Q: Who are you? Where are you from?
A: The hardest question comes first! I am more than I know how to list here, but I’ll say that I am a well-meaning, pro-social learner who tries to do better for the people around him every day. I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, land of beer, brats, and fried cheese curds. It’s a lovely place, but what I miss most about it is the city-wide fully-dedicated bike paths.
Q: What’s your background? What did you do before Modulate?
A: I have taken a non-traditional path to engineering leadership. I’ve been around tech my entire life in various forms, and in the process I took a series of roles that gradually moved me closer and closer to software engineering until I got firmly into that field working for Wayfair. I spent a tremendous amount of time by industry standards at Wayfair, cycling through roles and domains roughly once a year, eventually pivoting into engineering management, and growing into a manager of managers. Wayfair was for me a fast-moving environment with a lot of opportunities. While I was there I was able to learn from my many collaborative, thoughtful colleagues, try (and of course sometimes fail) a variety of things, and generally build key skills and exciting technology at a remarkable pace.
Q: Why are you joining Modulate?
A: What first pulled my interest to Modulate was the way everyone at the company holds strong values and uses them to inform their choices. It was clear in my early interactions – the company site and postings, the job listings, the interviews – and it remains true in every experience I’ve had since. Modulate, more than any other company I’ve seen, is interested in doing right for all stakeholders and not only shareholders: employees, customers, investors, gamers, etc.
Q: What’s your ideal work environment? Any special strategies you use to stay effective?
A: My ideal work environment is a community that sees themselves as all part of the same endeavor and collaborating to find how to drive it forward together. The cornerstones of my approach to staying effective are 1) communicate choices actively, 2) center objectives and values to give discussions purpose, 3) actively block time on my calendar for specific tasks and responsibilities, 4) set aside time to reflect on what’s happened so I can make informed choices about what to change going forward.
Q: Tell us about something you must have in any culture you join?
A: Earnest, principled people who are open to growth. I want to work with people who care about what they’re doing, whether at a macro or personal level, who want to live up to their values, and who want to find ways to do better next time. My experience is that if folks have those attributes there’s always a path to do great things together.
Q: Who are you outside of work?
A: Pretty much the same as I am at work, but more introverted and with less of a filter. I love to play with my kids, play and develop board and video games, read, cook, watch movies and television, and have a detailed, thoughtful discussion on most topics. I am passionate about building and maintaining safe, nurturing communities and building effective endeavors. I aspire to learn to garden, but still know almost nothing. I love investing deeply in things that I enjoy – which is why my favorite genre of video game is skill-intensive roguelike.
Q: What’s something you’re great at that few people realize?
A: Cooking! I love to make vegetarian food for myself and others. My signature dish is spanakopita.
Q: Leave us with a fun tidbit - a favorite joke, a story from your past, an obscure riddle, whatever you like!
A: I love a good logic puzzle, so let me share one here:
You and your friend have a logic trick you perform. In the trick, the audience chooses any 5 cards from a regular deck of playing cards supplied by an audience member. The audience then hands the five cards to your friend without showing you. Your friend looks at the five cards, chooses four of them and places them into a pile, and hands them to you, while keeping the 5th card secret. You look at the four cards your friend has chosen and then correctly identify the number and suit of the 5th card. How is this trick performed?
(To be clear, no slight of hand or devices not specified in the text above are used. You and your friend coordinated on this trick in advance to work out how it would be done. No one in the audience is assisting the trick.)