Billtrust 2 Business Advice – Steve Loper
Our B2B Advice blog series is back with some great insight from our Denver office. This post features Steve Loper, the VP of Software Engineering at Billtrust, and covers everything from investing into a 401K program to the evolution of software engineering. You might also recognize Steve’s name as he was named one of the “6 executives driving the tech industry forward by Built In Colorado.
What is the best piece advice that someone has ever given you and why?
Start putting money in your 401(k) as soon as you are eligible. Every time you get a pay increase, put a little bit of it in your 401(k). This was great advice because like most people I had plenty of bills to pay coming out of college and contributing to retirement seemed daunting. The money I was able to put into my 401(k) when I was fresh out of college has compounded over the years and will pay off big time when I retire.
Who is someone that you have looked up to during your career?
John Basso was the guy that gave me that 401(k) advice and is still one of my go-to advisors today. He was a Senior on my team at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) when I got out of school, and was my business partner for 15 years at Amadeus Consulting. John is always thinking at least five years in the future, and his ability to detect patterns and trends in technology has taught me quite a bit over the years. We still meet over beers and nachos once a month to talk over technology, careers, and life in general.
When you first started out in your career, what were some of the challenges you thought you’d face and why?
When I started my career, I didn’t think I would face any challenges. I had just breezed through engineering school, accepted a job three months into my senior year, and gotten married right after graduation. If you remember the song “The Future’s So Bright” by Timbuk 3, that was my point of view. But things like the .com bust, 9/11, and The Great Recession were all in the future.
What are three things that you hope to accomplish before your career is over?
1) Have a product I’ve been part of creating that has a permanent Wikipedia page. 2) Create a charity that makes a difference in people’s lives. 3) Help at least one of my entrepreneur friends have a successful business.
How has software engineering evolved during your career?
It’s not fair to ask the old guy that question! When I was interviewing for jobs in college, I had an interviewer tell me object-oriented programming was “a fad.” Kent Beck hadn’t invented Extreme Programming yet, and most people believed the waterfall approach defined software engineering. Everything has changed though—the languages, the methodology, the computers, the operating systems. The only thing that remains constant is it takes a lot of hard work from a lot of smart people to write software.
What would you tell yourself 10 years ago based on experiences you now have?
It’s the people you are working with now and the things you are learning that will help you advance your career in the future. Put more time into making those relationships and don’t be afraid to take detours in your career to vary your experience and expand your knowledge.
What advice or motivation would you give yourself for 10 years in the future?
How are you making the world a better place today?
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