Meet Peter Meulbroek, Head of Cloud and Data Practices here at Ness. Peter joined Ness a little over four months ago as a part of the Risk Focus acquisition and has hit the ground running. He is a seasoned leader with over 30 years of experience in the financial services and technology industries. He’s excited to be joining Ness as we expand our capabilities for technological transformation and help our clients accelerate their transformation journeys.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your role and what you do.
A: I lead our cloud and data practices. Ness focuses on several key horizontal partnerships in these spaces: AWS, Azure, Confluent, and Snowflake. Our cloud and data practices work with our clients in these technologies, solving problems in the cloud, in data at rest, and data in motion. Our practice teams help our clients define plans, bootstrap their capabilities in cloud and data, and implement transformational projects. We collaborate with our sales, delivery, and solutions teams, crafting a set of offers around key transformational technologies, working with our delivery teams to fulfill these offers, and working closely with clients assessing, defining, designing, and fulfilling their needs. My role is to support the team in all of these efforts, pitch in where needed, define where we are headed, and make sure we have the right folks ready to meet client needs.
Q: How do you take your coffee?
A: I take my coffee with cream. My day doesn’t really start until that first cup, whether it be at 6 am before heading upstairs to the home office, or at 4:30 am before jumping on the bike to head to the NYC office. One of my more treasured possessions is my Ness ‘yeti’ cup, which is ideal for savoring my day’s second cup.
Q: What’s on your to-do list?
A: There are so many opportunities! Our practices are growing quickly, and so are our capabilities. We need to capture what we do for our customers very precisely into well-defined offers so that the value we provide is clear, and our clients can identify with it.
I really want to meet more folks at Ness, especially in our delivery centers, and learn more about their challenges. There are huge grounds for collaboration.
Q: What’s the next place on your travel list and why?
A: I can think of a couple of trips I would like to take. I’m planning to travel at the end of October (Covid allowing) to Iasi for ‘Barbecode’. I really look forward to meeting with colleagues there. I would also like to make it to our India delivery centers: we have so many talented people around the world and I would really love to meet more face to face.
I was also just invited to Seattle by AWS in mid-October, as a part of their ‘Ambassador’ program. They ask a group of us to spend a few days in Seattle every year in order to talk to leaders in the company about the direction of the platform.
On a more personal level, I am always excited about my weekly bike ride into the office. I live about 30 miles away from our office, so once a week I get up before dawn and peddle into the NYC office. The next goal is to make it to Teaneck.
Q: How did you get started in the industry? / How did you end up down this career path?
A: I’ve had the chance to work in a number of fields over the years. I grew up and went to school in Chicago, so it was a logical step to do research on the Options and Futures markets for financial services firms there. After a few years in the markets, I went back to school and got a Ph.D. in Geology, doing large-scale numerical simulations aimed at understanding how hydrocarbons form and migrate to reservoirs. I worked in academia doing research, in high-tech in Silicon Valley, in startups, and have had the chance to work with some academic and tech giants. One of the better moves I made, however, was to join Risk Focus in 2015 to help found our cloud practice. Fast-forward 6 years, and we’re now delighted to be Nessians. It has been an exciting journey with many stops.
Q: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever heard?
A: A number of years ago I received some great advice which I have found very helpful. That is to solve problems by both assuming that everybody you work with works for you, but at the same time believe that you work for everyone else. In other words, recognizing that no matter what role you are in the organization, you must serve and help others, but at the same time, you can’t let the company hierarchy stop you from achieving your goals and accomplishing what needs to be done. Finding the balance between those two leads to success both for the individual and the organization.
On a more practical level, I got a great piece of advice from David Henke who was the VP of Engineering at Yahoo at the time. He said, “you can’t fix what you can’t measure”. That is, don’t make decisions in a vacuum, and recognize that thinking about gathering data in a problem is too late; you need to gather data before problems are visible and that problems are only solvable when you have the right data.
Q: What motivates you to work hard?
A: Many things. I love to learn. It may be a cliche to consider oneself a lifelong learner these days, but I’m at my most excited when trying to understand a new problem, and trying to problem solve, and learning something entirely new.
Though I’m not really a ‘people-person’, it’s become increasingly clear during the course of my career that the hardest problems we see aren’t technology problems, they’re people problems. . For example, a few years ago when we helped a favorite client move a very large computation and data workload to the cloud, the biggest challenge to success wasn’t the hard requirements, the large amounts of data, or the high-throughput. It was the team of engineers who fought a valiant rearguard action defending the ‘old ways’, and their management who surreptitiously supported them. It is not easy to convince people who’ve done a job for 20 years that they best get on board, because that job will go away and never come back. In the end, though, the key to success for them, and for us, was working to get them to each see the art of the possible. My motivation comes from working with others to understand their challenges and overcome them together.
Oh, and I also like swag. A good sweatshirt means a lot.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your career?
A: I’ve had the opportunity to work and contribute in a number of fields, both academic and in industry, and to make an impact in things about which I am passionate. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with really smart people and learn from them. Perhaps the most satisfying thing is that I’ve had the chance to help others in their career paths, guiding where I can.
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