I met Douglas in the mid 1990’s when our shared interests were primarily music. Our paths diverged, as friendships made in your late teen years often do, but I always thought fondly of my principled, punk friend. Independently, each of us established digital-centered careers in the dotcom-heyday of the late 90’s and early 00’s.
In the 2010’s, music brought us together again. This time it was music + technology at the SXSW Interactive, Film, and Music Festivals. It was refreshing to catch-up and talk about how our careers evolved. My career evolved into consumer strategy and production for digital projects; Douglas’ career evolved into technology leadership and strategy for digital products.
The late 90’s and early 00’s were exciting for early tinkerers in the digital world. Because we were working in a new medium, everything was unprecedented. Those who worked in the digital world in those early years have entrepreneurship in their veins; they’re always looking for new ways to solve problems with likeminded folks. As we conversed over avocado margaritas in 2013, we realized our disparate backgrounds would make us great teammates. We just needed a project.
A Project Emerges
In 2014, we got the chance to tackle a project together. I was assembling a team of digital professionals to build a digital team within the Philadelphia Water Department. I needed team members who could consult, guide, and build team skills on the newly developing team within the city. I asked Douglas to join the team because of his extensive knowledge of AWS best practices.
The Role Expands
We expanded his role on the team once we discovered his superb tech leadership skills. It was clear his ability to rally the team and organize processes to improve our focus would breath more life into the project. In the first meeting, Douglas identified $2,000 a month in savings based on extraneous AWS instance allocations. His recommendations helped us increase security across all digital properties, consistency in the work created by the internal team and contractor, and visibility and control over the work being completed by 3rd party developers. Teammates, from all levels, have found Douglas to be a great collaborator, great leader, and a reliable team member. Douglas’ AWS-role expanded to a broader fractional CTO consultant for the PWD digital team.
We are still doing great work for our shared client. With his leadership, we have established a plan for growing the technical skills of the digital team, a timeline to execute on, and clear standards that all consulting partners use (which allows our small team to have a larger impact).
I am consistently impressed with Douglas’ technical solution design, process optimization, agile project management, and requirements analysis abilities. We knew Douglas would provide tremendous value as an AWS consultant for our client, but as we worked with him we found something much more valuable. As a Fractional CTO, Douglas guides us through the technical landscape with an unfettered vision, providing tremendous value to our team in about 2–3 hours per week. We enjoy working with him and will keep him on the project as long as we have a contract with this city agency.