Monday, December 28, 2015

Too Much Diversity?

Is there such a thing as too much diversity? What does it mean to be non-diverse anyway? I don't think it means falling into a certain stereotype . . . like a white, Christian, heterosexual, married man with children (and that would be me). However, as a society, we've tried to conform so much to an ideal or a set of socially acceptable stereotypes that many attempts to embrace or show respect to others outside of those ideals is viewed as liberal and exclusive. Diversity in my opinion is simply allowing and accepting what is different, even if you don't agree with it. It doesn't mean you have to condone it or change your own benevolent behaviors. So I embrace diversity and non-diversity alike (whatever the latter means). And please don't call me milquetoast. I have a set of personal beliefs and standards that I follow thoughtfully . . . and respectfully.

While I'm on this topic, I'd also like to make a small attempt at addressing the topic of the majority vs. the minority. I was recently with my wife (a white, Christian, heterosexual woman) in a place surrounded by people who were visibly different than me. I made the innocent, but ignorant comment, "Now I know what it feels like to be a minority." She stopped in her tracks and replied firmly, "You will NEVER know what it feels like to be a minority." I stopped too and pondered what she said. As respectful and diverse as I might be in my words and actions, it is true that I fall into a stereotypical category that is privileged and high on the pecking order of society. All the more reason for me to be humble, respectful of diversity and inclusive. Please join me, regardless of your sexual preference, religion, marital status, age, gender, race or favorite sports team. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Gender Diversity & Inclusion

I appreciate working in a diverse workplace, but I appreciate it even more when it is inclusive at the same time. We're all like snowflakes . . . uniquely individual. And it is nice to watch the snow falling, especially when it is soft and fluffy Utah snow. The real power is when the snowflakes get together and move in the same general direction. Consider the power of an avalanche! Okay, maybe that's too scary for what I want to be a constructive analogy, but you get the picture. Diversity is great, but Diversity AND Inclusion together are powerful.

One of the ways in which we're diverse is the way we express who we are both physically and emotionally. Typical gender stereotypes would say those expressions look one way for men and another way for women. Like a snowflake, there are many ways in which I express myself as a man . . . and some of those might be considered to look more like the female stereotype. I'm fine with that since I'm simply trying to be the most authentic version of myself possible.

For some people their expressions cross the boundaries of our social traditions even more. Gender Transition is something I've been aware of for a long time, but only recently have I had more personal experience with it. I appreciate those who have taken the time to share their stories with me, most notably Grace Stevens. I also appreciate the LGBT employees at EMC who have been open and patient with me. It is fulfilling to work at a place like EMC where there is respect and support for people of every gender.

Monday, December 14, 2015

eNPS: Employee Satisfaction, Engagement & Retention

Are you familiar with NPS (Net Promoter Score)? It is a great overall customer satisfaction and loyalty metric increasingly used by companies around the globe. The fundamental principle is that there is a single "magic question" that provides fast and accurate insight into satisfaction and loyalty. Rather than asking someone a bunch of questions about their experience with your company, you simply ask them to answer based on a scale of 1-10:

"How likely are you to refer our product/service to your colleagues or friends?"

The calculation for your score is simple. You ignore the "passive" responders and then subtract the "detractors" from the "promoters," as follows:

EMC has been using NPS for a while now, but I want to encourage a new metric for us to consider. It is eNPS (employee NPS). The premise is that employee satisfaction and loyalty have a direct and massive impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Of course, cNPS (customer NPS) is influenced by other things like product/service quality, pricing, etc. But those "other" things are relatively easy to impact when compared to eNPS. If you can maintain a high eNPS score, your chances of achieving high cNPS scores are significantly improved.

Other good eNPS indicators include the "Three R's" . . .
  • Referrals - % of employees referring someone for a job (Note: This is a great proxy that can give you an eNPS score even without sending a survey!)
  • Retention - % of employees retained (Note: Don't count internal movement as attrition!)
  • Retooling - % of employees participating in formal, structured training on a regular basis (I suggest quarterly at a minimum)
I applaud EMC and others for participating in annual Great Place to Work surveys. Just as important, if not more so, are more frequent and simple "Pulse" surveys. We've got one about current events coming up this week!

