Software Developers Journey Podcast

#295 Elise Carmichael has a challenges-driven career



Elise Carmichael's career in technology is a testament to the power of curiosity and resilience. Her early fascination with technology began with a Commodore 64, sparking a lifelong passion that eventually led her to the role of CTO at Lakeside. In our podcast episode, Elise discusses how her interests in music and technology have played in concert to guide her career trajectory, offering a unique perspective on innovation and growth within the tech industry.

Her narrative begins with those formative years, where the intersection of her tech-savvy upbringing and the magic of early programming laid the groundwork for her future. She fondly recalls her mother's influence and the thrill of coding games from magazine templates, instilling a deep-seated love for creating and learning. This foundation would prove invaluable as Elise navigated the tech industry's ebbs and flows.

Elise's career path wasn't without its challenges. She candidly recounts her early exposure to management and the toxic environments she faced, particularly as a woman in a male-dominated field. However, instead of succumbing to these adversities, Elise harnessed them as fuel for growth. Her story is one of transformation, demonstrating the courage it takes to pivot when necessary—whether that meant briefly exploring a career in medicine or tackling new roles that pushed her out of her comfort zone.

Elise's transition from product strategy to becoming a public-facing figure post-merger is particularly enlightening. It reveals the layers of decision-making and the boldness required to step into the unknown, which are crucial in a landscape as dynamic as tech. Her insights into navigating these transitions provide a blueprint for professionals at any stage of their career.

The discussion rounds off with Elise highlighting her desire to continually learn and grow, be it through mergers and acquisitions or venturing into CEO roles or private equity. Her story reinforces the notion that placing oneself in challenging situations is often the most effective way to learn and evolve.

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Elise Carmichael: 0:00
I have a hard time saying you know what I don't know about this? Let me go learn. Let me go learn that. I have a much easier time putting myself into a situation where I'm forced to learn something, and I feel like that's how a lot of people do learn. And so you get stuck in this thing where you're kind of afraid to move because you don't know about it. But if you just sort of close your eyes and leap over, you're not going to do anything else but learn about that, because that's what your time is now dedicated to. So that's how I do it. And then, once you're in that place, it's easy enough to YouTube, Google, read a book. So there's tons of ways to actually figure it out once you're there.

Tim Bourguignon: 0:38
Hello and welcome to Developers Journey, the podcast bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. I'm your host, tim Bognio. On this episode, I receive Elise Carmichael. Elise has over 20 years of experience working on high tech, big data and machine learning based products in various roles, spanning from software developer and software tester to VP of product strategy and CTO, as in her current role at Lakeside. Elise, welcome to DevTourney.

Elise Carmichael: 1:12
Thanks for having me.

Tim Bourguignon: 1:14
Oh, it's my pleasure. But before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show. Every month you are keeping the DevTourney lights up. If you would like to join this fine crew and help me spend more time on finding phenomenal guests than editing audio tracks, please go to our website, devjourneyinfo and click on the support me on Patreon button. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable DevTourney journey. Thank you, and now back to today's guest, elise. As you know, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story looked like and imagine how to shape their own future. So, as usual on the show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your DevTourney?

Elise Carmichael: 2:04
Oh, it was quite a long time ago. I was actually a little kid so I was very fortunate. My mother actually studied computer science and math at the University of Illinois, you know the school where they had the Iliac and some of the very first computers. And so, yeah, yeah, so she used punch cards and had an opportunity to work on these you know giant room computers. And so I grew up with a very high tech household. We had all the Atari's, we had Commodore's, so we had all the iterations after the Commodore, but the Commodore was my first computer. So I absolutely love this thing from. You know, I was in the single digits when I had this and I remember we would get this Commodore 64 magazine. It came every month in the mail and as part of the magazine it had you know how to program games, but it wasn't really programming. You would type in numbers and it did this magical thing you got to the end of the line. It would tell you if your numbers were correct, which I had at the time. No idea how it could possibly know that, but it had to be some sort of hash. You know, looking, looking back in time, and you finished. You know typing in pages and pages of teeny tiny numbers and out came a game or out came something. So I thought that was amazing. But what really blew my mind was I was sitting there with my I have two older brothers. I was sitting there with my brothers, five years older than me, and I figured out how to write from the command prompt on the Commodore a while loop, and in the while loop I wrote out something to the effective, you know a print statement. My brother is a meanie head or something you know like a seven year old would write. And so it just starts printing out something mean about my brother and I was sold and I was like this is the greatest thing I've ever done. This is the biggest accomplishment of my life. I built that and I was totally hooked on technology after that.

