Landing a tech job with arts and crafts

June 27, 2016
Nick John Head of Compliance and Risk Management

Oh, hi. I’m Nick John.

I joined Redox at the beginning of June as a Solutions Engineer. In reality, though, my relationship with Redox began a very long time ago: when I worked at Epic as the Director of Interface Implementation, I found myself on a number of projects with the founders of Redox, as well as several of the developers and Customer Success staff now working here, too. We each left Epic, one by one, to spread our wings and find new ways to help the world. I set sail for Portland to live the city life and climb its glorious mountains, while my friends set their minds to solving interoperability in healthcare.

In Portland, I spent several months funemployed. I explored the city, made friends, traveled, camped, and experimented with new hobbies. After about three months of joblessness, I started to itch for a sense of purpose and took a job designing integration strategy for a small EHR vendor in California and then eventually linked up with a Portland-based telehealth software company.

In March of this year, I began to feel another itch, but this time for change. Having spent time with Redox in the past, I had seen them operate as a team and was impressed by the degree of autonomy each person had: everyone contributes, everyone thrives, everyone knows what the company is working toward. Beyond that, integration is in my wheelhouse, and I wanted to get back to a place where I could draw from past experience to tackle harder problems. 

As my job application, I made a collage.

I took the magazines I had on hand (which happened to be mostly a mixture of business themes and outdoor sports) and went to work. The result is the image above. When I sent it to Redox, I included an artist’s statement to address some of the logical questions that might pop up, like “why are we looking at a collage”, “what does rock climbing have to do with interoperability?” and “why is that cat wearing a tuxedo?”

My statement addressed the two sides of the collage: the left speaks to my business skills—my interest in designing efficient processes and communicating effectively across different groups of people—and the recreational content on the right relates to my interest in adventure sports. I took the opportunity to explain why those interests are valuable in the business setting, as you don’t just wake up and climb a mountain, explore a shipwreck, or race a triathlon; these hobbies take planning, diligence, and structured education. My interests and skills have trained me to handle not just standard tasks, but to anticipate and respond well when things go wrong, too. And when all those elements come together, you discover that what seemed to be an impossible task is really as simple as executing a series of well-defined steps… much like integration.

In the end, it worked. I got the job, am closer to my colleagues as a result, and am using my unique skills to solve the incredibly unique problem of interoperability. While I don’t think this strategy will work for everyone or at every company, I’m glad I took a risk, showed who I am, and why that matters when it comes to working with me.

For a little more background on who I am and where I’ve been, check out this video I made (transcription below, too).

Hi, I’m Nick John. I was asked to give a brief background introduction of myself. So here it goes.  I have a computer science degree, I graduated in 2003 from Purdue. So I have a technical background. Following graduation, I started at Epic.  So I worked at Epic for 11 years on the interface team and while I was there, I ended up in charge of the interface implementation segment. So I was responsible for making sure that all of Epic’s interface installs were successful.  So as part of those responsibilities, I formed a team to monitor outcomes and keep track of all the projects that were going on and then that team would get involved if things were going awry and ultimately if they couldn’t fix them they would escalate to me. So ultimately I would end up doing a fair amount of crisis management in guiding those groups, but it was a really good experience and it was nice to have that level of visibility into all of the projects that were going on at Epic.

In 2014 I moved to Portland, Oregon. I call it home, I love it here. Shortly thereafter, I started at a company called Bright MD, they’re a small startup company in the healthcare space and I was the Director of Customer Success while I was there. So that was an interesting project, I did a lot of project management and coordination, worked with the sales end of things, but also on the implementation, execution components as well.  I did a lot of product design too and one of the things we needed to tackle was integration needs, despite the fact that I had the background in interfacing the development team didn’t and so we did choose to outsource our integration components with Redox.  So we brought in Redox and I got to sit in on that side of the table working through those discussions and understanding how to integrate our tool with Redox and then Redox to the customers that Bright MD had.  So that was an interesting experience.

And then, on June 2nd, I started at Redox so it’s been great so far. When I first came in, I had a sense of what Redox was doing of course, but I thought of it kind of as a glorified interface engine. So that’s cool, that there’s a need in the healthcare space. Last week we were having team week and so I was sitting there listening and everyone was sharing what True North means to them and what I found fascinating was as Niko was speaking, he was talking about where we are, but also where we’re going or where we could be going and I caught myself with these uncontrollable grins I was just so happy (you see my cat there) and that was a shift for me.  It was me realizing that this isn’t just a company that’s filling a business need.  There’s a vision for how we can improve healthcare as an industry. So we’re enabling innovation of these software vendors that are struggling. As you probably know, integration is one of the biggest challenges, this giant obstacle, for innovation in this space and so I’m just so excited to be a part of making that better.

So anyway, that’s me.

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