Identify and understand what Slack is.
My name is Brian Savage, and I will be your Instructor for this course. As the one who will be responsible for guiding you through this course I believe it is important to offer you the opportunity to understand the origin of my direction, expectations, and my basis in grading your efforts. Therefor I would like to share a brief history of my professional and personal journey to help you understand what it is that has placed me directly in the path of your future. I offer you this in understanding that I find myself weighing one’s experience in the equation when placing value on their advice, direction, information, etc. This is not a required reading and there will be no quiz on this. I will be happy to entertain any questions you may have about me, my journey, and why I choose to be here and not there.
As a result of a difficult childhood I was left with no choice but quit high school in the beginning of twelfth grade to work and maintain my apartment at 4th and Walnut, here in Reading. Shortly after quitting I obtained my GED and continued working in the restaurant and construction industries. For a few years I attempted to move forward in my education by attending classes at Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado State University, Naropa Institute, and finally I completed my Associates Degree in Liberal Arts here at RACC. I later completed my BS in Computer Science at Albright College in their Accelerated Degree Program. Moving forward, I will be working toward completing my Masters at Penn State beginning in the spring of 2017. I have an enormous respect for academics and have always maintained that it is the world’s greatest resource for diverse and inspiring relationships that foster both personal and professional growth. I would encourage you to recognize this while traveling through your academic journey and embrace all that you can from it.
I have had an exciting career in which I have been fortunate to work with teams from around the world on websites and applications for organizations such as ebay, Godiva, Sony, Dicks Sporting Goods, Toys-R-Us, Ferrari, and many more. I hope by sharing a little about my journey with you so you, you might understand what I have to offer you as a teacher, but more importantly, you establish a level of confidence in the knowledge that I will share with you about the industry and how you might position yourself to succeed.
My journey began as a technical trainer for an organization named Managing Editor Inc (MEI) in Jenkintown Pennsylvania. At MEI I consulted publication organizations on how to leverage technology to increase efficiencies in delivering publications such as magazines, newspapers, and books. For several years my week began on Sunday mornings in the Philadelphia Airport as I headed out, to somewhere in the world, to complete my activities as a technical trainer. It was an exciting chapter for me when considering these organizations included National Geographic, Gannet Publications, Mac World, and Playboy to name a few. Through these experiences I began to build a network and started freelancing, by creating microsites, and eventually found myself as the founder and CEO of Egavas Design.
Egavas Design rapidly grew into an office suite filled with developers, project managers, business analysts, and an amazing creative team building high-end websites and applications. During this chapter of my career I had countless lessons in leveraging technology and capitalizing on opportunities, not only on sales, but on delivering websites that positioned organizations to operate more efficiently and cohesively. Many of the challenges we faced included international supply chain barriers and leveraging multicultural teams. After several years of success and growth we experienced a rapid decline in sales due to economic constraints. As our clients began to close their doors sales plummeted and our business model we embraced could not be maintained in the economic climate. In short, we had positioned our success on single high volume sales without considering establishing a financial base supported by a recurring revenue model. This was a hard lesson to learn as a young business owner, but a valuable one I am happy to share. For anyone with aspirations in spearheading a technology startup I would caution they be certain to include recurring revenue in the model and that they not get distracted by just high volume sales. Fortunately during this period of my journey I had established a credible reputation and broad network through which opportunities began to emerge. While the doors of Egavas Design closed I had been presented an opportunity to work with Stream Companies, the fifth largest advertising agency in Philadelphia Area, as their Director of Technology.
During my time as Director of Technology at Stream Companies I lead a team of over fifty professionals in delivering web-based solutions, marketing strategies, and delivered ecommerce solutions for organizations that included top automotive dealerships, grocery and retail chains, and other notable Philadelphia-based organizations. Additionally I played a key role in fostering tremendous growth by opening a development shop in Old Town Philadelphia. During this time ebay had begun to communicate their interest in my taking over a segment of their ecommerce development team and so my journey with ebay began.
