Let's pull back the engineering curtain and take a peek into one of the brains behind the Windsor Circle Platform.
This Pittsburgh rooted software engineer has a lot to smile about. Whether he is bringing new energy to the developer community through his blog, rooting on Duke against his UNC colleagues, or playing hoops, he is someone to get to know.
His journey from Duke, Carnegie Mellon and Cisco has now landed him at Windsor Circle and we are glad it did!
How was it growing up in Steeler country? What is your favorite Pittsburgh tradition?
Ben: Pittsburgh is a great town. I had the opportunity to go to a lot of Steelers games growing up there, and that would probably be my favorite tradition. Steelers Football has all the passion of a college football team, except for a “campus” the size of a major US city.
What do you think inspired you to want to pursue a career in software development?
Ben: I love problem solving, and building new things. I haven’t found anything that combines those challenges like software development. If I had, I’d probably be doing that instead. It’s a great field for people who like to be continually learning.
With your undergrad degree from Duke and your graduate degree from Carnegie Mellon you have had quite the academic portfolio. What did you study at each?
Ben: I studied Computer Science at Duke, then Information Systems Management at CMU, which essentially meant taking a mix of business and technology classes.
After graduate school you moved on to working for Cisco Systems in software development. What caught your eye about Windsor Circle?
Ben: I was excited about the opportunity of working at a startup where my work could have a real, noticeable effect on my company and it’s customers. I also loved the values of the founding team here, and their desire to build a company that would bring value to its employees and the city of Durham, not just a quick exit for them.
As the front-end developer for the Windsor Circle Retention Analytics Suite how would you describe the type of projects that you have developed? What goals do you have for product development.
Ben: I’ve worked on the Retention Analytics Suite over the past year to build out more interactive capabilities for our clients from within the app. A big example of this is allowing users to set up Abandoned Shopping Cart campaigns from within our app. We’ve also done work to make it easier to work with their data, including a data export feature and improved analytics charts.
As we build out the team we have a lot of exciting plans to create more features that help our clients organize their plans around customer retention, explore their data on deeper levels, and better track the revenue that Windsor Circle creates for them.
What do you feel like most embodies the culture on the development team at Windsor Circle?
Ben: I think we have a great focus as a team on constantly improving the product. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past few years as a team, but nobody here is satisfied. We want to continue improving the product and providing the best experience possible for our clients. We do manage to have a lot of fun while we do it though.
Can you highlight a project that you found most exciting to work on?
Ben: I’ve recently been working on a new collaboration tool that we will be rolling out to clients soon, to help them better organize their retention strategy and work with their Windsor Circle client success manager to plan out new campaigns. It’s been a fun project, since it was an interesting technical problem and also a chance to work with a lot of people in and outside Windsor Circle to really come up with a great solution.
Rumor has it that you have a blog, could you tell me a little about that?
Ben: Yep, I write about web development at BenMcCormick.org. It’s a pretty technical/code focused blog, but if anybody reading this is interested in web development, they should definitely check it out.
Do you have any words of advice to those that might follow a similar path as you?
Ben: My main advice to anyone interested in software development is always just to go ahead and try to build something. The internet has made it really easy to learn about pretty much anything regarding programming you’re interested in, and there are lots of resources out there to get you started.
Degrees and training are great, and if you’re serious about a career in software development there’s a definite advantage to getting there, but you can go a long way on your own and most people tend to figure out quickly if it’s their thing or not.
So aside from cheering on both the Steelers and Duke, what other ways do you fill your spare time?
Ben: I stay busy. I love playing basketball and board games, and am pretty active with my church. My wife and I usually spend a good chunk of weekends going places or hanging out with friends. Other than that I enjoy learning new things and writing about what I learn in my blog.