Jeff Alagood, President of AgileThought, took some time with us a few weeks ago to participate in this interview. Not only that, but he gave us a tour of the entire AgileThought office and introduced us to many of the staff – a great bunch of people under great leadership.
Roxanne Williams: First off, not really a question, but I have been foaming at the mouth to talk to you. One of the questions we ask everybody is, “Is there somebody in the community you think is doing something right in Tampa that you want to shout out?” And you have been, by far, the most shouted out person. So, thank you.
Jeff Alagood: Hopefully shouted out in a good way! That’s cool.
On his shift in responsibilities at AgileThought
Roxanne: Definitely in a good way! Ok, actual question. You’ve been with AgileThought for roughly 8 years including 2 promotions in the past 12 months going from COO to President. How has the transition of roles gone for you, and how have your responsibilities changed?
Jeff: Well actually, it’s been a pretty wild 12 months, now that you mention it that way! But in terms of change, it hasn’t been that magnificent because the reality is that as the COO, as an owner of a company, you do anything. I’m one of the owners and we decided many years back to move away from an ‘owner’ role to a ‘specific’ role within the company just so that we could have clarity of duty. So, as COO, the role was to steady us for heavy growth. That was what we’d been doing over the last few years. Then the actual pivot was a year or two back when it was like, “Okay, we’ve steadied, we’ve continued that growth, we have a machine to actually handle that growth. What’s the strategy for the next phase?”
I was actually operating more so in the Chief Strategy Officer role for a couple of years, trying to stabilize and get ready for our studio-type offerings and how we would go about that. We looked inside the organization to understand who’s ready, who’s primed, and who’s coming up. Sometimes you have to move faster than you think. That’s just how that works. You have to give individuals the room to grow, and the ability to grow quickly.
We didn’t move me straight to President because, again, clarity of duty. As I mentioned, we looked at how we were going to operate not as owners, but as roles. That role was a CEO/President role, and we decided to look at how we could separate it. Dave and I had to be clear on what each of our roles would be so we wouldn’t create confusion inside the organization.
It was really a bit of a one-hop to get there. So, from that piece in the change, not terribly significant in terms of what we’ve been doing for the last two years. It’s really been talking with the market and being out in the marketplace. I’m heavily involved with some of the community stuff, and that, I enjoy. Dave, on the CEO side, is passionate about the culture inside the company, how we are captivating that culture, and how we’re driving it.
How the 4 owners of AgileThought met
Roxanne: How did you meet the rest of the owners? Since there are 4 of you, how did you all decide to start AgileThought?
Jeff: We actually are not just owners-operators in this scenario. The 4 of us actually started our first jobs together. We started at Arthur Anderson within months of each other. We’ve known each other for our entire adult life careers. So, honestly, it’s one of the unique opportunities that when we talk as a group of owners, we also talk as a group of friends. That’s a nervy thing because when you’re owner-operator and you’re with what you consider friends, it can be dangerous. But we really have grown up together, so we’ve watched each others’ strengths and that’s enabled us to move and back and forth.
The CEO when the company was founded was John Wagner. John, at a certain point, when we decided I was going to join the company and we’d prep for growth, realized that being CEO wasn’t his passion. His passion was building and getting into the code. So, he stepped off that position and moved into a different role and said, “I want to be doing something slightly different.”
Dave said, “I’m ready to take that CEO role because I do want to handle the reins at the culture side to keep this good and fit as we go through that growth”, and of course, I was saying, “I think I can bring the volume and help us get to that stage.” So, again, if you know each other well, you know each other’s strengths, and you’re willing to have an open dialog about it.
Matt Vaughn: You can have uncomfortable conversations.
Jeff: You can have uncomfortable conversations and turn them into comfortable conversations, to be honest with you. We’re all growing in this too – everybody is learning.
I actually did not join when the company was initially founded. I think it might have been founded in my living room in Sarasota! It just wasn’t the right timing for me.
The idea was actually hatched back when we were with Arthur Anderson, but Enron happened shortly after that, and the reality was that spinning off and trying to stand up and go down a startup company with that many people hitting the marketplace – I think there were ~50,000 people at Arthur Anderson that were displaced at that time. So, we kind of said, “You know what? Let’s sit on that idea for just a little bit, let’s go stabilize somewhere else.”
