Geek of the Week

Geek of the Week: Slalom’s Jeremiah Dangler helps discover options to large issues as Hackathon chief

Jeremiah Dangler, practice area lead at Slalom, points to a drone with CEO Brad Jackson during the development of a search and rescue solution at a Slalom hackathon. (Slalom Photo)

Jeremiah Dangler came to technology later than many who make a career out of it. But at Slalom, the business and consulting firm headquartered in Seattle, Dangler said he has been given incredible opportunities to apply his craft.

A practice area lead at Slalom, Dangler leads a team that designs and builds products to help clients improve workflow and efficiency. He also leads Slalom’s Hackathon Program, where the three- to five-month long-form hackathons are open to everyone working at the company. Dangler is also GeekWire’s new Geek of the Week.

“I grew up and spent most of my life in the Georgia and Tennessee region where I married my high school sweetheart,” Dangler said. “We heavily relied on each other as we made our way through school and into our careers. I was a late adopter of technology and returned to school in 2007 to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree in applied computer science while my wife started and finished pharmacy school.”

Just over three years ago, Dangler said his and his wife’s careers were stalling a bit and they we wanted to make a big change and live in a different area of the country.

“After some searching, we moved our son and family dog to Seattle, one of the greatest tech hubs in the world,” he said. And the family has grown to include a 2-year-old girl.

The most recent hackathon at Slalom was focused on social good, with 275 employees participating. The Hack for Social Good featured teams across 18 Slalom offices with 26 not-for-profit organizations. Each team identified a problem statement, and developed a solution for issues ranging from homelessness to human trafficking.

Learn more abut this week’s Geek of the Week, Jeremiah Dangler:

What do you do, and why do you do it? I’m a Practice Area Lead at Slalom where I work in a group that builds products for our customers across the globe. This group is currently known as the Delivery Network and has six centers across North America where we form teams to design and build products using Agile and DevSecOps best practices. My role includes leading product engineering teams, driving a culture of curiosity, collaboration, and continuous exploration; and encouraging growth of my team to be great engineers and leaders. The product engineering teams that I run challenges me to use my technical skills to build cloud native solutions while mentoring engineers and architects around me. The most impactful project definitely has to be our work with Teradata.

My other passion at Slalom is driving our culture. One way that I do that is by leading our Hackathon Program where we run long-form hackathons that last three to five months. These hackathons are open to everyone at Slalom, allowing all team members to contribute to building a solution, not just developers and engineers. Our latest hackathon was titled Hack for Social Good, where more than 275 employees formed teams across 18 offices, partnered with 26 not-for-profit organizations, identified a challenge they were experiencing, and developed a solution. One example is how a team helped local nonprofit, All Home, by developing an app for their annual county-wide count of those experiencing homelessness. Previously relying on pen and paper, the app will not only improve accuracy and efficiency of the count, but also compile the data in minutes compared to the months it previously took.

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? Product engineering is 90 percent enterprise systems that run the world. They are not the flashy apps or world changing innovations you want to read about in the news. It’s the products that make our lives easier and the world a better place. It may not always be sexy, but it can have a positive impact in our communities.

Where do you find your inspiration? In the people around me. The one thing that drives me to push the boundaries is the people I work with every day. It’s been amazing to find a place full of smart, motivated people that really love doing what they do.

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? My phone, not because I like to talk on the phone, because I don’t. It allows me to record notes and to-do items quickly, check emails and respond to message instantly, and gives me access to the books and applications I love.

(Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Dangler)

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? I like to keep my workspace clean with the exception of a few mementos from past projects. I’m fortunate enough to work in an environment like Slalom’s, where there is a lot of space for fun activities throughout the office, like shuffle board and arcade games. So, keeping my desk clear of clutter lets me focus on the project at hand.

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) Turn off notification and app badges. It’s been amazing how much less stress I have not seeing those. I check my email a just few times a day now.

Mac, Windows or Linux? Mac — I’m a developer at heart. After doing development on all three platforms, the Mac environment has been the most enjoyable.

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? Janeway — did you see her persevere without support from the rest of Starfleet on the other side of the universe? She was leader on her own!

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Time Machine — have you seen “Avengers: Infinity War”? So powerful.

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … Build a tech innovation lab open to young people to explore new technologies and ideas with the support of great minds from around the world.

I once waited in line for … all three “Lord of the Rings” movies. I grew up reading about Tolkien’s world and loved seeing it come to life on the big screen. I managed to watch each movie three times in the theater.

Your role models: I’ve had many over the years. I’ll mention a few here. To start, my father who taught me compassion and patience as he raised my sister and me. He was always involved in our lives and put us above everything else. My mother who taught me perseverance and love through all the difficult times. Her unyielding dedication to family is an inspiration.

A few historical role models include Gen. Patton for his ability and skill to lead through action. Patton always led from the front gaining the trust of his troops. Another historical role model includes John Adams. He was always challenging the status quo and striving to make this country a better place. When it comes to software engineering and computer science I look up to Donald Knuth for his desire to teach others to be life-long learners.

Greatest game in history: I’m going to go analog here with the table top game Agricola. No game has engaged me the same way Agricola has. This game requires your full attention and forces you to maximize your moves.

Best gadget ever: AirPods. I used them for calls more than music and it’s been amazing.

First computer: Dell Dimension 4500. That seems so long ago!!

Current phone: iPhone.

Favorite app: Feedly — it’s a great way to consume news without the distractions of what modern websites bombard you with.

Favorite cause: Supporting non-profits and government organizations through innovation. The latest hackathon I ran at Slalom created solutions to help law enforcement stop human trafficking.

Most important technology of 2018: Serverless — this approach has really unlocked how companies build cloud-native solutions. Serverless has allowed companies to go to market quicker with lower cost entry.

Most important technology of 2020: Artificial Intelligence — with each year AI is easier and easier to use and integrate with. We will see business solution implement AI in subtle but powerful ways.

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: Growth and comfort don’t coexist — always look for opportunities for growth and never stop learning! Reflect on what you’re doing every week to determine if you’re growing your skills or learning something new.

Twitter: @jdangler

LinkedIn: Jeremiah Dangler

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