August 02, 2012, 12:52 PM — Name: Darren Platt
Time with company: 5.5 years.
Education: Bachelor of Science in Management and Information Systems, Rutgers University
Company headquarters: Boulder, Colorado
Countries of operation: U.S., U.K.
Number of employees total: 80
Number of employees the CTO oversees: 35
About the company: Symplified provides identity and access management across cloud, Web and mobile apps used by employees, partners and customers. Symplified protects more than 4 million identities for customers in the health care, financial services, manufacturing and telecommunications industries.
1. Where did you start your career and what experiences led you to the job you have today?
I think it's worth mentioning that I started my career in high school. I started programming then. I was working on an application for a company that did direct mailing. I helped convert a program that ran on the mainframe so that it could run on the original Macintosh. It was a small company and it was really exciting to do what I had been doing for fun and get paid for it.
The first job that really shaped my career was the first one out of college. I worked for a large telco. My first job was as an interbilling systems test coordinator, which meant that after QA had run its cycle and found bugs with the billing systems at this telco it was my job to go around to all of these people and say, "You need to fix this bug." What I learned about were the inefficiencies that could happen in a large enterprise and that made me want to work in a different way.
I was really frustrated. There was no accountability and nobody would be cooperative. I quickly realized it was not a good situation or a good company to work for.
From there, I went to a consulting company in Manhattan called American Management Systems and then I went and started doing startups and this is my third startup since then.
Different people have different styles and you should work where your style fits, and mine is definitely not in a big monolithic company.
2. Who was an influential boss for you and what lessons did they teach you about management and leadership?
Bill Wood was influential in a lot of ways. I'd say the big lesson I learned from him was about how career transitions work for technical people and how it affects their motivations and most specifically how as people move from a hands-on technical position to a more managerial position, their natural desire to create something can make them do things that aren't necessarily in their own best interest.