This dynamic duo is learning by doing, working side by side with dozens of today’s seasoned IT/IS and cloud movers and shakers, both inside Aviatrix and outside the company. Under the leadership of a digital transformation heavy hitter, VP of IT Faizan Mustafa (the former CIO of Toyota), these two are harnessing the winds of success in their careers.
Matthew honed his cloud and automation skills earlier in his career at several companies while Rodman launched his IT career amid the chaos of the global pandemic, thriving and growing despite all the challenges. While normalcy has settled in across the world, more organizations have a more dispersed workforce, including Aviatrix, and these two remote, knowledge-thirsty innovators want to help solve cloud networking and security challenges for enterprises while coloring outside the box.
Despite nearly 2,500 miles between them, the pair has constructed a productive and creative way of collaborating live throughout the day, sometimes via live streaming, creating that sitting-in-the-same-room experience. In Matthew’s own words, “We have live chats, not meetings. Meetings are a drag. They’re too formal. We just have a call, whether it’s brief or several hours. You’ll hear us say something like, ‘Hey, check this out!’ or ‘Have you seen this?’ and so on.” He continues, “This type of communication has worked for me for years and with Rodman’s expertise and positive attitude, it’s a perfect fit. It’s kind of our secret sauce. We make a great team!”
Recently named “Trailblazers” by Aviatrix’s leadership for contributing to a cross-functional team effort to develop the company’s first self-service tool for egress firewall, the two are just getting warmed up.
In a recent Q&A, they shared how they embarked on their career paths, what motivates them to succeed in this ever evolving field, and what advice would they give to others from their generation looking to get into this field.
Meet the Dynamic Duo!
Matthew McSpadden, IT DevOps Lead
“I joined Aviatrix because I love its Secure Cloud Networking solution. It’s just that simple. While I was an Aviatrix customer, I was consistently blown away by the endless features it offered, and nothing has changed. I’m still enthralled by the impact Aviatrix has on enterprises moving to cloud. I want to build, and at Aviatrix, I’ve been given the opportunity to do just that.”
Prior to Aviatrix, you worked for three years as a DevSecOps Lead at Socially Determined, an Aviatrix customer. During your tenure there, you were a champion of Aviatrix (video here). How did Aviatrix help you do your job efficiently?
Aviatrix provided speed, agility, and visibility – all on a secure plane that was interoperable with our existing tools (Terraform, etc.). We needed the original FQDN Egress v1 for compliance—I wish the Aviatrix Distributed Cloud Firewall existed at the time—but we got so much more once we went all in on transit/spoke architecture using Aviatrix.
While at Socially Determined, what did you like most about your role? Any top accomplishments or milestones you can share?
My team was incredible and the work they produced was equally impressive. What was rewarding is that we had a direct line to improving people’s lives. My most proud accomplishment was designing, building, and managing the company’s Information Security Management Program, mapping to the HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) used by healthcare organizations for regulatory compliance and risk management.
Why did you join Aviatrix? What do you like most about working at the company and what excites you about the company’s future?
I joined Aviatrix because I love the Secure Cloud Networking solution. It’s just that simple. I was impressed then, and since joining in May 2022, the company has released a ton of new features—including Aviatrix Distributed Cloud Firewall. I’m still enthralled by the impact it has on enterprises moving to cloud. I’m excited for the next several years, especially with new CEO Doug Merritt onboard.
What attracted you to a career in DevOps/DevSecOps? Would you recommend a four-year degree to someone looking to get into DevSecOps?
Believe it or not, my foundation in high tech came from video games. I Initially designed player logos, banners, etc. and then web design (HTML, CSS). Eventually, I built my own gaming computer (~2014/5) and started writing light code. In an unexpected twist of fate, I liked it so much that in my senior year of high school, I decided not to play baseball and focused my time on coding instead. At that time, no one understood, and it caused a lot of waves. Nearly a decade later, here I am in a career that I am good at and have immense passion for. In my humble opinion, I don’t need a formal education for this type of role. Having hands on experience across different types of roles and various technologies is the way to learn. For those looking to jump into this line of work, I’d recommend starting with CSP certification(s) followed by tool-specific certifications where the ACE Program helps bring everything into focus.
What are your career aspirations? If you did not work in high tech, what other career would you have pursued or have interest in pursuing?