Monday, December 7, 2015

EMC: Best Company to Work For!

This week EMC is being recognized by Utah Business Magazine as one of the Best Companies to Work For in the entire state! We're the only large technology company in the state to achieve this multiple years in a row. This honor comes on the heels of being recognized globally as a Top 25 Great Place To Work. We are a great place to work because we have great products, great services, great customers, great partners, great leadership, great benefits, but mostly importantly . . . great teams full of great employees!

One of our Employee Circles for Diversity & Inclusion
Our 1st Annual Car Show
Office tailgate
One of our employee "My Voice Meet Ups" 
Party time
Office golf tournament benefitting the Utah Food Bank

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sustainability: Environmental & More!

Sustainability is important on many levels, including, but not limited to environmental responsibility. I will write about the other ways in which EMC strives to be sustainable later. The focus for this post is mainly environmental.

Rendering of our new building in Draper Vista Station
Our new building in Draper Vista Station will be LEED certified. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. LEED certified buildings save money and resources and have a positive impact on the health of occupants, while promoting renewable, clean energy.

Draper Vista Station is considered a transit-oriented development, with proximity to I-15, Bangerter Highway, and most notably, the UTA Frontrunner commuter train line. Our new building is immediately south of the train stop. Our employees won't even have to cross the street to get to it.

Speaking of UTA, our relationship with them is that of both customer and supplier. We are a customer of their transportation services and a supplier of their information technology. We participate in UTA's EcoPass program which provides all-inclusive transit for our employees, and which we subsidize by 80%.

Our new building will only increase the our relationship as customers of UTA. Following are some statistics for our UTA usage year-to-date. I'll be interested in comparing them a year from now.
  • Express bus trips: 200+
  • Regular bus trips: 12,600+
  • TRAX trips: 1,900+
  • Frontrunner trips: 14,000+
We're proud that our environmental sustainability efforts have been recognized with the Utah Green Business Award for 2015. We're also proud of the international recognition for EMC overall.

My acceptance speech for our Utah Green Business Award

Monday, November 23, 2015

2016 Tour de Cure

I rode in the 2015 Tour de Cure and I'm riding again in 2016. Do you know what "cure" I'm riding for? The cure for diabetes! Please visit my personal ADA Tour de Cure site for more information, including how you can help.

There are many people on my mind as I look forward to this event, . . . My cousin Nate, by neighbor Babo, my colleague John's son, my brother in-law Chris, my sister in-law Megan, etc. Allow me to say a bit about Chris. We share some of the same passions for adventure and the outdoors. I'll never forget the time we did a fast day hike of Kings Peak via Henry's Fork. You would never guess Chris is diabetic based on his athletic performance. Here's what he says about his situation:
"Self-management for me means having an understanding and the ability to make decisions around insulin sensitivity, insulin absorption, and food digestion and absorption. The only thing predictable about diabetes is that it always unpredictable. Diabetes never takes a holiday and neither can a person with diabetes . . . always testing, always adjusting, always picking yourself up."
Chris with bloodied head and broken hand at the end of a trail run
Chris with friends at elevation
Chris with his late dog Mack

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Law of Excellent People

The Law of Excellent People is simply that . . .

"A players hire and attract A players"

Unfortunately, the opposing law is not quite as simple. B players do not hire and attract B players. B players hire and attract C players! This is also known as the Law of Not-So-Excellent (Crappy) People. I first heard this term from Marc Andreessen in the Netscape days. It is helpful to understand this law so we can understand the one we actually want to obey. Said another way, the opposing law is that for any title level in a large organization, the talent on that level will eventually descend to the least effective person with that title. A related concept was coined by Laurence Peter & Raymond Hull in their book, The Peter Principle. They believe that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently. Sooner or later they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their "level of incompetence"), and there they remain being unable to earn further promotions. As Andy Grove points out in his book High Output Management, the Peter Principle is unavoidable, because there is no way to know at what level in the hierarchy a manager will become incompetent.

