Team Spotlight: Contact Data, Software Engineering

NextRoll’s Software Engineering team tackles some of the most innovative challenges in the Marketing Technology industry today. As the industry shifts and evolves, our engineering teams must grow and adapt to meet the unique challenges. 

Nathan Clegg, NextRoll’s Director of Software Engineering, is leading the Contact Data team and collaborating with them on efforts to think outside the box and execute new ideas. And it’s a role that fits him perfectly – as his friends and family would tell you he was born to be an engineer. 

“I think anyone who knew me could have guessed I’d end up in engineering as early as 6 years old. That’s when my family got our first computer and I fell in love with it, from transcribing BASIC programs from magazines to watching my dad deconstruct and repair the busted floppy disk drive on the kitchen table,” he said. “I tried to change course my freshman year at university into journalism but technology pulled me back in!”

Fast forward and he’s now worked in engineering for 25 years, the last seven of which he’s spent at NextRoll. 

“This is where I’ve worked with the highest quality engineers of my career and faced my biggest challenges. I’m confident we can overcome them.”

We recently chatted with Nathan to hear how he leads the growing Software Engineering team at NextRoll and how they find success.

Tell us a little bit about your team.

The Contact Data team is tasked with providing sub-second responses to the most arbitrary and complex queries our customers can dream up. That’s not easy! We’ve chosen the Rust language to guarantee safety and maximize performance in the face of these daunting requirements. 

Our team has some of the best minds in the Rust community and NextRoll engineers looking for a next-level challenge. Every day we’re hardening the system, improving performance and scalability, and researching the latest technologies to maximize the platform.

What are some exciting future projects in store for your team?

We face an ever-growing set of feature requirements and scalability challenges while at the same time working toward new levels of user privacy. The team is at the forefront of leveraging first-party data to maintain customer satisfaction in light of these privacy concerns while opening new doors or opportunities in customization.

What makes NextRoll’s product team different from others?

At NextRoll, we’re focused on delivering highly-customized segmentation to our customers. Our engineering team must constantly balance that goal against performance, scalability, and cost in order to deliver.

What is the biggest problem your team is solving?

Enabling companies to target their customers accurately and efficiently, at scale and affordably, while also preserving their customers’ privacy, sums up our mission that can’t be solved in a month or a quarter. We’re constantly working to improve all of these metrics without sacrificing time and cost, while also introducing wholly new features that leverage our abilities.

How would you describe your management style?

When I first got into management I tried to emulate the most visible priorities of the managers I loved: Clear the obstacles but otherwise stay out of the way. It wasn’t long before I learned all of the behind-the-scenes work involved in maintaining that appearance: Ensure clear requirements, ask the right questions, constantly reassess priorities, keep time with partner teams, and swoop in when anxiety or other factors lead to disorientation.

I aim to be an active sideline contributor to every discussion but let the decisions come from the team, encouraging their ideas, amplifying the softer voices, and committing to our joint plan. I also advocate for the team’s internal priorities like resolving tech debt and improving developer experience issues. When the team is united on product goals and also actively making their own lives better and easier, everybody wins.

How do you set your team up for success?

I like to involve the team as early as possible in the requirements gathering phase to scan for missing pieces. During the implementation phase, I encourage early and frequent integration points to test early assumptions and smooth the eventual final integration. It’s important that doubts and anxieties are identified early, shared with the team, and dealt with together.

Ready to join Nathan and our Software Engineering team in cracking these challenges and tackling bigger goals in the year ahead? Check out our Job Board and see if we have a role that aligns with your career journey.