Today’s “Meet the Trulian” features Vice President of Engineering, Jeff McConathy. Jeff joined Trulia 10 years ago as one of the first few employees, and today he oversees product development, where he and his teams work to ensure consumers have an optimal experience across all platforms and apps, including wearables. Read on to learn more about Jeff.
What’s your role at Trulia?
I’m Vice President of Engineering for Consumer Products. I lead the Trulia teams responsible for building products across Web, mobile Web, iOS, and Android. I also lead our QA teams and the Trulia Mortgage team (go check out our new Trulia Mortgage app if you haven’t already). Our goal is to create amazing experiences for consumers at all touch points. My day-to-day shifts around quite a bit, which I like, but you’ll generally find me engaged with the executive team or with our engineers, helping to plan the architecture for a new product or service, which is something I really enjoy. (And let’s be serious, I almost always squeeze in a minute or two to fly some nano drones around the office… It’s a creative release, right?!)
I also strangely enjoy high pressure situations, thriving from the feeling of accomplishing a difficult challenge – I view everything as possible unless proven otherwise.
What inspired you to get into your role?
I was lucky enough to have both a 386 and an Apple II+ growing up and I actually wrote my first programs in fourth grade, so I’d say it all started then. In the early 90’s, I was blown away by the idea that the Web totally levels the playing field for anyone in the world to publish content for others to see. So, I learned engineering as a means to develop for the Web, and this eventually led me to an even greater love for creating consumer products. Back in 2005, after a couple of startup stints, I met the team of a fledgling startup called Trulia and took on the challenge of helping to build a world-class engineering team in a multi-billion dollar marketplace. It was an exciting opportunity that turned into a perfect fit.
Above all, throughout my career, I’d say building amazing consumer products that help people has been my inspiration. Having the ability to grow and mentor engineers – as I do here at Trulia – is icing on the cake.
What was your dream job growing up and why?
I wanted to be a naval aviator. My father was a U.S. Naval officer and he worked on an aircraft carrier for a few years while I was growing up, and I just fell in love with the jets. I actually passed all the required aptitude tests in high school to go into ROTC, but ended up choosing to focus on my other love: technology.
If you could have drinks with one tech luminary – dead or alive – whom would it be and why? And, what would your first question be?
Thomas Edison. He was a great inventor who constantly challenged what could be done. He seemed to have the right attitude about failures, as well as successes, and just seems like someone I’d really enjoy innovating with. My first question would be around iteration, and how he produced and managed so many different ideas.
What’s the one gadget or personal tech item you cannot live without and why?
This may be an obvious answer, but my phone. I rely on it for so much of my work and personal life. Aside from email and text, I use it to see where my bus is in the morning, and to really document my life with photos. Outside of work, I love tinkering with home automation and IoT, and control everything in my home from my phone. I even use my phone to control my drone that I’m using to document a new home I’m building.
What was the last movie you saw or book you read and what – if anything – would you change about the ending?
I just recently re-read Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams. This is one of my favorite books on engineering management because it really sets people as the core of a well-balanced management strategy. Through the years, I’ve come to appreciate how tricky it is to get team dynamics right, whether it’s the simple task of figuring out how to hold meetings or the more complex question of how to develop products. This book is especially great as it takes a very engineering-specific orientation on the unique challenges that engineering teams need to overcome. I’ve recommended this book to the entire leadership team at Trulia.
What’s your proudest accomplishment and why?
Outside of my family, I would have to say Trulia. Joining the team in the very beginning meant I had a hand in shaping the culture, the people, the environment, and the products. I feel just as much passion for Trulia today as I did in 2005 – this is a special place, you get to help millions of people find a place to call home! Even though it happens pretty frequently, I still feel a great sense of pride whenever someone on the street sees my Trulia backpack and stops me to tell me they found their home on Trulia.
If you could master one talent or skill that you don’t have now what would it be, and why?
I have a huge passion for architecture and design. It seems I always have a home remodel or build project going on, and if I were to embark on a new career I could definitely see myself in this field. I’ve used Sketchup to model all of my houses (and even some friend’s homes), and used it recently to create an entirely new concept for part of my house. I find it satisfying to be able to remove existing walls and features and start with a blank slate. Working with an architect and builder, I’m actually currently modeling a future vacation home from the ground up and am really enjoying the process.