Reimagine Learning

2ndAve Director of Technology & Development - Aaron Cloutier

1) What made moving to Rochester and working a 2ndAve so compelling based on other places you have lived?

We’ve lived in Rochester for most of 25 years and moved to Seattle at one point because that’s where all the new, cool stuff in technology was happening. We loved it, but it was unaffordable. We felt that we needed to find a middle ground where it wasn’t too rural, but not too crazy busy. Moving back to Rochester  made sense. As far as 2nd Ave goes, I really wanted to work someplace that was used technology for positive impact. 

2) What do people underestimate and overestimate in regards to the role of software development?

Software development is one of those arcane skills that most people don’t really understand. Most people don’t understand everything that goes into developing software. Effective software has to be easy to use, nice to look at, and functional. Even more so when you add educational, accessible and scalable to the mix.  I

3) What is your leadership/team philosophy?

I think this is two part. I feel strongly that trust is a big part of leading a team. The team needs to trust me that I have their best interest at heart when I give them tasks and deadlines. In return, I need to trust that they will be open a honest with me about fulfilling those assignments. My job is to make them successful, because that means the company is successful. The other thing I think about a lot is how to leverage the strengths of the team and to help make those strengths even stronger. We often fall into the trap of focusing on weaknesses (and you can’t ignore them completely) but having someone focus on the things they’re bad at or don’t enjoy isn’t great for morale. Helping people grow stronger in areas that they already show skill or already enjoy means potentially turning them into a powerhouse. 

4) How do you see education changing in the next 18 months?

Education is changing very rapidly. Google for Education is becoming universal. I’m hoping we can see a swing back to a top-down support for education throughout the U.S.  In education, the student needs to be the end goal. We put a lot of emphasis on that here at 2nd Ave. Everything we do is for the ease and understanding of the student. 

5) What as a childhood book/movie that inspired you and perhaps even offers foreshadowing for your current vocation?

There was a children’s book author named Bill Peet. He wrote books around the same time period as Dr. Seuss and was an ex Disney animator from the early days. He had such a whimsical style.  He did a lot of writing about perception-things not being what they seemed on the surface. He also wrote about making the most out of every situation. I recommend “The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg.”