William Willis, Project Manager in Manassas, VA, United States
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William Willis

Verified Expert  in Project Management

Project Manager

Location
Manassas, VA, United States
Toptal Member Since
August 26, 2020

William is a project manager and entrepreneur with 30 years of experience building high performing teams and innovative software products by using his expertise in Lean, Agile, and DevOps principles. His engineering and development background makes him uniquely suited for challenging technology efforts with remote teams. He has worked with startups and larger companies like Aura, Capital One, FINRA, and Fannie Mae across banking, fintech, eCommerce, privacy, transportation, and media domains.

Project Highlights

Identity Guard Online Personal Privacy Protection
Managed several distributed teams consisting of over 40 people and successfully delivered multiple major versions of the new cloud-based IdentityGuard identity theft and personal privacy protection service to hundreds of thousands of customers.
Level Up Fun Blog and Coaching Services
Launched the startup out of Y Combinator's Startup School to help individuals and teams become successful at life and business by identifying aspirations and improving every day with small steps.
Pet Gifts eCommerce Site
Launched and managed a startup dedicated to gifts for pet lovers built on the Shopify eCommerce platform.

Expertise

Work Experience

Founder, CEO

2020 - PRESENT
Level Up Fun
  • Coached individuals and teams on how to become who they aspire to be–one small, rewarding step at a time.
  • Developed a method for identifying individual and organizational aspirations that builds on systems thinking, small habits, kaizen, and stoicism.
  • Created a site and newsletter that provides free articles in the areas of human behavior, learning, productivity, and healthy lifestyles.
  • Freelanced with Toptal on the following projects:. -Herman Miller (advisor to chief digital officer). -Abide (managed the creation of a new mobile app, Amen).

VP Engineering

2018 - 2020
Aura
  • Created and cultivated a successful technology organization of over 40 engineers, including onshore and offshore resources.
  • Achieved high performing teams via scaled agile practices, lean principles, extreme ownership and DevOps capabilities paired with metrics.
  • Delivered a 100% serverless platform via microservices and AWS services, a Snowflake-based data lake, a high degree of test automation, and frequent production deployments.
  • Initiated and managed both contracts and relationships with AWS, Snowflake, Atlassian, Lucid, Slack, and others.

Chief Architect

2013 - 2018
Intersections
  • Architected and built the new Identity Guard platform from the ground up.
  • Recruited the initial team of engineers and grew it to over 20, including several remote working employees.
  • Transitioned Identity Guard and the overall company from a traditional data center approach to cloud services in AWS.
  • Initiated and led multiple paradigm shifts in technology, including containers, and serverless computing.
  • Introduced lean and agile principles throughout the company while fostering a culture of empowered teams and continuous improvement.
  • Shifted InfoSec left with a SecOps model more aligned with agile delivery methods.
  • Introduced CI, CD, test automation, small batch sizes, and other key DevOps practices.

CTO

2011 - 2016
Pet Pawfection
  • Designed, built, and actively managed the Shopify-based eCommerce site, including integration with shipping, point-of-sale, and other key systems.
  • Managed the company’s accounting, inventory, and finances via QuickBooks.
  • Managed social media accounts, a weekly newsletter, a blog, and SEO for the site.
  • Produced all product photos, descriptions, and collateral via a makeshift photo studio.

Enterprise Architect

2012 - 2013
BondDesk
  • Migrated BondDesk’s bond marketplace and trading system to a state-of-the-art agile delivery platform.
  • Stood up the Atlassian suite and introduced Scrum for project management and incremental delivery.
  • Stood up SonarQube and Artifactory for code quality metrics and software artifact management.
  • Migrated source code from a custom-built solution to BitBucket Git repositories and the GitFlow branch model.
  • Built a large Selenium Grid for automated system-level testing and introduced CI/CD delivery pipelines with automated deployments.

Technology Strategist

2010 - 2011
Capital One
  • Provided technology assessments of strategic programs and presented findings to executive management.
  • Led an assessment of Capital One’s new SOA initiative and provided both strategic and tactical recommendations for material improvements.
  • Led an assessment of Capital One’s use of Chordiant for fraud, discrepancy, and case management in the wake of Chordiant’s acquisition by Pega Systems.

Enterprise Architect

2010 - 2010
Amtrak
  • Architected and built an innovative prototype system that provided near real-time, universal train status (geospacial, operational, mechanical, meteorological and track conditions).
  • Led the early adoption of agile principles and Scrum in a waterfall-centric enterprise.
  • Led what was likely the first AWS deployment at Amtrak (S3 and EC2).
  • Unified conflicting train status terminology across multiple departments by introducing the practice of domain-driven design.