So what is required to obey the Law of Excellent People? Here's my list:
  • Rigorous hiring - Strong systems and internal partnerships between HR, recruiting, finance and the hiring management team. Strong external partnerships with universities, the local community and professional associations.
  • Thoughtful, frequent 1:1 conversations - Rewards and recognition for those at the top, clear guidelines for those in the middle, and appropriate interventions/consequences for those at the bottom. I like what Marcus Buckingham has to say about the ineffectiveness of traditional, annual performance reviews. 
  • Open, honest team communication - In addition to reviews by the leadership team, all levels of the organization should be willing and able to communicate across all directions in the organization (up, down & sideways). 
  • Supporting systems - As stated above, this is important and the lack thereof certainly dims whatever team excellence you may possess. See Marcus Buckingham in action at Deloitte for an example of a world-class system.  

Excellent people in Finance & Technical Support
Excellent people in Core Technologies Division
Excellent people in Program Management Office
Excellent people in Professional Services

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day in Utah

My Air Force Grandfather
My grandfather flew U.S Air Force cargo planes over the Burmese jungle during World War II. He had many amazing experiences, as you might imagine. My favorite was his encounter with a tiger one night in their jungle camp. He emerged unscathed, at least physically.

My brother's graduating class
One of my brothers is also in the Air Force. Another one is in the Navy. They both support our troops from a medical perspective. They enjoy what they do because it provides for their families AND because it provides for our general welfare and security as a nation. I am grateful for them.

I am surrounded by a lot of other military and related personnel because of my job. You might wonder how that's possible, but our government and our military depend heavily on Information Technology. As a result, we have a large contingent of people in our Dell EMC Utah office who support our U.S. Federal operations. They have security clearances and supporting infrastructure to help the people that keep our nation running smoothly and safely. Many of these people are civilians, like me. But many others are veterans or reserve forces. As mentioned in my blog post about Employee Resource Groups, our Dell EMC Veterans group in Utah is the largest in the nation. The reason is because we are a patriotic community, but it is also a result of the large U.S. military and federal government footprint in Utah:
  • Hill Air Force Base
  • Tooele Army Depot
  • National Guard at Camp Williams
  • Dugway Proving Grounds
  • NSA data center & language processing 
  • IRS service center
Me with my Air Force brother and my wife
My Navy brother
Today the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is coming to our office to meet with our employees. While they're here I will sign the ESGR Statement of Support on behalf of Dell EMC Utah. ESGR has given two of our managers the Patriot Award in the past and recognizes all that Dell EMC does to support our veterans. Not only do we support veterans by hiring them, we have the employee circle and many other veteran-specific programs.

Thank you to veterans, reserve forces, active duty forces and all of their families everywhere, but a special thanks the employee-veterans of Dell EMC Utah . . . and my brothers!

Dell EMC Utah VeTS with Senator Hatch

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Snow in the Silicon Slopes!

All that glitters is not gold . . . at least not in Utah. At this time of year it is the white snow falling slowly, but surely in the mountains. I went for a mountain bike ride in Corner Canyon early this morning. Here's why I love mountain biking in the Silicon Slopes during the early winter season:
  • There is no mud . . . it is frozen
  • There are fewer people & bikes out on the trails 
  • I don't sweat as much and I don't have to drink as much water
  • You know that snow skiing is just around the corner . . . literally & figuratively!
Almost time to bring out my Specialized Fat Boy
Definitely time for my Specialized Defroster shoes
Utah is a huge travel and tourism destination in all seasons, but I think winter might be the biggest. Outdoor Recreation contributes almost $6 billion to the local economy every year. Governor Herbert created this as an areas of focus for his Office of Economic Development and hired my friend Brad Petersen to run it. 

PS - As of today, nearby Snowbird ski resort already has a 15" base and is making "gunpowder." They open for the winter season in just two weeks!