Tim Bourguignon: 3:54
And I can't understand why. Yeah.

Elise Carmichael: 3:57
It was. I just thought it was amazing. And then I'm turning in, you know, my reports in school with a word processor. Once I started writing reports in middle school and they had the you know the shiny covers and I printed on my dot matrix printer and my teacher was very, very impressed without having to do anything. That I thought was particularly special. So it started very early for me.

Tim Bourguignon: 4:18
Indeed, Did you? Did you picture your life coming into this direction right away?

Elise Carmichael: 4:24
So in high school my let's see, he was my math teacher. He had us write ourselves a letter to open up at the end of college or right after college to talk to our future selves. And at that time, let's see, one of the first toy story movie had come out and I was totally sold on technology and I knew that I wanted to do something with computers. So this was maybe a ninth grade, you know, in four years left in high school and then I knew I wanted to do something with music. So really I wanted to be a musician, but I knew that I didn't want to be a poor musician or struggling musician. So the computers was obviously going to be my day job and I'll do music for fun. So yeah, I knew pretty early that this was going to be my career in some capacity. I didn't know what with computers, but I knew something with computers. So I've stuck to that pretty, pretty darn well.

Tim Bourguignon: 5:19
Wow, this is amazing. Did you have this?

Elise Carmichael: 5:22
letter still, you know, I don't. I might be at my parents house, but I really wish I did. I feel like I'd frame it. I specifically wanted to work for Pixar, so I wanted to go work and build all the software they were using. And then I found out, you know, once, once I studied I studied computer science and college and music. Once I found out what the software folks at Pixar did, which was create all the software that the actual designers of the movie and you know, the graphics would do, I was a little less interested in it. It seemed like a lot of math and I thought maybe that wasn't actually for me.

Tim Bourguignon: 5:59
But, but that's cool, cool dream anyway, to start, to start following.

Elise Carmichael: 6:04
Yeah, yeah, I still remember it, so it was certainly meaningful in my life.

Tim Bourguignon: 6:08
So so how did you decide which curriculum to follow and how to start that journey toward computer science on one hand, and music on the other one?

Elise Carmichael: 6:18
So it was actually ready to go to college before I finished high school. I had already applied. I went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is in North Carolina, of course, and I had a well known computer program. In fact the gentleman that coined the term a bite like a computer bite was one of the professors at my school. So we had this great program. My freshman year was the first full class of a computer science program. It was math before that, but they decided they had this whole computer science building and so it was somewhat glamorous. You know, it was kind of the first first seventh degree in there, about 30 to 40 kids in my program. So it wasn't that big. But I knew that's why I wouldn't do. I played the flute on the side as a music performance major and I still play, but it's not, it's not professional, it's just for fun. So I did that throughout college and I took internships and things like that because I always wanted more. I loved my classes, I love doing programming assignments, and so I always had Something going on on the side, even if it was like an IT help desk internship or if it was a programming thing or something for the college over the summer I did. I Probably can't even tell you how many internships I did, because it was always like a three-month thing here and there. I enjoyed that.

Tim Bourguignon: 7:36
Do you remember when you started I'm not sure the right term entering the workforce. I'm sure that's the right destination, but, um, how you pictured the, the work of an IT professional, to make it very generic Before and after starting seeing this in the in the in the industry.

