How did you first learn about Synapse?
I went to Dartmouth and one of my professors frequently mentioned Synapse because one of the Synapse founders was an alum. I knew I wanted to work at Synapse and so I followed my girlfriend out to Washington (now wife) when she started school at UW.
Where would we likely find you on the weekend?
I had a baby this year, so probably pushing a stroller at the Ballard Farmer’s Market or something like that. I also spent a lot of time mountain biking this Summer with Ryan (another Synapse Program Manager). We were both training for an endurance race in August.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned at Synapse so far?
Ask for help. Every program at Synapse is different with a unique set of challenges. The solution is almost always a community effort. I’ve never felt like I’m out there by myself, I’ve always had support.
What’s been your favorite Synapse event?
I started at Synapse 7 years ago and my first Mountain Madness was one of the last ones that took place on Mount Hood. It was really fun, especially because back then the company was really small and we were all packed into a cabin together.
During Mountain Madness, there are typically activities you can sign up for. Wanting to try something new, I signed up for ice climbing, but made the mistake of not telling my wife until two days before the trip. That year a bunch of rocks fell as we were climbing up the glacier, so we watched these huge, tire-sized boulders roll past. I think we got a bit more that we bargained more (and certainly more than what I told my wife to expect…)
If you could trade jobs with someone at Synapse who would it be and why?
I would probably aspire to be Director of Mechanical Engineering. I used to be a Mechanical Engineer and I switched to Program Management to learn about other disciplines and focus more on Systems Engineering. Maybe I’ll go back to mechanical engineering one day!
At Synapse there’s no fixed formula for what makes a successful Program Manger and I tend to bring an engineering perspective to the Program Management discipline. I think understanding what the engineers are going through is pretty important. Often as the PM, you’re the one who needs to communicate the challenges to the client, so understanding those challenges on a personal-level helps.
What has been your favorite project at Synapse?
I worked on a project for NREL where I was both the ME and PM. It was essentially an R&D type project with the goal of demonstrating some new technology in a one-off prototype. Synapse designed and built a huge prototype, which we had to get to Colorado. So, I rented a Uhaul and drove the prototype from Seattle to Colorado. Luckily Synapse suggested I bring my wife to keep me sane (Colorado is a really long drive!).