Pluralsight Head of Technology Leader Experiences
Brigham Young University Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Instructional Psychology and Technology
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
So my name is Dave Rackham. My current role professionally is I am the head of tech leader experiences for accompanying portal Site In my role, I lead product management, product design and software engineering for one of parasites. Core value streams, which are our technology leaders, CEOs v. P's of engineering or summer rolls s o the kind of path that I've had that's taking me to what I do today. I'll kind of start educationally, uh, with some of my early experiences that move professionally Ahh, to some of the early career experience that I had that enabled me to be in the role that I am today. So my undergraduate degree is in psychology from Brigham Young University. I subsequently also spent five years in a doctoral program studying instructional design and instructional psychology. Ah, what I became really passionate about is the intersection of technology, business and education, which is what ultimately led me to my current role here. A parasite. So, as part of my, uh, work towards a doctor degree, I also began working full time eventually, beginning with a early stage product management role of, you know, a fairly junior role within the organization and subsequently being able to gain more, more expertise within product management within the instructional design space. Broadly, Ah, a number of years ago, five or six years ago I pivoted a little bit and took my product management skills and applied them to the enterprise. Software is the solution space or SAS space, enabling me to be able Thio more fully develop my business and technology skills? There I was the first product higher for company and Go React, which is an Ed Tech company focused on delivering online video feedback as part of classes, anything from public speaking to teaching American sign language after being at Go React for two years. What I really recognized was the opportunity to strengthen my skill set as a product practitioner in being able to leverage human centered design practices more deeply in my product management work. And so ultimately, I transitioned into a ah career with portal site as a product manager. And after being with the organization for two years, we went through a fairly critical reorganization that was intended to more tightly align our product teams to key customer value streams. Ah, and I now lead the technology leader value stream, as I mentioned with responsibilities for product management, product design and software engineering. So that's maybe kind of the ark and story of my career. As far as experiences that have been most influential my career. What I would say would be the recognition that ultimately big value creation for customers that drives insults, problems that they care about as well as organizations ultimately is accomplished. Cross functionally. Ah, and so that experience of working directly on a cross functional team of product managers, product designers and software engineers for many years has really cemented my viewpoint that the best outcomes are gonna be created, cross functionally and in the last year with this new or design that we've implemented. What I've really come to appreciate is the value of cross functional leadership, not just cross functional teams.

What are the responsibilities and decisions that you handle at work? Discuss weekly hours you spend in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: Head of Technology Leader Experiences, Pluralsight
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
eso on a weekly basis. Responsibilities in decisions that I make include ah, hiring decisions as we continue to build out teams. It includes budgetary decisions relative to what current head count budget is relative to where we know we were hoping to be over. Given checking in milestone points throughout the year, I've got ultimately responsibility for product market fit of our technology leader focused experiences at Parasite, which is ultimately going to be the strongest indication of my performance professionally, if we're able to continue evolving our products experiences in a way that continued to delight customer needs, that's going to be a strong driver for our holistic company success and in my role is what I'm ultimately accountable to. Other decisions that ah, that I face weekly at work can include a wide variety of, ah, you know, tactical decision making regarding how we're going to be supporting various company initiatives as well as all of the traditional people management responsibilities that you would anticipate having a role like mine. At the moment, my team is approximately 40 individuals and so you know that can consume a lot of time and attention as well. From a decision making perspective a SZ Far as you know, weekly hours I spent in the office or for work travel. One of the things that's really critical to me has been to figure out how to support my responsibilities professionally in a way that enables me to be the type of husband and father that I'd like to be a cz Well, in terms of engagement. My wife is currently working on finishing her PhD in marriage of family therapy. Ah, and she works as a therapist in so blending all of that leads me to work kind of a hybrid work schedule. What I do is I'll typically begin my day somewhere between six and seven in the office, and I'll spend my first kind of morning hours before people typically come into the office focused on the types of activities that I need to be strongest at. That can be anything from preparing for Crystal for critical customer calls. It could be focused on strategic initiatives that I'm responsible for or occasionally will be spent just trying to keep up with the slack and email communications that to have attended overwhelming well, then typically spend most days in the office until about 4 p.m. Which when I come home to be able Thio, support my wife and her job as a therapist or working on her dissertation. Ah, and then oftentimes it'll happen is most evenings. I'll spend some time trying to catch up on communication, being more slack, enabling me to be able to hit the ground, running the next day with a fairly clean in box so that psychologic then prepared to be able to tackle kind of my most important initiatives. I do travel periodically for work. The bulk of my travel is spent customer facing supporting ourselves, team getting out in the field and being able Thio, you know, have strategic conversations with customers right now, given the State of Cove in 19 in the United States, I am actually under a mandatory working from home Ah, situation. However, typically in my role, that's not the case. I am typically office based

What are the job titles of people you routinely work with inside and outside of your organization? What approaches do you find to be effective in working with them?

