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Executive Interview Series: Gary MacDougall

Elizabeth Zink
Jun 21, 2023
Our first question is, what is your job title?

I am the Chief Technology Officer at Pypestream.

Did you always want to do this job?

No, I did not always want to do this job – but it was the second thing I wanted to do.

What was the first thing?

The first thing I wanted to do was be a musician and play in a punk band, but that didn’t happen. And here I am, writing software 35 years later. But it was my second choice, so that’s not bad. And I still play punk music which is kind of cool.

That’s really cool! Are you in your own band?

I do play with people and we have some guys that I grew up with and we still get together periodically. In my [Zoom] background you can see all of my guitars and everything. My original passion is music and then software and technology was very close behind it.

Do you think music influenced your interest in software?

I’d like to say that if it wasn’t for music, I wouldn’t have gotten into software. I started in electronics and sort of building gadgets and doing things like guitar fuzz boxes and delays. I was a bit of a geek. And then I sort of said “What’s this software stuff?”. And then I started playing around with it and I realized you can make music with software and computers and sort of got into that way.

It’s the creative part of the brain. People always think software engineering and software development requires a math brain. You certainly need logic and math but I always think the best software developers are the creative people and folks that are art influenced or music influenced.

You see it across the company, the teams all have really good little pockets of happiness is what I like to call it.
So, switching gears slightly, what are your major priorities for the coming year for Pypestream?

A huge priority for us is to bring a product to the market that allows for our customers to modify and eventually build self-service solutions for their business. Alongside continuously improving the existing Pypestream platform.

You’ll start to see more visual, low code, no code tools from Pypestream in the future. We are also supporting the wonderful things that our CX team does for our clients and augmenting and simplifying the way they’re building solutions that allow them to build better custom solutions for clients.

What do you enjoy most about your role right now?

The people. Nothing happens without the people. I enjoy working with really talented, fun, compassionate people. I like the people aspect of it the most. You build relationships with people.

I’ve always sort of believed that you can have a really great product and have not so great people and you’ll never get anything done. But, you could have a mediocre product and have wonderful people and you’ll just hit it out of the park all the time. People kind of make the organization and make the company in my opinion.

I like getting up in the morning because I like to see the faces of the lovely people that I work with everyday at Pypestream.

You’re very fortunate because there are people out there that do not like the people they work with.

We’ve done a really good job of bringing people in that like what they do and love working with other people. And, you know it’s kind of a coaching and mentoring mentality that we have in my team. These folks like to teach. They like to mentor. They love that part of the job and that just builds a really cool culture.

You see it across the company, the teams all have really good little pockets of happiness is what I like to call it.

There’s nobody that puts a more beautiful solution out there that achieves what I consider the best outcome for the customer.
How do you think AI is going to affect your team and the industry we work in?

I think there’s a lot of talk around AI. I can’t open up a browser without seeing something on AI anymore. We’re kind of just in the infancy of it right now. And, when I started in this industry, it was theory and math. Now it’s applicable.

My team is already starting to see things in our tools that help us do things better, faster and a little more efficiently when writing code. For example, there’s a tool that allows my developers and myself to be in a code editor and it finishes what you’re typing based on what it thinks you’re gonna write – and it’s usually pretty accurate!

On the product side we’re starting to see things around agents in conversations and helping agents respond better to customers. And pretty soon we’ll be releasing a new version of Pypestream that will have this in it and it will be a way to see the customer’s utterance or chat to the agent and then offer several options for a response. Maybe it’s a kinder response or maybe it’s looking at customer sentiment and provides a response based on that.

I think we should embrace it and we should make sure the technology that we have is compatible with the things that people need in the AI space. Our product is actually very good about using technology like ChatGPT and building on it but not solely relying on it.

What do you think is the biggest benefit Pypestream offers clients?

I think we offer a complete turnkey solution for the customer that allows them the best of breed technology for conversational AI and self service. There’s nothing on the market that’s better than our solution. We’ve got a considerably complex self-service initiative and there’s nothing this company, with our technology and our services, can’t solve.

There’s nobody that puts a more beautiful solution out there that achieves what I consider the best outcome for the customer.

I think it really is that we offer the best turn key enterprise based solution.