We actually all relocated to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Two of them were out of state (one was in Chicago, one was in North Carolina), and as we arrived at Pricewaterhouse, we essentially said, “You need to recruit this person and recruit this person.” We were able to all relocate into the area, which was great.
AgileThought eventually stood up there, and at that time, I was moving up decently through Pricewaterhouse and honestly just enjoying what I was doing, enjoying building software, growing the organization, and developing different sorts of understanding. At that time, I was starting to get into leadership roles, so understanding how to maneuver in that area was still pretty exciting to me. I stayed there, and then joined AgileThought in late 2009, early 2010.
On his developer career
Matt: Excellent. Speaking of the good old days, let’s go back to when you started your career as a developer. Do you ever miss just getting to code, or do you ever do it on occasion just to get your feet wet?
Jeff: I get more into the design side of things, the discussion of how we go about executing it – not as much into writing the code. I love to test it, I love to look at what we’re building and see it. That, I do miss.
As you get to a certain size of company, there’s just a switch that goes off and you’re no longer working in the company, you’re working on the company, so you kind of have to be open with one another as a team.
I do find that at times I will dive deep into a project and just go, and then I realize I’m doing that because that’s what I love. I love to see the product, I love to see the software. But then you kind of realize you’ve still got to run the company. We have the day job that has to get done. We all have a little tendency to do that.
So to your question, I’ve never looked back and said, “I want to write the software.” I actually do enjoy leading individuals and being in a situation where I can help people grow their career. There are people a lot better than I ever was at developing and just, brutal honesty, you look at yourself and go, “Where are your strengths?” That’s not mine. I do love seeing software come to life, but the development is just funner to watch others do.
On managing so many people
Roxanne: So, we kind of went over this a little bit when we went through your career progression, but it actually seemed to explode really quickly. You went from a lead role to director to VP to COO to president, and apparently at PricewaterhouseCoopers, you managed over a thousand people. How?
Jeff: We started the company because we wanted a place where people could come build software and be awesome at building software and not have to be driven down a career path. A lot of times, you’re writing code for a couple years, next thing you’re leading the team. There’s just this path that’s a prescribed path.
When we started thinking about the company and when Dave, John and Ryan really got deep into why would we do this. It was, you know what? I don’t necessarily want to have to develop in this way. I might just want to be awesome at writing code and be able to be recognized and develop a career that can take me all the way from the start of that career to the conclusion of that career with great success.
We weren’t brought in in that way with Arthur Anderson. It was more or a less an ‘up or out’ and as soon as somebody spotted a potential to lead a team, you were made a team leader. It’s just driven that way. Now, I happen to really enjoy that, so that worked for me. But I think there are a lot of people for whom this model doesn’t work.
When you said my progression went fast, to me, it’s not fast. It’s 20+ years of grinding.
Entrepreneurs are all born in different ways. I actually had a very large organization of development. We had hundreds of projects at any given time, and the reality is, that wasn’t for me. I wanted to go and hone some of the skills of really developing individuals and developing leadership around, rather than just having huge teams around the world that you go visit once in a while.
That was a pivot point for me. When you look at my career and say it’s been a steady progression in terms of responsibility, I don’t know if I’d consider it all that. When you say it, it sounds like, “Wow, you’ve gone from this to this to this.” To me, each one of those has a very specific set of learning that you take with you and you kind of understand it as you go along. You can always draw back on it.
I draw back on things that happened the day I left Arthur Anderson. I can draw that and correlate that back to decisions I made at First Advantage for how we would react to a certain scenario, an acquisition or things like that, what my behavior would be, or how I would react to something like that. So, I think each one of them has offered great opportunity to take something with me.
On Tampa Bay Tech
Matt: We’ve been talking with a whole lot of the Tampa Bay Tech people: Daniel James Scott, Jesse Curry, Paul Toomey, and now you. A lot of them have been speaking to the kind of connective tissue and the work that you guys are doing with Tampa Bay Tech. What are your thoughts around the accomplishments or things that are going on with the organization?
Jeff: Tampa Bay Tech has great roots and a great history. When you look at some of the founders, some of the guys that really spun this up years ago, they’re still very much active in the community. Tom Wallace, Tony DiBenedetto – these individuals are still pillars.