Elise Carmichael: 7:56
Yeah, you know, I, I, I knew that you know I'd be sitting at a desk all day and writing code and I thought that sounded great. I like building something. I sort of thought of it as the white collar way to build something and that was what I really like building. Um, but my first job that was full-time was not really what I anticipated and I didn't go after what everyone else went after. So a lot of my Um friends from college went to Silicon Valley. They went to glamorous jobs at as consultants and they got paid quite a bit of money. I, on the other hand, met a boy. And I decided I was going to move to Florida and so I looked for whatever computer jobs I could find in Gainesville, florida, which is where I live. So it's Um, a small college town in the middle of Florida. It's not near anything. I'm not near a beach, I'm not near Disney, I'm two hours away from anything you can imagine here. I'm nowhere near Miami. Um, so I I went what's what's in Gainesville? So I looked and applied for basically every job I could find. I looked at like the chamber of commerce website, like the government website, to see what, even what, what companies could even exist there. Um, and I finally found a job at a blood bank, um, you know, like, kind of like the red cross, but A smaller version in the southeastern us. So I took a job in their, their IT department. It was pretty small, maybe 25 people. I was the only only woman there. Um, and I was a software developer, slash test automation engineer, and it was not at all what I pig pictured. It was kind of a cube farm. Um, we wrote software for the blood intake process. So someone comes in they say I want to donate blood and you have to fill out forms, and it would used to all be manual by hand, and so we made a computer program that was, um, all kinds of HIPAA compliant and you know very much in the healthcare space, because someone's putting in their name and their medical history and and all that. So we worked on this intake form and it was Not the most pleasant work environment for me, um, I probably have stories for for days, um, but it was a very interesting job. So after Three months of being there, I'm a 22 year old Kid straight out of college. After three months of being there, my boss promoted me to a manager role. I managed something like five people. Uh, there was someone in their 40s, other people kind of in their mid upper 20s, um, and it was a super awkward position for me because I didn't know anything about managing people, um, and the only reason or at least what I assume is the reason that I was offered this role is because I could translate what we were doing From a tech perspective Into what my boss cared about, which I now know, of course, is managing up, and there's a whole art to managing up, um, but apparently I did that naturally, um, because why else would he give a 22 year old with no other prior full-time experience a manager role Three months after starting in a new position in a new industry.

Tim Bourguignon: 12:30
Did you, um, in hindsight really understand that, or did you understand it back then? Uh, when did that happen? Understand which which part he's rational for promoting you.

Elise Carmichael: 12:44
Um, I just thought I was amazing. You know, I was really arrogant, right, like I thought I was doing a very good job. I didn't understand that I was managing up, necessarily, but I did know that I was able to communicate things to him that maybe the team Wasn't communicating well. He thought I was responsible, I was always on time and, um, it was a very, um, very lockdown place when you know, some of the the folks to my team would go to espancom and they were monitored and so they would block websites if you went to certain websites. So it was a very toxic place. So you know, it wasn't. It wasn't the greatest experience for me. I didn't stay there for super long. However, having that experience becoming a manager, of course I'm gonna take very seriously and try to understand all the things that I don't know anything about I am actually. My next job in technology was following one of the people that I managed to another company, so is how I found out about my next tech job.

Tim Bourguignon: 13:48
Okay, take us there maybe.

Elise Carmichael: 13:51
Yeah, so fun fact, I didn't go straight there. I decided that because it was such a toxic place I'm skipping out on technology jobs. I went to pre med. I took pre med classes. I was like gonna be a doctor, yeah. So I was like forget this, is it for me? I had other experiences of being the only woman there where people kind of treated me in a not super pleasant way when they found out I had a boyfriend, and it was a little toxic for multiple reasons. Yeah, I wanted to go to med school wow.

Tim Bourguignon: 14:27
So it was bad enough to really Discuss. You enough to stop being in this industry and go do something else.

Elise Carmichael: 14:37
Yeah, yeah, I did take a short job after that. That was remote, so I did have a remote job for maybe another year after that, but it was in the multi level marketing space and that was a different kind of toxic, because I thought the product was terrible and I didn't like how they approached it. So I learned about multi level marketing. So at that point I was like software is not for me, this is not for me. Everywhere can't be like this. So I actually took a job at a doctor's office. I learned how to draw blood and help with minor procedures and was a medical assistant in the family practice office while I was taking pre med courses at local school in florida.

Tim Bourguignon: 15:16
Holy moly, I have a. First of all, I want to apologize for whatever happened and all the men who, yeah, but wow, and how did you find your way back into the end?

Elise Carmichael: 15:31
So, fun fact, I was working at the doctor's office and I heard someone talk about this company that's in town here who one of the people that had worked for me previously told me he left for any city love. This company is a company called info tech Not the big info tech in india, but a local, florida info tech and this person that I worked with said what absolutely love working. There was a wonderful place. It was nothing like where we had worked before, and I heard someone come to the doctor's office saying that they work there and I overheard this conversation. So me being the super shy person that I am, I walked up to them and was like who are you? What do you do there? You know, tell me more about yourself. I do. You know this person? I know this person. They said it's great, turns out she was the head of hr there and said that there were a couple open positions and that I should come back and come back into tech and apply form. So I said what the heck? I had an interview, phone interview, maybe. A couple of days later they said come on in for an in person interview. In fact, there's two different jobs open. Why don't you interview for both of them and at this point I've been out of writing code for I don't know you're gonna have because I was pursuing this other side thing, because I thought technology was just so toxic and terrible everywhere. So I show up for the interview. It went really well. I got offered both jobs. They said, pick whichever one you want. It was for, you know, hundred and forty percent pay raise from what I was making previously and I said, okay, well, this sounds great. I maybe, I'll, maybe I'll hop back in here and, to be fair, after working at doctors office dealing with health insurance companies and the general population, I thought maybe I gotta give technology another chance. I did pretty well. So I took a job at this company, info tech, and stay there for about six years and worked in different roles, but I started out writing code. I really love the team I worked with. Software we are working on is really interesting, even though it was in the construction management space, which doesn't scream interesting. But I learned a lot about that industry and so when you learn about industry it's always kind of interesting. So much you don't know I can tell you now. You know how much it cost to build a road and all the components I go into building a road really interesting.

