I recently sat down with Eric Woods, a rock star at work and at home. Eric talked about how he came to be a ‘Crederian’, what he’s learned here, and how his interests outside of work feed and influence his success while at work.
HOW DID YOU ORIGINALLY FIND OUT ABOUT CREDERA?
It’s a long, somewhat strange story. Credera had no campus recruiting program at the University of North Texas, which is where I went to school. It was while picking up some paperwork from my mom at her workplace that one of the executives asked me about my degree. I was a BCIS major – the equivalent of an MIS major at most universities. He told me about a technology consulting company that was doing great work for the company called ‘Credera’, and asked me if I had ever heard of them. He told me that if I sent him a resume, he would refer me to Credera. I went through the entire interview process, including a technical assessment test. I thought that I nailed the assessment test, but it turned out that I had not done so well. I ended up not getting the job at that time, and I went to work in the technology department of another local company. About a year later, I received a call from one of the Principals at Credera who had kept my resume. I came in for another round of interviews and took the assessment test again, and I was hired. I started in June of 2007.
WHAT ARE THE ASPECTS OF THE CULTURE AND JOB THAT ATTRACTED YOU TO CREDERA?
I knew that I wanted to design and build software or something that had a creative component that was going to engage my intellect and make me happy. Secondly, on the website we had examples of some of the technologies that we used. We work with a lot of open source technologies, and that was very attractive to me. I wanted to be able to look at the source code, to see how things were built, so that I could build my own applications and solutions.
The last aspect was that I knew at Credera I would be given a lot of responsibilities right away, and that the company did not have a lot of bureaucratic red tape. I felt like I wouldn’t be restricted or pigeon-holed here.
YOU TALKED ABOUT BUILDING SOFTWARE. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE A PROFESSIONAL SERVICES COMPANY OVER A PRODUCT COMPANY?
The thing I like about consulting is the possibility of seeing different clients and industries, seeing how their business operate, seeing how they use technologies, and having the chance to learn something from each of those interactions and experiences. You don’t get that as much when you work for a single company and on a single product.
HAS CREDERA LIVED UP TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
Emphatically, yes. When you consider where I started and where I am now, it is amazing how much I have learned. I look back at my college experience and realize how little I learned that is applicable to what I do on a day-to-day basis. My first enterprise-sized project, I was a little intimidated. I had very little experience with many of the technologies we were using, and I had a lot to learn – quickly. Now, after only nine years, I am a Senior Architect, I’ve led multiple technical solutions, and I’ve had a chance to teach a lot of our junior consultants along the way.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU ABOUT WHAT YOU DO AT CREDERA?
Solving really difficult problems and being able to sink my brain into it – getting into a flow state and having my mind fully engaged. It’s always fun to get to the end of a project and being able to look back and see how much you’ve developed and how far the team has come. It’s almost magical.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE JOINING CREDERA?
When you first come here, especially if it’s right off of campus or early in your career, get a wide range of experiences. Use those experiences to find your passion or what it is you like about consulting or building software and go deep in that area.
TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT HOW YOU’VE SEEN SOME OF CREDERA’S CORE VALUES LIVED OUT?
Integrity. Right after the great recession in 2007, we were impacted negatively, as many businesses and industries were. We had to part ways with a very small number of employees, and we asked everyone left in the company to take a ten percent pay cut. The Partners took a twenty percent pay cut. The Partners promised to raise salaries back to where they were before the cut, and kept track of how much everyone had ‘lost’ during the pay cut period so that it could ultimately be paid back. Once we were safely out of the market downturn, all employees were returned to their previous salary levels, and then the ‘lost’ income was paid back to each employee. The Partners were the last ones to have their salaries returned to previous levels and the last to be paid back. I thought that was a great example of integrity.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR PERSONAL CORE VALUES, AND HOW DO YOU APPLY THEM TO YOUR WORK AND PERSONAL LIFE?
Supporting and being there for my family. That is the most important thing in my life.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE WORK WITH TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY?
The notion of work/life balance is not clear cut, especially when you really enjoy the work that you get to do. When I am wrestling with a tough problem, that’s an enjoyable activity for me. You have to realize the times when you need to let go, and make sure that you are not missing out on life outside of work and not impacting those you love.
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I enjoy intellectually stimulating activities. I love the arts. When I went to UNT I was originally a Music major. I was academically trained on a french horn, but I don’t play that anymore. I play acoustic, electric and bass guitars. I don’t play in a band; it’s just my own personal, creative outlet.
I also like to read a lot. I mostly read non-fiction – cognitive science, psychology, sociology, economics. Basically, anything that humans do. My number one book recommendation right now is The Ego-Tunnel by Thomas Metzinger. It’s fascinating.