In this month’s Humans of CP, we’re speaking with Jared Lazzaro, our director of product development. Jared graduated from Colby College, and is a proud Colby Mule. He has been working in “The Bullpen” at CP for 11 years. Today, we’re chatting with him to learn more about his position, and his interests outside of the office.
What do you do at Customer Portfolios?
Officially? I'm the director of product development. Along with overseeing our many applications and APIs, I cross into the various functions as a technical problem solver and architect. Day to day tasks involve a mix of product specific work--from high level roadmap and strategy, down to maintenance and support for our internal teams, and research into third-party integrations and technologies which support the ever-changing needs of our clients.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Immerse yourself in an unfamiliar culture. It broadens horizons and really adds a sense of perspective in your life, especially for all the issues and concerns you encounter on a day to day basis. After graduating college, I worked aboard a tall ship and sailed throughout the Caribbean with a group of 18 high-school students. I was responsible for seeking out Internet connectivity at remote islands to upload pictures and classwork to a shore-based website tracked by parents and classrooms across the U.S. At many of our stops, English was not the primary language, and Internet connectivity was only available at one or two pay-per-minute cafés, with connection speeds measured in kilobytes per second (i.e., slower than molasses). To navigate these challenges, it was necessary to work with the locals for transportation, and at times, involved troubleshooting hardware and wiring problems, just so I was able to connect!
If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning medal for?
Driving in reverse. I was fortunate to grow up near the ocean and spent the majority of my summer days on the water. Long before I was old enough to drive a car, I was driving my family's boat. Boats steer from the back, and a car driving backward behaves the same way. More than once, I've been called out (by my wife) for driving backwards instead of turning the car around, just to go back down the street when I forgot something at home. I don't quite know how this could be made into an Olympic sport, but I'd sure have fun giving it a try!
What celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a cup of coffee?
I'll preface this with the fact that my daughters are 3 and 5 years old, so I find myself watching more kids shows than anything else these days. I'm often thinking back to the shows I used to watch as a kid: Charlie Brown, Tom & Jerry, Popeye, and The Muppet Show are all in my recent YouTube searches, in an attempt to show my kids what TV used to be like. That said, I'd have to pick 'The Swedish Chef' from The Muppets, if for no other reason than the fact I like his carefree attitude!
What is the most valuable life lesson you've ever learned?
The 5-year rule. In a nutshell: If something makes you irritated, upset, or otherwise causes stress, ask yourself if you'll care about this moment in another 5 years. More likely than not, the answer is 'no'. Essentially it's the "don’t sweat the small stuff" cliché. Worrying about things unnecessarily can interfere with creativity, productivity, and general happiness; and it's always better to err on the side of happiness.
What has been your biggest challenge at Customer Portfolios?
I'm a problem-solver at the core, so I typically gravitate toward challenging tasks. Many are quick wins--figuring something out, identifying a bad configuration setting, finding the underlying cause of a vague error message, etc. However, there have been some larger undertakings from a software architecture and development perspective. One of these was a major overhaul of our MARCIE Workbench application's backend processes. The experience was a huge undertaking, as it forced us to unstitch many intertwined components from a monolithic application, all while maintaining current functionality for existing users. It was kind of like changing the engine of a train while it was running. The challenge for me was to focus on the requirements, process, and the complex plan for a phased rollout of functionality, so we could ensure a successful migration without interfering with current functionality. We involved most of the teams here at CP from a testing and QA perspective, and in the end, greatly improved visibility to job performance and other operational elements of the system. Looking forward, this new architecture will enable additional growth of and enhancements to our platform.
To learn more about the faces of our company, be sure to check back each month to see our reoccurring blog series – the Humans of CP.