Monday, November 2, 2015

EMC Employee Circles in Utah

EMC promotes diversity, inclusion, employee engagement and community involvement in a variety of ways, but my favorite way is something we call our Employee Circles. We have formal groups of employees who share a common trait or interest that come together to help each other and those around them, both inside and outside the company. They don't just promote their particular area of interest, they make good things happen. We depend on them heavily to sponsor and organize activities for our employees, whether they're in the circles or not. In Utah there are four circles that have been formed:
  • ELLIT - EMC Latin Leadership Interest Team
  • ELGBTA - EMC Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advocates
  • WLF - Women's Leadership Forum
  • VeTS - Veterans and Their Supporters
The VeTS circle is the biggest in the country. While our ELGBTA circle is still small, I'm encouraged by the fact that a similar group at nearby eBay is even bigger than the same eBay group in California. Our WLF circle is the biggest one of the four for us locally, and comprised of more than women. The ELLIT circle is the one that formed first. They are a fun and vibrant group that includes many Latin natives as well as wanna-be's like me.

As an example of the good things they do, . . . this year all four circles are combining to do an "EMC Gives Back" community event that gathers food, clothing and hygiene kit supplies to benefit multiple local charities:

In the middle of the charitable push they're also organizing a Santa Saturday for our employees and their children. One of our employees is a real Kris Kringle doppelganger!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Utah: A Multi-lingual Jackpot

In one of our first big waves of hiring in Utah in 2011 we set a goal to have 25% of the new recruits speak Spanish or Brazilian Portuguese fluently. We easily met that goal. We now have people who speak over a dozen languages as either their first language (with English as the second) or as a fluent second language. I don't have the stats, but we also have a lot of people who speak three languages fluently! I'm delinquent with only two (English and Spanish).

Bi-lingual & Tri-lingual Skills in Utah? Huh? 

People unfamiliar with Utah are often surprised to find out about the language skills available here. There are 4 reasons for this phenomenon:
I speak Spanish and a few words of Basque

  1. Public schools
  2. Mormon church
  3. Local universities
  4. Low cost of living & high quality of life

Public Schools

My 3 youngest children are all in a Mandarin Chinese immersion program offered by their local schools. Their teachers are from mainland China or Taiwan. They speak nothing but Mandarin a full half of every day at school. It is amazing. Other language immersion programs include French, German, Portuguese and Spanish. Kudos to local government and the public school system for building on the strong foundation that was created by #2 . . .

Mormon Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormons) has a Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Utah which employs over 1,000 instructors teaching approximately 50 different languages to tens of thousands of church missionaries every year. The National Security Agency (NSA) took note of this impressive operation and located one of their language processing centers in the state as a result. Many of the bi-lingual missionaries trained in the MTC return to Utah to study and work after their missions.

Local Universities

80% of Brigham Young University's student body speaks a second language. The University of Utah offers studies in 17 different world language courses and over 180 languages are spoken by their students. Utah Valley University also boasts a large and diverse student body (+33,000).

Low Cost of Living & High Quality of Life

The Silicon Slopes are an attractive places for Silicon Valley refugees, not to mention people from other parts of the country and world. We have relocated people with language skills from China, India, Egypt, Brazil, just to name a few. Many of them purchased their first single family home here and have brought friends and family along with them.

Check out the recent KSL news article on this topic. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hunting, Hiking & Camping in the Utah Backcountry

This past Thursday & Friday was the Utah Education Association's Expo for public school teachers. Many kids were out of school as a result, including mine. The UEA Expo typically coincides nicely with the opening of the rifle deer hunt. To be clear, I'm not a hunter, but my in-laws are. They have a long tradition of hunting near Windy Pass in the Wasatch Mountains. I do love hiking and camping, however, so I was happy to join them along with two of my boys.
Lots of bones below Lightning Peak
My kind of hunting is looking for wildlife or other signs, like the sun-bleached bones above. It might have something to do with my mostly vegetarian diet over the last 10+ years. I'm a self-described "nature lover." About 25 years ago I did go hunting and had the experience of shooting, killing, cleaning, processing and eating a deer. So I do have some firsthand knowledge upon which I've crafted my beliefs and practices.
Large bull moose about 10 yards off the Great Western Trail
The fall colors aren't quite as vivid as they were during my Massachusetts childhood, but they were still beautiful. I especially love the contrast of the yellow aspens and red maples against the deep green pines. We took the long way home through Shingle Mill and encountered some heavy rain. I found myself wishing it was snow. It won't be long!
Descending in the rain at the top of Shingle Mill

Monday, October 12, 2015

EMC-Dell Announcement & 8-yr Anniversary of Mozy Acquisition

The announcement with Dell today is a huge milestone for me, EMC and the IT industry. It was 8 years ago this month that EMC acquired Mozy. It has been an amazing and eventful journey that continues on. Here are a few of my reflections on the experience of the acquisition and the following years.

