In our Centered on Your Success blog series, get to know our experts and how they measure success for clients. In this installment, meet Matt Laffoon.
What’s your story?
I started in technology right out of the gate in my career, and I’ve had a lot of chances to solve some unique problems. While still in high school and early college, I took an internship with a small startup in Miami, Florida, that was building something unheard of at the time – an internet-based travel booking system. That led to an opportunity to work with a company where I transformed floors full of physical client files into a digital format and organized them into a new database.
After graduation, I worked with a company out of Louisville, Kentucky, building and customizing warehouse automation software. I spent a good chunk of time traveling to warehouses around the country implementing, testing, tweaking and configuring a software solution that worked directly with automated conveyor and robotic systems. Later, I spent time as a Department of Defense civilian employee working with the United States Marine Corps out of Quantico, Virginia, building a modernized platform and enhancing various data interfaces between government systems.
A chance to build from the ground up a Data Systems team with a global trade management software as a service company brought me to Charlotte, North Carolina. This was a great opportunity to enhance and grow technology and processes from the ground up while tackling new challenges for our clients as technology changed, and our data footprint grew. Wanting to take my technical skills to the next level, I took a role with Microsoft as an engineer in the Azure Data & AI domain focused on customer success. This was quite the experience, diving deep into the Azure world to help some of the largest companies in the country with everything from their migrations to the cloud to recommending and designing solutions to deep technical troubleshooting across Microsoft’s data platform.
I didn’t end up at Centric Consulting by chance or accident. For years, I heard my friend talk about the growth of the Charlotte business unit and some of the problems the team solved for their clients. As a technologist and problem solver at heart, the chance to come on board as the local technology practice lead was the perfect fit.
Why did you decide to become part of your field?
I feel like I’ve always been around technology. Even before it was a career, it was a part of my life. I have always been tinkering with new technology, building hardware or writing code for personal projects. I knew early on I would go into the tech world, but I always wanted to do it with an understanding of what problems it solved for real people. I learned over time that the application and data space were really that sweet spot, as I started to see people’s work lives get better from taking the time to understand where pain points were and coming up with a solution that really addressed them.
How are you working to guide your clients to success right now?
As Charlotte’s Technology Lead and Senior Architect, I am working with clients on architecting solutions in both Azure and AWS. I work heavily with our Technical Service offerings, such as our Data and Analytics and Modern Software Delivery teams. I also work closely with our Business Consulting Services. When we bring together a holistic understanding of business processes along with a strong technical understanding, our solutions really shine.
What does the success of your clients mean to you?
Client success is why we do what we do, and seeing clients reach their goals and overcome challenges is incredibly rewarding. It’s not just that a project went well. What matters is whether it led to the client being more successful than when we started.
What, in your opinion, do companies need the most help with right now?
Whether implementing a new data warehouse or modernizing an existing application, it’s always important to remember why you’re doing it. Oftentimes projects are so large and complex people often forget the business needs and drivers that sparked the idea in the first place. As the project progresses and begins to impact the business or new priorities come along, there is difficulty maintaining momentum and buy-in.
This is where an established strategy, such as a cloud or data strategy, comes into play. A strong strategy allows companies to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It ensures alignment across the organization and provides a lens by which they can validate projects and initiatives.
What do you think they should be thinking about next?
Many companies get stuck in the cycle of expecting and maintaining the status quo. Technology groups then define success by business users who are only familiar with what has existed for years. Yet, at the same time, things that were bleeding edge years ago are now mainstream and far more easily accessible. To break the cycle of status quo, technical teams need to skill up on new technologies and make the business aware of what is possible. Once the business understands new possibilities, they are empowered to think of what could be instead of what has been.
What are you looking forward to in your industry?
I have become a big fan of the speed at which we can build and deploy solutions. Whether it’s custom applications and web pages or artificial intelligence and machine learning, there have been huge strides in the ability to implement them quickly. This allows for more time to design the solution and align it to the business need. This trend will only continue and will not only include more advanced features but also combine them and expand what is possible to new limits.
What piece of career advice keeps you passionate and purposeful?
Simply put, always have integrity. Whether a situation is good or bad, it is critical to ensure you always fight to do the right thing. You cannot truly reach success if the path requires sacrificing your core values and beliefs. The success of yourself and those around you is built on the foundation of maintaining integrity.
What do you do when you’re not guiding clients?
Most of my time is spent with my family and friends. My wife and I have so much fun with our nieces and nephews who live nearby. We enjoy traveling, playing board games, spending time with friends and watching Miami Dolphins football together. I love playing sports, and I have always been a big fan of video games as well.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Charlotte?
My wife and I are fans of trying new restaurants, coffee shops and breweries all around Charlotte and the Lake Norman area. We love being a short drive from both the mountains and the beach. I also love taking my nieces and nephews to ride roller coasters at Carowinds.