Based on experience at: Head of Technology Leader Experiences, Pluralsight
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
Yeah. So instead of my organization ah, the nature of my role is highly cross functional. So, as I mentioned, I work with software engineers, product managers, product designers. I collaborate very closely internally to portal site with our product marketing the marketing team's customers. Success, sales support. Ah, really? The only portion of the business that I'm not very closely working with on a continuing basis would probably our finance teams, although I do have, you know, touch points with the financial planning, an accounting individual that supports my organization. But that's probably the only portion of the company that I'm not very directly and consistently working with sales, marketing, customer success, uh, you know, and then obviously within our product organizations now, outside of our product organizations, I interface very consistently with very senior technology leaders, ranging from titles such a CEO or CTO down through Ah, you know, senior vice presidents or directors of engineering, typically, but also our customer base does have a number of individuals that are part of HR or learning and development organizations. And as faras approaches that I find to be most effective and working with them the lesson I continue to learn is the best opportunity for me to communicate comes from my willingness to speak very clearly clearly and pain Lee to the problems or challenges that I'm trying to solve and whether that's working with customers directly or with other individuals being able to focus more clearly on the way in which I see specific problems in the way that I'm trying to solve those problems has a tendency to be able to be more clear and effective than, uh than anything else. I've been ableto thio discover at this point.

What major challenges do you face in your job and how do you handle them? Can you discuss a few accomplishments?

Based on experience at: Head of Technology Leader Experiences, Pluralsight
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
some of the challenge that I faced in my job primarily stem from, uh, working within a growth technology company, which means that as a growth tech company, the rate of which were hiring an expanded our business is very, very strong. And so often times one of the biggest challenges I face is just being able to keep up with the speed at which were growing our business. How I handle them is trying to stay focused and centered on the vision strategy that directly impacts my teams and my my authorization, ensuring that it's aligned to our company vision, strategy and being able to stay focused on that vision strategy has enabled me to prioritize which activities were going to be most essential to the growth of our company, versus which activities I would love to engage in, but just unfortunate don't have time as faras accomplishments. You know that come from this, I directly hired 22 individuals in 2019 over the space of about four months as part of a big or growth area, and what's been really exciting for me from an accomplishment perspective has been able to see how in less than a year, these individuals have become fully ramped. They've made massive contributions to, uh, the outcomes that we're trying to create for our customers, and that ultimately I was able to lead my organization in a way to drive a strong head count growth that also directly supported the way in which we were growing our business and being able to generate those outcomes that were directly associated with. So it's been really, really fun to be part of a very fast growing organization, very directly responsible for that growth from a company perspective, both in terms of hiring and leading new team members as well, is driving strong. You know, financial performance is the company.

How do you inspire and motivate your team members? How do you foster creative thinking? How are ideas shared and implemented?

Based on experience at: Head of Technology Leader Experiences, Pluralsight
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
For me, inspiring about having motivating team members is very directly related to my ability to create clear visions of what we see the world becoming as a result of our efforts. What I found is that in the types of job rules that I lied, typically product management, product design and software engineering those types of job rules are often filled with people who are incredibly passionate about solving problems. And the best way for me to motivate them is to actually provide them with clarity around what we're trying to create. And the purpose is behind that and enable them to go tackle that from an autonomous perspective in a way that ultimately is held accountable to the customer outcomes that they generate. And what I found is that provides not only a ton of motivation, but it creates space for creativity. Recognizing the eyes of leader will not ultimately have the ability to have answers for all questions that my team has, which means that they're gonna be able to go answer those questions independently in a ways in a way that will Maur I more consistently deliver a great experience for our customers.

How do you set targets for your team members? How do you measure their progress? How do you incentivize them to meet their targets?

Based on experience at: Head of Technology Leader Experiences, Pluralsight
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
So what I hear in this question is broadly. How do Isa leader support performance with my teams? And how I think about that is the strongest way that I'm going to be able to drive performance with my teams will be to create clear understanding of what that performance looks like with my team members. So within my company, we have a concept of a performance agreement, which is a co created artifact that defines what success looks like and what we know varying levels of successful look like. And so how that works out from a prospect of is with my teams, I will have them draft a semi annual performance agreements, and then we collaborate back and forth until mutually, we agree that what we've described represents the way in which they're going to contribute to their team's success and the way in which we will both know whether or not that performance has been fully realized. And I view that as a very critical element where in that process is entirely collaborative because then I have less time and energy that I need to spend thinking about how doe I incentivize or motivate them t achieve their targets because these individuals feel a huge sense of accountability, given they were the ones that ultimately were the foundation of the definition around that performance.

