I am a proud Canadian ex-pat, living in San Francisco for over 10 years. I left Canada for the opportunity to work for the biggest and most innovative high-tech companies out there. In 1999, the internet was the hottest thing in the world, and the center of the it all was San Francisco and Silicon Valley. I filled a duffel bag with clothes and shoes, sold everything else and hopped an Air Canada flight from Toronto to SF.
I’m an interaction designer by training and have been working as such for over 15 years. I love to tackle gnarly software problems and come up with smart, elegant design solutions – the bigger the better. I’ve build web applications for my entire career. I’ve been working in the cloud before the cloud had its name. I’ve been dealing with multi-tenancy, role-based access, performance, scaling, and all manner of web technologies for as long as I can remember
I started my Silicon Valley career at Medem, an e-health company funded by the American Medical Association, right at the height of the dot com boom. After a layoff, I wound up at Escalate, where I stayed for 5 years until the company was sold to GERS. We were SaaS pioneers, back in the days when the cloud-based hosted e-commerce and later supply chain management software we were delivering was called ASP. At Escalate I was responsible not only for User Experience and Design, but also an solution engineer, an account manager ( for Restoration Hardware, Nieman Ranch, Fred Meyer Jewelers and Home Depot), and sometimes a sales engineer. When Home Depot came calling on Escalate to help tear down and re-build them a state-of-the-art hosted Order Management System, the bidding war to acquire Escalate began. The company was sold in the fall of 2004. It was an incredible ride, taking us from the highest-of-highs to the lowest-of-the-lows and back again. I miss my Escalate family and the work we did every day. In some respects, I’ve been trying to find that magic again at every company I’ve worked for since. 6 years later, I finally understand that lightning usually only strikes once.
After Escalate, I went to Yahoo! where I was part of the crack UX team in the Small Business unit working alongside Chris Fox and Jen Moyse. I was responsible for Yahoo! Domains, Yahoo! Small Business Email and a portion of Yahoo! Webhosting. Yahoo! was a safe, supportive environment in which to focus on being a designer and only a designer. I could focus on working with a design team, developing my design and people management skills. I got to learn how a large UX team was built and operated, learning executive leadership by watching Irene Au and Sally Griesdale at work. As I became more confident, I started to develop a design process that integrated itself well with Scrum.
After Yahoo!, I wound up at NetSuite, I was brought in to help develop a UX practice where one had not existed before. I was also tasked to build a UX team and be the production lead until my team was completely assembled. When I arrived at NetSuite, the product development was completely developer-centric – with no up-front involvement from design. As I introduced my work, I developed a number of documents to help support the need for UX involvement, as well as the benefits to implementing the process.
After NetSuite I was hired at BEA in a similar capacity, to help build the company’s first formal User Experience team and move their already best-of-breed portal and productivity products to a new level. There I met David Meyer, Daisy Hernandez, Shane Pearson, Steve Hamrick, Jay Simons, Bill Arconati, Alex Toussaint and Mariano Benitez. Together, we built great products and made customers happy. We were in the process of building what we were calling “Social Enterprise” when Oracle acquired us.
My BEA network brought me to Elastra. Kirill Sheynkman founded Plumtree and hired David. Plumtree was bought by BEA. David stayed at BEA and became the VP of Product Management. David hired me. Oracle bought BEA and David left. Kirill founded Elastra. Kirill needed a Director of User Experience and Design. David referred me. There along with Stuart Charlton, we launched an adventure in the cloud – modeling and managing people’s application deployments in virtual data centers. I left the company in December 2009 when it was clear that both myself and the company needed to change direction and start fresh.
And so… My network of trusted colleagues came knocking again. David and Shane both wound up at SAP and convinced me to come work for them. Exciting times at the 5000-pound ERP gorilla. New lines of business are being launched, and the cloud (on-demand, asp, saas, whatever you want to call it this year) is right at the heart of it. I get to help SAP grow new businesses, help guide UX to build in the right way to support SaaS businesses, and play with my BEA family every day.
Some call me “Lucky”, which I think is fitting. I seem to always wind up at the right place, at the right time, with the proverbial horseshoe hitting me in the head pretty regularly along the way.
Moving on to non-work stuff.
I’m fascinated with food – I love to source the best of everything for Jaiya and I. From fishing for and smoking our own salmon in British Columbia, shucking our own freshly collected oysters at the Hogg Island Oyster Company in Tomales Bay or sourcing our own beef from our friend Helen’s Cattle Ranch in Hopland. If its fresh and I can look it in the eye, I’m all about eating it.
For our produce needs, we walk the 5 minutes down our street to the Alemany Farmer’s Market looking for the freshest of fresh. We eat what’s in season, make sure it has a low carbon footprint and buy directly from the farmers.
An “About Me” page would not be complete without disclosing that I am a hockey nut – a player in my youth and lifelong fan of the Montreal Canadiens. Its a family affair, this obsession with hockey and the Habs. My Great Uncle Paul knew all the players during his tenure as an executive with Molson and my Grandfather was as die-hard as they came (we always get misty eyed when a fight breaks out, knowing he’d love the display of old-time hockey). While my big brothers and I all live in other hockey markets and watch our local teams (Canucks, Sharks, Senators) we all have le tricolore in our veins and pray for the day our favorite team will bring home their 25th Stanley Cup.
My fourth passion is travel. I have a seriously bad case of the wanderlust. I’m fortunate in that I’ve explored a very large portion of the globe, on my own, with my lovely spouse or with work. I love hopping on a plane or getting behind the wheel of my car and going somewhere – anywhere! I’ve been to every continent in the world except Australia, Africa and Antarctica.
My favorite trips have been to Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina, France, New Zealand, Honduras and Bali.