M&A Integration 

EMC's M&A strategy is quite different than what I've experienced at other companies, most notably Oracle. I'll never forget a conversation about our integration into EMC where we heard, . . .

"All I ask is that you take a look at what we have to offer. If there's something that helps, please take advantage of it. If not, keep doing what you need to do and let us know how it goes." - Joe Tucci, EMC Chairman

One instance where we gladly welcomed EMC's help was with our disk drive purchases. EMC helped drop our prices and improve our quality, almost overnight. One instance where EMC had nothing to offer was when we wanted to run a TV commercial to reach our consumer and small business customers. The corporate marketing team basically echoed Joe, . . . "Let us know how it goes!"

We did have more than one "close call" with the integration. I'll never forget reviewing a multi-million dollar proposal for IT integration. Moving forward would have crushed our delicate financial model. Not only did we get support to NOT move forward, I'm happy to say that the EMC IT integration approach of 2015 is much more agile than it was 8 years ago.


There are many Mozy people that I enjoyed working with, most of whom didn't leave until years after the acquisition. Josh Coates was the Founder & CEO of Mozy and had perhaps the most profound impact on me and the company as a whole. He is a smart, passionate entrepreneur. I am so glad we met in the Bay Area in 1999 when he was starting up Scale8 and I was working at Oracle. Other people I remember well from the very early days of Mozy include Pat Bozeman, Zach Wily, Cody Cutrer, Jon Jensen, Keith Tanaka, Dave Robinson, Paul Cannon, Tom Metge and Jared Wilks.

In addition to Joe Tucci, there were a bunch of other amazing people that welcomed me into EMC. This included Harsha Ramalingam, Andrew Homer, Tom Heiser, Chad Casamento, Jamie Prentice and Howard Elias. My associations have expanded to include literally hundreds of other EMC'ers, partners and customers that I consider to be close colleagues and friends. At the end of the day, it is the people that have kept me engaged and excited about my job. 

Change, Change, Change

So many things have changes since I joined EMC. The pace and magnitude of the change has been exhilarating, not exhausting. Here are just a few examples . . . When we were acquired our company name was actually Berkeley Data Systems. We legally changed it to Mozy after the acquisition. Then, after EMC acquired PI Corporation and I started working for Paul Maritz, we changed the legal name of our business unit to Decho. Things continued to change and we eventually changed back to Mozy. However, we weren't the same Mozy we had been before. We were working closely with VMware on exciting projects like Cloud Foundry and the predecessor to vCloud Air. Today's landmark announcement represents another exhilarating change which I willingly embrace. 

In short, it has been an awesome journey for Mozy and for me personally. There are lots of other stories to tell, but I'll save those for another post. For now, I simply wish to say "Thanks" and "Happy Anniversary" to all of my Mozy friends! 

    Thursday, October 8, 2015

    EMC Project Vista Steel Top-Off

    Yesterday was a big day for EMC Utah! Several team members and I were at the Project Vista construction site to witness the placement of the last steel beam on EMC Utah's newest building in Draper. The ceremony was short and sweet, but I know that this will have a long-lasting impact well into the future.

    In the week leading up to the steel top-off, we displayed the Project Vista steel beam in the lobby of EMC's current building in Draper. By the time the ceremony came, it seemed there was no more room for anyone to sign their name! It was great to see the employees wanting to leave their mark as part of this milestone.

