Digging In with Steve MacLauchlan

Digging In is a regular series of blog posts profiling UDig employees.  We hope this series helps you to get to know our team and understand why we dig what we do! Today, we are sitting down with Steve MacLauchlan, Director of Data a.k.a. Professor Mac.  Warning: Intense data love ahead!

UDig: Tell us a little bit about your background and your role at UDig.

SM:  I took a bit of a different route to consulting.  After high school, I put off college for a few years and spent time touring with a folk band.  We had some success, released a few albums and I supplemented my income by building websites.  Eventually, I made the decision to get off the road and enrolled in college, focusing on my second passion and majoring in Computer Science at VCU.  After college, I began developing software for healthcare providers, where one of my projects involved building a cube to report on patient demographics and I really got bit by the data bug.  I love how powerful data is, how it can provide insight and empower people to make good decisions.

Eventually, I moved to consulting in the data space. I love working with people and thinking creatively about how data can solve business problems or give a competitive edge. I’ve also always been a hobbyist with a love of board games and created a side business running a board game site.  That led me to a brief role as Head of Marketing for a New Zealand based board game company where I brought a data-driven mindset to marketing and was responsible for product launch and promotion.

UDig: Why did you choose UDig?

SM: I was drawn to UDig because I love building things and solving problems.  I’m passionate about data and would likely be doing something with data even if I wasn’t getting paid to do it! Which is ultimately what UDig is all about.  We want people to bring their passions to work each day and use them to solve problems and get s#!t done.

UDig: What is your favorite technology or new technology you want to learn?

SM: Machine Learning.  20 years ago, the ability didn’t really even exist.  Now, we can use it to make decisions or even to order dinner or play our favorites songs.  It’s super exciting to think about how it will continue to change our lives.

UDig: What’s the best project you ever worked on?

SM: I once built software for a bone marrow registry that reduced the time it took to match donors to potential transplant recipients.  It’s not often that you get to say it, but that project really saved lives!

UDig: What is your favorite online procrastination tool?

SM:  Video games.  I enjoy the social aspect of playing with friends.  Right now, I’m obsessed with Overwatch. I set aside an hour or two each night to unwind and shoot the breeze with my friends.

UDig: What is the most played song in your library?

SM:  Polica, “Lime Habit” right now.  But, if my 5-year-old daughter is in the car, it’s probably going to be Can’t Stop the Feeling from Trolls.

UDig: You’ve been told you are not allowed to work tomorrow, how do you spend your day?

SM:  I would round up some friends to play board games. It can get pretty intense- once a quarter or so we have a complete board game binge. We get 4 or 5 friends together, and start Friday night and play till Sunday. We have to cram it into a weekend since our group of friends is so dispersed. Two weekends ago we had people from Boston, upstate NY, Raleigh, and Australia for a weekend of board gaming and no sleep.