Jacob Stucky ’06 studied computer science and business. Now he is VP of Software Development at Thycotic, a cybersecurity organization.
Before working at Thycotic, Jacob worked for a small company programming custom business software for places like Nike and AAA. He joined Thycotic because he wanted the chance to program a software product. He joined as a programmer on Thycotic’s flagship cyber security product for Privileged Access Management.
As the VP of Software Development, he oversees Thycotic’s entire product portfolio, all tools that are critical cyber security protections for organizations. As VP, he manages a team of 40 developers, works across teams to create our product strategy, speaks to companies around the world, engages and keeps others on the executive team up to date, and is accountable to the CEO and Board of Directors.
It’s the liberal arts education, and ability to double major in computer science and business, that gave Jacob the skills he needs to be successful each day.
What drew you to computer science in the first place?
As a little kid I wanted to be an inventor. I was always trying to build things with jump ropes, sticks and rocks. As I got into middle and high school age, that transferred into an interest in computers and the idea that my inventions could be virtual. In High School I started learning HTML, php, and a bit of C++ and really fell in love with it. The natural progression for me was to major in computer science and see if I could make a career out of doing what I loved. My recommendation is that anyone who loves solving problems and loves working through a process, they should consider computer science – you will never be bored.
What are some skills you learned at Goshen College that have helped you in your career?
The two things that stand out to me are:
1) Learning how to learn quickly. In computer science, the field moves so rapidly that it doesn’t really matter what you know, but rather what you can learn and understand quickly. Being able to pick up new languages, technologies, and paradigms is the single most important thing for a software developer. I learned the foundation of that skill at Goshen, not only through my computer science classes, but by the very nature of a liberal arts education, where I had classes on all kinds of subjects and languages.
2) Understand the need business need. By double majoring in Business and Computer Science I was better able to take the technical skills I had and apply them to real life applications. This has helped my career tremendously – I wouldn’t be in this management role without it. To move from a technical role as a programmer into someone running a team building a global software product, I have to explain the business value to all levels of people. I talk to global customers and prospects about how the software will help them in their day to day life. I also need to create smart team structures that fit into our budget, and be able to explain the business value of what we’re doing to our top management, my peers, the broader company, and the board.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Understand and communicate the ‘Why'”
Jonathan Cogley, Thycotic’s founder, taught me one of the most important business lessons: Without being able to understand and communicate ‘Why’ it becomes very hard to get people to buy into the vision that you are working to build. When people understand why you are building or doing something, it opens the door for greater collaboration, it helps people understand why they would want to participate, and you build a stronger team and a much better end result.
Do you have a favorite GC memory?
I have so many favorite memories from GC. I formed and strengthened friendships that I will have the rest of my life – people who live across the country today, but we’re there for each other, through group texts and seeing each other in person throughout the year. I met my wife at Goshen, a force who propelled me into a world of new adventures. And I really enjoyed the opportunity to travel to Cuba, which I never would have done without Goshen.
What advice would you give a current student who is interested in software development?
Play with different technologies outside of class. Build random applications, learn additional languages, find your passion within the greater field. This will change over time, but developing a pattern and habit of continuous self-driven learning and exploring will serve you well over the years.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I still enjoy playing around on the computer, keeping up to date with technology trends, and spending time reading when I can. Mostly though I’ve been enjoying spending time with my newborn baby.