Tim Bourguignon: 17:58
That I understand as well. I joined a company doing main elevator maintenance two years ago. I never imagine I would be in the living I have so many questions.

Elise Carmichael: 18:08
How do they fix the police so they hold something up while the police systems? About the belt systems. I actually love how elevators work.

Tim Bourguignon: 18:16
It's super interesting, right we can take that up after the call. That's fair. So back to your story. Did that manage to cure that? That company info tech managed to cure a little bit the toxic picture you had in your mind.

Elise Carmichael: 18:32
Hundred percent. I did discover other toxic things about different kinds of customers you can have, maybe the construction space, but it was a wonderful place to work. I love my co-workers, projects were interesting, I was constantly learning new stuff and I remembered. This is what I love about technology, and so I have not jumped career paths since I was quite a while ago, but that was. That was a really big deal to me. I'm still friends with with many of the people that I work with.

Tim Bourguignon: 19:04
Hooray. Finally, you mentioned in passing multiple roles in the sexy six years, ten years that you had. What kind of roles do you take on?

Elise Carmichael: 19:15
Yes, I started off I think they called me a systems analyst or senior systems analyst is basically a senior developer role, so I did that. But what I really learned that company was two things. I visited my first customer on site and I really enjoyed traveling and visiting customer and talking to them and it's always different seeing your software in the real world with a real user than sitting at your desk and I thought that that just gives you kind of an extra feeling of accomplishment. And I built this, I worked on this, I know how it works, I can answer any question that they're going to throw at me, and so that that was great. And then I also learned that I liked having an opinion on what we built, not just being handed what we were built, and that those two things have really shaped a lot of the different paths that I've gone on. Although I'm the the CTO at my current company, I'm responsible for the engineering and delivery of the product, but also I run the product organization, so that groups kind of deciding what you're building, and I'm also running security, I'm also running cloud and there's a reason that I feel comfortable in all of those areas and it's really due to kind of a varied career that I have leading up to that.

Tim Bourguignon: 20:36
Okay, I'm jumping quite far, but, but running engineering product organization security in cloud, that's quite a stretch for you, even if you can, if you can do it regardless, it's, it's really a lot.

Elise Carmichael: 20:50
It is. It is, and you can only do it if you have fantastic lieutenants in every area. So I would like to be not the smartest one in the room. I want all the people that work for me to be much smarter than I am and to know more about that thing. I only know enough to draw boxes, arrows, architecture diagrams high level of these are where the pieces connect. I can identify the right problems and understand what they're talking to me about, versus necessarily saying this is how we should build our, you know, cloud architecture. I don't know the best practices and everything everywhere, by any means.

Tim Bourguignon: 21:24
I hear you understanding enough to smell what's right and smell if it doesn't right, and be able to ask the right question at the right time, but having them the experts do the right thing.

Elise Carmichael: 21:35

Tim Bourguignon: 21:36
I hear you Exactly. Okay so back to this organization. You started as a senior developer and then likes having a broad area or broad spectrum of action. I heard having an opinion on thing. That means going toward defining where the product is going.

Elise Carmichael: 21:56
Yeah, so we had that was the first company as that we adopted this new shiny concept of agile and it was really scrum and a kind of scrum, but it was. It was really close to what what you would consider kind of the mainstream scrum. Now we had stand ups. I had before you software to manage tickets. We had note cards that we wrote our quasi user stories on. We drew lines on a giant whiteboard that had our names for who who had what ticket and then you would move the tickets long and I always wanted to rip up the ticket when we were done because it was a feeling of accomplishment, but my product owner wanted to keep them. I remember having a like a end of year review with my boss, who at the time was that product owner, and he was like you know, where do you see yourself in a couple years, five years, something like that and I told him I would like his job, which I thought would go over great, and I thought he would be flattered. I don't think he was that flat, I comment, but I just thought you know, I really like that, the concept of product, and although I didn't go straight there, after this I did have an opportunity to lead one of the products at that company. I still had a product owner, but I had a lot more influence over what we built and how we built it. So I kind of started running the whole product and being responsible for delivery of that product. So that was kind of my final role at that company.

