How would you describe your role?
My job falls into two related bins. First is ensuring that the training that we provide our customers reflects an ironclad understanding of the problems they face and how they want to solve them, and also that Ridgeline is recognizing cutting edge technology – both the threats and opportunities they pose for our customers. The second bin is constantly trying to innovate and develop the next great strategic ideas. My team of technical experts understands our customers really well and literally has been in the trenches with them. So they get what the customers need and often the next big idea comes directly from them, based on being face-to-face with the client on a regular basis.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Well, perhaps there’s a bit of a conflict between the two, but I was raised by hippies and I was a college debater, so I don’t really care about formality and rank, and I believe in an egalitarian approach to good ideas. A good idea can come from anybody, and it certainly doesn’t have to be the most senior person in the room. If you can come up with a good idea and defend it with the data needed to show it’s valid, then it should have an equal chance of being adopted.
What’s something new you’ve learned recently?
Right now, I’m reading a history of disinformation. I’ve been fascinated for a long time by how social media and advertising tools are able, through the use of very granular targeting, to get the right kind of inflammatory content in front of the right people at the right time, and continue to fan those flames. From my perspective, this is an enormous, global societal challenge that raises questions about governance, democracy, free speech. It raises profound questions about content management and who should even be the ones doing it.
What’s your super power?
I think this may be more aspirational, but if I had a super power, it is probably the ability to have fun in tough and trying situations. I’ve been convincing my friends and family forever that you don’t have any great life adventures or life expanding opportunities if you don’t put a little suffering in there.
What is something going on at Ridgeline that you’re excited to see grow or develop?
There are two things that I’m very excited about, one each from two of our product lines. The first one is from our Iris pillar, and that is the really impactful work we’re doing in visualization. We’re taking an incredible amount of technical data that means nothing to the average person and we’re displaying it so they can actually see their digital signature. With this info, they can they can then feel confident about their safety and their privacy. The other thing I’m excited about is what I’d describe as really cutting edge stuff we’re working on in our over Contour product line with tools to shape data so it tells the story you want to tell, not what the ad tech economy want to say about you. This work was one of the reasons I joined Ridgeline. I found it to be so compelling, so interesting, and so far ahead of what everyone else was doing in either the government or the private sector, and I knew I wanted to be part of it.
How would you describe Ridgeline’s culture?
It’s a little bit of chaos, a lot of informality. We work hard and play hard. People are incredibly intellectually curious here. I’ve never seen a place where there are so many people who are going home to read more, or to take an extra course, or who just stay up late and play with ideas that they saw at work and really captured their interest and now they want to become an expert in all parts of it.
Can you tell us about a time when you were inspired or impressed by the work of another Ridgeliner?
This isn’t a single instance, but I am regular impressed by the way, when working with a customer who says “I know this isn’t possible, but in my fantasy world, it would be really great to have technology that does x, y, z.” And then Ridgeliners will get together, cogitate on it, and work together, argue about it, throw ideas back and forth. And sure enough, they not only come up with the thing the person thought was absolutely impossible, but go even further. I think that’s why many of us come to Ridgeline. We make the seemingly impossible become reality, and we do it really fast.
What is unique about Ridgeline?
I think it’s two things: the dense concentration of intellectual curiosity relative to most workplaces, and the rich, interdisciplinary way in which we tackle our clients’ problems. UTS is inherently an interdisciplinary problem with data science, technology, behavior, national security, and economic angles. You need experts across all of these fields to come up with a comprehensive solution. Most companies dabble in a piece of it, but we approach UTS from all angles. I think that makes Ridgeline quite unique.