Employee Spotlight

Employee Spotlight: Jon Matthews, Vice President Of Engineering at DataGrail

Kyle Schryver November 19, 2020

DataGrail’s Employee Spotlight series highlights the person behind the professional, digging deep and discovering what drives our team members.

This week’s spotlight features Jon Matthews, DataGrail’s new Vice President of Engineering. After his education in computer science and psychology at Central Michigan University, Jon has been working in software development across many industries, most recently in security. Jon has a depth of leadership experience in his roles as Head of SRE at Duo Security and Vice President of software engineering at HelloWorld.

What excites you about joining the DataGrail team?

First, when looking for the next stop in my career journey I was primarily concerned with the culture of the company I was going to join. Peter Drucker famously said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Building a company is challenging and a strong, positive company culture is crucial when things get tough. 

Secondly, but just as importantly is that in my view data privacy is crucial, and is possibly one of the most important issues to solve. My time in marketing showed me exactly what can be done when you have unfettered access to data about people. People deserve to be able to control how data about them is collected and used. At the same time this will only happen if consumers can trust the brands they interact with, how we can achieve that trust is by making it easy for a company to respond to privacy requests.

What has been your favorite project or challenge you’ve worked on in your career?

So far it would be building a feature to identify “blessed” laptops and desktops at Duo Security. It sounds really simple, but the challenge was in making it simple for both IT administrators to deploy and end users to understand. As an example my team spent a significant amount of time trying to stop a pop up message in MacOS from appearing because it had the potential to be confusing for an end user. That kind of detail can be the difference between something that is good and something that is great.

How would you describe your leadership style? Has it changed throughout your career?

I would say that my style tends towards coaching and mentoring whenever possible. I like to provide guard rails and let people learn and grow within them. There are still times in critical situations where I will be exacting in what the team or organization should do but those are rare. 

I think everyone’s leadership style changes over time especially once you start leading people. When I was first leading people I was not a good leader, I was trying to make everyone do things the way I would do them. After some strong mentorship, training, and studying my style began to change. I’ve been very lucky to have some great leaders to learn from in my career.

What led you to pursue work in the security and privacy industries?

In marketing I had the opportunity to work on some really fun projects for some of the world’s largest brands, but as my daughters started growing up I wanted to work on something that would make the world a better place. Working in security in privacy gives me that opportunity.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I’ve always wanted to learn to play the guitar, and scuba dive. Obviously not at the same time.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, aviation, playing percussion and occasionally gaming. Recently I obtained my Private Pilot Certificate and have been working on building flight time before starting training for my Instrument Rating.

Enjoy this piece? Check out our previous spotlight, featuring Chris Martens, Senior Implementation and Customer Success Manager.