What qualities do you look for while hiring? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Based on experience at: Head of Technology Leader Experiences, Pluralsight
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
And when I think about hiring individuals, a lot of it's going to come down to the specific job rules and I'm hiring. For instance, I hire for for a wide variety of job roles. The types of questions will very as as a result of that as well. So for me, kind of speaking more directly to the first question qualities. What I look for is an ability to commit within candidates to our company values we have. We have five company values that we view as strong drivers of sustainable growth and performance for teams. And so what I'm looking for is evidence that potential hires air able to successfully, uh, commit to those values in a way that will drive strong performance. We're not looking for culture or culture fit in that what we're looking for is tthe e recognition that people from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures and interests have strong capability of driving performance in a way that aligns to our values. And ultimately I'm just looking through a number of questions around those values. In particular. Ah, we have, ah, you know, a fairly concrete and robust hiring process that we leverage from a technical perspective, to be able to validate and verify kind of the baseline skills and proficiency is that we need in the rules, but for me, it's kind of a 50 50 blend between the job capabilities and the ability to commit to our values of the company.

What is a typical hiring process for a job like yours? What are the titles of people who interview? What questions usually get asked and how to handle them?

Based on experience at: Head of Technology Leader Experiences, Pluralsight
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
so the typical hiring processes for all of the roles that I lied. We have Evergreen Job Rex that are open, which means that we're constantly interviewing and sourcing applicants for product managers, product designers and software engineers. And what happens is after people apply to a job, we have a team of what we call practices leaders that are very, very skilled practitioners and product design, product management and software engineering that do of our first round of interviews screenings. So they'll review applications and resumes make decisions based on those applications of resumes as to which candidates might be a good potential fit and do a first screening interview with them. From there, that team of practice leaders is able to evaluate the potential fit between candidates and the jobs on specific teams that were hiring for and then working with leaders like myself to bill to say, Here's a Here's a small subset of candidates that, based on the profile of the team that you're hiring for, might be a particularly strong fit, and from there we move into questions around how they've demonstrated our values previously, as well as more disciplined, specific questions that give us the ability to understand how they approach specific type of problems. Worry

What are different entry-level jobs and subsequent job pathways that can lead students to a position such as yours?

Based on experience at: Head of Technology Leader Experiences, Pluralsight
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
Yeah, So my career has largely been in product management, despite the fact that my current role is as a leader of product to design and engineering. Ah, the specific job role that I am in would in fact be able to be supported by people coming from any three of those disciplines. So entry level roles that could ultimately culminate in a Rolex mine would be entry level product management product designer software engineering rolls. What would be critical in any of those rules would be the ability to leverage those disciplines to Dr Customer Outcomes in business success, which could in fact be successfully accomplished across any three of those job rules. The product management entry level job is probably the most tricky of those three disciplines for software engineering, lots of internship and entry level positions available. Often, that is, the case is well for product designers. The challenge with product managers is it's typically only large organizations that would have some kind of product management internship or ah, entry level job role. And what's challenging there is oftentimes product management in those large companies is very, very different than what you would experience in smaller startups. or high growth tech companies. And so, as a result, that First product management job can be a big challenge to to Plant. And, uh, ultimately success there is gonna be driven by a willingness to recognize that the best path in oftentimes, if it's not with one of the largest companies can come from companies that are a little bit smaller on are more flexible in the type of candidates that they're looking for.

What were the responsibilities and decisions that you handled at work? What major challenges did you face in your job?

