Trilix’s Lead Architect Scott Cornell knows about the importance of listening in his line of work. “I can be quiet but that’s because you hear more when you listen. When you give people time to speak, you really learn what they want or need,” he explains.
Part of Scott’s day-to-day responsibilities includes uncovering both recognized and unrecognized need from potential and existing clients and working with Trilix’s team of developers on how to successfully fuse business process and technology to help clients achieve positive business outcomes.
I stole a few moments with our Lead Architect to pick his brain on how he landed in the development landscape, what excites him most about his line of work and why you can’t take the New England out of this New Englander.
You have extensive background in software engineering, architecting and application development. What made you get into this space?
I started out as a systems engineer working for Unicom (now a division of Custom Computer Specialists) and I worked on server installations, network equipment, routers—things like that. I had done some consulting for the state of Rhode Island and at that point, in 1998, they needed a tracking system. The options they were considering would have cost them close to a million dollars and I thought, I could write something custom that would be cheaper. I ended up writing them a tracking system that only cost them my time.
From there, I had a friend from high school who was a co-founder at a startup in New Hampshire and he asked me to come on board in their development shop. I worked there for about three years before I headed back to Unicom and that’s how I became a developer.
Did you have a hunch you would end up in development?
Surprisingly enough, I was originally interested in attending a deep-sea diving school. At the time, I was doing a lot of scuba diving, working my way toward a master diver certification and thought of deep-sea diving. I went down to a school in New York and stayed on their training barge for a weekend. I was all set to go for it when my girlfriend at the time found out that the life expectancy of a deep-sea diver was only 60 percent and she nixed the idea.
After abandoning my deep-sea dreams, I got a job installing burglar and fire alarms. That got me interested in electronics so I went back to school for electronics, came out of school and got a job at a company up in the Boston area. I worked in the company’s prep shop prepping computers to go out the door. I did not leave school thinking I am going to be a programmer.
What do you love most about your industry?
I like to learn and am innately curious. When I first started out in this industry—with my first job setting up computers—one of the engineers was getting certified in NetWare 2.0 (oh boy, that shows my age) and I was curious. Every time he came back I would take his training manual and make a copy and start studying on my own. I paid my way to get certified.
My head is always in a book on the weekends. I just love seeing what is happening in the industry and what is new and trending. Everything is constantly changing, especially on the Web side. In the last couple of years alone, we’ve seen the introduction of several new frameworks and technologies—sometimes it can be mind-blowing!
As Trilix’s Lead Architect, describe your day-to-day responsibilities.
One of my biggest responsibilities comes in the pre-sales portion—in sitting down with potential clients, getting to understand their unique business challenges, and determining and analyzing how we would solve the problem. I then work with our team of developers on creating the technology architecture of the solutions that we produce for our clients.
I also spend time mentoring and coaching our team of developers, helping them stay current on new technology and coding best practices. Currently we are focusing a lot on react.js and mobile-based development.
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What does a great day at work look like?
I like variety. That could mean having initial contact with a client, listening to their needs and starting to formulate a possible solution in their head. I also enjoy running into creative solutions. On a day-to-day basis, if I am creating something then it’s a good day at work.
What is the one opportunity businesses often overlook when it comes to process and system complexity?
Over the last 17 years of application development, I’ve found that there is a lack of understanding in terms of how much upfront analysis is truly needed to get a successful product created and get it created in a certain time manner. I have worked on a lot of projects where there hasn’t been enough analysis upfront and it has ended up costing the customer more in the long-term. We always like to say a typical engagement should be 80 percent research only 20 percent of coding. The more you can do upfront, the greater likelihood of success for the project.
OK… changing pace for these next few questions. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
This is not a sappy answer but I am going to say New England. I’ve been to Florida and Palm Springs and they are just too hot to live all year round. I do like Colorado but I can’t be at the ocean within an hour. In New England I get four seasons, a beach that is never more than an hour away and I have Boston nearby.
Are you a morning person or night owl?
Morning. When I wake up, I am up.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups but don’t tell my wife that.