Director of Operations

2009 - 2010
Flipswap
  • Accountable for IT operations, production systems, QA staff, and a high-profile account with Sprint.
  • Championed and led an extensive cloud computing research initiative culminating in a cloud-based IT back-office architecture that featured aggressive cost containment coupled with a better connected, streamlined business and marked SLA improvements.
  • Managed the client relationship and production releases for the 2,000+ store nation-wide rollout of Sprint’s handset exchange program built on Flipswap’s technology platform.
  • Restored stability in development releases, transparency for all business units and quality through the introduction of agile principles, Scrum and continuous integration.
  • Achieved a cost savings of $300,000 annually by outsourcing quality assurance and switching to an open source technology stack. Introduced the company to automated testing, thereby increasing code coverage and quality by an order of magnitude.

Enterprise Architect

2007 - 2009
FINRA
  • Led the successful technology transformation of FINRA’s member regulation platform involving 12+ systems in a new SOA that streamlined and further automated the broker/dealer application process.
  • Introduced effective new methods of documenting, evaluating, and reviewing both enterprise and application architectures.
  • Turned around lagging efforts quickly via the introduction of agile principles, Scrum, and DevOps practices (CI/CD, automated testing, and small batch sizes).
  • Transitioned the flagship Member Regulation Desktop system from Documentum to Java and open-source technologies resulting in substantially improved speed to market, maintenance, and performance.

Enterprise Architect

2004 - 2006
Fannie Mae
  • Directed a diverse team of executives, architects, and analysts in the creation of a multi-year technology roadmap for finance and portfolio services involving over 50 systems.
  • Modernized treasury services systems responsible for trillions of dollars in Fedwire transfers each year.
  • Introduced effective new approaches to defining and communicating technology strategy, enterprise architecture, application architecture, and business domain analysis.

CTO

2001 - 2003
ObjectVenture
  • Delivered industry-leading, pattern-based software development tools and services.
  • Led product management, engineering, and consulting services, including product research, offshore resource allocation, demonstrations, presentations, public speaking and negotiations with industry giants such as Sun, Rational, HP, and Flashline.
  • Secured more than $1 million in venture funding and successfully positioned the company as an innovator and industry leader.
  • Negotiated and closed a large product licensing agreement and consulting services valued at $.5 million.
  • Founded and managed an online community centered on software patterns and best practices: PatternsCentral.com.
  • Served as a member of the Expert Group for JSR198, the standard extension API for IDEs.

Identity Guard Online Personal Privacy Protection

https://www.identityguard.com

Managed several distributed teams consisting of over 40 people and successfully delivered multiple major versions of the new cloud-based IdentityGuard identity theft and personal privacy protection service to hundreds of thousands of customers.

Cultivated and led seven cross-functional lean and agile teams of over 40 people that delivered multiple versions of Identity Guard. Architected and managed the underlying serverless, cloud-based platform that grew to almost half a million users at the time of my departure.

Led major transformations within the company related to cloud computing, serverless computing, lean/agile principles, DevOps, SecOps, Extreme Ownership and more.

Technology platform: AWS, Java, JavaScript, Angular, React, and Salesforce to name a few.

Level Up Fun Blog and Coaching Services

Launched the startup out of Y Combinator's Startup School to help individuals and teams become successful at life and business by identifying aspirations and improving every day with small steps.

Level Up Fun shares the knowledge I have earned throughout my 30 years in the IT industry developing, delivering, mentoring, and coaching. Free content is introduced on a weekly basis to help individuals and teams become who they aspire to be, one small, rewarding step at a time.

Technology platform: Webflow, Notion, and Obsidian.

Pet Gifts eCommerce Site

Launched and managed a startup dedicated to gifts for pet lovers built on the Shopify eCommerce platform.

Designed, built, and managed the Shopify eCommerce site, including accounting, inventory, and shipping. Authored a related blog about inspirational and funny pet stories. Set up and managed a small warehouse and associated bin system.

Technologies platform: Shopify, QuickBooks, ShipStation, and Mailchimp.

BondDesk Agile Delivery Platform

Stood up a delivery platform based on agile principles and DevOps practices for the BondDesk software team.

Replaced an archaic, proprietary system with one consisting of SaaS tools that were more productive and easier to maintain. Introduced Scrum, various forms of automated testing and continuous integration.

Trained all delivery teams how to use the new platform while they used it to deliver several major versions of the BondDesk trading system. Also trained the entire organization how to incorporate lean and agile principles for faster time to market without sacrificing quality.

Technology platform: Atlassian Jira, Confluence, BitBucket, Git, SonarQube, Artifactory, and Selenium.

Capital One SOA Strategic Assessment

Led the assessment of Capital One's service oriented architecture effort on behalf of executive management.

Interviewed and discussed strategy with multiple technology teams throughout Capital One's Card Division. Reviewed existing team delivery methods, master data management strategies, service bus implementations, services implementations, APIs, and integration methods (to name a few). Reviewed planned service architecture, migration plans, risk assessments and resource allocations. Prepared a detailed assessment that highlighted unidentified risks and made recommendations regarding successful patterns and strategies for enterprise architecture, service design, interfaces, team dynamics, and much more. Presented the assessment and associated findings to executive management.

