Cloud Architect & Azure Technology Evangelist - Polaris Solutions (2020 - Present)
As a recent addition to the Polaris family, I'm happy to have found a place where I can really spread my wings and take
my passion for the Azure and .NET stacks to the next level. I give tech talks, support pre-sales activities, advise
other Polarians on technical and agile matters, write technical blog posts, contribute to eBooks, support internal R&D
projects, and, of course, provide architectural and technical expertise on client engagements.
I think what I love most about this job is my community of fellow Polarians. I've already learned all sorts of things
from them, and it's wonderful to have the unique resource of our hive knowledge available to me. I also really enjoy
getting out there and giving tech talks on new and interesting Azure topics. Chatting with fellow engineers, swapping
war stories, and giving each other new knowledge really makes me feel like I have my finger on the pulse of the tech
Cloud Architect & Agile Expert - Interactive Health (2015 - 2020)
As with many jobs, I wore many hats at Interactive Health. On the tech side, I led many enterprise initiatives, including:
- Rewriting their main customer-facing web portal
- Creating an Azure-based enterprise service bus
- Performance analysis and tuning
- SecDevOps practices
- Azure best practices
- Azure cost management
- CI/CD pipelines
- Developer mentoring
These projects let me stretch my skills out into other areas, including:
- Agile mentoring
- Vendor vetting, selection and management
- Facilitating agile delivery across multiple internal and external customer groups
- Managing contractors
- Interviewing permanent and temporary Dev, QA, BA, and PM staff
A typical week might have consisted of working on a self-hosted Web API Windows service, moved
into creating a pub-sub processor based on Azure Service Bus, followed up with leading a mob programming session where we
introduce the core concepts of TDD, after which we might have moved into a discussion on rapid agile estimation techniques, and rounded
it all off with a couple of RAD sessions where we moved from concept to working prototype for a content management system. I loved the chaos!
The team was amazing, and even though we faced some extraordinary challenges, we handled just about anything that got thrown at us.
One of the most exciting parts of this job was our ability to fully utilize the entire Azure Cloud Services stack. From simple
Web Apps all the way to complex data flows utilizing Service Bus, Event Hub, and Logic Apps, the reliability, scalability, and security
of the applications we built around the Azure platform exceeded my expectations in almost every way. As the principle designer of
Interactive Health's cloud architecture, I had the opportunity to really develop and hone my abilities and fluency with the entire Azure
I was brought on as someone who could both bring the technology side of the house to the next level and amp up the
agile practices of the team. I wasn't really sure what I was signing on for, but the challenges, and opportunities,
seemed intriguing. I quite enjoy pushing people to achieve their maximum potential, and my team at IH had a whole lot of
potential. I was totally psyched to be working with a group of people who are willing to jump head first into new things,
and I'm proud of all the things we accomplished!
Technical Architect and Agile Development Mentor - Volkswagen Credit, Inc. (2007 - 2015)
In a nutshell, I "did it all" at VCI. All the standard buzzwords applied: MVC, n-tier, high-availability, responsive UI,
mobile, customer-facing, employee-facing, incremental delivery, etc., etc. From creating a dealer-facing website
using ASP.NET MVC CTP (this was back when we had to roll our own mechanism for form data persistence and validation
metadata), to architecting the backend infrastructure that would support a next-generation credit and funding workflow
system, and back again to creating a web core that would support both a responsive desktop as well as mobile
experience - I ran the gamut there. By far the most fun I had was in teaching others agile practices and
methodologies: TDD, BDD, point-based estimation, iteration management, developer empowerment, EIEIOs, and so on.
<steps up onto his soapbox>
One of my special (or annoying, depending on who you ask) talents is the ability to carve out spaces in which
"things" can happen. What kind of "things"? Well, fun things. Different things. Exciting things. As developers,
we read about, and become interested in, new technologies and design patterns. At home, it's easy enough to tinker
with these. At work, though, it's often difficult to take these new things and convince others to try them out.
Our managers (and their managers, and the Big Bosses), and sometimes even other developers, may balk at the idea of introducing
something new. There are the usual grumblings of, "It'll cost too much to do that," or, "I don't know how
to estimate against a technology I've never used," or my personal favorite, "We'll add that to our backlog of technical debt."
