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Following Your Career Passions

Alex Boudreau

Director of Software Engineering, Analytics at Pindrop

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Problem

I'm not your typical engineering leader with a career path that you'd expect. In fact, I've not taken a linear career path at all. I self started my career while I was in University studying in Physics and Cognitive Sciences. I had the entrepreneurial itch and wanted to innovate and go faster than what the traditional path seemed to offer. While I was studying, I founded 2 software companies focused on data analysis and computer vision. One of the startup had good seed money allowing us to hire developers and build products. We were progressing very well, but our timing was completely off. We came at a time when the dot-com crash rippled all the way to Canada. Investors pulled out and we eventually had to close the business. With a closed company, I decided to take the traditional path and started working as a Project manager. I quickly realized I wanted to go back in a more technical job. From that point on I've had roles as diverse as System Architect and Technical Consultant, but that wasn't enough. I wanted to go back in product development and innovation, I wanted to switch focus from individual contributor and go back to my roots of technical leader.

Actions taken

When smartphones came out I started spending a lot of time outside of work to learn the ins and outs of mobile app development. I started with the first Android beta and eventually converged to iOS development. I worked on personal projects at home, since my role as Technical Consultant at the time didn't offer me the opportunity to do mobile dev at work. This effort eventually paid off and gave me the opportunity to work as Mobile Tech Lead and shortly after Mobile Development Manager. I was back on the right track towards technical leadership. After some time in that role, I started thinking about what my true technical passion was, and without too much reflection, I realized that AI had been at the forefront of my passion since an early age. I had the opportunity of developing advanced machine learning and image analysis algorithms for medical diagnostic aid in my startups, now I wanted to get back on this track. Again, realizing I needed to rebuild my core knowledge, I went on a path of self-learning and built a custom natural language engine in my spare time and dove into the latest in deep learning. This lead me to land a role as Technology Lead - AI/Cloud, which allowed me to lead the development of an ML powered NLU engine as a cloud service. This was a pivotal opportunity. Because of my broad experiences gained from working with customers in professional services, product management, cloud development, and overall technical leadership, a great opportunity presented itself with Pindrop. I first joined the company as Director of software engineering with focus on the company's cloud platform and cloud services, and now hold the position of Director of Analytics which allows me to focus on my true technical passion of data analytics, ML and AI.

Lessons learned

Even if you haven't taken the same path as other people or feel like you don't have the right background for a role, if you have a real passion, set yourself some objectives and work towards them. You'll be surprised of what you can accomplish. Your career and personal development is a life-long learning journey. Embrace your differences, learn new skills and push forward.


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Alex Boudreau

Director of Software Engineering, Analytics at Pindrop


Technical SkillsProgrammingSoftware DevelopmentCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionSkill DevelopmentIndividual Contributor RolesTech LeadLeadership RolesEngineering Manager

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