An interview with Patrick Keehan, CTO at SaltDNA.
Time with the company: 6 Years - Myself and some colleagues founded SaltDNA a number of years ago. We were doing services work at the time but wanted something more substantial that we could build value in. Building a product is different from providing development as a service. It challenges you in different ways. We wanted that challenge.
We had all worked together on-and-off and were always driven to do things ourselves rather than depend upon others to make things happen. The secure enterprise messenger was something that happened for us over a number of years as the demand from customers grew and the importance of personal security became more evident. People wanted a communications solution that gave them piece-of-mind.
Overseeing development and working with others. I see my job being making other people’s job easier and making sure that the product is always improving.
I very much see myself as a software engineer who works closely with others to get the job done. Whether that be helping junior developers learn, or talking through problems with senior developers, or working with marketing to better communicate our message. I’m a facilitator. Which is what I love about the role. I can get involved in different aspects of the product and help others.
The cybersecurity industry is a constantly changing and challenging environment.
In the past many of the projects I've worked on were heavily enterprise or short-term well-scoped pieces of work. SaltDNA is an enterprise product but strangely at the same time isn't. When developing this solution we're always thinking about the enterprise use case to ensure that functionally the product is fit for purpose. However we are also constantly ensuring it’s easy to use and as intuitive as possible to ensure that the product users are satisfied.
Smartphones have transformed our working practice. They've opened a gateway to a whole new story. In the workplace we are nearly completely reliant on IT devices for the majority of our work. From a business viewpoint, there is virtually a complete reliance on our mobile phones. Added with the dependance on IT, we have a lot of data. BYOD is something we all take for granted and some form of messenger is something we experience on a daily basis. So, even though our product is enterprise focused it is also consumer driven. Our users instal the product on their own personal or business devices and have high expectations.
There's also the security sector. Previous projects have meant ensuring the product meets requirements or performance. In the security sector there’s the added challenge of protecting the user from an unknown external party. It adds a whole new dimension.
Learning something every day. It's not only the product and engineering but also what you learn being involved in the running of a small business. SaltDNA provides an idea working environment where you get to work alongside interesting and like-minded people who want to succeed as much as you do.
Be prepared to be learning all of the time. It's also a trait that's vitally important for young software engineers to demonstrate these days.
Oh, and the only stupid question is the question not asked. Never make assumptions. Almost always ask that question.