Harrison Strowd, Developer in Chicago, IL, United States
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Harrison Strowd

Verified Expert  in Engineering

Web Services Developer

Chicago, IL, United States
Toptal Member Since
December 13, 2016

Harrison has extensive experience building and maintaining web server applications of all shapes and sizes. The majority of his experience is in Ruby on Rails, but he also has experience with many other languages as well. Harrison has a strong understanding of the entire stack of server-side technologies.


Belly, Inc.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), CircleCI, SendGrid, Mandrill, Librato, Elasticsearch...
ClairVista, LLC
Amazon Web Services (AWS), TeamCity, Java, Git, MySQL, Nagios, C#, STUN/TURN...
Enova Financial
Perforce, RSpec, JavaScript, OmniPlan, Cucumber, Chef, Jenkins, Git, PostgreSQL...




Preferred Environment

MySQL, PostgreSQL, Emacs, Ruby, Git, MacOS

The most amazing...

...project I've worked on is a non-profit tutoring service that runs video chat sessions for experienced tutors to work with children in underserved school systems

Work Experience

Senior Software Engineer

2015 - 2016
Belly, Inc.
  • Worked as a senior member and manager on the Platform team—responsible for maintaining and extending the Ruby-based services and infrastructure that powers the Belly Platform.
  • Went on to lead Belly's enterprise product.
  • Responsible for establishing and growing the new product targeted toward nationwide, enterprise clients.
  • Built this product on top of the existing platform powering Belly’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) product.
  • Established a vision, principles, and strategy for the product.
  • Built out our team of product managers, using OKRs to align our efforts and establishing a concrete process for managing this product.
  • Constructed and drove the execution of a product roadmap based on the feedback and buy-in from the sales and marketing team as well as our target customers.
  • Shared responsibility for all development, quality control, operations, and infrastructure management activities. Independently delivered key features, while also serving as a squad lead, responsible for managing a cross functional team to deliver strategic initiatives from the engineering team roadmap.
  • Mentored members of the platform and engineering teams.
  • Stepped into the CTO role, taking responsibility for all aspects of Belly’s engineering team and product development.
  • Worked with the executive team and engineering leadership to manage the product roadmap.
  • Responsible for leading the technology vision and execution, managing the overall plan, timelines, and end deliverables of the engineering team.
  • Managed communication and coordination with other internal stakeholders, including marketing, sales, and support teams, to roll out valuable new features within the product.
  • Led the engineering team to launch the BLUE product, focused on enterprise clients and use cases, during the first month in this role.
Technologies: Amazon Web Services (AWS), CircleCI, SendGrid, Mandrill, Librato, Elasticsearch, Redis, Git, Heroku, AngularJS, JavaScript, PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQL, Ruby on Rails (RoR), Ruby

Director of Software Engineering

2012 - 2015
ClairVista, LLC
  • Stepped in to replace the existing application architect. Had 45 days to ramp up before assuming full responsibility for all development and support activities within the organization.
  • Led the software development team to extend and maintain the entire Live Expert system, spanning an application server and three client endpoints.
  • Worked on and was responsible for key development initiatives, including the iterative re-architecting of our browser-based JavaScript client, a full redesign of our server’s admin interface, standing up a build server, and clustering our production deployment environment.
  • Supervised and was responsible for all aspects of the product roadmap, engineering priorities, development process, and deliverables.
  • Worked directly with clients to identify the requirements and scope for new features, deliver application updates, and support any issues that arise.
  • Defined and was ressponsible for the product vision and application architecture. Grew the engineering team by 150%, adding new roles for QA and system administration while maintaining our culture and attitude.
  • Formalized the development process to clarify team member responsibilities and streamline project delivery.
  • Improved our ability to meet customer commitments by 35%.
  • Instituted peer code reviews and a formal test validation process, decreasing the rate of production bugs by over 70%.
Technologies: Amazon Web Services (AWS), TeamCity, Java, Git, MySQL, Nagios, C#, STUN/TURN, Ext JS, Xcode, Cocoa Touch, C++, Objective-C, JavaScript, WebRTC

Software Development Manager

2010 - 2012
Enova Financial
  • Managed a team of seven engineers responsible for designing and delivering a diverse range of projects for our business.
  • Worked closely with product managers to identify business requirements and translate them into an actionable development plan, highlighting risks, estimates, and milestones.
  • Contributed key portions to the design of each project.
  • Provided oversight and support with technical challenges during implementation.
  • Maintained a strong focus on team member development, coaching, and process improvement.
  • Worked in the Existing Products department developing new features for and maintaining an online loan application product.
  • Leveraged the Ruby on Rails framework with a PostgreSQL database.
  • Managed and was responsible for supporting integration with third party lead providers.
  • Utilized agile development methodologies, including scrum and pair programming, in leading a team of developers responsible for the Great Britain brand of the application.
Technologies: Perforce, RSpec, JavaScript, OmniPlan, Cucumber, Chef, Jenkins, Git, PostgreSQL, Emacs, Ruby on Rails (RoR), Ruby

