We are very pleased to welcome Jeff Leinwand to the blog this week, in an interview as ProStar Software's new CTO. We've asked a few questions and had a great conversation that is definitely worth sharing, so, here's introducing Jeff in his own words:
ProStar: We'll get to work in a bit, but let's start with how you like to relax. I'm curious, for example after a long week, what's your favorite thing to do on a Saturday afternoon?
Jeff: Saturday is for outdoor activities. In my younger days it was team sports changing to golf and tennis as I got older. Once kids came along it moved on to their soccer and little league baseball with an occasional basketball league thrown in. Now that kids are grown it is back to outdoor activities, with the grandkids when possible.
ProStar: That sounds like a great way to spend the weekend. With your many years in the enterprise software business I imagine you've done a fair share of traveling. Is there anything you absolutely don't leave home without?
Jeff: Yes, just a few things. I never leave home on a long trip without smart phone and computer. Everything else can be replaced (except my wife, so if not on business I never leave without her but computer and phone are also brought along).
ProStar: That seems very reasonable! I wonder, on a more philosophical note, if you can describe for our readers a lesson or insight that informs your work?
Jeff: Consider the end user when building software. Too often brilliant technical solutions are wasted because the target audience doesn't understand how to use the solution. Not only don't we know what we don't know, we don't know what the end user doesn't know. Success for a system, no matter how complex it is, lies in the simplicity of its use. As software engineers we need to learn from auto manufacturers. Cars are very complex machines but the general user interface to drive a car is very simple even though the user doesn't understand the systems that make up the car. If you look at the biggest complaint of car owners it seems to be with the new technology for entertainment, navigation and syncing up phones, none of which has anything to do with the driving the car. The software guys still haven't learned from the hardware guys.
ProStar: That reminds me of KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid! Our users are definitely lucky to have your down to earth perspective on that. I imagine that's something you've learned alongside a host of other useful knowledge, but maybe you can you give us just a brief list of some professional skills you've found most useful in your career?
ProStar: And how did you aquire all those skills? Which of your career moves have been most important setting you up for the CTO role here with us?
Jeff: As an accounting major (MBA) with a computer science technical option I started my career developing a commercial General Ledger system for Burroughs Corporation (now Unisys). Went to work for a major accounting firm doing consulting and EDP audits. Spent several years at a manufacturing company, first as a Systems and Programming Manger, then as IT Manager, finally moving into manufacturing where I ran the new product line (purchasing, manufacturing engineering, production and quality). Moving on to QAD, my role in charge of the Strategic Consultants, Custom Programming Group and Technical Support Group was very informative. As VP of Product Development with Strategic Information Group I did LEAN Manufacturing as well as QAD consulting. And then, I founded Sabino Creek with another former QAD/SIG person, and that really paved the way, we did custom software and international ERP partnerships.
ProStar: So, Jeff, to the heart of the matter. What are you most looking forward to in your work here?
Jeff: There is nothing more rewarding than creating product. Having spent a great deal of time on the production floor I know first hand how many employees take pride in their work and become frustrated when they have ideas to improve the product but management won't listen. I have also seen workers who were detached from their product and observed the resulting lack of quality. I have seen too many managers operating without the proper information and/or training to create the efficiencies required to compete in today's world. Finally, I have been both a provider of systems and information and a consumer of those systems and information. so I am well positioned to understand the technology required to deliver information and understand the needs of the person receiving and using the information.
I want to enable organizations, that is, ProStar as well as our customers, to use tools that will help achieve goals, improve products, improve work environment, quality, and bottom line.
ProStar: Jeff, this was wonderful. Thank you very much, and welcome on board!