This week we’re wrapping up our Meet a Muley posts for 2013 with James Hall! As an Interaction Designer on the Product Team, James focuses on creating the best possible experience for our users. Read on to learn why he considers himself a “shaved ice connoisseur” and how he deals with being a tech-neophyte in a tech startup!
First thought that came to mind when you looked into the mirror today?
- Did 6am always feel this early?
How did you find MuleSoft?
- I knew I wanted to relocate to the Bay Area, so I started searching for well funded companies with huge growth trajectories. MuleSoft surfaced through CrunchBase, and I thought the story was very interesting. I really wanted to develop my technical understanding and MuleSoft felt like it would provide a great education.
How was the interview process? Any funny or embarrassing stories?
- It was great, other than the fact that my on-site interviews fell in the middle of finishing my thesis project. The recruiting team was flexible though, and I still passed all my finals. The highlight – a stimulating 20 minute conversation about microwave design with Dan D.
What was your first job?
- I spent a summer making snow cones. As a self-proclaimed shaved ice connoisseur, I can comfortably say that black cherry is the best standalone flavor and banana/mango/passionfruit with a touch of cinnamon is the best mix.
So what exactly is an interaction designer?
- An interaction designer focuses on designing streamlined user experiences within a product. I think a lot about how a user would like to interact with our products when trying to accomplish a goal, and then work towards creating an optimal experience with the engineering team. Although the learning curve is steep in software integration, I find the work very rewarding.
What’s a typical day like for you?
- I usually spend the day thinking about one or two features or improvements and building mockups to convey the experience. I also spend an hour each day meeting with internal users of our products and working on user tests.
What are you currently working on?
- I’m currently working on mockups for improved database and web services connectors in Studio. Both are coming in the 3.5 release, along with a smattering of other UX improvements.
Biggest challenge of the day?
- As a tech-neophyte, my biggest challenge is understanding the process that I’m attempting to optimize for users. My background in architecture is very helpful in understanding and orchestrating the flow through a process, but often the processes are complicated. Integration is tough stuff!
Best perk of being at MuleSoft?
- Aside from the beautiful office and flexible vacation perks, I really enjoy working with such sharp co-workers. MuleSoft is full of smart folks, but really emphasizes hiring good people.
Biggest challenge since you’ve been at MuleSoft?
- I’ve struggled to get people excited about user personas. I feel personas are a great way to build empathy for our users, but historically they have been a contentious issue.
What’s something new you learned while being at MuleSoft?
You had a baby recently! How has life changed and how has it impacted work/social life?
- Life with a newborn has been both very rewarding and very frustrating. It’s been challenging to find the appropriate balance of time spent at work and time helping with the baby.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
- I’ve always loved a quote from Miguel De Cervantes in Don Quixote:
“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical may be madness. To surrender dreams, this may be madness. To seek treasures where there is only trash…Too much sanity may be madness, and maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be.”
Most embarrassing moment?
- After receiving a phone number from a girl in one of my classes, I left a rather poorly worded voicemail. I stated that hopefully she didn’t have a congenital heart disorder, because I would like to take her to a particularly frightening haunted house that weekend. When she returned my call she could barely talk because she was laughing so hard… She actually had a serious heart disorder that forced her to use a pacemaker. She was a great sport about it, and I think I had a rougher time in the haunted house than she did.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you do?
- I studied architecture in school, and would love to be a residential architect someday. It’s very personal to design a home for someone, and I like the achieving the level of trust and collaboration that great house design requires.
If you could have any pet in the world, what would you want?
- African Ball Python. I had a few growing up, and they are really beautiful snakes. I doubt I’ll ever convince my ophidiophobic wife into letting one in the house. A close second would be a kangaroo joey. I grew up on a rather eccentric farm in Utah, and I always loved playing with the baby kangaroos.
Favorite karaoke song?
- I do my best to avoid singing in public.
- “Maligaya” (Tagalog word for happy).
If you have any other questions for James, please leave them below!
That wraps it up for the Muleys of 2013! We hope you’ve enjoyed meeting some of the folks we have here at MuleSoft and be sure to stay tuned for more in the new year. It’s been a great 2013 and we’ve hired a ton of new talent, so 2014 should be full of some exciting new Meet a Muley posts. As always, feel free to let us know in the comments below if you’re interested in hearing from a particular team member.
» Looking for a change in the new year? Interested in working alongside great talent and think you have what it takes? Visit our careers page to learn about our (many) openings!