When you get something that has roots like that, the likelihood is you can pivot and do good things. I think that in the last few years, we really have been able to do that. It’s been an interesting ride for the last 7 or 8 years inside TBT, but in the last few, I’ve started to see the biggest of organizations down to the smallest of organizations be able to really engage, and it’s become less about ‘what can I get out of that’ and more about ‘how can I be magnified and amplified by the other voices?’ Tech Data, Nielsen, and some of these large organizations have wonderful megaphones. I think they’re also saying they’re willing to be the megaphone for midsize and even small companies.
How do we do that together? That’s changed over the last few years. Workforce is a tough scenario and it’s always a challenge here. I remember during my days with Pricewaterhouse, you kind of had a circuit of people. You looked at the talent base and you basically saw that people tended to float around the different large organizations. Musical chairs was a thing.
I think that the dialog is a lot more robust than that now. The leaders of these organizations are looking and saying, “That actually doesn’t raise the tide in any way, specifically in Tampa Bay.” We feel that a lot at AgileThought. We have a different burden. If they’re clients, you can’t just go recruiting from clients and taking. That’s not what we do. So, we really have viewed it as it’s an opportunity. When people are moving into the area, and if we were using the same megaphone as some of these large companies, it gives people an opportunity to look and say, “What are all the different things happening in Tampa Bay?”
I think some of the bigger organizations, CIOs, and teams are actually looking at it that way now and really saying, “What can we do in workforce to help the colleges? What can we do to help the recruits coming in from out of state, and the national recruiting pipelines?” Today, we have the most robust corporate recruiting network I’ve ever seen. The corporate recruiters I know from AgileThought sit and talk with corporate recruiters from Raymond James or corporate recruiters from Nielsen, where if it’s not the right fit for that organization at the time, but it’s a candidate that’s been presented, they will share it with the recruiters network group and say, “Is anybody looking for this one because this one looks like one we’d take. We just don’t have the specific need at the point.”
That’s the kind of stuff that I think if you roll the clock back and say ‘musical chairs community’ versus where we are now, I think we’re seeing a lot of progress. There’s still a long way to go. I mean, the number one problem is still college kids. What do you do? That critical two to four years of experience, how are they getting that? Everybody wants them, but nobody wants to put up the two years.
We’ve built entire programs here at AgileThought around that dialog. We’ve heard it enough. Actually, we’ve engaged with our clients that are in that dialog and said, you know what? We can do that – we can bring them in. We can teach them with a program at AgileThought that surrounds them with the expertise of 10-year, 12-year veterans, and we can commit to giving them that experience. Additionally, we do surround them deeply in terms of how we expect software to be built, and what it looks like when it’s done properly. Overall, this is good for clients – but it requires transparency, for sure.
On their Junior ITA program
Roxanne: Actually on that note, Daniel had mentioned one of the programs you have is that you’ll take 20 college grads and put them in QA and then they can learn the organization and choose which path they want to go. Is that the program we’re talking about?
Jeff: Yep. That’s our Junior ITA Program. We have directly-out-of-college individuals come for a day where we recruit through and see which ones fit the mold. It was hard for us to figure out how to interview these individuals because our entire history, all we’ve done is interviewed people and said, “Alright, hop up on that whiteboard. Here’s a problem, let’s talk about how you’d solve this in code.” It’s different with students.
But, for the ones that do get through, we put them on a project next to a person that’s been writing code for 10+ years. Agile is a pretty interesting thing when you think about it because every day, it has accountability tied to it. Every single day, you stand up and you give accountability to what you’ve achieved, what you’re going to achieve today, and what’s in your way. Those are three tenets of it, and that’s a difficult thing for somebody who’s right out of school, who achieved absolutely nothing yesterday, and was blocked by everything. We had to develop an organization that could embrace that and understand how to coach and how to teach.
I say that because a program like that sounds like, “Just start the program and do it.” Culturally, for us, it was a major shift to even be able to process something like that. But we did it, and largely, it was driven through Tampa Bay Tech and the community saying, “This is a high need for us.”
It takes a year for an individual to go through the program. They want to write software, but there are things we want them to learn first. Show me how you would test it before you’re going to write it. Then, how would you go about automation testing? How would you go about the DevOps side of things? How would you continuously deploy code?
