Tell us about your role and what your day to day is like.
I’ve been with Everbridge for eight months, and I do everything mobile. Mobile is an ecosystem that includes services, apps, and different technology stacks. On any given day, I might be working with Product to define features, designing UI prototypes, or working through technical challenges. The next day I might be strategizing how we support millions of users, doing some Agile coaching, or investigating a customer defect. There’s no shortage of stuff to do and it’s certainly not boring.
At the root of it all is working with a team of talented engineers and trying to create a great environment for them to be effective.
Tell us about how your role has evolved since you started.
During my interview, someone said Everbridge is a place where you can really make a difference. I’ve found that to be true, and I’m impressed with the organization’s ability to adapt.
My role has shifted dramatically since I was brought on. At first, I managed a single, distributed U.S. team, but have now consolidated three mobile teams working towards a unified goal. I work cross-functionally to shape our mobile strategy and champion initiatives such as continuous integration and deployment and DevOps from the mobile perspective. I make sure we look at mobile holistically.
What were you doing before Everbridge?
I’m a bit of an oddball. I started with technology in Canada but eventually got frustrated because I felt it was hard to make an impact; I felt like a cog in a giant machine. So I decided to follow another passion and became a chef. This wasn’t just something I tried out for a little while — I did it for almost a decade, working my way up to sous-chef for Gray Kunz in New York. I’ve had the privilege of working for some of the best chefs in the country.
“In many ways, the processes in a kitchen are nearly identical to delivering software.”
But even when I was working the line, I never lost my passion for tech. I’d get home stinking of grease and fish and catch up on tech news at 3 a.m. When the iPhone came out, I knew the world was about to change in a big way. I realized small teams of technologists would be able to change the world for millions of users. So I came back.
Here’s a tip, though: Don’t change careers during a recession. It’s just a bad idea. But at least it gave me lots of time to learn how to code again. I helped build a few great apps, did some consulting, and eventually managed mobile teams in enterprise SaaS.
The last eight years have been a roller coaster, but it’s been a really great ride.
Did you learn things as a chef that you use in your work now?
It’s funny because being a chef never really leaves you; I still see the world through that lens. I’m continually asking myself: “What are we trying to achieve? How do we raise the bar? How can we be more efficient?” In the kitchen, it was very specific: “Can I save a few seconds by moving the squeeze bottle one foot closer?” Now repeat that motion hundreds of times per night.
“I’m passionate about the opportunity to help people feel safer in this unpredictable world.“
In many ways, the processes in a kitchen are nearly identical to delivering software. Both offer customers a delightful experience — and hopefully match their expectations for quality, time, and value. Both strive to achieve and consistently maintain a high level of craftsmanship. As a chef, you’re playing the game every day. You come in, plan, do your prep, and work collaboratively to deliver something of value. At the end of the day, the team reflects and makes adjustments. The next day you repeat. Combine enough time, skill, and focus and you’ll get five-star dining.
Agile software delivery is the same; we have planning, sprints, demos, and retros. We repeat and improve through iteration. The only difference is that delivery is measured in weeks and months instead of hours and days. After years of analyzing and optimizing, I can’t help but keep doing that every day.
That’s a great analogy. When you decided to transition back into tech, what drew you to Everbridge, specifically?
I’m passionate about the opportunity to help people feel safer in this unpredictable world. Everbridge helps with natural disasters, terrorism, and other critical event management — it’s the real world. In my opinion, mobile will offer the richest experience to connect and protect millions of users.
Also, CNN recently published an article that said two of the best fields were critical event management and mobile. So I guess I found the sweet spot.
Is there a particular challenge that you’ve faced — and overcome — at Everbridge?
When I joined, we had an Agile rollout that had stalled a little, which happens frequently at all kinds of organizations. I asked around, and everyone wanted pretty much the same things. All we needed was someone to go first and — this part is key — to create some room for the teams to explore. It turns out that we had a critical mass of experienced Agile practitioners and things started to snowball. I love the fact that we have a lot of really great, smart people working together and rallying around a shared cause. That’s a powerful thing.
What are you excited to see happen at Everbridge in the next year or two?
We’re gaining momentum. We’ve recently gone public; there’s increased brand awareness and a growing pipeline of important customers. There’s lots of opportunity on the business side.
We’re a very mature startup, so we have some cleanup to do and we need to continue to mature as an engineering organization. As we gain new capabilities, there are opportunities to innovate.
“We’re gaining momentum. We’ve recently gone public; there’s increased brand awareness and a growing pipeline of important customers.”
We’re also going to explore challenges that plague the entire mobile industry. For example, our personal mobile devices are powerful; we can gather all this information about you, where you are, what you’re doing. But how do we balance the advantage of keeping people safe and connected in real time with respecting the user’s privacy? How do we enable the right level of control, establish a brand people trust, and be responsible stewards of personal information? These are hard problems to solve, but we’re excited to tackle them.
What’s your ethos as a leader?
First: Don’t be afraid to try. I’ve had moments in my life where I’ve momentarily paused — mainly because big change is scary. But I’ve learned to jump in with both feet, even when I’m afraid I’m going to fall flat on my face. That rarely happens, and more often than not, things go better than I expected. How does that translate to me as a leader? I’m probably the one who’s willing to go first, despite potential embarrassment or risk.
Second: Invite others to collaborate, but pull your weight. When coupled with not being afraid to try, this extends an open hand and encourages our aggregate skills, so we can work together to accomplish great things. When I lead by example on this, I’ve been happy to discover that the team creates a momentum far greater than my own contribution.