Tim Bourguignon: 23:28
Awesome, awesome. That's a very interesting place to be when you can have a foot in on those two worlds. Define the what and define the how at the same time. Try to be not too schizophrenic of mixing up the two and really letting the how away for a bit, working on the what, but going back and forth. This is really a great place to be. I understand you fully. So what decided you to leave this company? If you were in such a right place?

Elise Carmichael: 23:55
Oh, money, money, I gotta I. So I've been very fortunate my career where, other than my first job when I first moved to Florida, I never really applied for a job. Everything has sort of happened and I have attacked it like that person at the doctor's office. I didn't send a resume and I just talked to her and was like, can I, can I go apply for that? And so the next company I worked for, they found me on LinkedIn. I said, sure, I'll interview. It was in. I know about trucking, so it was in the trucking industry, so I know about logistics and trucking and it was really purely for money. They paid me quite a bit more money and I didn't think my other company would match and I thought I'd been there six years. Let's break out of my comfort zone, do something brand new that I don't know anything about, because that's been my other MO throughout my careers to take on something that is harder than what I'm doing or more unknown. So I worked at that trucking company for a while and then, kind of the next big thing that happened in my career is I get a phone call from a gentleman named Daniel Cohen and he was running engineering at a professional services company called Mope Equity and they specialized in mobile app development, which I had no experience in, and responsive web apps, which I had no experience in, and Alexa skills was their other big thing. So he said I want you to come work for Mope Equity. We're building an office in Gainesville. And I said you don't have an office area. I don't know, I have a small child. That seems kind of risky. Maybe I'll think about it. So I didn't take it right away. But he kept pestering me. He and someone in their HR team kept pestering me in a good way and finally I said OK, ok, let's, let's talk again. They had started opening the office and he asked me to run a program at that company called on ramp. So it was something that Daniel had just kind of come up with and it was a training program for new software developers and testers who were straight out of college or had done a boot camp and could pass a very difficult interview, and the program would basically teach you how to build software on the team for a large organization. So we would put together these small teams and work for a CVS or work for the weather channel or name brand companies that people have heard of. So I said, ok, I've never done any kind of training before. I don't think I've ever done any public speaking before. That sounds terrifying. I don't have any idea what I don't know about all of this. Sign me up. That sounds great. So I started at this company running this training program that he had started and I also did. I would hire people to come in and teach how to program in Objective C and then Swift later for iOS, because that was not a skill set that I was an expert in. But we would actually go hire people who were absolute experts in it and pay them a crazy amount of money to come in for three weeks to leave whatever they were doing for three weeks, to basically live in Gainesville and teach this. We did the same for Android. I taught the software test one because I knew a lot about software testing and test automation, so I taught that one. I ran a bunch of these programs. I ran in India one time, so I was in India for like a month, and so it was completely different than what I've been doing, and while I was there I also changed roles multiple times. I started taking over projects if they were on fire, because I really liked working with the customers I found out. I really liked working with angry customers. For some awful reason, I just wanted to make them our biggest fans. You know, hey, you're really angry about how this project's going. Let me take it over. I have your back, I'm going to help you. And I just over communicated with them. I would tell them no, we're not going to do that, that's not what your statement of work says. And then I ultimately took over QA. I took over engineering. I eventually took Daniel's job when he left the organization, so that was a very eye opening company. I stayed there for quite a while and had lots of experiences in different industries. From working on healthcare software, which has its own kind of compliance, I worked on the first FDA approved mobile app, which was kind of interesting, so it actually delivered medicine via an app. I don't think it was, in the public, super well received because it was scary, sort of like a self driving car was. You know, I don't trust this thing, but it was a very, very interesting experience getting to work with all these different types of companies and different industries.

Tim Bourguignon: 28:54
You mentioned twice. Hey, it's hard to sign me in. Is this the way you motivate yourself?