Eventually, they make their way into writing code. Along the way, they may decide they have a love and passion in the test automation area! We’ve had happen that quite a lot – that’s why we drifted into allowing students to take off-ramps, as we call them. Somebody may take an off-ramp and go down a path and develop their career in that area. Then, they may at some point decide they want to get back on the on-ramp and go somewhere else and try something different.
The program is really good. I think there’s great opportunity for us to keep driving that. For us, it’s a bit of a balance because you have to be growing very rapidly to be able to do that. We drive a pretty hard growth rate at AgileThought, and it’s our expectation to continue to drive that, because programs like this count on it.
When somebody comes out of the program, our commitment to the client is that this individual stays focused on them. They’ve got great domain knowledge after a year of working with the client. So our commitment is we’ll keep them together. We’re not just going to try and lift them and bring them into other areas. It is a partnership, it is us working, and that works really well for our clients because they’re looking and saying, “You know what? We need to be part of that also, growing and developing the talent.”
So we think it’s really a kind of three-way win/win/win. The junior, the individual, of course gets the value of learning to build software in a qualified, quality manner. The client gets great expertise that are developing at a lower-end entry point. And then, our company gets to strengthen relationships with our clients. We’re doing that, we’re open with it, and we can take on more work.
One of our core rocks is we’re going to be a net giver. That was a struggle for us a few years ago. We went through a process looking at what’s really important to us. One was, what are we doing to help the next generation? We looked around the room and went, “Last year, everybody in this room had 12 years of experience. That means now we all have 13.” We all have kids that are going into college. People are putting kids into these next generation schools and trying to get them to come out in tech, what are they going to do? The core of net giver does mean we have to develop the craft. That was the sort of genesis a couple of years back.
On talent retention
Matt: AgileThought has a pretty great reputation around the bay. Do you have good retention when it comes to those Junior ITAs? That’s one of the things that obviously a lot of other companies around Tampa Bay have to deal with. “If I hire a junior person and I train them, they’re going to leave 2 years later.” What are your thoughts or tips from your years of experience in various industries and sizes for retaining that talent past that 2 year mark?
Jeff: You don’t wake up asking yourself how you’ll retain talent. If you wake up asking how you’re going to avoid the inevitable from happening, your day will be consumed with trying to solve a problem instead of trying to find a way to embrace it.
I made a comment earlier about drawing back on experiences from a prior career. Dave, Ryan, and I would sit down and talk about this. What would we do? Well, at Arthur Anderson, they had a very, very powerful alumni network. It became even more powerful when ~50,000 people became unemployed over the course of a career. That’s a natural connection. When I see that on somebody’s resume or when I see that they went through the same thing I went through, there’s a natural connection that happens. When you look at something like that, you ask yourself what is the impact that you have. To me, as the president of AgileThought, I look at it as our ability to grow.
Our ability to grow depends on having the right talent in place. We always have to have the right balance of senior talent and junior talent. So, to me, that talent moving into the marketplace – if there’s an opportunity that they look at and say that’s something they want to try, they should.
We don’t wake up every day trying to avoid the inevitable. People will look at opportunities. There are great opportunities for them to take, and if you embrace that opportunity, the individual becomes an alumni. And, you don’t forget those individuals. I’ll never forget the guys that coached me and taught me as I was developing. So, I think we look at that slightly differently. If it happens, that’s okay.
Sometimes, we ask ourselves if there are things we could do differently, if there are different things we could offer. And I don’t mean that like providing more office snacks. I mean it like, is it something that’s difficult about our business? Consulting’s actually a pretty tough field to be in.
I talk to our recruiters about this because I don’t want anyone to leave AgileThought. In essence, I want a 9% turnover rate. I want it to be lower than anybody else’s, and if it’s above that, then I want to understand what’s going wrong.
Matt: Vonita wants no one out the door.
Jeff: Vonita wants no one out the door! I love that. But you also have to understand that it’s going to happen, and when it’s happening, you have to look and say, “Is this an opportunity to learn? Are there things we could be doing differently?” I don’t think we look at it in a negative way. Individuals having different experiences is part of a career now.
