WeAreDelphix: Meet Michael Coyle
What do you do at Delphix and what inspired you to join the company?
I’m an engineering manager for a broad area of our software we call Core Infrastructure—a set of product capabilities that are used across all of the data sources we support. These are capabilities such as data replication, error reporting, upgrades, security, and user management all run by three sub-teams: Administration, Replication, and Security. I work with engineers across those groups to guide projects to completion, understand the quality of the team’s code, and more importantly, mentor our staff.
I joined Delphix about four and a half years ago when I was looking for an opportunity to lead an energetic and growing team of engineers. While interviewing at Delphix, I was struck by the positive and consistent response people had when I asked about the team culture. Every person touched on the same themes: having an impact, taking end-to-end ownership, and helping others succeed. I found the underlying message to be very empowering. Even now, I see these themes evident not only in engineering but also in the company-wide values.
You can ask me anything about…?
Building and retaining a great development team. While I certainly can’t claim to be an expert on this subject, it’s a topic I enjoy thinking and talking about. Some of the attributes of a great team are competence, supportiveness, inclusiveness, and transparency. A team that embodies these elements can ensure that communication and expectations are clear and that the entire team is there as a backstop for any one member. It’s a safe environment where calculated risks can be taken.
What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on at Delphix?
The most interesting and ongoing project I’ve undertaken to date is my current role of managing the Core Infrastructure team. Initially, the folks on this team were not organized in a way that would allow us to efficiently work on new initiatives while handling the escalations and technical debt from the code already written. The team members and I had a series of conversations, both as a group and individually, to determine what the appropriate team structure would be. We formed new sub-teams to own the different code areas, and leaders of those teams emerged and helped drive the sub-teams forward.
As far as technical projects go, my favorite has to do with the self-service aspect of our platform. With this tool, our customers are able to give developers and testers the ability to access and manipulate their own copies of data. It was really neat, and one of our customers even said, “Wait, you mean I can get my data here in Boston from my data center in San Jose and get regular refreshes without calling IT or waiting? Yeah, I want that!”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.
This quote impels me to understand what motivates the people around me. If I’m able to help them with their hard battles, it may inspire them to help others through a sympathetic mindset. There are going to be disagreements among colleagues because we don’t all approach problems from the same place or in the same way, but we can assume everyone involved has positive intentions, reach a common understanding, and move forward together.
My second-favorite piece of advice came from a fortune cookie: “The Bluebird of Happiness just <expletive deleted> on your best plan. Find an alternate route.” Seriously. I was taken aback at first, before I realized it’s actually pretty decent advice. I almost always have a Plan B, C, and sometimes D. A more erudite way of saying this would be quoting: “chance favors the prepared mind.”
What’s your secret talent?
Also worth mentioning is that I am certified by the United States government to fly an airplane. I’ve made several trips across the U.S. and back in airplanes, but my favorite lately has been taking a day trip to ski on a sunny winter day.
What song instantly puts you in a good mood?
“Birdhouse In Your Soul” by They Might Be Giants. My daughter loves this song, so we enjoy singing it together. She has a beautiful voice, and I know all the lyrics. I have a goal to learn to play it on the guitar and really do my fair share!
What drives you everyday?
At Delphix, the people and the culture. It makes me happy to be around people who are smart and who care about building things together. It’s true that the problems we solve aren’t going to change the world, like fixing climate change or curing cancer. But I know it’ll definitely influence the way our customers operate and build their businesses, and maybe one of them will change the world using the stuff we build.