Some people think of software as simply lines of code, but not Jim Zagrobelny. The Crispin CTO instead sees the unique challenges and rewards of software development in terms of organization and improvement, and that kind of thought leadership is one of those defining characteristics that sets Crispin apart.
Crispin is fortunate to count Jim among our earliest hires. When his previous employer, Alcatel, relocated out of the Raleigh area, he asked a friend at his church to make an introduction. “At the time, Crispin was operating out of an office condo. NBC was a big name customer, and I remember just being fascinated by what they were doing. I was on board as soon as I met the team.”
Looking at the big picture, Jim is proud of recent accomplishments at Crispin and is enthusiastic about his role as a leader and mentor. “We’re working on our next generation of products right now. As part of that effort, I like to encourage our younger engineers to take on bigger roles and improve their skills. That allows all of us to create better products and avoid stumbling blocks.”
Jim and his wife, Phyllis, are long time parishioners at St. Raphael Catholic Church in Raleigh. They have also dedicated a large part of their lives to volunteering at the accompanying school. Several years ago Jim began working with the other St. Raphael Dads to raise money for computers in the classrooms. “It was nice to see the teachers get computers. They have such a difficult job and there’s so much more they can do with the right resources and equipment.”
Thanks to some of the new equipment that Jim helped procure, the kids at St. Raphael have begun a daily in-school broadcast, reporting over closed circuit to the classrooms every morning. Jim’s wife Phyllis, as the school librarian, has organized “broadcast teams” of students. They are having fun learning the technical side of television, and how to communicate effectively on camera.
Jim thinks the best parts about working at Crispin are the challenging work and the amazing people. He also cites the customers as one of the aspects that he likes most. “We’ve had to work closely with our customers over the years, often involving very late hours. You get to know them and depend on them for help, sometimes as much as they depend on you. I enjoy that part of it.”
And when he’s not working? He’s probably woodworking. Back in ’96, hurricane Fran landed a couple of oak trees in his backyard, so with all that raw material Jim taught himself to build furniture. He’s produced several shelves, bookcases, tables and the like. But it isn’t just the appeal of the clean lines or the satisfaction of completing a project, Jim is intrigued with wood joints and the physics of how they interlock and hold, sometimes without nails or glue. Whether it’s software or woodworking, you can be assured Jim’s thinking about it, often in a way that leads to improvement and innovation.