All this being said, the 2nd employee we ever hired is still with us. We take turnover very seriously. We want to understand that because there are things that companies can do to make sure that they’re offering the right place and the right culture at the right time for employees. I actually think that that’s been a really powerful thing in Tampa Bay Tech, too, when you look at the best places to work.
Roxanne: Yeah. I went through your company Glassdoor and you guys have fantastic ratings and reviews. I spent some time on the Careers section, and you offer a ton of amazing benefits. It’s awesome to see a local company like this so highly sought after and highly thought of, so well done.
Jeff: Thank you.
On his community involvement
Roxanne: Other than your involvement with Tampa Bay Tech, what do you do in terms of community engagement? Do you regularly attend tech events? I know you guys did poweredUP, but that’s still Tampa Bay Tech, right?
Jeff: That’s still Tampa Bay Tech, yeah.
Roxanne: Is there anything you do outside of that?
Jeff: Yeah. I try and get to a meetup every month. I’m particularly partial to it if it’s an Agile meetup. You can usually look on a map and see what’s on your way home, stop by and just say hi to a few people, work through it, and then head home. I like to see if our individuals are not just participating but sometimes leading. I mean, it really is important as an organization for us to know we have individuals leading.
When you ask ‘what do you do in the community?’, a lot of it is just supporting individuals that are trying to create content for the community. These are the individuals that are driving thought leadership across organizations in our community, and it’s the most difficult thing we hear from every single meetup: content. If you have a monthly meeting, you have to present new content every month. Who’s creating and curating that content? People are giving up their nights and weekends to do that and that’s actually really powerful, and we have to support those individuals.
On the insane AgileThought growth
Matt: AgileThought has had 10 consecutive years on the Inc. 5000 list. What major factors do you attribute the company’s growth to?
Jeff: The culture and the kind of individuals we employ. We’ve always looked at the output, and what’s in the rearview mirror is going to be our biggest sales driver for the organization. So, the quality of our people, and the ability for them to try and maintain that culture. The culture gets large enough to where it’s going to be what it’s going to be, you just want to just put some guide rails in. Dave’s 100% focused on helping continually put those guide rails in place and keeping it moving in that direction. I think that’s been one of our largest drivers for success, because when we build good projects, good things happen. That’s how that works.
Every year, I can unequivocally look back and say the ability for our individuals to maintain and develop that culture is key for us to be able to drive success into projects, and then to the next ‘what if.’
The next one’s going to be our ability to take a long view on our relationships with our clients. We have clients that we’ve had since the day we started the company. Sometimes they’re working projects, sometimes they’re not, but any time they’re going to do something, they’re likely going to call us and that’s a powerful thing too. So, the ability to really give the attention and spend the time to develop quality relationships with clients is the other big driver. It’s not necessarily a sales engine per se, it’s that the sales engine is the culture and our client relationships.
On creative time
Roxanne: To keep going on the culture theme, do employees get creative time here? If somebody thinks up an amazing solution, do they have that door to upper management to be able to say, “Hey, I think this would be awesome. Can we try this?”
Jeff: Yeah. This one’s a constant challenge inside of an organization, and the challenge is not ‘do you want people to have the time?’ The challenge is, if you’re high-growth, your utilization is always going to be high. And that, for us, is a battle.
Individuals have ideas all the time. IP, internal ways that we can improve how we’re operating, things like that. We’ve had hackathons, we’ll do things where people can just crank out ideas and go do, and we do have the ability to pull individuals. In the past, maybe 4 or 5 years ago, we tried to give outlets for ideas into AgileLabs type environments where we can say let’s go build it, let’s go do that thing.
What you’ve seen AgileThought do in scenarios like that is, those ideas may spin off into completely different companies. eStaff was a company that AgileThought spun out. There was an idea for an onboarding software solution, some individuals went with it, and they ended up selling to Erecruit a few years back. Right now, we’re invested in a company called CoLabs which is in downtown Tampa here and it’s building a product called intelagree.
You have to understand the core of your business. The core of our business is in consulting and so we have to be careful how we marry those. But even in consulting, there’s IP. How do we bring this thing that we can use again and again? People have ideas like that. We absolutely let them develop the intellectual property that we can take and say, “Here’s a way for us to accelerate a solution for a client.”
