Rob Donoghue

I’ve spent 20 years helping things make sense for other people. It’s not dramatic, but it’s important, and it gets things done. I’ve done it in tech companies, financial companies, and I’ve done it in my own company. My job is not to be the smartest person in the room - my job is to make sure the smartest person in the room can do their job.


Skills

Getting Things Done

Kanban

Meeting
Design

Knowledge
Management

Organizational
Design

Communication
Everything Else

Game Design

A Bit
of Code

Layout &
Production

Business
Software

Handy

Nerd


Experience

Project Architect
Technical Project Manager

Fugue

Initially a scrum master role. Out of necessity, it evolved into handling most project planning and coordination for a cloud startup. Established agile practices (modified scrum) for product teams, assisted product development and coached teams into owning practices themselves. Oversaw tools and processes for keeping everything working. Beyond that, covered a wide variety of business needs that the startup had no dedicated role to cover, including competitor research, video production, copywriting, audit support, GDPR conversion and administrating internal systems.

March 2015 - January 2019
Frederick, MD

Business Analyst III

Optimo IT

Engaged clients as an analyst to help identify their needs and establish a working plan. Success with these engagements lead to project management roles in delivering work for government clients, mostly the USPS. Transition to project management also lead to education in agile practices (Scrum & Kanban) and update to our project practices.

August 2011 - February 2015
Tysons Corner, VA

Systems Analyst

Merchant Link

Analyzed technical, business and regulatory specifications as well as customer needs for credit card processing POS systems, and developed specifications based on analysis. Reviewed and troubleshot large volume transactions.

November 2008 - August 2011
Silver Spring, MD

Systems Analyst
Developer
Information Architect

Sitesmith/Abovenet/MFN

Despite the changes in company name, title and location, the essential nature of the job maintained a central thread of talking to people within the company, identifying needs, and pursuing the best solution. As an information architect, this centered around documentation, document management and training. As a developer, it revolved around developing internal tools for our intranet. As a system analyst, it moved on to talking with vendors and selecting (or rejecting, as appropriate) large scale tools.

Responsible for talking with teams, getting an understanding of what they do and what they need, integrating that into the larger vision, and communicating their requirements to other groups in a comprehensible fashion.

July 2000 - November 2008
San Jose, CA and Herndon, VA

Network Technician

ICG

Working as a NOC technician gave me an understanding of basic networking and network troubleshooting, and strong insight into the difference between how tools are designed and how they are actually used.

1999 - 2000
Santa Clara, CA

Staff

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

Supported judiciary staff by researching issues and legislation, preparing briefs, answering correspondence for the Senator, and covering committee hearings.

1997 - 1999
Washington, DC

Principles

It is very easy to be skeptical of statements of principles, but that is a reflection of how they have been misused rather than a reflection on the tool. It takes clear insight to understand your actual principles, and fortitude to live by them. If you can manage to do both, they're a powerful tool for making good decisions. I believe that's true in business, so it is only right that I apply the same to myself.

Do the work. Everything else follows.

Inaction is not an option. If you know what needs to be done, you should be doing it. If you don't know what needs to be done, then the thing to be doing is to figure that out. Uncertainty is not a reason to stop, nor is it a reason to flail. It is an opportunity to find the path forward and learn from it.

Trust that everyone is doing their best.

This is easy to say and incredibly hard to do, not least because sometimes they aren't. But it doesn't matter - this is the foundation of respect and empowerment. Even when it is not true, this trust allows people to move forward until it becomes true.

Every problem points to an unrevealed opportunity.

I love problems. Any problem that you encounter is a result of many factors - people, processes, incentives, environment and more - and the specific problem is an opportunity to look at those things and determine that if you make a small change in the stack, you can produce an entirely new (and hopefully better) outcome.

Action is communication.

And communication is action. Understanding this is essential to achieving clarity in any group of people, because if we take action without consideration of what that action communicates, we invite confusion. If, instead, we take responsibility for communication as part of action, it leads to better action, and smoother sailing, all around.

Fail Usefully.

I used to express this as "fail faster", since that's a common idea in agile circles. Take risks, fail often, learn, iterate and improve. These are great ideas, but over time I have concluded that speed is incidental to the process - done right, it will be fast, but speed is a consequence, not the product. The priority must be to fail in a manner which is most recoverable, and which generates the most actionable insight. This approach must be paired with a willingness to fail honestly rather than an instinct to re-spin failure as a success.

Measure to improve your measurments.

Metrics are critical to any ongoing success, but only as long as they reflect what you're actually measuring. Measurement must be reviewed, tested and iterated alongside everything else. Otherwise you risk getting green lights on all your results right until you drive off a cliff.


Education & Certifications

University of Vermont

Bachelor of Arts
Political Science
Bachelor of Arts
History
1994

Scrum Alliance

Certified ScrumMaster
Certified Scrum Professional - ScrumMaster
Current

Notes & Links

  • If you need a takeaway, I have versions of my resume in pdf, word or markdown available.
  • I have started asking people to suggest their favorite business books to me when I talk with them abut their business. This has offered me a lot of insight into how companies work, and also given me great reading material. It seems appropriate that I answer the question myself.
    • Turn the Ship Around!, by L. David Marquet
      The premise of this (naval sub commander empowers his crew!) feels so forced to me that I avoided this book for years, and now I really regret it. This is such a mix of pragmatism and idealism that I'm going to be stewing on it for years.
    • Inspired, by Marty Cagan
      Cagan's vision of a product organization is an exciting but practical one. It is hard to read this book and not get excited to go make something.
    • Radical Focus, by Christina R. Wodtke
      I know that Doerr's Measure What Matters is the canonical OKR book, and it's great, but Wodtke's business fable is a bit more compelling and accessible to my mind.
    • Thinking in Bets, by Annie Duke
      There are a lot of great behavioral economics books out there by incredibly smart people, but this is kind of my favorite. Technically, this is a book about probability from a professional poker player. It turns out poker is a fantastic lens to view these issues through.
    • Make Time, by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
      If you like Cal Newport's message in Deep Work but wish it were more practical and less academic, this is exactly the book you want.
    • Currently Reading: The Mark Inside, by Amy Reading
  • Credit where it's due: this site is based off a bootstrap template that I modified a fair amount as a project to learn bootstrap. SVGs are from a few sources, most notably the symbolicons collecton and fontawesome.