I find that, "No," as an answer given simply out of fear of the unknown is severely limiting and ultimately self-defeating.
You can't grow personally without trying new things, evaluating how they're going, and adjusting accordingly. Similarly,
organizations following the mantra of Change Is Scary will eventually find themselves having to perform company-wide overhauls,
involving expensive reverse-engineering of existing systems, user retraining, figuring out how to transitition from old to new, etc.
Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Walking trails blazed by others can take you to some really neat places where you can see and learn lots of
fantastic things. For me, though, there is no greater thrill than veering off in my own direction and leaving
a trail behind for those who are adventurous enough to follow.
So what's with all the soapboxing? I promise there was a point! I was very fortunate to have been able to enjoy a
great deal of freedom to trailblaze at VCI, generally with good results. There is a space that exists between corporate
paralysis and developer anarchy that is small, tumultuous, and very rewarding. I was at VCI for a long time, and I made
it my mission there to occupy that space as much as possible.
We started with an organization that was completely waterfall, thoroughly siloed, and reluctant to adopt new
technologies and practices. We transformed it into a place where agility is valued, cross-functionality is promoted,
and new technologies are embraced. Despite the fantastic technical achievements I've had the pleasure of being a part
of here, I'm most proud of those instances where we were able to convince the Powers That Be to take a chance and try
Team Lead and Senior Developer - TicketsNow (2005 - 2007)
TNow was my first opportunity to dip my feet in the waters of ecommerce. It was also my first professional involvement
working for a startup. It was my first team lead role, my first agile gig, and my first time doing TDD. In retrospect,
I suppose I had quite a few of my professional firsts there. Career-wise, this was an extraordinary experience.
The startup atmosphere was invigorating, and I threw myself into the fray with enthusiasm. In short order,
I found myself being asked to be the team lead for the group that was ultimately responsible for the rearchitecting and
rewriting of the main TickesNow ecommerce site.
We were under an extremely tight deadline to accomplish this monumental task due to the company's desire to be acquired.
We leveraged scrum to try to wrap our arms around the constantly changing requirements and shifting priorities. While
we certainly made our fair share of mistakes, I was immediately fascinated by this new way of organizing the chaos that
inevitably surrounds software development.
Designed and developed a taxonomic e-commerce website under an extremely
aggressive timeline. Organized four development teams using scrum methodologies. Scheduled and assigned development
tasks to team members. Conducted and oversaw test driven development. Acted as a conduit between the technical,
marketing, and business units. Responsible for the technical interview process for the web technical unit.
Lead Developer - Anheuser-Busch (2003 - 2005)
Having sharpened my C# skills at my gigs with Spherion, I moved on to my first ASP.NET-based web
project. We built a site that was designed to help lobbyists track legislation and regulatory issues.
While the team was quite small, someone still had to play the lead developer role. I was tapped to do this,
and I'm grateful for the experience.
This was a fun gig. It was my first all-remote project, so I had to reorient myself to the new
work-from-home reality. After a few initial hurdles, I hit my stride and found myself being
asked to be the lead developer on my first major ASP.NET web project. Granted, the dev staff was
only two people (including me), so "lead developer" is a bit grandiose in this context. Nonetheless,
it gave me the opportunity to understand what others look for in a lead. I had my fair share of
humbling moments, and in so doing I learned that listening is generally more important than commanding.
The lesson that small, focused teams are faster than large, diffuse teams was not lost on me. You read
about this, but there is no substitute for experience. With speed comes the need for flexibility, otherwise
you can wind up running headlong into a brick wall. Requirement changes came fast a furious, and while
this occassionally resulted in some heavy rework, more often than not we were able to accommodate these changes.
This really drove home the point that there is a fine art to striking a balance between speedy delivery and
high levels of abstraction and decoupling. It is virtually impossible to write code that is 100% "right" from
the get-go when the definition of "right" is a moving target. SOLID can take you a long way with respect
to making your code flexible to downstream requirement changes, but taking these principles too far can
cause gridlock. Working with Anheuser-Busch, I had the opportunity to learn to fine-tune the balance
between "good" and "perfect".
Team Lead and Network Technician - Clark Refining and Marketing (1997)