So, we do try and offer opportunities for that. Monthly, we have toasts where we open up with celebrating success. Almost every month, there are projects concluding, there are new clients coming on board, there are things happening. So we have a toast where people can just interact and be social – it’s a happy hour type event. Quarterly, we really do open up in terms of our financials, our margins, all the different aspects of how this business runs. We walk through everything: here’s where we are, here’s where the risks are in the company. That’s where we get great ideas.
Talent in Tampa
Matt: From your tenure in the Tampa Bay area around technology, how has the landscape changed when it comes to the level of tech talent? Are you feeling that it’s about the same, or is it improving? What are the kind of trends you’ve seen around talent as a whole?
Jeff: I think it is improving. There’s just so much growth. So, the demand is increasing, and I also think the collaboration is increasing.
If you ask me directly from AgileThought, I love the idea of bringing in an individual out of Minnesota and having them relocate into the area. The entire community gets lifted. That’s the only way to truly raise the boat. I want nothing more than to see Valpak have huge success. I want nothing more than to see IRONMAN really grow and develop. Same with Nielsen. I don’t necessarily want to be moving around the same talent pool. I’m perfectly happy to bring people in, and I think we’ve got pretty good attraction. Our story is strong.
There’s a fair amount of talk around salaries in Tampa as a whole. The salary number is not quite where it needs to be. There’s still room to improve on that. But I also think the marketplace is continually driving that up. As you bring new individuals in, it is a constant slight correction. That’s where bringing people in, the attraction from outside, makes it easier to help that problem correct itself.
Roxanne: I mean, I looked at your Glassdoor. I looked at the salaries and you guys are pretty up there for the area.
Jeff: We offer consulting, we offer services to large organizations, and the expectations are pretty high. We don’t, as a company, have an expectation that you know everything. We do have an expectation that you’re willing to go find an answer and that you’re willing to use the organization around you to get that answer and solve the problem for that client.
One of our more significant HR duties is making sure that we’re constantly being competitive in regards to salary. We don’t find that we lose people over that. We find that if we lose people, generally, they’re leaving to take a leadership role inside of an organization, or they’re leaving to take a startup role.
Tech in Tampa
Roxanne: What do you hope to see in the next few years in Tampa Bay when it comes to technology?
Jeff: I hope to see the next generation of leaders continue. I look at the individuals that have been leaders here for a long time and have been tremendous pillars. Guys like Chris Cate or John Kuemmel, they’ve been CIOs, they’ve been traditional leadership.
I know we will see a lot of work on women in technology. I think that’s a huge passion right now. We’re seeing lots of momentum in that area. Kim Anstett taking the helm from Nielsen, she will take the helm next year and Tampa Bay Tech as the chair and CEO, and I think that’s a powerful voice. She’s got a powerful megaphone and she’s a great individual, very much focused on inclusive workforce, and I think that we ‘re going to see a lot of progress in that area. There is real momentum and real understanding of that driver. I hope to see, in the next couple years, real movement in that area.
Roxanne: I’m actually trying to get Kim to do an interview with us because we have been very, very underrepresented as women in tech.
Jeff: Right. I mean, another one to be thinking about would be Joanne Persinger at Tech Data. I’m not 100% sure what her specific duties are, but it’s in IT,and she’s working on merging. But again, when you look at someone like Kim, Joanne, or Sable out of Sirius, they get requested a lot.
Anecdotally, when you’re trying to get on Kim’s calendar, it’s very difficult to do. She’s super busy, she’s being asked to do lots of different things. A lot of that’s in reflection of wow, that’s great, she’s a woman leader in tech, let’s go attach to that. There just needs to be more of that. And that’ll rise the whole boat and everybody will have a little more time to have their good dialogue.
Words of wisdom for tech newbies
Matt: Awesome. Is there anything you’d like to say to anyone who’s thinking about getting into tech, be it student or career change, from your years of experience?
Jeff: Individuals should really evaluate their decision to go into tech on what are the things they like to see achieved. We see tremendous projects. Technology moves rapidly. It really is about how does your mind work and can you process lots of change? Can you process what a future looks like that you can’t touch? Can you process those kinds of things?
No matter when you enter, you will be behind. No matter when you’re here, you will be behind. Don’t let that be your burden. Don’t let that be your barrier. If your mind works that way and you embrace that kind of stuff, then think about it because there’s the career.
