MobShop Inc. San Francisco
Company: MobShop, Inc.
Location: San Francisco
Industry: Demand aggregation commerce
Years in IT: 16 years
Career advice: Do not limit yourself to one area or aspect of your profession. Don’t be a development person or an operations person: be both. Try hardcore engineering, try operations, try quality assurance. Try working with the business in the capacity of an analyst or a systems engineer. Having a variety of experience will assist you in your efforts to deliver the whole solution to the business. Several vantage points are always useful.
Also, trust your instincts: if they are correct, you will be successful; if not, you will know to develop them.
Best career advice ever recieved: “Trust your staff implicitly unless proven otherwise and if so, fix it immediately.” It’s typical of new managers to not want to let go, but it’s important to be able to do so.
Toughest career challenge: Toughest career challenge: Finding a balance between fulfillment of short-term business objectives in a constantly changing landscape, and long-term investment in automation and scalability of the business. In the world of e-commerce, where things tend to change very quickly, there is constant pressure to put something together that will work for the next three months and to have it ready yesterday. It’s easy to think only in the short term.
Solution: As a VP of Technology, I have to wear two different hats, aiding the company’s short term IT goals while asking how I can support its long-term vision. In a constantly changing environment, it’s challenging to do that. I have approached the problem through constant vigilance and frequent reevaluation of priorities for the short term, and creation of a separate team with a focus on long-term issues, which coordinates with the whole staff on an ongoing basis. If you deal with systems collectively, as a nebulous blob, it’s hard to think in the long-term; but if you create separate teams with separate responsibilities, the results will be better focused.
Technical philosophy: Keep a tight focus on the business. If you just build it, they will not come. Technology must support the business at hand and be agnostic, and to a large degree opportunistic. However, do not lose sight of the future needs for scalability and automation of the business. The future will come sooner than you think.
Last two books read: Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love, by Dava Sobel; and The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story, by Michael Lewis
Last vacation: Diving in Palau, in Micronesia. Highly recommended; it’s a long-term investment.
Hobbies: Sailing, scuba diving, skiing, biking, good books, good music, and good single malt in front of a fireplace.
Favorite quotation: “Things should be as complex as necessary, but not more.”
–paraphrased from Albert Einstein (I think).