Hey, I’m John. I turn big ideas into software blueprints and gameplans.
John Anderson, Junior Project Manager and Recovering Fisherman
I’m the hands-on support for our engineering teams, translating client visions into technical documentation and breaking down one-off features into building blocks they can work with.
Delivery | Project Management
Backstage at AEG, the show starts with getting people to adopt new digital tools. Their WalkMe application understands how people want to engage, and we help shape how it grows. So I guess you could say I draft the feature tickets that sell more concert tickets.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was going into the office about twice a week. I think the flexibility feels more human. At home, I take small breaks, cook, and get outside. It’s one thing to have people going into the office every day sometimes pretending to work. You get a totally different result when you give people the privilege to work from home. It’s amazing to watch our teams come together and deliver something cohesive from a relatively unstructured environment.
It’s the backbone of my work life and personal projects.
I use it to check models and code for our applications.
It’s great for taking notes and outsourcing my mind’s organization, whether that’s documenting and sharing my own personal knowledge or communicating with teams.
When I'm brainstorming an idea or a way to work around a problem, it helps me to quickly create mind maps. It’s great to have something non-linear, almost like you’re writing out loud. I can really branch out and jot down multiple different ideas from one core thought.
Awesome, bare-bones way of keeping all my browser tabs in order.
I've got text edit files all over my desktop. They’re great for jotting things down, adding screenshots and gifs.
Gifox makes it easy to create and edit gifs on the fly so I can show bugs or explain new features to an engineer.
For keeping my hundreds of passwords safe.
I was an Uber driver and a commercial fisherman before Kunai, so I’m always excited about building new skills, even if they’re completely unrelated to previous jobs and interests. It’s all about seizing an opportunity when it presents itself.
I have this Journal that my brother gave me and it helps me structure my goals and how you plan to achieve them one quarter at a time. I have a series of long-term goals I want to complete by the end of the year and then it goes into a month-by-month and week-by-week breakdown of how to execute.
I also use the daily section to organize my brain on a daily basis, and these great sections where I can reflect on what I’m grateful for in the morning, what lessons I learned, what winds I had that day.
Then, I’ve got my headphones, laptop charger, sometimes my personal laptop and hard drive in case inspiration hits.
Sandeep: Tell me a bit about the early part of your career.
Tom: I spent a decade helping to build start-ups focused on application and database software. This was where I learned how to sell and do business development. I was fortunate to be part of one company going public and another being sold to IBM.
Sandeep: What is something you learned during this time that helped you with consulting?
Tom: I began to appreciate how different customers achieved varying levels of success with the same foundational technology. This made me understand just how critical getting your team and process right can be.
Sandeep: This is something I only came to appreciate years into consulting, especially after the sale of my first consultancy to Capital One.I saw teams in different parts of the company trying to solve challenges like real-time messaging. Same corporate culture, same technology, same internal support mechanisms. Night and day outcomes.
Tom: We saw a lot of the same thing after selling our practice to EMC (sold to Dell in 2015). This is probably the thing I'm most proud of when it comes to the teams I've helped to build: the ability to perform well in a variety of contexts, sometimes in ways that inspires the client team to up their game as well.
Sandeep: Yes. It's particularly cool to see your team succeed in individual ways after an acquisition...consulting skills definitely translate into the corporate environment.
Tom: Totally. We have people who've stayed on at Dell and risen up the ranks, while others took the opportunity to become successful executives at other Fortune 100 companies....or to start their own agencies and startups.
Sandeep: We've both been around a while. My first consulting project was a Y2K thing for Cisco back in 1998. You've been around a little longer than that :). How do you think consulting has changed most during the past five years?
Tom: I think because there is so much infrastructure available now, consulting has become more delivery and outcome-oriented. A better blend of strategic and tactical. Public Cloud has also enabled velocity to increase at a pace unfathomable 5 years ago.
Sandeep: What has stayed the same?
Tom: It's still mostly about people. People who thrive on change and are focused on their personal and professional development. I love that this has not and will not change...it's what I love about consulting.
Sandeep: I know you're adjusting your work style to COVID. You're still a dude who clearly prefers to drive an hour for a socially-distanced hike or outdoor meeting over Zoom any day of the week :) But personal styles aside, what is specifically compelling about a remote agency during the era of COVID?
Tom: Kunai has been remote for years, which gives them an inherent advantage. There is something about the communication and management styles that just works in a way that other organizations are still figuring out.
Sandeep: Yeah, I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that remote work isn't just office work over Zoom. it's an entirely new paradigm. There needs to be an understanding for asynchronous efficiency...and this just takes time and effort to develop. How do you approach remote work and family? What are you learning about separating work and personal time?
Tom: No matter what the form of interaction, Focus. Be present. Quality over quantity. The best weeks are the weeks where I proactively schedule work and personal time. Neil (Kunai's Head of Delivery) shared a great quote with me "With discipline comes freedom." When I am proactively addressing the majority of my professional and personal commitments, I find I earn a little flexibility. A little freedom.
Sandeep: Tell us about a business hero of yours that I may not have heard of before.
Tom: Paul O'Neill is someone you may not know. His work in both the public and the private sector created a profound impact
Sandeep: We are both over forty years old :). How have you learned how to work smarter during the past decade or so? What do you wish you knew about consulting when you were 25 that you know now?
Tom: Consultants want to make lasting change. Lasting change is often not the act of a single person. Today I work much harder bringing others along on the journey.
Sandeep: Last question. What are you doing here? :) Why join a small consulting company this late in your career when you could have a cushy job somewhere else?
Tom: I love a good challenge personally and professionally. When I turned 40, I decided I would run a 10K every Thanksgiving weekend and try to have my finishing time be less than my age. With the exception of one year where I did not run due to a health issue, I have met the goal. I also recently completed the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race. So, I guess I'm here because I'm a glutton for punishment :) Jokes aside, our customers have a job to do and I intend to put Kunai in a position to execute flawlessly on their behalf. I love committing jointly to audacious goals for our customers and our business.
When I’m not building fintech solutions at Kunai, I’m often engaged in other types of creative problem solving in my free time. One great example of this is my years-long endeavor to create a simple computerized clone of an old Hasbro board game.
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