If you’ve landed here and you’re actually curious about the professional side of me, read on.
Put simply, I am a twenty-something professional with a passion for product development. I am the quintessential support player in a product organization: I enable, evangelize, and extol the virtues of the product I own and of my company’s culture at large.
I’ve come to consider myself both the prophet and the bard of the software business. Regardless of the specific role I’m in, I tend to land in companies as the prophet of wars to be waged and victories to come and bard who regales the masses with stories of those legendary wars thereafter.
In other words, I live to gather and write requirements, manage production, press post-release documentation, and regale tales of my colleagues’ awesome work at events or with customers.
Of course, it can’t all be glitz, glamour, and glory all the time. In humbler terms, I work for software companies by day, and I freelance for a number of different outlets on the side, writing all manner of content from press releases to product reviews.
Feel free to check out my professional profile (as it’s more or less the modern resume) to get a better idea of what “Frank, the employee” is like. I’m loyal, hard-working, and dedicated to my craft—whatever that craft may be.
To provide a little more background, I’ve had an interesting go at the professional world thus far. First and foremost, it all started with a stint at the University of Waterloo. All my initial post-secondary plans changed when I got the fabled “You’re In!” package from Waterloo. After all, this was the school consistently ranked as one of and oftentimes the best in the country.
I began as a Computer Science major, but decided after a year that I didn’t like where my co-operative education jobs were taking me. I opted for a computer science minor, maintaining my knowledge and credits, and then switched into a program to follow my other passion: writing.
As I pursued my CS degree, I began a co-op job turned full-time gig working for the Toronto District School Board. In my early days at the TDSB, I worked as a Flash developer for the Ontario E-Learning program. After about a year, I moved into a role as an application developer for the IT department where I worked on developing a large-scale project involving SharePoint 2007, which at the time was still the new beast on the block. C#, Oracle, and .NET were my bread and butter.
When it was all said and done, I ended up with a BA in Rhetoric and Professional Writing with studies in Computer Science. This degree, which should by all accounts be a handicap, has allowed me to occupy both developer positions given my wealth of experience in various technologies and writerly positions. Too bad print is dead; I would’ve loved a job behind a rag pen.
With school coming to a close, I took a job as an assistant editor for Ars Technica, Condé Nast’s well-respected tech news authority, which turned out to be a day-in, day-out gig which had me delving deep into the beating heart of the game industry. I truly loved my job, and I was quite sad to leave.
In my time working with games, I’ve done a wide variety of different writing. I’ve done blog posts, news articles, feature articles, opinion pieces, and more. I’ve conducted interviews with many different industry players, including most recently Silicon Knights President Denis Dyack, Microsoft Global Director of Games for Windows Kevin Unangst, EA Tiburon General Manager Philip Holt, Co-President of Naughty Dog Christophe Balestra, Microsoft Global Product Manager Hees Kyung, and Nintendo of Canada’s Marketing Manager Farjad Iravani amongst many others.
I’ve even had the chance to cover many different events over the years, including annual visits to CES in Las Vegas, E3 in Los Angeles, California, the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, Washington, GDC in San Francisco, California, and, naturally, Microsoft Canada’s “X” events and Sony Canada’s Holiday Preview events in Toronto, Ontario.
My work has been featured around the internet on sites like digg, Techmeme, slashdot, The Escapist, Evil Avatar, Joystiq, Kotaku, Newsweek’s Level Up, Google News, Yahoo News, AOL Games, The Times Online, St. Louis Today, various corporate blogs like Nvidia’s Developer Blog and The National Wildlife Foundation’s Arctic Promise, the homepages of developers like Bioware, NCSoft, and Atlus, and even on the broadcast airwaves via channels including News1130, AM1440 KMAJ, and AM1450 KNSI.
With the economy sinking and the publishing industry going down with the ship, I decided it was best to jump overboard when the opportunity arose. I was quickly picked up by Ganz in Toronto. Working with a team of other writers, I developed creative briefs for various online gaming projects under the Interactive umbrella and played a critical role in the development of Tail Towns, the company’s next big social game.
In effect, I was a business analyst and game designer. I also produced occasional analysis and diagnosis of the competition to inform the development of creative briefs and the overall creative plan for said IP.
After ten months of diligence, my hard work and determination were rewarded with a promotion to a position as a marketing writer and community manager. In this role, I was responsible for spear-heading some key marketing and PR initiatives. I helped to modernize the company, which had previously opted to shut out the press and direct consumers completely.
