We sat down with Jason Seeley, Prophix developer and 17-year company veteran, to gather his thoughts and find out what makes him tick.
Thanks for joining us, Jason. Tell us about your background before coming to Prophix.
I earned a Computer Science and Statistics degree from the University of Waterloo. I worked as a co-op student during my time there, so I had 2.5 years of experience when I graduated, including stints with Nortel, Excise Canada, and Statistics Canada.
Does your education play a large role in your work here, or was your ‘on-the-job’ training more valuable?
Honestly, my co-op experience was probably more valuable, but I did learn the foundations of computer science, which haven’t changed as much as you’d think. A lot of my courses involved mathematics and statistics, and while I no longer use that specific knowledge, the training in logic, creative problem solving, and critical thinking is useful in general.
Tell us about your early days at Prophix.
Initially, Prophix was called EPS Consulting and we implemented custom accounting applications, like Executive Information Systems (EIS) and others. We would often travel to a location and work there for 3 months, writing applications and training the users to work with their customized solutions. With my background in EIS, technical writing, and computer science (and my sensational interpersonal skills!), it felt like a really good fit.
I’ll bet the company has changed a lot since then.
Absolutely. Everything was very hands-on at that time, as we only had a few developers. We did development and coding, of course, but we were also responsible for the help files, documentation, and sometimes even tech support. I had more energy back then! Our product has undergone several changes since that time; over 16 years we’ve used at least 9 different programming languages and completely re-written the application 5 times.
What led you to software development?
I’ve always loved video games. To be a developer at Prophix you must like video games! [Laughter.] I actually started programming when I was only 10; I made a Space Invaders game on my Commodore Vic 20. Back then we used cassette tapes to store data, so when I loaded or modified my program, it would take 10 minutes to load and 10 minutes to save. Fun stuff! I enjoy building applications for other people. It gives you a great sense of accomplishment, especially when you receive positive feedback.
You’ve worked at Prophix for more than 15 years. That’s certainly a long time for a developer-but a long tenure’s not uncommon for developers at Prophix. What do you think sets the environment here apart?
I have a great boss in Bob Walker and we have a positive work environment. The department now has 18 people, as opposed to 2 when I first joined the company. Our CEO, Paul Barber, understands creative development and I think that we’ve created a relaxed yet productive work atmosphere. We’re a small company, so we feel more like family than disposable cogs. Your work matters and that means a lot. As a small company, we also have the opportunity to adapt and to respond to the needs of the marketplace, so your understanding of the customers’ needs lives through the product. I’m really proud of what we’ve been able toaccomplish without any venture capital.
Are you working on any interesting projects right now?
Definitely! I’m the Project Manager for Prophix Mobile. It’s still in development and we expect to roll it out in a couple of months.
Tell us about your interests outside of work.
Aside from helping to raise my 2 year-old daughter? It’s hard to find time for my other interests, but like most people I try to stay active, to run and lift weights, and to play hockey once a week with the company team. My other interests are NHL hockey (I’m a big Ottawa Senators fan), video games, and the stock market. My favorite shows are Supernatural and The Walking Dead.
It’s been a pleasure, Jason. We look forward to seeing your work through the latest innovations at Prophix.