Meet the team: Greg Tillman

Greg is a jack-of-all-trades, a renaissance man, and a sharp operator on the ping-pong table. Typically found in the center of a whirlwind of activity, Greg has a keen understanding of .NET Reflector, one eye always on the future, and a surf-board which is always ready to go.

Greg Tillman

What’s your background?

I’d call myself a generalist and a business geek. Working predominantly in small teams across Red Gate I have a mixed background in technical sales, technical marketing, product ownership and project management, never more than two steps away from the dev team.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently the Reflector Business Unit Manager (BUM) and work with Clive, Nigel, Nick, Ruchika, Chris (and soon Roger and Ryan) to look after the future of .NET Reflector. Contrary to most textbook advice I act as both Project Manager and Product Owner in our own unique blend of agile. Although I make the final calls where needed we share many of the typical responsibilities throughout the team. For instance Nick takes on some of the project management stuff and Clive is our Technical Visionary.

If you could make one change to the .NET Framework, what would it be?

As far as .NET languages go I’d find some way to make them more trendy and accessible to the next generation of developers. I think Don Syme and MS are making great progress with F#. Finding more ways to get all the young hackers out there into .NET will obviously be great for Reflector and we know we can play a big part in their development and understanding of the different .NET flavours.

What’s the most interesting / satisfying project you’ve worked on, and why?

It has to be this one. I’m working with an incredible team who are all heading in the same direction and we’re working on one of the most important developer tools out there. This project is the culmination of my 5 years at the University of Red Gate and I’ve relied on every bit of that experience to push us through the good and bad times so far. I’ll admit that I get a kick out of being able to delight so many people with the work we do and the instant feedback we get from having so many daily users. Our aim is to make a decent contribution to the future of .NET development and I truly believe we will.

What do you do to relax?

I’m completely hooked on surfing, which living in Cambridge (UK) is a relatively expensive hobby! It takes about 6 hours and £200 to get to a decent surf break, whether that’s a train ride to North Devon or a short plane journey to France. I usually travel alone so there’s plenty of time to read and think. There’s nothing like a surf trip with a couple of books to wind down, refresh my mind and my ideas.

What’s your favourite book (technical and / or non-technical), and why?

I’m addicted to anything Clayton Christiensen has ever written, disruptive innovation blows my mind! I’m an avid subscriber of anything written by the BoS family (Dharmesh, Cohen, Peldi, Spolsky, Fried, Ries, Godin, Farquhar, Kenny, Davidson), I think if you compiled all their books, blogs and advice you’d end up with the commandments for building a successful software company. The last book I read (cover to cover in two days) was a book called ‘Start Something That Matters’ by Blake Mycoskie, the guy behind TOMS shoes. He has a really simple idea about doing business that I’d like to see a lot more of. My three favorite books for sales, marketing and management are ‘Influence’ by Robert Cialdini. ‘Different’ by Youngme Moon and ‘Managing Management Time’ by William Oncken. Other authors I’d recommend for general business and marketing are Geoffrey Moore, Jim Collins and Ken Blanchard.

Do you have any advice / suggestions for other project managers?

My advice to a new project manager would be to read up on all the different methodologies but crucially; work with your team to pick out the bits that are relevant for your project. Every team and project is different. If you’re going with an agile or lean approach then never stop reading and get yourself an Agile coach who you meet with regularly to pull you outside the box every now and again.

Personally I favor the Mike Cohn, Addison Wesley Signature Series books which are quick to read, straight to the point and a bit more realistic than some others out there. They are still no match for the real world adventures of the Agile Pirate! (My Agile Coach)

Oh, and remember to have fun doing it!

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About Chris

A background in technical publishing; editing articles on Simple-Talk and SQLServerCentral for 3 years now. When I’ve not been editing articles, I’ve been editing or proofing books covering everything from .NET performance testing to Exchange Server, XML Schema Design, and the SQL Server Query Optimizer. I built a few websites to help pay my way through college, but the less said about them, the better.

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