Leaving on a Rocket Ship

In mid-2005, I was working as the Residential Network Support Manager for Wellesley College. It was my job to coordinate all of the technical support for the 2,000+ students, train two dozen students with almost no tech support background to do field and email support, and plan out the welcome program for getting new students acclimated to their network and software and such. Though I had been relatively successful there, I really didn't enjoy my job. There was a vast cultural difference between myself and the other staff, and despite my best efforts to push for material changes, they were met with an attitude of "that's not the way we do things", which was prevalent in EdTech, especially at smaller schools.

So I started job-hunting, and through a roller-coaster of life events, finally took a job doing application support for a small-ish healthcare tech startup called eScription. They made a suite of tools for Computer Aided Medical Transcription using a mixture of proprietary and open-source speech recognition tools and home-grown applications. The solution was sold as a SaaS platform with some on-premise workflow tools and a user-facing client embedded in Microsoft Word, and the entire stack was supported by a (then) 7-person team. We had about four dozen customers at the time, mostly individual hospitals around the country. The job gave me all sorts of opportunities to flex my unix muscles, and I grew with the organization, eventually managing one of the support teams.

About two years later, I moved out of Support and into R&D, owning one of those workflow products. Shortly after that, eScription was acquired by Nuance, and we were quickly assimilated into the vast acquisitive machine, joining Dictaphone and Commissure among the Healthcare division's more recent acquisitions. eScription was the go-forward platform for background-speech transcription1, and though we bled original staff members like a stuck pig, we generally flourished.

In late 2010, my team was spun off of eScription along with some other staff in the division to start a skunkworks project to deliver our first NLP solution to the healthcare market. Though we stumbled a bit those first couple of years an had a failed partnership or two, we learned from our mistakes and put some narrowly-focused products in the market. After a couple of additional acquisitions in 2014, we developed more of a footing in the industry, and now deliver the top-ranked Clinical Documentation Improvement platform in the industry, along with the under-pinnings for intelligent Radiology assistance, structured documentation generation from narrative medical text, and Computer Assisted Coding for medical billing. It's a platform I am proud to have helped build from the ground, up.

...and now I'm done. Though it has been a great ride, my days at Nuance have come to an end. I am going to miss my team so very much, but after just shy of 11 years, I am ready for my next adventure: In mid-September, I am going to be joining Atlassian as a Technical Account Manager working remotely with East Coast enterprise customers. Over the last three years, I've become intimately familiar with their tools and services, and have gotten to know many of their staff. Atlassian looks like a great place to work, and I am looking forward to finding out for myself in just a few short weeks.

When the TAM program was introduced2, I pushed to have Nuance purchase this service as we were growing our footprint of users from a few dozen to a few hundred (which then turned in to a couple thousand). It was one of the best decisions we made. Our TAM has been instrumental in supporting our division's adoption of every tool that Atlassian makes, from JIRA to Bamboo, and ensuring we follow best practices along the way. I'm such an unabashed fan that I'm quoted on the TAM web site (scroll to the bottom):

Our TAM gave us product advice that was able to save a department of 300 people roughly four hours a night. —Matt Shelton, Engineering Manager, Nuance Communications

Admittedly I'm just as much of a fan of the Premier Support team -- these two services are worth every penny for an enterprise customer.3

This is going to be a very different job from the onemany that I do now. For starters, I haven't been an individual contributor since 2006! Having only my own work products to focus on will be a change. Not working directly for an R&D group will also be a big shift, but I haven't been able to do much that is customer-facing in a while, and I am excited to get out there again. I'm going to be adding some DevOps experience and CI/CD exposure to the team, and given Atlassian's trajectory there is so much room to grow. I can barely wait.

Here's to the getting on the rocket ship!

  1. If ever there were to be a niche…

  2. Late 2013/Early 2014, if memory serves.

  3. This wasn’t supposed to be an ad read.

Aug 27th, 2016