FINRA Member Regulation Platform

Led the successful technology transformation of FINRA’s member regulation platform involving 12+ systems in a new SOA that streamlined and further automated the broker/dealer application process.

Turned around lagging efforts with the introduction of agile principles, DevOps practices and Scrum. Transitioned the flagship Member Regulation Desktop system from Documentum to Java and open source technologies, resulting in substantially improved speed to market, maintenance, and performance. Introduced and applied effective new methods of documenting, evaluating, and reviewing both enterprise and application architectures.

Technology platform: Java, Spring, Hibernate, JavaServer Faces, Oracle, Atlassian Jira, and CruiseControl.

Fannie Mae Technology Transformation

Directed a diverse team of executives, architects and analysts in the creation of a multi-year technology roadmap for finance and portfolio services involving over 50 systems with estimated savings of over $2 million.

Spun off multiple efforts from the roadmap, including a large service-oriented messaging system with standard integration methods that streamlined system-to-system and interdepartmental processing.

Personally managed the modernization of treasury services cash management systems responsible for trillions of dollars in Fedwire transfers each year.

Introduced effective new approaches to defining and communicating technology strategy, enterprise architecture, application architecture, and business domain analysis.

Herman Miller Digital Transformation

http://hermanmiller.com

Restructured the digital team, moving it from a project to product focus and from a Waterfall to lean/Agile delivery focus.

Assisted the chief digital officer and his leadership team to restructure the organization around practice areas and product teams. I began the transformation to lean/Agile delivery practices leveraging objectives and key results in strategic planning. I made existing work visible, created a new intake process for all incoming work, and made effective use of tools.
1996 - 1998

Coursework towards a Master's Degree in Software Engineering

George Mason University - Fairfax, Virginia, USA

1988 - 1992

Bachelor's Degree in Aerospace Engineering (Minor in Mathematics)

Virginia Tech - Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

AUGUST 2020 - PRESENT

Startup School

Y Combinator

Tools

Jira, Bitbucket, Microsoft PowerPoint, Confluence, Google Docs, Artifactory, Trello, Microsoft Outlook, Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Evernote, QuickBooks Online, Google Forms, Slack, Amazon CloudWatch, Git, GitHub, Asana, Google Analytics, Mailchimp, Salesforce, Amazon CloudFront CDN, Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), PostgreSQL

Platforms

MacOS, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Firebase, Opsgenie, iOS, Google Chrome, Software Design Patterns, Shopify, Android, Zendesk, Webflow

Paradigms

Agile, Lean, DevOps, Scrum, Kanban, Agile Project Management, Application Architecture, Microservices Architecture, Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Delivery (CD), Change Management, Microservices, Agile Product Management

Industry Expertise

Technology, Health & Wellness

Other

Scrum Master, Software Engineering, IT Project Management, Software Architecture, Product Delivery, Team Leadership, Agile Coaching, Startups, Dropbox, Ownership, Kaizen, Product Owner, Enterprise Architecture, Web Application Architecture, REST APIs, GraphQL, Technical Product Management, Lean Startups, Agile DevOps, Serverless Architecture, Backlog Grooming, Backlog Management, Automated Testing, Automated Deployment, Build Pipelines, Team Building, Application Monitoring, Technology Transformation, Agile Transformation, Team Mentoring, Technical Architecture, Technical Project Management, Technical Leadership, Project Discovery, Project Management, Coaching, Stakeholder Management, Discovery, APIs, Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Project Planning, Consulting, IT Consulting, Technical Consulting, Product Discovery, Project Scoping, Project Timelines, Technical Requirements, Project Budget Management, Resource Allocation, Enterprise Coaching, Cloud Platforms, Platform Optimization, Platforms, Software Project Management, AWS Cloud Architecture, Cloud Architecture, Digital Project Management, Data Integration, Process Analysis, Process Improvement, Estimation & Planning, Cost Estimation, Project Estimation, Scope of Work, Staffing, Strategy, Java, Relational Databases, Domain-driven Design (DDD), Writing & Editing, Notion, Obsidian, Jira Align, Google Drive, Gmail, Okta, Amazon QuickSight, Amazon S3 (AWS S3), Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda, Amazon Aurora, Spring, Executive Coaching, Story Mapping, Product Roadmaps, Know Your Customer (KYC), Customer Journeys, Personas, Data Privacy, Cloud Security, Product Management, eCommerce, Technical Recruiting, Lean Experiments, Discovery Workshops, Entrepreneurship, Mobile Apps, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Product Launch, Product Ownership, Early-stage Startups, Dashboards, Dashboard Design, SaaS, Software as a Service (SaaS), Web Platforms, Mobile, Reports, Product Design, MySQL, Social Media, JavaScript, React, Mathematics, Algorithms, Google Cloud, ConvertKit, Microsoft Teams, Neo4j, Serverless Framework, Strategic Planning, Objectives & Key Results (OKRs)

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