January 6, 2020

Beyond the Data: Brock Noland, Co-Founder and Chief Architect

By Claire Sasse

Happy new year! We’re excited to announce a new employee interview series on the phData blog. Every month, we’ll share a new interview to introduce you to some of our incredible teammates. We’ll be highlighting a variety of people who work in different roles at phData.

We’re kicking things off with our Co-Founder and Chief Architect, Brock Noland.

Tell us your name, where you’re from, and a little about you.

My name is Brock Noland. I’m from Hayward Minnesota, a small town of around 200 people. I grew up in the “city” across from a hay field.

I’m a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s Agriculture Economics program and a long-time resident of Minneapolis. It’s such a gorgeous city.

Brock Noland

What does 'Chief Architect' mean? What do you actually do in any given day?

Often, the title means I get pulled into a group solving a hard problem. A typical day for me looks like:

  • Attend stand-ups for the Internal Engineering team, customers, and executive team.
  • 1-1s with directs, dotted-lines, and important contacts at our customers.
  • Spend time thinking about our strategy and our current execution of the strategy.
  • If I’m lucky, spend some time with my hands actually on a keyboard, working on whatever difficult problem we’re trying to solve at the moment.

Tell us about the Internal Engineering team. What is it like working with them every day? 

phData recently decided to invest in an Internal Engineering team that I lead. This team was created because we strongly believe that automation leads to improved outcomes in terms of cost and reliability, so we want to continually offer automation-enabled services to our customers. The investment is directed at whatever big business challenges we have at the moment. This means working on open source projects, like Archway, and intellectual property, like Best Practices Analyzer or phData’s Virtual Clean Room for securely accessing customer environments.

You've been with phData since the beginning, but when was that? Tell us how everything started.

It’s been quite a journey. I don’t think I could accurately describe it here! But through it all, we’ve been supremely focused on solving business challenges for our customers with data. When we first started, we were offering a smart person as a resource, but now we’ve established enough automation, processes, and solutions to provide customers with a full solution, which can make a lot of their problems go away.

How have you seen the company change in that time? How has your job evolved?

We’ve grown from 2-3 employees to over 150, so nearly everything has changed with the exception of an ambitious yet relaxed culture and our focus on solving business challenges for our customers in the data space.

I’ve gone from being fully billable while performing sales to being focused entirely on internal engineering. I’ve enjoyed every role along the way and I’m happy to contribute wherever I can provide the most value. My motivation to change roles was driven by the needs of the business.

phData employees

The early days at phData when there were only a few employees.

In your opinion, what does it mean to be a co-founder?

“Founder” means willing to dig any ditch you come upon. A founder needs to be willing to do all of the unglamourous execution to make the endeavor a success. All of the founders of phData have stayed up late, doing whatever it takes, and going the extra mile.

What is the one thing you want customers to know about phData?

Industrialization of AI requires putting pipelines, models, systems, etc. into PRODUCTION. We eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

What are the most exciting things you’re working on and how do you see them positively impacting our customers?

I cannot say this enough, putting and keeping solutions in PRODUCTION is the most interesting thing we can do.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

I love to spend time with my wife, Kristine, and my son, Max. I also enjoy traveling and skiing!

Brock Noland family

Interested in joining the phData team? We’re hiring! Check out our careers page or email careers@phdata.io for more information

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