Elise Carmichael: 29:00
or you push yourself, or I have no idea why I do this, but this has been absolutely my thing. If it's something I'm uncomfortable with, a little bit uncomfortable with, it sounds hard. I'm not sure what I'm doing. I am so committed that I will figure it out and find a way to do it, because you have to. Someone's going to figure it out why not me? So that role was very much. Daniel was a great mentor to me and he was very motivating. He knew that someone with my background could figure that out and I think he really helped push me in that direction. That was such a big deal to me and throughout my career there he always pushed me into things and I think I really appreciated that and I've taken that with me everywhere I've been since in every role and what I encourage my team members to do.

Tim Bourguignon: 29:57
When you say he pushed you, what do you mean exactly? He encouraged you, he helped you split things in smaller parts so that you see, hey, it's doable, and you can go there.

Elise Carmichael: 30:12
He just pushed me. He just pushed me. This is what you need to know and you'll be fine. So, for example, when I was doing the training, I watched him do it or I watched other people do it before I was sort of left on my own one time. So I saw one entire we called them classes of students I saw them go through this whole program one time and then I was basically on my own. After there was an area that I knew well, but not extremely well. So one area was Git. It was still relatively new I suppose at the time. Git is relatively new still, but it was something I was teaching everyone and I really needed to understand it inside and out, like how does it work, so I could answer all these questions that all these technical folks are going to ask me about it, and so that was the kind of thing. So I just practiced a lot on my own because I knew I could learn it. But it wasn't something I knew. But I wasn't going to say no just because I don't know that one technology. So same thing with any technology I've needed to learn in my career I'll figure it out, and I always do or did.

Tim Bourguignon: 31:27
Okay, okay, now you've been more on the other side of this bench, probably finding people to push and or finding what people need and helping them get there. Do you have some kind of heuristic of who you can push and for whom it would be constructive to push?

Elise Carmichael: 31:47
Absolutely so you can always tell when you have team members that do a little bit extra. Hey, I see a problem, I just went ahead and did this thing. It could be a small, trivial thing Like hey, I noticed we didn't have this thing documented, so I started this documentation and, even better, I asked a couple other people to help fill it in. Those are the people you can push because you know that they are problem solvers. They're not just going to say, oh, there's no documentation and then like, move on and complain about it. The people that are problem solvers, that want to better everything around them, or they see a gap in a process and they say, what if we do it this way? And they bring it up and it's never, you know, it's someone else's problem. It's like you know who is responsible for that? Oh, there's no one responsible for that. Why don't I do that? Those are the people that you just see their careers take off, and a lot of the people who went through this on-ramp program at Mobiquity went the extra mile to find a company that did this training program where you had homework, and it was a very challenging program. It lasted seven weeks or you would find people that changed careers, went through this boot camp and we picked certain boot camps that were like longer boot camps, that were immersive boot camps, so they really, like you could tell they wanted to do this. One person, for example, came who's a general contractor, so he was in construction and it's like I'm going to learn how to do Android development. Yeah, so he comes and does this program and it is so amazing to see how successful this group of people who went through this training program are today. It's been, you know, one of those kind of life changing things. Every time I think about it.

Tim Bourguignon: 33:34
It must feel really fantastic to look back and see those faces and see where they became, absolutely, and knowing that you had a forming role in there.

Elise Carmichael: 33:44
I'd like to think so.

Tim Bourguignon: 33:47
I'm sure this is the case. I have your profile, your link profile, open right there and your subsequent roles go all over the place. You have VP, quality VP, product strategy VP, enterprise evangelist, vp, vice president of product. Was there a definitive move of going in all those directions?

