Human Resources

Typical 24: Kohsuke Kawaguchi, CloudBees

IDG Connect is looking to speak to IT, business and marketing professionals across the spectrum to discover more about their very different, typical working days…

12-01-2015-kohsuke-kawaguchi-from-cloudbeesName: Kohsuke Kawaguchi

Job title: Chief Technology Officer

Company: CloudBees

Location: San Francisco, United States of America

Years’ experience: 15 years


1.         What time do you reach the office each day?
By the time I drop off my daughter at school and head to the office, it's usually 9am due to the terrible traffic in San Jose. My mornings are full of meetings because of the time zone differences among my colleagues. The internet may have overcome distance, but sadly it still hasn’t managed to bridge time zones.

2.         Is your job varied?
I think there's some structure to my working hours, but when I'm at the office I generally do a variety of tasks, such as writing code, doing my share of the support tickets, helping marketing folks, going to meetings, and so on. Then there is traveling, which involves hours after hours of flying, often around the world from California, to Europe and Israel. 

3.         Is your job creative?
I think almost everyone involved in technology is essentially doing a creative job; jobs that are not creative tend to get automated! I consider my work especially creative when we are designing abstractions in programs.

4.         What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
I used to spend a lot of time designing and coding software, but as I shift my role to CTO of CloudBees, there is really no single thing I spend "the majority of my time doing."  If I had to choose one thing I do spend a lot of time hacking on the Jenkins project.

5.         Do you personalise your desk?
You can very easily spot my desk among others because I don't have any pictures, photographs, or anything like that, but my desk does host a lot of computers that I use as my minions for various projects.  At Sun Microsystems, where I used to work, those computers generated so much heat that my office was always noticeably warmer than other offices.

6.         Would you describe yourself as creative?
I wouldn’t describe myself as solely creative, I strongly value logical reasoning, attention to details, careful analytical thinking, but as I wrote above, coding/design related work is highly creative at times.

7.         Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
If you ask me, I'd say I have no quirky daily rituals, but if you ask my colleagues, I bet they would tell you I have some rituals that I haven't even noticed. For example, my wife says I always rub my eyes in a very distinctive way.

8.         Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
Though I tend to work on my own, with the collaborative nature of business someone is normally requesting a part of my work so I’m always interacting with colleagues.

9.         How many hours on average do you work a day?
My typical work day is about 10 hours long, and I usually leave the office at around 7pm so that I can get home with enough time to get a good night’s sleep. I need a good night’s sleep to function well, so I don't really burn midnight oil any more.

10.     Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
I try not to spend too much time each day on emails or on the phone. I prefer to spend a lot of my time in 1-on-1s or meetings with a smaller number of people, as I find those most productive.

11.     Do you use social media much for work?
Twitter is an important method of communication for me, but I haven’t been using it as much lately because it can be a distraction that tends to hurt my concentration on whatever else I’m working on.

12.     What do you enjoy most about your work?
When you work on a single project (Jenkins) for 10 years, you develop some attachment to it. To be a part of the company that pushes Jenkins forward, therefore, is a tremendous joy. We are also lucky to be able to pull in some of the best engineers in the Jenkins community as employees, and there's nothing like working with smart people.

13.     What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
I don’t listen to music at work and neither do my colleagues.  Ever since someone at a previous office played a single song on repeat aloud I’ve been really cognizant of how important it is to be considerate of others and avoid listening to music at work. 

14.     What do you do for lunch?
Everyone in the office goes out for lunch together. As a group we always end up spending time deciding amongst us where to go. Being a developer, I feel like we need to develop an app so that we can skip this process and let computers help us pick, but that hasn't happened yet!

15.     Do you socialize with work colleagues?
In Japan, where I grew up, socialization after working hours is a very important part of the culture, I miss this part of the culture and would like to see that happen more in the U.S. 

16.     Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
Over the time, I've left a lot of work to computers. Figuring out how to get computers to do more work is basically what Jenkins is all about! Running tests, for example, is a task that I no longer have to do thanks to the computer. Nowadays, I let Jenkins run all my tests for me, and I rarely run a full regression test on my own computer.

17.     What is your last task of your day?
Coding. As the day goes on, Europe and the east coast goes dark, so those of us in the west coast get more uninterrupted time. The end of the day is a good time to focus on tasks that need a lot of time.

18.     How do you like to relax after work?
During the week, I tend to find it hard to resist the temptation of spending time by reading Reddit, Hacker News, my Twitter feed, etc. On weekends, I get to do more meaningful stuff, like playing with LEGO (I'm a big fan) or hacking on other open-source projects that have little direct relationship to Jenkins. But really, the best relaxing activity is pulling out weeds from the lawn, it's not particularly difficult and your progress is very visible.

19.     Do you keep checking email through the evening?
Ah, e-mails, I avoid them like a plague! Once you get used to having 8,000 unread e-mails it stops bothering you which has made it easier to not check email in the evening. 

20.     Do you take work projects home with you?
There's a part of Jenkins hacking I do for work and there's a part of Jenkins hacking that’s more of a hobby. It's a fine distinction people so it might look like I'm working at home, but really I don’t bring work home!

21.     What would you say to your 20-year old self?
I would tell myself to appreciate how precious time is.  I had more time at age 20 but less money, so I wish I could send money backward in time from me today to me back then as well.

22.     If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
I want to work for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on space crafts that travel to other planets! It would be a cool change because everyone would understand what I’m working on.  Jenkins and continuous integration is usually beyond what normal people can comprehend, but everyone knows what a space ship is!

23.     What device did you use to answer these questions?
My Linux laptop. I stubbornly stick to Linux.

24.     Do you use your own personal device for work?
Indeed this laptop is my personal property and so is my cell phone, which everyone uses for work. It's a precautionary measure so that I can claim rights on my hobby projects, something that I learned is important from an experience at another job. 


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