Meet a Muley – James Donelan, VP Engineering

November 14 2013

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In case you missed last week’s Meet a Muley post (featuring Eva, our Senior Java Developer) we’ve started a new weekly series! Every Friday we’ll introduce you to a new member of the MuleSoft team to give you some insight into what we’re all about.

This week we’ll be chatting with James Donelan, our VP of Engineering. When we chose James for this post, we immediately agreed that there needed to be some sort of voice recording for you all to truly understand why everyone loves to listen to James. And we found one!

Check out the video above, “The Core of the Developer”, in which James talks about developers tackling challenging problems, how MuleSoft sits at the heart of numerous systems and markets, our open source products, hackathons and how developers are like artists. Take a minute to appreciate James’ Irish awesome-ness and maybe even tell us what you think (just like the follower did below)!


So now that you have a James voiceover playing in your head, let’s get started.

First thought when looking into the mirror today?

  • God I’m getting old…

How did you find MuleSoft?

  • I was introduced to the company through an executive recruiter and loved what I saw. I felt the company was trying to do some really disruptive things in a very big technology space and it was going to be a great challenge. Having worked in many SaaS startups, enterprise software and doing integration work for many years in online trading and banking I understood the problems the company was trying to address and it resonated with me. I was really excited about the opportunity.

Any funny or embarrassing stories from the interview process?

  • I can’t remember any from my MuleSoft interviews – it was all very pleasant. I do remember an interviewer once asking me “what I would like to see engraved on my headstone” to which I responded, “Why, are you going to kill me?”

Is it difficult being in SF and working with teams in BA?

  • It definitely adds a level of complexity. We travel quite a bit to deal with this – e.g. I go to Argentina every few months – and we have meetups a few times a year – both in San Francisco and Buenos Aires – so there is lots of opportunity for in-person face time. We’ve also perfected the use of Skype and have Lifesize video equipment which helps quite a bit.

First job?

  • When I was in first grade I made lucky bags filled with small toys and candy and sold them at school for profit – it was quite lucrative. My first real job was working as a software at Compaq Computer in Munich, Germany. Part of my university education required working in a technology company for nine months and I was invited to work at Compaq in Germany. It was an amazing experience – I ended up building a global ERP system (in ObjectPAL) for computer production and it was a ton of fun. I was pushing code into production in my first week and loved it. I ended up going back to Compaq again the following year working as a developer for the summer.

What’s a typical day like for you?

  • I usually start checking emails when I wake up and over a coffee. Once I get into the office I have a quick daily standup for 15 minutes with my management team in SF and Buenos Aires where we do a quick status check on things – products under development, releases, team, etc. Then my day varies from being in design sessions, having 1-on-1 meetings with my team, release planning, interviewing, working with product, sales or marketing. I also tend to spend a lot of time on Skype video given that we have a globally distributed team.

Biggest challenge of the day?

  • Trying to stay on top of email and find enough time. It’s virtually impossible.

Best perk of being at MuleSoft?

  • Great people without any big egos. MuleSoft has done a great job at hiring really great people that are fun to work with and work well as a team. Oh, and the waffles are good too!

What’s something new you learned while being at MuleSoft?

  • Having an open source background can be a huge advantage to us. We’ve built up a community of hundreds of thousands of developers who enjoy using our products because they were built with the developer in mind. It’s allowed us to attract a high caliber of developers into the company who like being involved in the open source community and working on innovative technologies and products. I also think it allows us to move fast and makes us feel comfortable taking some risks – which is a big advantage over our competitors. There is something in open source that relates to moving fast, releasing often and not being afraid to let the world see your work.

Best piece of advice?

  • Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. It takes a ton of work and effort. I think the actual quote this was stolen from is, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”.

Most embarrassing moment?

  • I sail and race sailboats in the SF Bay. I was helping guide a sailboat out of a dock in Sausalito which was full of experienced racers. I forgot to let go when they put the throttle into reverse and fell head first into the water. My iPhone and pro camera were in my pocket…

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?

  • I’d probably be an architect. I really liked drawing when I was growing up and was always sketching buildings, so for a while I considered studying architecture. In the end I prefered the more analytical side of things and decided to study applied mathematics and computing at university. I ended up being a “software architect” for a good portion of my career. I suppose I did become an architect in some ways.

If you could have any pet in the world, what would you want?

  • Golden Labrador. Who doesn’t like them?

Favorite karaoke song?

  • U2 – One. I’m not a karaoke singer but I do remember singing it with the team during our last product release celebration in Buenos Aires.

Favorite word?

  • “Craic” – it’s Gaelic for “fun”.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

  • I’m not Scottish!

Hope you enjoyed this week’s Muley! Be sure to check out next week’s post for more excitement. As always, please share your thoughts below and let us know if you have any questions or if you’d like to meet a Muley from a particular team.

Interested in working alongside great talent and think you have what it takes? Check out our careers page for openings!
Happy Friday!


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