Elise Carmichael: 34:08
100%. So while I was at Mobiquity I bought a product called Q-Test and Q-Test is a test management and enterprise quality test management solution. So at Mobiquity we had all of our testing teams for all the projects that they were doing for other companies work within this test management tool so they could have a very unified looking test suite. So they all had their regression tests and their smoke tests. So it wasn't tracked super well before this and you wanted to be able to send what testing you had done to the customer so they could feel confident in what they did. So Q-Test was run by a company called QI Symphony and they were based in Atlanta and I guess at that time was one of their bigger customers. So they had asked me hey, can you speak at our conference? And I'd never done a conference talk before, so of course I'd go. Yes, that sounds great, I have no idea what I'm doing. And I went and spoke at their conference about how to do testing for mobile devices and how we store that data in Q-Test, and so the talk went really well and it was their first user conference. So it was a relatively young company still and they had like an after party after the event and I went to the party at the Spurri and ended up meeting the founders of the company and the CEO of the company. The CEO's name was Dave Kyle and I told Dave probably after a couple of drinks when I was even more outgoing than maybe I normally am that I really liked the product, I thought I had tons of potential and then I was going to come work for him one day. So maybe three or four months later I sent him a message. Professional services is a very challenging industry. It's just constantly moving, there's constant fires and things going on because there's so many projects. So it's a very difficult industry to be in. And although I do really like it, I missed product companies and so I called him up one day and said okay, what do you have, what do you have going for me? And so he flew me out. Maybe a week later I interviewed from when I landed in Atlanta, which was like 7 am, so I had like a breakfast meeting and, fun fact, I had the founder of the company, who owns another company as well, show up as my first interviewee and I wasn't expecting it. He wasn't on my schedule and he said Dave said I could talk to you if it doesn't work out at QA Symphony. And so he interviewed me for a role at his company who I'd met him. The same night I met Dave, so I thought that was amazing. I felt like a million bucks after that. So I interviewed all the way through dinner. So I had a breakfast, lunch and dinner there, Flew home that night and they gave me a job offer for this VP of QA role, which was actually a subject matter expert role. Plus I was running QA at the company, which you know the small companies, really small, relatively small team and so that's when I started getting into product. So I spent most of my time there with the product team and saying this is what we should build or this is how we should build it, and I started learning about the product side of the world and then took over the product team while I was there. So that's how I really got fully into kind of the product side. It was very strange not being as close to the code, but I did work with the engineering team quite a bit while I was there.

Tim Bourguignon: 37:38
Okay, okay, because that would have been the next question. How'd you?

Elise Carmichael: 37:41
come back. Yeah, it's been. I've always stayed with engineering to some degree because it's so important that the product team and engineering team work completely in sync. They're like it's great when they're run by two separate people, when you have the this is what we need to build this tower building, and you don't kind of make the decisions separately. I have seen, like like where I am now, it does sometimes work better when they're together. It kind of depends on the product a little bit. But then try, try sent us and QA Symphony merged, so I went through a merger and then I was running product strategy and we had people. We had some duplicate roles and so I ended up being an evangelist for the company, which was basically was doing tons of public speaking engagements, which I still don't like, and yet I still do them. But I did a lot of traveling and speaking on behalf and I also helped run the go to market activities for the Q test products still. So after the merger I was in charge of making sure the sales team knew what they were doing. The marketing team was talking about the right stuff. So I really started getting much more involved in the business side of how to sell software, and so I spent a lot of time at QA Symphony and at Tricentus learning about that. I went to another software testing company after that that did test automation with machine learning and AI. So I got much more. I was more educated in kind of the machine learning space. I realized I didn't know as much as I would have liked to know, so I spent a lot of time researching that. And then Dave comes to a new company called Lakeside and I joined back at Lakeside, which is where I am now. So that's kind of my whole full circle. I loved working for Dave and so I thought it was a great opportunity I knew he was looking at coming to Lakeside. I loved it was a big data company and I thought, oh, there's tons of opportunity. You have all this data. Look at all this machine learning we can do on this. Having data is gold right now. So I was just really excited to work on a product that's in the IT space so a technical product is kind of my sweet spot and then getting to run engineering when I first started. And then I took over a product about six months ago.

Tim Bourguignon: 39:57
Mm, I think I'm on that, thank you. So what did you find at Lakeside in the realm of who? I have no idea how to do that. That's fantastic. Let's do it.

Elise Carmichael: 40:08
You know there's a lot of things at Lakeside I didn't know coming in. So the interesting thing is on the IT space and but like traditional IT so kind of your employees, machines and you know the digital workplace and that was kind of a whole industry that I was not as familiar with. Like I know your basic help desk stuff. I know there's application owners, but I don't really understand or I didn't Now I do I didn't really understand how that part of large organizations was set up. So I always worked kind of on the engineering and new product development side. So that was my I don't know what I'm doing and I better learn that really quickly Side one joining here. But thankfully a lot of the other stuff has been at least familiar enough to me, which is why I was able to take an elevated role here. I think it's okay, I've done this, I've done all of this stuff before. I just have to learn a little bit on the industry of the product we're selling into.

Tim Bourguignon: 41:05
Having been that broad or that yeah, broad, that's best word I have to add. What's the next thing that attracts you in this regard? And hey, this is something I have no idea about. I want to learn about it.