I want to build! There’s no better feeling than building something and having it work well. If I had chosen a different career path, I’d have gone into property development. Perhaps I’ll think about it after my tech days are over!
When you are not working, how do you spend your time?
My wife and I just had our first son. It’s been such an exciting chapter in our lives, and mine as a dad. When I am not working, I enjoy playing tennis, travelling, (~13 countries, 30/50 U.S. States so far), and getting lost in a TV series or movie! I also have ~20 hours in my fixed wing private pilot license and will finish soon…then onto rotorcraft!
Rodman Stuhlmuller, DevSecOps Engineer
“Working at Aviatrix has been an absolute whirlwind of learning, growth, and exciting challenges. I’m surrounded by a diverse team of experts who are passionate about learning and collaboration. I’m continuously inspired. Our IT leadership is strategic, forward-thinking, and tremendously supportive. They empower team members to take initiative, make decisions, and learn by doing.”
You earned a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science. How have your degrees benefited you in DevSecOps here at Aviatrix?
A degree in applied mathematics may not seem like the traditional route into DevSecOps, but it’s proven to be an invaluable foundation. It helped shape my approach towards problem-solving and reinforced the importance of meticulous reasoning, both crucial elements in the world of DevSecOps. It’s also given me a keen eye for detail, enabling me to scrutinize code lines precisely and identify vulnerabilities.
October 2023 marks your one-year work anniversary at Aviatrix. What do you enjoy most about your job adventure to date?
It’s been an absolute whirlwind of learning, growth, and exciting challenges. The thrill of working in a cutting-edge field like cloud networking has revitalized my passion for technology and problem-solving. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to integrate Aviatrix’s solution within the company. My journey doesn’t stop there. I’m working on expanding into other clouds, continuously pushing the boundaries of our expertise. I was thrilled to be part of a customer self-service project, which broke new ground for me as it was my first customer-facing application. It’s special to me as it bridges the gap between us and our customers, exemplifying our commitment to delivering exceptional user experiences.
You started as an intern at Aviatrix Sales Operations and IT. What attracted you to Aviatrix?
I was drawn to the captivating world of cloud computing and the opportunities it presented. Aviatrix consistently features cutting-edge developments, enabling me to constantly expand my knowledge and develop my skill set. I’m surrounded by a diverse team of experts who are passionate about learning and collaboration. I’m continuously inspired. Our IT leadership is strategic, forward-thinking, and tremendously supportive. They not only provide clear direction and constructive feedback but also empower team members to take initiative, make decisions, and learn from challenges. They’re accessible and transparent and foster a culture of trust and open communication.
There’s no shortage of talent at Aviatrix on the technology side, but there is a skills shortage in the industry. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in getting into DevSecOps or getting into secure cloud networking?
Getting into DevSecOps or secure cloud networking is a rewarding journey that calls for continuous learning, adaptability, and resilience. The internet is filled with a plethora of documentation, tutorials, and YouTube videos, and it’s an invaluable ally for self-learning, studying for certifications, or finding solutions to complex problems. Learning on the job has also been a big factor in my development, such as deleting all KMS encryption keys in one click.
You report to and work alongside Matthew and you’ve got great kinship. What do you admire most about him professionally and personally?
Matthew has contributed immeasurably to my growth and development. Knowing that the root of expertise is experience and targeted learning, he generously took time to impart to me a wealth of knowledge in DevSecOps. He has a knack for making complex concepts digestible and relatable, which speaks volumes about his mastery and understanding of the field. He also keeps me informed about the latest security vulnerabilities surfacing, ensuring that I’m always up-to-date and aware of the current trends and potential threats. This constant vigilance boosts our efficiency, adaptability, and readiness to address any challenges that may arise. I truly appreciate his mentorship and consider his guidance a cornerstone in my evolving understanding of this industry. His teaching not only serves as a guiding light for me, but also engenders a keen sense of security, innovation, and endless possibilities – which encapsulates the spirit of Aviatrix.
What do you do outside of business hours to have fun and unwind. Do you have any favorite flavors of music that inspire you?
I’m passionate about the great outdoors. Living in the natural beauty of Washington state has been incredible. My favorite pastimes are camping, climbing, or hiking in the scenic national parks. These activities rejuvenate my creativity and perspective. Most people are surprised when I tell them that I listen to Lofi hip hop music while I am working as it helps me focus.