VP Engineering

Hi,

I run the software development and editorial departments here at Alexander Street. We aim to publish the best content the best way. That means that we look for great, hard-to-find content and create innovative online tools so users can teach and research with it in new ways. Students don’t just watch our videos, they search thousands of hours of video for every time Kennedy used the word “Vietnam” and create annotations for those clips. That’s what has made us one of the eContent 100 list of companies that matter most to the digital content industry. We have a talented team of developers who make that happen, and I am looking for someone to lead them.

We aren’t a start-up, and we aren’t a mega corporation. We are somewhere in-between. As a result we need new management we haven’t had before—someone who has lead a team of creative developers to achieve results. We are looking for someone who wakes up thinking about building a technology team rather than building the technology. The details of the role are listed below.

What kind of background will this person have?  Well, I’d like to see that you’ve got a proven track record of leading software development teams to achieve results. You’ve either done this in a tiny company or worked successfully in a large organization but think you could go further and faster in a more entrepreneurial environment. You may not be expert in the latest technologies, but you’ve coded enough to relate to the work. You put strong processes in place, but realize these are a means to an end. If you have experience working on academic technology, so much the better.

The position is based here in Alexandria, Virginia, and we also have development staff in London and Shanghai. The office is open and fun. Although it doesn’t happen often, we do use Nerf darts and have no problem putting photos of it up on our corporate website.

Does this role sound like a fit for you? Then drop me a line together with your resume and salary history.

Sincerely,
Andrea Eastman-Mullins

Sr. VP Editorial & Development

 

Job Description

The VP Engineering is responsible for leading a team of 30+ software developers, QA engineers, and IT staff to implement cost-effective software that customers love.  The role is part of the company’s management team and reports to the Sr. VP Editorial and Development. This position has the opportunity for enormous growth within an expanding company and is based at our head office in Alexandria, Virginia.

Key Responsibilities

  • Manage and direct a growing department of more than 30 staff across 3 locations to deliver results.
    • You will motivate a team of software developers to go the extra mile, because you inspire them to believe in what they are building.
    • You can see when a developer is struggling and not asking for help. You will identify areas staff need to grow and develop coaching plans for them.
    • You’ll develop a succession strategy for key roles.
    • When someone isn’t performing, you take action before it drags down the rest of the team.
  • Hire, develop, and retain strong and loyal contributors to the team by championing the work we are doing.
  • Manage 3rd party vendors. Negotiate, review, and approve contracts.
  • Manage the CTO and other senior developers to set the technical direction for the team and work with the rest of the department to implement it.
    • You aren’t threatened by others with strong technical abilities and vision. In fact, you welcome them to make key decisions.
    • You wake up thinking about building a technology team rather than building the technology.
    • You know when to outsource and when to keep work in-house.
  • Ensure projects are done efficiently and with the end goal in mind.
    • You have the chops to evaluate whether implementation of feature X will take 4 weeks. You may not be expert in the latest technologies, but you’ve coded enough to relate to the work. 
    • You can push back on senior management when features are too complicated. You can put yourself in the shoes of faculty and students and see other ways of addressing their needs.
  • Define and enforce processes that maintain quality standards without stifling creativity. Measure and monitor results.
  • Set and stay within an annual budget agreed upon with senior management.
  • Inspire confidence in the rest of the company that development will deliver.
    • You get things done. You are known as the go-to person if someone needs results. 
    • You communicate successes and failures to the rest of the company in the context of our overall goals.

Knowledge, Skills & Experience

  • At least 5 years’ experience managing a team. Demonstrated leadership motivating and organizing sizeable teams, preferably distributed across time zones.
  • At least 10 years engineering experience.
  • Experience in PHP, Drupal, SOLR a plus.
  • Experience successfully outsourcing significant work to 3rd parties.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Strong operational and project management skills.
  • Understanding of agile methodologies.
  • Understanding of industry technical standards, such as MARC XML, z39.50, OpenURL, Shibboleth and COUNTER.
  • Desirable: experience working on academic technologies
  • Desirable: experience taking over a project midstream and pulling them to successful conclusion.

Performance Criteria

  • Technical solutions meet user needs and are delivered within budget and schedule.
  • Technical solutions are built to meet industry standard best practices, are free of defects on release and bugs are fixed within agreed timeframe.
  • The usability of our interfaces exceeds that of competitors.
  • System availability and speed of access meet the required standards.
  • We successfully recruit and retain talented staff.

The Company

Alexander Street Press is a young, dynamic and fast-growing online publisher specializing in the educational market.  Established in 2000 and now employing more than 100 people in 7 countries around the world, we’re recognized by our peers as an industry leader for the creative way in which we combine technology, content and our understanding of user needs to produce award-winning and innovative databases.

We’re passionate about what we do and believe the best recipe for success is to build outstanding teams and give them an environment in which they can thrive.  We need people who are looking to challenge and grow themselves in a stimulating environment of like-minded people. 

What we do: Alexander Street Press publishes award-winning online collections of content to support the learning and research needs of educational communities.  We focus on publishing primary material and seek to be comprehensive by incorporating a diverse range of commercially published and archival material, including video, audio, images and textual content.  We are actively expanding into a broader range of disciplines. 

Our customers are primarily libraries but we also provide ways for academics and students to access our content.  While our collections are mainly geared towards academic needs, they are also relevant to a broader range of educational users including corporate and vocational training, K-12 and lifelong learning. 

Our success factors: Our products are recognized by customers and the industry for their quality because we seek to publish the best content in the best way.  Our collections are curated by domain experts that understand what content is needed for study and how it is used.  We apply technology and our understanding of librarianship to craft collections that provide the functionality users need. 

Our culture: Our success is built on our skilled and motivated people that we employ, and it is critical that we continue to attract and develop high caliber individuals.  We are committed to creating a work environment that offers the following benefits:

  1. A unique mission and vision to produce the best content delivered in the best way - to exceed customer expectations by leveraging technology, innovation, and partnerships
  2. Professional challenges and personal development opportunities through organizational growth, on-the-job learning, targeted training, and the variety of projects and assignments available within the organization;
  3. Personal satisfaction resulting from working in a collegial, multi-cultural environment with people determined to demonstrate high performance through creativity, passion, and accountability; an environment that combines respect for diversity with vigorous debate and frank discussion on how to best perform our mission; and
  4. Total compensation and benefit packages that are competitive in each marketplace in which we operate.

 We are looking for people who exhibit the following core capabilities:

  • Engagement with our community – We understand how to translate user needs into an   effective solution.
  • Passion - We are passionate about the products we publish, and this translates into a closer affiliation between personal/corporate goals.
  • Ownership - We are able to achieve more than competitors because we take individual ownership for delivery.
  • Agility - We operate in a fast-changing environment and can only maintain our lead if we can move swiftly to spot opportunities to be more effective.
  • Open Communication - We rely on open communication to ensure we quickly identify our mistakes/success and learn from them.
  • Creativity - Creativity underpins our ability to generate better solutions than our competitors.
  • Humility - Knowing that you don't know everything creates the opportunity to learn.