    Final Steel Beam Display
    EMC Employee Signatures
    Utah sure provided us with some perfect Fall weather during our ceremony. The skies were blue, there was a slight breeze and the temperature was a perfect 70 degrees. Our pleasant four seasons and general great weather is another selling point for the Silicon Slopes! EMC isn't the only large tech company building buildings in Utah. The scene along Utah's main highway, I-15 used to be surrounded with vast amounts of land and is now a scene of steel structures. As an example, you can see Thumbtack's new building in the photo below, just down the street from ours. eBay's big building is right in front of that. I am so excited for the future of the Utah tech scene!

    Before the topping off. Note Thumbtack & eBay in the background.
    Getting ready to hoist the beam and the ceremonial tree. South Mountain in the background.
    The beam in the air!
    Workers placing the steel beam.
    Beam is secured!
    The tradition of "topping-off" or "topping-out" is a custom that started in Scandinavia around 700 A.D.  Historians believe that the ancient tribes tradition of placing a tree above their homes began as a way for them to appease the tree spirits for killing the trees. As iron and steel replaced timber as primary building materials, iron workers over the years have carried on the tradition. 

    Placing the Evergreen tree. 
    A handshake for completion!
    Project Vista as of October 7, 2015

    Thursday, October 1, 2015

    Car Consumption: A Heuristic Model for Information Technology

    Think about the way we consume cars and how it has evolved over the last century. It is nothing short of amazing. It is transformational. The IT industry can learn something from the automotive industry, especially when it comes to consumption models. Of course, the IT industry is moving through their transformation faster than the automotive industry, but many of the stages of the transformation in one industry can help us understand changes in the other.

    Today, October 1, 2015, is the 107th anniversary of the Ford Model T. It cost $825, which is about $21,000 today. It began a revolution, not just in transportation, but also in manufacturing. In order to bring costs down and make the car more accessible, Henry Ford introduced ground-breaking innovations, like interchangeable parts, continuous flow, division of labor, and waste reduction. Yet, there were no other options to consume a car if you didn't have $825. 

    Think about how that consumption model has changed since then. The concept of a taxi has been around since the horse & carriage, but new consumption options emerged with mass-produced technology. People could soon rent a car and drive it themselves. Or if they wanted the benefits of ownership without the same upfront cost, they could lease a car. Today, companies like Uber & Lyft have created disruptive consumption models that change the game again. The transactional unit is no longer a car or a day or a week, and the barrier to enter that transaction as a supplier has also radically changed. Everyone with a car is a potential supplier . . . whether it is own, leased . . . or even rented! And everyone with a piece of technology is a consumer with more options, more control and a different economic model. Wow!

    So what does this mean for IT? I don't think we really even know, but I think it is worth considering. We've already seen dramatic changes with cloud offerings for consumers which provide endless email, games, entertainment and productivity apps. Many of them are "free" in terms of financial cost to the consumer, but not in terms of the currency of personal information. These same technologies and consumption models are slowly, but surely making their way to corporate, government, non-profit and all other types of organizations to which we belong. Gone are the days when a company needed to buy expensive hardware and software and build a datacenter to protect it all (think Model T). Technology, even for the largest, most complex enterprises, is available "as a service" paid for paid on usage (think Uber & Lyft). 

    The only real hurdles left to cross are ubiquitous access (think of the billions of people still without smart phones) and security. The killer app will be the browser-like interface to all of our technology which has been seamlessly integrated behind the scenes. Everything will be massively and instantly customized (or configured) in real-time based on vast amounts of data. "Suggested" friends or products or services, augmented reality glasses, self-driving cars, and virtualized data centers are merely a glimpse of what is in store for us. There are more ground-breaking innovations happening on a regular basis in IT, just like they did over 100 years ago in the automotive industry. I'm glad to be working at a company that is playing a key role in that transformation. 

    Tuesday, September 29, 2015

    Utah Women Tech Council

    I recently attended the 8th Annual Utah Women Tech Council Awards luncheon. It was inspiring on many levels. One level of inspiration was to highlight some of the amazing women in tech that I work with. I asked a manager from one of our software development teams to share a few details that I could post here . . . 

