Today we are talking to Sam Babic, the Chief Software Architect at Hyland. And we discuss how to break introverted habits, learning through osmosis and the formula for earning respect.
All of this right here, right now, on the Modern CTO Podcast!
Sam Babic is Vice President (VP), Chief Software Architect of Hyland Software. In July 1997, he joined the company as a software engineer. Sam was promoted to manager in March 2002 and became AVP of Development in July 2006. He has extensive enterprise content management (ECM) knowledge and has been part of the Hyland development team for 16 years.
In his role at Hyland, Sam acts as senior architect. He manages innovative product development and research leveraging new technologies. His job as an innovator is to think one step ahead, positioning the architecture and product platforms for the future.
In 1997, Sam graduated first in his class from Cleveland State University.
While studying electrical engineering at CSU, Sam was employed as a junior fellow at NASA.
CORE awesome horrible movie – scifi movie
Story about CORE movie – Employee 33 back in 1997
Was at NASA for 4 years right out of high school – Worked in the satcom division
Worked on the ACTS satellites – low earth orbit sats for cell phones
Managed to stay at the same company for 20+ years
Graduated 9th in the class in electrical engineering. Friend in college named Cal got him an interview at Hyland. It was a Cleveland startup around the dot.com bubble.
Have had a lot of acquisitions and the company has grown but the culture is the same.
CTO retired a few years ago and kinda reorganized.
Started out as a programmer. Was one of the first managers. AVP for a longtime. Retired the CTO title with the CTO. Now they have a Chief product and strategy officer.
Functionally the CTO but the VP suits him a little better.
Considers himself the shadow government. Makes sure the tech is running
Hyland is 3500+ doubled in the last few years. RnD 1000 people. QA / Devs
Created a bunch of new architect positions as part of the ReORG
Seen a lot of the evolution of the software over 21 years
Currently in a modernization phase which was some of the motivation for the reorg
Hyland is in the Enterprise Content Management Space
Content services is focusing on the use cases. Managing it via APIs and other components
Have customers in every industry, healthcare, insurance, government, construction.
Have offices and customers all over the globe.
How did the transition in to leadership go? Was a big introvert. Interacted more with the executives as a small company and that made it easier. Learn by example of the executives early on because it’s possible
Is there any way that you help people climb the ladder?
Have a mentorship program that is set up. Everyone reports up through the dotted line hierarchy. Talking about Structure
Where is Sam in the seniority chain. Actually number 14 of the original 33
Retention rate within RnD is very low 8-10 turnover is in the industry.
Been in a suburb of Cleveland his whole life. Does spend half his time in Florida
Winters is getting rough so it was time to get in to a warmer area
Work – go to the gym – food for the wife on the way home. Bar on the beach – bikini bar – watching spacex launches – everyone’s watching the rocket launch and he’s just waiting for his shrimp
What advice would you give about how you keep sharp in your role? Haven’t programmed in a while. Learn a lot through osmosis. Be around smart people. Ask questions and learn from them. Early in career you learn the technical teams. After 10000 hours you can interface with other people and learn through osmosis.
3rd degree black belt
How do you engage with the team regularly. Cross cuts in his role. Full day long workshop.
All hands R&D meetings once a month.
Tech leadership forums. Architects get together and do an information exchange amongst themselves. Alot are volunteers with community outreach
There’s a lot happening at Hyland. Have a very living culture.
Local board called right. Attracting preparing and placing CS students in cleveland
If you can get to the students earlier and create the connection. They may go to college somewhere else but they will come back. Create stickiness with the local people
When they do the acquisitions, they look for cultural fit. Last 2 acquisitions, they were very well aligned from a people and culture perspective.
In the Acquisitions, is it a smooth process of pulling everyone together at the same time?
The acquisitions get a lot smoother as they go.
About 15 years ago they were about 1500 employees and brought in about 800.
Going through an acquisition is kind of like buying a house
Ideal profile of cultural fit at Hyland. Attitude and ability to work with others. Can’t train attitude. Ability to collaborate are the two most important things. Work through problems. There’s going to be friction. You can’t train Attitude
As you grow there will be friction and it you have to be able to work through it.
There will be times when people won’t agree. Everyone has varied opinions and it comes back to the ability to accept feedback and sometimes that requires compromise.
There’s never a right answer and it comes down to compromise
Has 1 on 1s with a few R&D managers. It feels good to help people.
Learned a lot early. From people
Packy jr, was the founder and CEO. Him and dan were in an elevator in 1998 and packy goes is there anything you guys need and Dan Wilson says we want 21 inch flat screens in 1998. Man i wish i would’ve known how much these cost at 6k a piece. He kept his word