Immediately I started delivering ecommerce solutions for some of the world’s largest retailers. The segment I worked for was an extension of ebay’s capabilities and resources which offered services that implemented, maintained, and managed ecommerce and digital business strategies. My accountabilities included managing every aspect of ecommerce solutions including development, support, marketing, client & vendor management, as well as payment and fulfillment integration. As I began to fine-tune my management strategies and established my name as a leader I came to be known as one who could motivate professionals to achieve the impossible. In short, I embraced the notion that leadership is the ability to have others do things in such a way that they want to do them for you. A simple strategy in which you understand what you are asking others to do, have the ability to sit beside them and do it with them, while treating them with respect and loyalty. Most importantly this strategy recognizes the value in understanding and caring about their personal aspirations and beliefs. While working with Godiva at ebay I had established a relationship through which they recognized my potential to change the way they approached digital opportunities and they began to peruse me to join the senior management team. It was a difficult decision but even ebay agreed that the opportunity was too good to turn down. I moved on to become, as my daughter called me, an Umpa Lumpa.
The first day I made my way from Penn Station to my office on 34th and 8th in New York City I was filled with excitement. I had all the tools to impact this major brand’s digital presences, an opportunity to make a mark, and did I ever. Over the course of a year I lead efforts that increased digital-based sales by over 400%, revitalized the organization’s digital perspective, and established internal process that increased efficiencies across the organization. Working for Godiva was an exciting time in my career and the experience seemed to be surreal as I lived the life of a Godiva Executive; remember this is a brand that lives the best there is to live. As time passed ebay began to pursue me and determined to have me return to the team there. At the same time the weight of being an absent father and husband had taken its toll personally and, in short, I returned to ebay.
While completing my second tour at ebay I managed PetSmart’s ecommerce and digital implementations and, once again, achieved the impossible through my approach to management. Collectively we burned down an impossible backlog of defects, increase the results of marketing efforts, and introduce new and exciting functionalities that prompted news worthy accolades in the industry. At the same time I had began to implement ebay’s new strategy, which was actually an exit strategy, to sunset their ecommerce offerings and sell the ecommerce segment. A smart business decision considering ebay had begun to suffer a decline in their primary focus, the one you are well aware of, the ebay marketplace. Organizations such as Alibaba and Amazon were taking an increasing share of the market and if ebay were going to maintain its competitive presence they needed to return to their original business model which is to embrace their market website. My primary responsibility was to maintain a positive approach to implementing this strategy with teams that understood they were working themselves out of a job. In spite of the challenges we replatformed Spanx, iRobot, and Pepperidge Farm ecommerce websites to the Open Source solution Magento in an unheard of time. In the end my efforts, once again, positioned me for opportunity and during this time I began conversations with Amazon.
With an unbelievable offer on the table to move to Seattle and take over the interface side of Amazon’s AWS offerings I faced one of the most difficult decisions in my life. During this time I had already been teaching for two semesters at RACC, and my passion for teaching had become a major factor in my decision. I did not shared early, but throughout my journey I had great successes as an instructor at a technical school and choose to leave teaching to pursue more money. From the time I left teaching forward I found myself missing it as though I had a huge part of me removed. Ultimately my conclusions lead me to embrace greater meaning and to dismiss weighing in financial rewards. Once I embraced this perspective my decision was simple and I will now spend the remaining years of my career fostering success in people by encouraging them to pursue a greater quality of life, a satisfaction of self-worth, and to prepare others to realize the success I have had the opportunity to embrace.
When I am not teaching or working on technology solutions I enjoy many different activities with my family and friends. I am an accomplished musician and enjoying most anything related to the outdoors, especially being in the woods or on the beach. Prior to becoming a father I spent a great deal of time traveling and have been fortunate to have explored many different places around the globe. My favorite place to be is with my family and I firmly believe that being a parent is the greatest part of life.
I am excited to share my adventures and experiences with you and look forward to playing a role in preparing you for your future successes in the professional world. I look forward to working with you.
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