From Shredding the Slopes to Securing Systems, Alex Nelson’s Career Skills Prove Ideal for CTO Position
Throughout his working life, from laboriously moving sprinkler pipe in Idaho fields to instructing novice snowboarders to guiding celebs on guided fishing trips to now helping grow GUIDEcx as the CTO, Alex Nelson has learned one significant lesson he applies to his life. Rather than try to focus on an ideal work-life balance, he replaced that notion with the concept of work-life fulfillment.
QUESTION: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
ANSWER: A professional snowboarder was near the top of my list for most of my childhood. And thinking about that now, I guess I did achieve that since I was a snowboard instructor for a season, getting paid to snowboard! Interestingly, I’ve never made that connection until now.
QUESTION: Where have you lived?
ANSWER: I grew up in Idaho and have since lived in Brazil, the Cape Cod area, San Francisco, Phoenix, and now Utah.
QUESTION: What is your favorite travel destination?
ANSWER: Generally, anywhere warm with a beach. My wife and I went to Portugal a few years back and would recommend it to anyone.
QUESTION: What are your hobbies or passion projects outside of work?
ANSWER: I’m a big sports fan, especially football, and rugby. I try to stay active and spend time outside when I can.
QUESTION: Do you volunteer? If so, where?
ANSWER: I volunteer in various capacities for my local church
QUESTION: What is an interesting fact about you?
ANSWER: I worked on a sport fishing boat in Nantucket, MA, right before starting college, where I met many different people, including some very high-profile businessmen from the New York City and Boston areas. The most memorable people I met included Senator John Kennedy, sports commentator Stuart Scott, and the “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld.
QUESTION: What was your very first job?
ANSWER: There were always plenty of work opportunities growing up in Idaho. My first paid job was moving sprinkler pipes for a local farmer. I got paid for every sprinkler pipe moved.
QUESTION: What was the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?
ANSWER: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Work hard, focus on things you can control, and don’t let the things out of your control stress you out.
QUESTION: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
ANSWER: GUIDEcx! When this career opportunity came up, I was entertaining a very good job offer from another local company. I then met Pete (Ord, GUIDEcx, founder) and three months later joined the team, and I’m super glad I made the jump. It’s been very fulfilling to be a part of the team that is helping grow the company through these amazing milestones.
QUESTION: What makes you unique in your profession?
ANSWER: My career path to where I’m now isn’t a traditional software engineering path. I started my career in Information Security and Risk Assurance and then decided to transition full-time into software after discovering it was something I enjoyed.
Delighting a customer or stakeholder is so much more fun than being the bearer of bad news regarding information security compliance issues. But knowing that industry has made me a more security-conscious engineer.
QUESTION: If you could give a younger person some career advice, what would it be?
ANSWER: Replace “work-life balance” with “work-life fulfillment” in your vocabulary. The concept of “work-life balance” implies that work and life are separate from each other, that time should be equally distributed across both, and when the scale tips in one direction, you’re failing in the other. It also presumes that your employer is responsible for prioritizing your time instead of you being empowered to meet your obligations in ways that work best for you. This mindset puts you in a position to be acted upon rather than being in the driver’s seat of your life and career.
Look for “work-life fulfillment.” What are your personal and professional goals, and how do you best allocate your time to meet those goals and lead a happy, meaningful, and productive life? We’re given a fresh set of 168 hours every week, and when you take responsibility for your time and how you spend it, you’ll find there is always enough time to do what you want, personally and professionally. Now you’re in the driver’s seat of your time and career development. When the time comes that you need to put in some extra hours at work to meet an obligation you’ve made, you can be confident that this is a decision you made with how your time was managed and find the fulfillment in completing a task when you said you would.
Find an employer who treats you as an adult and empowers you to make these decisions. The right employer won’t think twice when you need to take time for personal goals because you’ve demonstrated your ability to plan and prioritize your time to meet your professional obligations.
Own it – no one will do it for you.
QUESTION: What is your favorite part about working for GUIDEcx?
ANSWER: You’re hired at a startup to solve problems – not just to find them – and we have an amazing team that is great at solving problems. Ego or titles don’t hinder providing value to our customers; I love that. We’ve avoided the mentality that if the problem isn’t related to your department, it’s not your problem. We’re all in this together, and it’s been a blast.