Published: Feb 23, 2022Time to read: 4mins Category: Insights
PeopleFluent’s Bright Lights: Meet TJ Seabrooks, Chief Technology Officer
Check out the next blog post in our employee spotlight series, where we introduce you to key PeopleFluent team members. This time, we chat with TJ Seabrooks, Chief Technology Officer at PeopleFluent. Read on to find out what his role entails, why he loves it, and his favorite work perk.
Hi TJ! Please tell us about your role at PeopleFluent.
I’m the Chief Technology Officer so I provide strategic and cultural leadership. The second part, I view as important (or even more important) than the first part. Every day when I wake up, I want to make sure that everyone else wakes up and doesn't hate going to work.
Before PeopleFluent, what did you do for work?
Trick question; before PeopleFluent, I served as the CEO of Rustici Software, sister company to PeopleFluent within Learning Technologies Group (LTG). I started with Rustici in 2011 after leaving my job as an Embedded Software Engineer for Toshiba of America where I mostly wrote the software powering TVs.
During my time at Rustici (and then LTG), I’ve held a number of positions ranging from Support Engineer, Director of Engineering & Products, to CEO.
What are you doing when you’re not at your desk?
I recently did a short talk for an internal team-building activity talking about a bunch of hobbies I have, or have had, and ultimately decided what I’m doing when I’m not at my desk is far less important than why I’m doing these things. For me, my hobbies exist as ways to spend time with the people I care about most. Sometimes that’s an annual snowboarding trip, traveling for a great concert, kayaking, hiking, and even video games. Across all of those, the common thread is the people and relationships that exist around those hobbies.
What skills are needed to be successful in your role?
As my role is equal parts strategic technical leadership and cultural leadership, I think you need to have the technical expertise to understand the work of an Engineering team, the empathy to understand your customers, empathy for the folks that you work with, and most importantly you must be kind.
There are definitely a ton of other skills people could rattle off, like leadership, decision-making, business finance, technical architecture, software engineering, etc. They’re all great skills to have, but it’s super clear to me that there are a million ways to fill the role I have and be successful. Each of those ways appeals to different types of people, with different skills, and they’re all equally successful.
But…I think technical expertise, empathy, and kindness are universal.
How would you describe your team dynamic?
When we’re nailing it, we’re coming together as an engineering leadership team to help each other succeed across all of our teams. When we’re nailing it, we’re focused on how we, the entire PeopleFluent and LTG collective, can succeed together. When we’re nailing it, we’re looking at how we can most impact the entire organization. Even outside of R&D.
What’s your favorite work perk?
Travel. If traveling for work doesn't come back, I'll be unbelievably disappointed. When my job years ago started changing in a way that I had to travel more for work, I hated it. I moaned. I complained. Several years later, I now think “Oh, one of the things I value most about my job is that it puts me on the road some amount of time in the year.” It's important to me that it’s part of my job. During the pandemic, my wife made the joke, “Oh my god, I miss missing you.”
What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
I like helping people be better at their job. I like succeeding in my role but I’m here for the people.
Favorite movies or shows that got you through the pandemic?
‘The West Wing’ and ‘Gilmore Girls’ are two shows that I watch annually.
We talked earlier about which skills you’re currently building. What do you want to develop in the future?
I’ve always known I needed to work on time management and overall organization. Going through our LTG leadership course this year highlighted this again so I’ve been working on improving this. It generally shows up as being slow to move big chunks of work that require multiple hours of focus time to accomplish. One strategy I’ve found helpful is breaking the work up into multiple 30-minute, or 1-hour, blocks and booking the time on my calendar for each work session necessary to get the task done. It helped!