cloud providers and vendors.

My role at EverQuote is to build, grow, and sustain a team that achieves these goals in an open, transparent, and inclusive way.

We’re hiring. Join us!

Any tips for someone considering a career in Engineering?

  • Be Kind. Listen first. Assume good intentions.

  • Be open to new ideas.

  • Make sure that you are solving the right problem(s).

  • Articulate and communicate your ideas. Ask for feedback.

  • Draw diagrams and pictures.  Often.

  • Be curious.


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Coffee (hot or cold).  Aspirational goal: more water, less caffeine.

What time do you get into the office? When do you leave?

I arrive between 8:00 - 10:00, and leave 4:00 - 8:00. I’m a single dad with what appears to be an irregular weekly schedule. It’s a very regular 14-day schedule.

What are three things that motivate you in your role?

  1. Facilitating the professional growth of others.

  2. The sheer geekly awesomeness of modern infrastructure design. We are at a point where ideas that have been “the future” for decades are finally possible.  Lately for me this is k8s, istio, opencensus, go, spark, and a pile of other fun stuff.

  3. The opportunity to provide tools & techniques that improve our developers’ experience and velocity.

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

  • Standup

  • n * {1:1, planning, reading, writing, listening, learning, sharing, doing}

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

I usually log back in and sometimes stay up objectively up way too late - particularly if I’m doing dev stuff or learning new things. Finding balance isn’t something I’ve yet achieved.  I have been making inroads. There’s life going on out there!

Any productivity hacks?

  • Sleep.

  • Don’t boil the ocean when you need enough hot water to make tea.

  • Done > perfect.  Iterate.

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

  • EverDrive!

  • Youtube (CNCF, MS, Google, KubeCon, k8s, tech talks, …)

  • MyWeather (“shall I motorcycle now?”)

Matt Young


Colin Barry is the Content Manager on VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter @ColinKrash

Images courtesy of Matt Young