Wayne Sturman is a professional software engineer. After high school, Wayne attended the Rochester Institute of Technology, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering in 2007. He liked his experience at the school a great deal, and so continued on to earn a Master of Science in Software Engineering from the same institution. After college, Wayne Sturman found employment at CA Technologies as a Software Quality Engineer. These days, he makes a living by specializing in Machine Learning at Adobe. Wayne currently lives and works in New York City, New York.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
I love how I get to play an active part in making the future a reality in the present day for millions of people around the world. Software engineering is altering the very fabric of human society in innumerable ways. It’s exhilarating.
What does a typical day consist of for you?
It varies, but I usually try to begin by eating a healthy breakfast. I like eggs and avocado toast. My job involves a lot of screen time, so I try to mitigate that by going for a run before work. I find that forty minutes to an hour of brisk exercise early in the morning really helps to wake me up, get the blood flowing, and increase my productivity later on in the day. After that, I’ll head into the office and dig into the various projects under my purview. Those projects can be anything from video games to security applications and everything in between, but it generally involves either the development of new software or updating and modernizing existing software.
What keeps you motivated?
I love the feeling that accompanies finishing a project and knowing that it’s the best version that it can possibly be. Pride in a job well done is my motivation.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I find classical music very inspirational. Sometimes, when I feel sluggish or uninspired, I’ll put on some Beethoven or Wagner and just let the music sweep me away. The emotion, power, and beauty that a symphony or an opera can evoke is staggering.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
I’ve recently taken up running, both as a means of maintaining my health, but also as a hobby. I’m just a beginner, but one day I hope to experience the ‘runner’s high’ that I’ve heard so much about. Until then, I’m just concentrating on consistently breaking my personal best records for time and distance.
What traits do you possess that make a successful leader?
I’m extremely thorough and detail-oriented, and I’m fantastic at multitasking. I think strong leaders have to keep tabs on many different situations at once, so all these would be desirable traits for someone in a position of leadership.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
Stay up to date. Technology in general and software in particular changes so fast that if you don’t pay attention for a few weeks, you can find yourself out of the loop on the newest developments. Needless to say, it’s quite a hindrance to be out of the loop in my industry.
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
I’m instinctively a little bit shy. With much determination and practice, I have successfully overcome that innate characteristic. These days, although I don’t think anyone would describe me as the life of the party exactly, I hold my own in group situations. Social interactions no longer cause me any great consternation. I’ve even learned how to tell a few jokes.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
The way someone treats you is a reflection of how they feel about themselves, generally speaking. There are, of course, exceptions to this statement, but on the whole, people who have self-respect treat others with respect and people who don’t have so much self-respect tend to be disrespectful when dealing with others. People who project happiness and positivity tend to be genuinely content with their lives. By the same token, those who frequently shoot cross looks or make snide comments are probably not content with their situation in life and are suffering from some sort of internal conflict.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?
Life is all about managing expectations, most especially your own. Don’t judge yourself too harshly. At the same time, you do have to hold yourself accountable for your actions. It’s a fine balance between these two thoughts, but once you find the sweet spot, everything begins to make a lot more sense. Also, be adaptable and try to predict problems before they arise. The last piece of advice I would give to others is that it’s a good thing to delay gratification whenever possible. Reward yourself for completing tasks and doing a good job on things, of course, but by making yourself wait for that reward—be it a chocolate sundae or a new sports car—it will seem all the more earned and satisfying.
What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?
It’s really true that money can’t buy happiness. It can get you out of poverty, and it definitely underwrites security and independence, but true happiness is brought about by being psychologically healthy and adopting a positive attitude. Money by itself can’t change your mindset.
Explain the proudest day of your professional life.
The day I graduated with my Master of Science in Software Engineering was probably the proudest day of my professional life—even though my professional life had barely begun! I remember wearing the gown and cap and everything, and when they called my name to go up to the stage and take my diploma, I was grinning from ear to ear. I put in a lot of work to get that diploma, and it opened the door to a productive, well-paying, and mentally stimulating career.