Elise Carmichael: 41:22
You know, I've spent a lot of the last maybe 10 years working on the business side and understanding more on the business side, so that was a gap. I really like understanding things around M&A so acquiring companies, emerging with companies so there's areas there that I certainly know more about now than I did before, and that's been an area of a lot of interest. How do I look at a company and say that's one that we should buy? That would be a great investment for us? So kind of like a almost pieces of due diligence I think is interesting. But honestly, there's a couple of things that I'm looking for next, which would be being a CEO of a company working in private equity or venture capital, and that whole area is very interesting to me. You know, one of my goals is to be on a bunch of boards. One day I'm started working with a venture capital company as a tech advisor, so I help out companies here and there, but those are all things that are out of my comfort zone, but I'm close enough where I feel like I'd be great at that. I hope I'd be great at that.

Tim Bourguignon: 42:34
I'm sure you would with that mentality. I'm sure you would. I want to keep piggybacking on this and I'm searching for an advice and for many people looking at this unknown thing you don't know, or things you know you don't know, knowing or finding a way to start is always hard. Think, okay, you can be like an animal in the middle of the road and with two headlines coming at your way and you can be stuck and just not moving. Or you can have some reflexes of saying, hey, this is what I do when I don't know. Did you have some advice for us?

Elise Carmichael: 43:13
Yeah, you know I have a hard time saying you know what I don't know about this? Let me go learn. Let me go learn that. I have a much easier time putting myself into a situation where I'm forced to learn something, and I feel like that's how a lot of people do learn. And so you get stuck in this thing where you're kind of afraid to move because you don't know about it. But if you just sort of close your eyes and leap over, you're not gonna do anything else but learn about that because that's what your time is now dedicated to. So that's how I do it. And then, once you're in that place, it's easy enough to YouTube, Google, read a book, so tons of ways to actually figure it out once you're there.

Tim Bourguignon: 43:53
Okay. So find a way to be in that position, so not having it as a side, a side, side, side gig where you don't have time for it really being committed, and then you have to learn. Okay, makes sense. Kind of scary, but makes sense.

Elise Carmichael: 44:10
It is a little scary. It is a little scary, I think. You know. Not everyone wants to explore something new. You know, if you're not someone that wants to travel to somewhere new all the time you don't quite know what to expect. This may feel extremely uncomfortable. I'm someone that always wants to. You know, I don't like thrill rides, I don't like going on roller coasters, but I do like traveling somewhere new and having a new experience, and that's, you know, my favorite way to kind of travel and see the world. I don't want to do the same thing over and over again.

Tim Bourguignon: 44:39
That fits the picture perfectly Shocking. Yeah, no, that's the consistent. That's really cool, elise. That's been a hell of a roller coaster to reuse that world. Really really cool seeing you Started as a developer, going places, going into IT, saying hey, no, I stopped this, I want to do something else, and then never, ever, will I go back to this industry again and then coming back to it a couple of years later and following this hard trail of not knowing where what you know and finding stuff you don't know and you want to learn, and just going there. Fantastic, really really cool, thank you. Where would be the best place to continue the discussion with you?

Elise Carmichael: 45:21
That's a great question. I think I probably checked LinkedIn more than most. I'm not big on the social media I think that's because it's too much to check, but certainly LinkedIn. Anyone can find me and send me a note. I'd love to hear from anyone, or email is always a great opportunity, but unfortunately lots of things go in the trash.

Tim Bourguignon: 45:41
So we'll say LinkedIn, we'll say LinkedIn, and I'll link your profile in the show notes just below. Perfect. Anything else you want to plug in?

Elise Carmichael: 45:51
I wasn't prepared for this question, so I'm going to say no. I feel like I should plug my company, lakeside Software. Come see what we do. We have this great product called SysTrack.

Tim Bourguignon: 46:00
Check that out, just for the record. You were not prepared for any questions for today. You didn't know any of the questions I wanted to ask, so that is true.

Elise Carmichael: 46:10
That is true, I appreciate it.

Tim Bourguignon: 46:12
And I'll add two Lakeside Software as well. Elise, thank you so much.

Elise Carmichael: 46:17
Thanks for having me.

Tim Bourguignon: 46:19
And this has been another episode of the Updates First Journey and we'll see each other next week, bye-bye. Thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you like the show, please share, rate and review. It helps more listeners discover those stories. You can find the links to all the platforms the show appears on on our website devjourneyinfo, slash, subscribe. Talk to you soon.