Roxanne: Who is a person and/or an organization that you think is doing something right and innovative in the area outside of Agile?
Jeff: Well there’s actually quite a few. I mentioned IRONMAN before. Think about the volume and robustness of data around individuals that are willing to run an IRONMAN! John Kuemmel’s got that in the palm of his hands in terms of what kind of data is that, what are the things that can be super awesome about that data to help people with health, with understanding how evolution happens.
Matt: Great shout out. From your bio on the AgileThought website, I was curious, what is your favorite spot to go diving in Florida? Also, best/worst dive experience?
Jeff: Yeah, I’m a Florida Keys guy. I’ve been going to the Key West area since I was maybe 4 or 5 years old, almost every year. Multiple times a year in some cases. I love the Keys. I am a SCUBA diver, but I love to freedive – that’s really my passion in terms of diving.
Probably my best and worst experience was when I was in college. I came home from Florida State on a weekend and I decided I was going to run out on the east coast. I had an 11.5’ Zodiac – and this is bad, but I would go by myself, and I would tie the Zodiac to my leg instead of anchoring it because I was always worried about the drift.
Matt: You’re the anchor.
Jeff: I’m the anchor. So, I would tie it. If I drifted, the boat drifted. As long as it was still tied to my leg!
I was down on a group of rocks and somehow I got myself underneath it. A sea turtle was under the rock. I didn’t see him, and he didn’t see me until I’m this close. So, he comes flying out, runs me over, and knocks my regulator out of my mouth! It was just a slight moment of panic on the bottom there. But it was my best too because that’s the closest I’ve ever actually been to a sea turtle. The thing hit me though, so yeah…
Matt: That was so much better than I thought it was going to be. I thought you were about to say you had accidentally gotten lodged on something and the boat started to pull.
Jeff: No. Sea turtle came out and scared the shit out of me, really. I strongly advise young individuals, don’t do something like that. I thought at the time that it was an appropriate thing to do but I would not advise that.
Matt: Any further thoughts or insights you’d like to share? Anything exciting coming down the pipeline for you, for AgileThought, for Tampa Bay Tech?
Jeff: My level of excitement in the area is as high as it’s ever been. I’ve been in this area for a long time, and from what I’ve seen, AgileThought is going to continue to grow. I know that. I think we’ve got great people. We’ve got great momentum. Everything looks sound right now in terms of the ability to keep doing what we do. For us, our focus is on making sure that our culture stays true and that we can continue to understand the evolution of our client relationship. I think what you’ll see is more studio work where we essentially try and all get together and collaborate and work together on an initiative, client, us, everybody in the same facility really trying to drive that innovation.
We spent a couple of years in Tampa Bay Tech talking about how the ask has always been, “Well if I am a member of TBT, what do I get?” And our focus has been to shift that, especially with poweredUP. It’s not what do you get, it’s what do you give? You’re going to give, your talented people are going to come, they’re going to give content, they’re going to develop a talk, and they’re going to give a talk. Other people are going to be watching them on stage.
Companies need to be stepping forward and really driving the financial state of how we speak from one megaphone, and I think we’re seeing it, and we’re going to see more of that. So, that dialog has really shifted from what do I get to I literally, we will, in meetings now say, “Well you get the chance to write me a check. You get the chance to get your people up on stage.” That’s not how this dialog’s going to go any longer. What do I get? For that, you get the chance to participate and give your time, your talent, and your treasure. And downstream, what you get is the ability to be engaged in the community, and the ability to help be a voice in the community and for your people to be engaged in the community.
As you develop, and then as you start putting your own kids into college and doing different things, you start having a different feeling, which is, wait a second, what have I done for the community? Have I done enough? We’re seeing that. And that’s really great to see. We’re now going to see how the next generation develop, and that’s super exciting.
AgileThought is a full service custom software development and implementation firm staffed by passionate, experienced software professionals. It is their goal to deliver exceptional service by combining many years of practical experience with extremely high standards of professionalism and quality. Collectively, their staff has seen it all and distilled the most valuable practices, techniques, tools, and methodologies into a set of world class service offerings that benefit a diverse set of clients and industries. Learn more here.
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