Professional Bio

Steve Roehling

What’s my story? From my LinkedIn profile or resume, you’ll get a more formal and structured summary of my professional background and experience.

However, to get to know me on a more personal level, I think it’s helpful to provide a more informal professional summary. To this end, below is some biographical information which describes how my career has developed, what interest me, what drives me, lessons learned, and the like.

Starting Off in Systems Engineering

My professional career started after completing a BSCS (computer science) at the University of Arizona (with a Math minor).

After graduating, I moved back to the Phoenix area and took my first engineering job working on Motorola’s Iridium program. My job was to develop and run computer simulation models for the system’s call traffic. The results of this simulation were used to help design and validate many parts of the system.

Although I was a software engineer, my first job involved more systems engineering than software development. I found working in a multi-disciplined systems engineering group very rewarding. The group was filled with engineers from other disciplines, such as operations research and telecommunications engineering.

Graduate School

While still at Motorola, I also started working on a Master’s degree at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. After completing the requisite coursework, I settled on a thesis which used system dynamics modeling to better understand the dynamics of outsourced software engineering work.

For a Master’s student, I had a very rewarding research experience at ASU. My thesis advisor went above and beyond to help me engage with my committee and other opportunities related to this research. Notably, this included authoring a publication related to the research and attending a conference to present the paper.

After completing my thesis, I didn’t continue with this line of research. However, this work did build upon my interest in systems engineering and systems thinking, which has continued to this day.

First Start-up Experience

Around this time, I also got my first start-up experience. My former manager at Motorola recruited me for his startup company called IsoQuantic Technologies. IsoQuantic focused on telecommunications system design and consulting.

My primary role as an R&D software engineer was to do the systems engineering and specifications for a software-defined cellular base station. The system involved using a communication framework called CORBA and voice over IP (VoIP) for voice call traffic. Although VoIP has come to dominate voice communications today, this system might have been a little too early to be viable; the intellectual property from the project was eventually sold to a larger company, which incorporated the technology into their own R&D.

Tech Bubble

At the height of the dot-com and technology bubble of the late 1990s, the next few years were full of opportunity and change. While finishing my Master’s thesis, I worked as a software consultant on the freeway management system in the Phoenix area, then at Ticketmaster.

Building on a Systems Software and Systems Engineering Background

While still at Ticketmaster, a colleague of mine from my consulting days recruited me into Schlumberger. Schlumberger is primarily an oilfield services company, but at the time they had a relatively large business unit which made testing equipment for semiconductor companies like Intel and AMD.

At Schlumberger, I initially worked as a senior engineer designing and developing compiler and system software tools. I consider this experience to be pivotal to my career, as it was my first large scale, full-lifecycle (start to finish) software development project. This project also solidified my skills and interest in system software development.

Transition into Engineering Management

After about 4 years as a senior engineer, I was promoted into a managerial role, where it was my job to manage a group of engineers and the projects for an entire subsystem. This was a period filled with new challenges and rapid professional growth.

I quickly learned being an effective manager is not the same as being an effective engineer. It took some time to develop into a manager and leader who gave the engineers ownership and self-direction over their work, but also delivered on the company’s aggressive project schedules.

Surviving (and Thriving) Through a Corporate Spin-off and Merger

During this time, Schlumberger decided to divest themselves from their semiconductor business. They first spun-off the semiconductor business unit to a stand-alone company called NPTest. NPTest subsequently merged with another company called Credence.

All this change happened during the technology crash of the early 2000s. However, we were very fortunate that our largest customers had deep pockets and were ramping up production during this time.

I somehow made it through all this transition, and ended up managing a large engineering team across 3 different sites in Arizona, Oregon and California.

Starting a Small Business

I eventually left Credence and started my own company called Resultra, LLC. Initially, Resultra was an Independent Software Vendor (ISV).

At the time, the iPhone was just coming onto the market, and I developed several apps. Notably, this included an app called MailShredder. Mailshredder was a tool for privacy, allowing users to setup rules to systematically delete old or sensitive emails. Although I didn’t become an app store millionaire, Mailshredder found a niche and sold to thousands of customers.

A Rekindled Interest in Systems Thinking and Financial Markets

During my time at Resultra, my prior research interests in system dynamics and systems thinking came back to influence me. Albeit a different topic than my Master’s thesis, I began to study the financial markets from a systems thinking perspective. Besides investing and trading becoming an active research interest, the thinking here was Resultra could potentially evolve into a financial technology (fin-tech) company.

To support this research, I also wrote several software tools for the types of analysis needed to research the markets. This included custom back-testers, a pattern recognition tool, and a trade journaling web application which has evolved into what Resultra is today.

Coming from an engineering background, my initial approach to the markets very much revolved around quantitative analysis such as backtesting. Over time, I’ve found investment psychology and a more observational approach to be markets to be essential.

This research culminated in the development of systematic strategies for investing and trading, which combines qualitative studies of the markets with quantitative analysis, and orients around momentum and volatility. I’m still using and building upon these strategies to this day.

Unexpected Leadership Development

In 2011, I joined the board of my homeowners association. I initially thought of this as a way to get involved in my community, and to contribute to community projects. After gaining some experience as a director, to my surprise, I was nominated to be the President of my HOA in 2014; I still serve in this role today.

The HOA has been a rewarding, but very different leadership experience than my experience as an engineering manager. People who serve on an HOA board come from all walks of life and generously volunteer their time. They come to the board with a self-motivation and common interest to improve the community. I’ve come to see my role as a servant leader, who actively listens to the inputs from board members and community members, works to build consensus, then works vigilantly to implement the board’s vision and priorities.

Resultra, the Project Management Tool

While still maintaining the MailShredder iOS application, I started internally developing some software to help me journal my trades. I’ve come to appreciate trade journaling as a best practice for observation and gleaning insights from one’s investment and trading activities.

I continued adding features and capabilities to this software, until it essentially became a bona-fide, production ready, full stack web application. Based upon my prior experience as a project manager, I observed this tool also supported a similar workflow as contemporary software project management tools based around the Scrum and Agile methodologies.

Over the past several years, Resultra, LLC has been the private company behind the numerous commercial software development projects and associated R&D. In 2018, Resultra, the project management tool, began to stabilize as a production-ready web application. As a product name, I think Resultra works well for a project management tool. Therefore, the name Resultra now refers to the project management tool. Resultra, LLC now exists as a small company to oversee

Open-Sourcing Resultra

Before open-sourcing Resultra, one possibility was to deploy the project management tool as a proprietary software-as-a-service (SaaS) product. However, this market already has numerous commercial/proprietary project management tools, such as Jira. It would be difficult and expensive to get a foothold into this market.

However, as an open source, community driven project, I believe Resultra can fill a niche and be utilized by individuals or organizations who could benefit from:

As an open source project, Resultra can undergo ongoing development with input and contributions from the worldwide community of open source contributors. Without the short-term financial constraints of bringing a commercial SaaS product to market, the project can be developed organically over a longer timeframe.

I also view moving in this direction is also a win-win for my own professional development. All the project’s source code has been uploaded to GitHub; prospective clients or employers can readily see the skill and engineering discipline which has gone into this project.

Skill Stacking as a Multi-Disciplined Professional

To date, I’ve had a rewarding, but somewhat eclectic and varied career. A common theme, however, is a focus on both systems and software and supplementing my technical and engineering skills to become a multi-disciplined professional.

For somebody like me, I’m a strong believer in “skill stacking”. I may not be the world’s best in any one area, but my skills and experience combined in the right context definitely take me to a higher level. Going forward, my goal is to combine and build upon these skills and experiences in unique and value-added ways.