Based on experience at: Product Manager, GoReact
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
at Go react. Great. Ah, the responsibilities and decisions I handled as a product manager go react were primarily focused on the product decisions around the specific features and experiences that we would be developing. So my responsibility was to ensure that I understood customer needs and was able to translate that via designs and work with our engineering team, too. Uh, have those experiences built invalidate with customers, ensuring that we were able to drive the success that we were looking for? Some of the challenges that I face? I was the first pyre at the company. I believe I was employee some around number 13. Uh, and we shortly after I was there, ultimately raised a series a financing round and so challenge that I faced word, you know, again largely rooted in having a company that was experiencing a lot of growth, having a company that was experienced a lot of, uh, changes in how the leadership team was approaching the business, not changes in the leaders themselves. But ultimately, as the business continued to grow in scale, ah, those existing leaders needed to shift the way in which they were managing the business and create more sustainable systems that would enable their individual tributaries to continue owning more and more autonomy in accountability

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Instructional Psychology and Technology, Brigham Young University
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
doctoral student towards a PhD in instructional psychology and technology. The best way that that education prepared for my for my current role was being able Thio have a deeper ability to reflect on how you try to measure the success of human based experiences. So as an educational field. One of the things I went very deep on, Dr Lee was. How do you think about successfully measuring education? How do you think about measuring whether or not somebody has a specific skill? And that work has propelled me to be able to more closely reflect the realities of our customers in a way that can be visible in key performance measures that will enable us to manage the work that we're doing? And so that broad kind of humanistic career enabled me to be a more successful, human centered design practitioner. The faculty and resource is that were enabled, are provided on enabled in my program, really influential in my thinking around human centered design and had a leverage qualitative data alongside quantitative data to be able to arrive in a more holistic and complete picture. Um, and unfortunately, the direct networking and exposure within my field wasn't terribly well aligned with where I took my career. However, you know, the broad foundation of the education I experienced was able to drive success for me.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: BS, Psychology, Brigham Young University
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
work that I did as an undergraduate really honed my baseline ability to think about consuming research in a way that would enable me to be ableto recognize that not all data, not all researches as equally valuable and being able to really distinguish when a given observation or piece of data or theory or research report. I had a lot of impact and would be able to be a successful foundation for subsequent thought. That was really, really critical as I moved into product management roles in my career to be able to recognize and howto really wait and blend different data together in a way that was able to support a broader theory of value for my customers.

Would you like to share something that is not on your resume? This may include your passions, facing setbacks or adversities, a unique experience, or an unexpected help.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
like to share for students. That's not on my resume would be the value of fully integrating your professional and personal lives. And what I mean by that is, you know, personally, I have a wife who is working towards completing her PhD. I have two small Children of one of which has a rare genetic mutation that's resulted in, Ah, a rare form of epilepsy and autism. And what I found is that stressors and my personal like for life from my relationships. My marriage is my family, my marriage. Excuse me, my family, that the relationships that I have and those stressors impact how I show up at work and on the flip side, the way in which I show up, the way the stresses I'm experiencing at work shape, how I show up at home. And rather than trying to compartmentalize those two portions of my life, I've been working towards fully integrating them in a way that acknowledges the fact that I can't separate them. And what that's created for me professionally is a much deeper ability to empathize with humans and team members a much deeper recognition of the value of a broad and diverse set of background and perspectives and ultimately, I believe, has been the foundation of what I've been able to create is a leader.

Do you have any parting advice for students hoping to get to a position such as yours? What 3 dos and 3 don'ts would you suggest?

Based on experience at: Head of Technology Leader Experiences, Pluralsight
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Mar 16 2020
that would suggest would be number one Thio. Recognize that charting your career is very suddenly a perfectly straight line and that that recognition will enable you to take advantage of opportunities that seem closely related to what you're trying to create versus opportunities that may not be aligned to what you're trying to create. The second do for me would be to kind of related to the 1st 1 constantly evaluate opportunities on the basis of Does this pretty cool opportunity bring me closer to where I'm trying to go? Where does it take me? Further way, aunt. If invest on the opportunities that do, the final do for me would be to invest in yourself as a human who is very capable of sitting in an ambiguity and sitting in the messiness of the human condition in a way that will enable you to become a more powerful leader of people. People are complicated their lives. They're messy and challenging and hard, and the deeper build that you have to empathize with with people and those around you, I think, will be a very, very strong reflection of your ability to drive towards successful outcomes as a leader so those would be my top three DUIs. My top three don'ts Ah, top three don'ts would be to be too narrowly focused on frames of what your career needs to look like to give yourself. Ah, really space and patients around how your career's going to involve. That would be the number one Don't would be being too too focused on trying to achieve a certain milestone by a certain date. The second dote Don't that I would really suggest would be, too. Don't minimize the impact of close collaboration and being able Thio very clearly, uh, ensure that you are focused on building collaborative outcomes with others. Maybe for the final don't it would be Don't ever lose sight of the value of having a sustainable learners mindset where you're constantly focused on pushing your boundaries and your intellectual comfort with new ideas and approaches. Failing to do that, I think, will be a very, very big, uh, stymie and detriment. Thio. You know your career as a student