Technologist

Technologist

Like most techies, it was only two hours after I first laid hands on my family’s first computer that I was the go-to man for questions.  I don’t know what it is about computers, but I am able to just “get” them better than most.  It was that day in 1990, at the age of 7, as I showed my family how to use everything from the word processor to the Hangman game that I had just whipped up in BASIC, that I knew my calling was to find new and better ways to enable business and pleasure using technology.  I guess most of my friends still wanted to be firemen, but I was a technologist then and still am today.

From BASIC on that DOS based system to QBASIC on our first 386 to Pascal and C++ in High School to Java and C# in college courses to PHP and HTML in the time between classes to make a few bucks and about a dozen other languages from SQL to Javascript I enjoyed my time as a developer.  I made computers bend to my will and enabled my employers to make the most out of their systems.  Though my background in development is long, I started to get away from it after college.  Pure algorithmic development at the basic level is largely a commodity right now and I’m not very good at graphic design so I began moving on to where I could be more useful.

After dabbling in IT Audit (working for a private corporation ensuring their IT systems and spending were accounted for) and Technical Writing (I helped write an IBM Redbook), I found a sweet spot in infrastructure architecture.  At IBM I went from Project Management Assistant (glorified words for grunt worker) to the youngest member of the 100 person Strategy & Architecture Consulting Group in a matter of months.  I lead projects for travel companies, hospital systems, government agencies and more in the days when “virtualization” and “data center consolidation” and “on demand” and “service oriented architecture” were still as mystical and confusing as “cloud computing” and “microservices” are today.

When cloud computing started to take hold, I decided I wanted to branch out a little and join a company right in the middle of things.  That lead me down to Charlotte to become one of the first employees of a brand new company called Adaptivity.  We were a high-end consultancy focused on helping our (mostly Financial Services) clients embrace and understand the new paradigms in the world of IT (cloud included).  The more demand we found for this type of work, the more it was obvious we could sell the ideas to a broader audience if we (the consultants) weren’t an obstacle.  We needed to develop a software platform.  My background as a developer started to prove useful instantly as I was able to help take the massive amounts of wisdom we had among our senior consultants and channel it in to software.  My role quickly changed in to that of Product Manager.  I loved taking products all the way from a customer pain point, through design and architecture to a product and a marketing brochure; especially software that helped customers do the very things I’ve been working with them as a consultant on for years.  Adaptivity went on to be purchased by EMC, and a number of the people I worked with remain there.

I still love Infrastructure, Data Centers, and Cloud Computing, but in late 2012 I got a great opportunity to move up the stack.  Fannie Mae needed a new way to develop software in a challenging environment (A company that has to give all profits to the government and deals with the constant threat of significant market structural reform).  I have worked with Fannie Mae over the last 4+ years in a number of development management capacities.  I started by overhauling the way that they contracted development resources, introducing an innovative model that we called the Development Factory to increase competition and results between our development vendors.  Once that framework was in place, I took over the development of one of Fannie’s key strategic initiatives; a gateway between ourselves and a key securitization partner.  In addition to building that gateway, I have led the creation of systems to monitor the business processes that leverage it and orchestrate exception management for them.  The application went in to production in 2016 ahead of schedule and under budget.

In addition to working with technology for work, I, like most nerds, am always playing with personal technology.  I was using a BlackBerry by the time I was done with college in 2005 and was one of the first to switch over to Android when RIM started going down hill.  I have two 30″ monitors on the desktop I built by hand and a number of laptops that I horse around with.  However, even in personal technology, my goal is always to get more from less.  I am always looking for the best/cheapest way to watch internet TV or to create the most efficient todo list on my phone.