Ryan is a self-taught software engineer that went from a shipping company night manager to running a team of developers on the CSE team. He loves that CSE allows him to work on business-critical projects with customers. His team is right at the heart of the problems that matter to customers. Beyond the work itself, Ryan enjoys the collaborative atmosphere of the CSE team. He’s never worked for a team that was so open to contributing to the success of others.
One of his favorite engagements was working with Delta Airlines to streamline the boarding process with wearable technology. While the product has not gone into widespread production, he was able to experiment with the best way to work with customers. Some of the strategies he developed on that project are still used on the CSE team today. He also enjoyed the project because he was able to teach one of the Delta engineers how to program outside of a mainframe. Given his unique background, it really meant a lot to him to have helped another person find their way.
Ryan started programming at ten years old when he and his mom saw a TS4 Color 80 at their local Radio Shack. Although neither of his parents were super technical, they all loved solving puzzles, and they bought a family computer for Christmas. Ryan used the computer more than anyone else in the family. In support of his new fascination with computers, his mom subscribed to several programming magazines to help him learn. When he was older, Sam started working at the same shipping company as his dad as the night shift operator. There he met the Systems Administrator Phil Nesser. Phil took Ryan on as a mentee and encouraged him to pursue his passion for programming. Ryan met his other mentor, Howard, a Microsoft engineer, who also took him under his tutelage. He attributes much of his career success to the kindness and generosity of his two mentors.
After spending his time working for small startups and banks, Ryan knew he wanted to work for a large software company. He interviewed with Microsoft five times before a vendor company called with an opportunity to fill a position on the Xbox team. They could not share any details about the job, but Ryan decided to take a chance and came to Seattle. He walked on to campus with the idea that he would turn his vendor position into a full-time job with Microsoft. Talking with his manager, he was eventually successful and came on full time with Microsoft to help bring the Microsoft store online. He and his team created the middleware software that would orchestrate the collection of funds on the site. After a few years of working on the same software solution, Ryan came on to the Customer Catalyst team, which would eventually evolve into the CSE team.