My work building up Webkinz Newz from a humble WordPress blog into a fully-featured destination portal and smartly utilizing social media marketing established a voice for the company, improving the company’s consumer community, raising awareness of related products, and creating new revenue opportunities. As a result, my social communication platform was set as one of the Webkinz® division’s strategies for 2010.
With the foundation laid, I passed the role onto another marketing-savvy writer to take a new position as a technical writer for American Gaming Systems (formerly GTNA Solutions). In this role, I worked on maintaining existing and creating new documentation to support software and hardware produced by the company in addition to business-related documentation including business requirements and scoping documents. For six months, I contributed to the company’s plan for expansion, acting as both the lone technical writer and business analyst for the massive undertaking.
Leveraging my experience starting technical documentation practices for a company from the ground up, I moved on to a position as a technical writer with a growing company called Achievers. Winner of countless awards including Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Achievers (formerly I Love Rewards) offered the chance to again start documentation practices up from scratch.
During my time in this role, I devised and implemented a system to integrate the new, Confluence-based knowledge management system called “Help Central” that I championed within the company directly into the Achievers product. Help content is served dynamically into the product from Help Central, and that content is filtered based on a given program’s configuration. This was a big win for me, and it was celebrated publicly by the company’s CEO.
After nearly a year of diligent work championing knowledge management and building out the platform’s help system, I took the opportunity to take a more active part in shaping the product by moving into a role as a product manager.
In this role, I helped to define and develop the platform’s new features to drive the product forward. I was an integral part of defining the company’s high-level strategy, and I spearheaded strategic feature development in new areas like gamification. Last but not least, I acted as a product ambassador for the company, speaking at conferences on topics like social HR and gamification of the workplace and appearing in marketing materials as a spokesperson for the product.
But ho, the siren song of the game industry ultimately was too sweet to resist, and I was again pulled for my product specialties back into gaming with a role as a producer.
Working for renowned mobile and downloadable gaming shop Gameloft, I put my varied background to good use as I help a cross-functional team of developers, designers, artists, and testers bring great games to market.
Tech Writer, Redux
I gave it my best, I really did, but the games industry proved to be too clumsy and the position too boring for me to stick around. After just a few short months, I decided to take a different job back in the enterprise software industry as a technical writer and product specialist for UXP Systems. I found myself producing all manner of documentation and dabbling in both software development and product management for the company’s sure-to-be-bought-out-soon MINT product.
Working with the company through its scaling challenges and contributing in significant capacities in project management and process refinement, I was lucky to be part of some cutting-edge product development at UXP. Surfing the wave of RESTful APIs and service aggregation, UXP’s MINT evolved to become a common RESTful integration point for all telecommunication’s back-end systems.
Through my work in the Product group, I managed to get some hands on time developing RESTful APIs, making highly-scalable software architecture decisions, and even writing out client apps for iOS and Android that can consume RESTful services and handle data across connectivity states.
In the back of my mind, though, I knew that I had yet to live the dream I held since university: I wanted to go to the Valley and work on software with my peers. Lo, the heavens opened up and made such an opportunity possible, as a young security start-up called Stormpath came knocking on my door for a role as a developer evangelist.
The opportunity was too much to resist, and so I packed my things and flew out to the Valley to fight the good fight in developers’ names.
During my time with Stormpath, I was able to make some substantial contributions to the company. I immediately became the acting champion of its open-source software and community. In addition to attending a plethora of industry events including partner-centric events like Rackspace Partnerpalooza and language-centric events like GoGaRuCo, I slung code for its multi-language SDKs, producing sample apps, guides, and blog posts for Python, Ruby, PHP, and Java. I also played a role in helping the company expand into Node, Scala, and .NET.
Product Manager, Redux
Alas, after a traumatic death in the family in late 2013 and a reassessment of priorities, I decided to yield my Valley ambition and return home to Toronto and to both my family and long-term girlfriend.
Following some much-needed family time, I started 2014 in a new post with a publicly-traded dynamo in the loyalty industry, Points International. I once again took on the role of a product manager. At Points, I’m now contributing to the evolution of the company’s industry-leading loyalty products.
That brings us to present day.
And the rest…
I continue to write, both at work and for fun, on a daily basis. Writing has been and continues to be a passion of mine. But I’ve also returned to programming as of late, and I’m working on various tinkering in Sinatra and Ruby on the back-end and both AngularJS and JQuery on the front.
So that’s a bit about me. If you have any questions, business opportunities, hot stock tips, or other professionally-inclined inquiries, please don’t hesitate to email me.