Software Engineer II

2009 - 2010
Viz, General Dynamics C4 Systems
  • Supported the CoMotion software product line, a Java-based distributed collaboration and visualization platform.
  • Developed core assets and provided direct support to dependent projects.
  • Worked on and was responsible for UI feature development and maintenance.
  • Developed a framework using JUnit for automated correctness and performance testing.
Technologies: Google Web Toolkit, Bugzilla, JUnit, Ant Design, Perforce, Eclipse, Java

SoundBYTE App

SoundBYTE is a Twitter-like app that allows users to share and follow sound clips instead of text snippets. It supports many of the same features as Twitter and other social media services (e.g. following users, tagging posts, and more).

On this project, I stepped into an existing Rails back-end service for this app and was asked to extend it to support the following set of features, completing the initial set of capabilities for the app:

• Support for users to reset their passwords.
• Support for flagging users, posts, and comments as inappropriate.
• Support for creating and following hashtags.
• Support for assigning hashtags to posts.
• Support for retrieving a users "feed" of posts (i.e. those for the users and tags they are following).

Belly WooCommerce Integration

At Belly, we built a great in-store loyalty platform for SMB merchants, but had never made the jump to integrate this service into a merchant's eCommerce platform to deliver the same great loyalty capabilities for online orders. Later after reviewing the major platforms and their plugin support capabilities, I selected WooCommerce to rectify this.
WooCommerce was the right choice for a number reasons:

1. Adoption: it powers a staggering number of eCommerce sites.
2. Flexibility: it is built on top of WordPress which is entirely open source and very customizable. This gave us great flexibility in how we integrated the Belly loyalty functionality into the eCommerce workflow.
3. Maintainability: we had some front-end engineers with PHP experience who could maintain and extend this plugin if necessary.
4. Cost: WooCommerce was free to get up and running.
I managed both sides of this integration. I began by standing up a dedicated instance of our loyalty platform and using our Apigee service to expose a sensible set of API endpoints for use. I then jumped over to the WooCommerce side of things and created an initial WordPress plugin to implement the integration of our loyalty capabilities into any given WooCommerce site.


Pearachute is a service that allows parents to drop their kids into various courses and events around their city. The original service was developed using an off-the-shelf Python scheduling framework, but later ported over to Rails and the original development team was no longer involved in the project.

I joined the engineering team to provide ongoing full-stack development support. I helped build out key new features, perform maintenance on the existing application, and pay down areas of technical debt within the system. The following are a few of the key initiatives I worked on:

• HubSpot Integration Refactor: consolidated our integration points with HubSpot and to provide a simplified facade for our application to use when interacting with this service.
• ActiveAdmin Performance Improvements: cleaned up a number of inefficient queries in our ActiveAdmin configuration, significantly improving performance and usability.
• Facebook Sign-Ups: integrated an authentication via Facebook into our standard sign-up workflow, capturing the necessary account information from users that sign up through this channel.

Technologies: Ruby on Rails, PostgreSQL, React, Devise, OmniAuth, ActiveAdmin, Hubspot, Stripe, Capistrano, AWS.
2008 - 2009

Master of Science in Information Technology (Software Engineering)

Carnegie Mellon University - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

2004 - 2008

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Mathematics

Vanderbilt University - Nashville, TN, USA




Git, Emacs, GitHub, RSpec, Gliffy, Eclipse IDE, Librato, OmniPlan, SendGrid, Nagios, RabbitMQ, CircleCI, Jenkins, Chef, Bugzilla, Xcode, TeamCity, ActiveMQ, Microsoft Visual Studio, Apache Tomcat, Cucumber, Perforce, Flash


Ruby on Rails (RoR), Sinatra, AngularJS, Cocoa Touch, Ant Design, Google Web Toolkit, JUnit, Flex, Ext JS


SQL, Ruby, JavaScript, Bash, Objective-C, YAML, XML, HTML, Java, PHP, Python, C#, C++, CSS


Heroku, Amazon EC2, MacOS, PagerDuty, Amazon Web Services (AWS), WordPress, Unix, Mandrill, Eclipse, JBoss, Windows, AWS Elastic Beanstalk


MySQL, Redshift, Amazon S3 (AWS S3), Redis, PostgreSQL, Elasticsearch


Agile Software Development, Kanban


Web Services, Amazon Route 53, ActiveAdmin, Loggly, STUN/TURN

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