Ryan Triggs
Ryan Triggs Choosing the Road Less Traveled

Which of the following did Ryan Triggs do on his path to becoming the Principal Developer Lead at Yammer:

A. drop out of college during his junior year; B. randomly moved to Seattle; C. get a degree in computer science from a major university; D. work the graveyard shift while studying at community college?

The answer is: All except for C.

“I accept the unorthodox,” says Triggs from his office at Yammer in San Francisco. “I think my atypical career background helps me to stay open to what's going on in technology as things keep changing.”

Ryan grew up in a small town outside of Dallas. His father was an early adopter of the internet, which gave Ryan exposure to chat rooms and other digital communications at a young age (even if he got in trouble for running up his family’s pay-by-the-minute America Online bill).

Always interested in the playful side of the internet, Ryan started building punters to boot his friends off of their connection – “just to mess with them.” He also busied himself chasing down and sharing obscure sound bites from The Simpsons. “I still didn’t understand how the fundamentals of it all worked,” Ryan explains, “but I had my first taste of making technology do my bidding.”

In college at University of Texas, Ryan’s interests ran from Physics to Anthropology to Philosophy. But, he says, “I was more focused on spending time on Napster, looking for rare and acoustic versions of songs and digging deeper into online communities.”

After dropping out of school, moving to Seattle on a whim and working for FedEx at SeaTac airport, Ryan was playing a lot of guitar and tinkering with web development.

“Suddenly a lot of friends and family started asking me to build them a website,” Ryan laughs. “As I created more and more sites, I became interested in building actual software.” He learned JavaScript at community college while working the graveyard shift at the airport and later Philosophy and Computer Science at The Evergreen State College.

“In my first professional jobs, I began developing my skills as an engineer but started gravitating toward management,” says Ryan. He worked for Atlas then Razorfish and moved on to Yammer before Microsoft acquired it.

“There was so much hype around consumer-facing start ups that popular opinion was unsure about an enterprise startup like Yammer,” he says. “But I believed it had great potential and it was amazing to see that validated when Microsoft got involved.”

Ryan now leads the team that supports the site for Yammer.com but, during his time at Yammer, has worked on everything from SharePoint Web Parts to iOS and Android apps. Ryan explains, “My background helps me to bring a broad understanding to both career and hiring. As someone who hasn’t always looked good on paper, I have insight on what atypical candidates might bring to the table. It has made me a better manager at an increasingly diverse Microsoft.”

He concludes, “I don’t recommend my path to everyone, but I do appreciate the person who is willing to opt for the random choice or take a risk that may open unexpected doors down the line.”

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