    Vicky was born in Russia, but her family moved to America when she was two years old.  She grew up in New York and lived there until two years ago, when she moved to the Silicon Slopes with her husband and two daughters. Vicky graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Alameda and had a successful 17-year career as a software developer. She's been part of building platforms for a wide variety of systems in the financial and regulatory services, healthcare, e-commerce, manufacturing, education, and telecommunications industries. She has been responsible for developing and maintaining software in $500 million application portfolios. She is a proven technology leader.  On the personal front, she loves to travel. She also enjoys skiing, boating, camping and cooking food from around the world. 

    Commenting on her team, Vicky says, "My entire team is new to EMC. None of us have been here for more than six months.  Everyone has been doing great things to get us running smoothly, but the biggest surprise has been Breana.  She joined the team in July as an Associate Developer, but didn’t have any prior experience in Java, our primary coding language.  In fact, she had never been exposed to the vast majority of technologies we are using.  Breana was asked to start working on a coding exercise that I have seen used in the past: a fairly simple address book application.  

    This let her get some good practice in what we do while not using live projects for training.  The rest of the team got involved too, with our Business Analyst providing user stories while the Senior Developers helped Breana understand how to take advantage of her previous coding experience to quickly become a strong, contributing member of the team. We recently finished our fourth sprint for this project. So far she has developed a database to store contact information, an application for adding and retrieving contacts, and a web-based GUI so that even non-technical people can use her project. I’ve been really impressed with the way she has taken a basic knowledge of one programming language and turned it into a solid foundation for future success."

    I can't wait for the awards luncheon that recognizes Vicky or Breanna or both of them for their contributions to technology here in Utah! I will be proud to claim them as friends and colleagues. I am glad to work in an environment that fosters diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity for all. Our Women's Leadership Forum is just one of several employee circles that facilitates these opportunities. 

    Tuesday, September 15, 2015

    Utah mountains: More than Silicon

    Of course, the tech scene is booming here in Utah, but the beautiful thing about it is the backdrop. Here are a few snapshots of recent adventures, basically in my backyard . . .

    Mount Timpanogos summit
    I usually hike Mount Timpanogos 3-4 times each year, sometimes in the winter, but mostly in the summer and fall. I prefer the Timpooneke Trail even though it is slightly longer than the Aspen Grove Trail. A normal time for me is about 2 hours to the summit and 1.5 hours back down. I almost never slide down the glacier on the east slope because I don't like to bring much with me to slide on and there always seems to be a rock or two hiding in the ice. It is an extra treat to run into mountain goats somewhere along the trail and wildflowers in the upper meadows, not to mention friends at the summit shack!

    The window in my office literally looks right up at Lone Peak. So hiking it has become almost a necessity a few times each year. It is a longer, steeper hike than Timp and amazingly diverse. I prefer going up the Cherry Logging Trail and then connecting over to Trail of the Eagle to get to Outlaw Cabin and then proceeding from there to the final cirque and up the summit ridge. I love the fresh spring water along the way, the towering pines, the sheer granite walls and the general lack of foot traffic. Hiking with my wife is a nice bonus. I've been up there recently with other friends and co-workers. I often take a dog or two. But I'm also perfectly happy to do a solo jaunt to test my fitness or clear my mind.

    Lone Peak summit
    There are countless other places that are equally spectacular and even more accessible. Bells Canyon is one of those places. The trailhead is about 20 minutes from our office and about 10 minutes from my home. The trail continues well past the falls and up toward Pfeifferhorn and other remote peaks and valleys.

    Bells Canyon Falls
    There are even more remote places just beyond the Wasatch range, most notably the Uinta Mountains. It is vastly beautiful and beautifully vast. One of my favorite places to go is the Crystal Lake Trailhead for easy access to a handful of beautiful alpine lakes (Marjorie, Island, Long, Duck, etc.).

    Near Crystal Lake
    Regardless of the season, the mountains of Utah are the perfect place to recreate and rejuvenate via bike, boot, hoof, ski, snowmobile, ATV, RV, car or whatever! The fact that a valley full of technology sits at the foot of the mountains means I get more time in either or both places and less time in transit. I love it! - VC