Leader spotlight: Jason Meckley

We recently sat down with Jason Meckley, a software architect here at Green Leaf, to discuss what life has been like at Green Leaf since he was hired in June 2016, and where he feels the industry is headed in 2024 and beyond.


Q: What led you to join the Green Leaf team?
A: When I joined I wasn’t the first one on the team but, because others have moved on since then, I’m one of the longest tenured leaders here. Before I was hired, I was working for a consulting firm but was actively looking for a new job. I reached out to my contacts, one of whom was at Green Leaf, and the rest is history.

Q: What keeps you here?
A: It’s the best consulting firm I’ve ever worked for. I’ve been consulting since 2010, and Green Leaf is the place where I’ve felt most comfortable. They take care of their employees, and the work environment is friendly.

Q: What are your area(s) of specialty?
A: I focus mostly in manufacturing, and have always done some form of software development focused on web-based technologies. I feel really comfortable with the work, it comes naturally to me, and as a result I’m able to produce good work. It’s just a good fit for me.

Q: Can you tell us about your journey and how your past experiences have led you to your current area(s) of specialty?
A: Back in high school I was a computer nerd, so I naturally went in that direction. In college I took more of a business focus with computers rather than computer science. Once I graduated, in one of my manufacturing jobs I got sent to do training for a week and the programming clicked for me. I felt confident at that point that I knew what I was doing. This led to consulting work.

I love analyzing the problem and working with people. I’ve never had formal training in that, just picked it up over two decades of problem-solving. My biggest learning curve was figuring out the difference between what people need and what they say. I had to ask the question “what is the business problem?” rather than “what can the code do?”.

I like working with people side by side and like having my space and being able to work at my own pace when the muses hit me to write code. I’m not an extrovert but do like working with people.

Q: What aspects of technology are you most passionate about, and how do you see these aligning with your role at Green Leaf?
A: To be honest, my passion is not so much in the technology. I’m a little “old school”—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. My smart phone is the only smart device in my house. I prefer to keep things simple. Tech can automate the boring stuff to get answers that people actually need to make innovative decisions. It gets rid of the tedious stuff. Having a shiny new toy is less interesting to me in solving business problems, versus a more tried and tested way.


Q: What’s one of the most important, interesting, or exciting projects you’ve worked on at Green Leaf, and what made it so special for you?
A: While working on a reinsurance client, I got to lead a team of eight, which was exciting. It was my first opportunity to lead a team as a technical lead. While working on projects for [the manufacturer] Lutron, the most interesting aspect was who I got to work with. When I get to work with the people I really click with, it’s cool to see how we can quickly get on the same page and have the same vision to solve a problem.

My role is mostly cleaning up technical messes. I go in and make things more efficient, reliable, and easy to understand.

Q: What project(s) are you involved in now?
A: I’m currently writing software for a new product line for a client. It’s still in early development so I’m not at liberty to discuss the details. What I can say is this product will drastically improve the industry.

Q: How have you seen your role evolve and how do you see it continuing to evolve? What are the key contributions you aim to make?
A: I haven’t sought out opportunities because I like what I do. I did enjoy being the technical lead on a small team for a mid-sized project.
It’s a nice feeling when I can help expand the business with an existing client, like I was able to do with our re-insurance client. I like the aspect of business development when it plays out organically to bring in more expertise when it benefits the client.

Q: Can you tell us about a personal philosophy or approach that guides your work in tech and in serving clients?
A: When I leave the client, I want them to be able to continue on seamlessly. Like the boy scout motto “you should leave it cleaner than you found it” (humble brag: I made it to star scout). I also pride myself on the quality of code and documentation—to know that people can pick up where I left off when I leave.


Q: What leadership qualities do you think are most important for driving innovation in the technology side of companies today?
A: Willingness to listen and to empower those doing the actual work. Being humble and having humility—I like to put together a team that will challenge you and make you think.

Q: What’s a significant challenge in the tech space many are facing (or will soon be facing), and what, in your opinion, is a potential solution or approach to overcoming it?
A: AI is going to be a significant challenge in the tech space. The biggest thing with technology is the humanity/morality of how technology gets used. Engineers build things to see if they can do it. Then companies want to make money with it. Corporate restraint is important.

Q: How do you stay updated with the rapid changes in technology, and how do you foresee the evolution of the tech consultant’s role?
A: Like I mentioned earlier, I have a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Only a small portion of companies are willing to take the risk of innovative uncertainly. Once technology becomes solid and has proven itself, then it’s important to spend time learning about it.
From a consulting angle, whoever is willing to stay up on industry articles and prototypes will evolve faster. By doing this, they’ll become an expert by staying a chapter ahead of everyone else. Also the willingness to take the risks, grind through challenges, figure out what doesn’t work and overcome them will be huge in the growth and evolution of a tech consultant.

Q: What will influence ethical consideration with the rise of AI and data analytics?
A: It’s top down where the culture comes from. I’ve never seen it happen from the ground up.

Q: How do you tailor your advisory approach to help clients not just meet but exceed their technology goals?
A: In the tech world, I stick by the Scottie principle—”under promise and overdeliver”. The biggest part is being direct and honest with my clients. I’ve been known at times to surprise people when I tell them we can’t meet their expectations (if the project feels unrealistic). I find this helps level set expectations, and helps show transparency as well.

Q: Discuss the balance between innovation and risk in technology. How should companies approach risk-taking for technological advancement?
A: For the client themselves, it’s up to them how much risk they want to take. My roles have not been on what product or service to offer or build. They tell me what they want to do, and I try to meet that goal.

As a consultant, If I didn’t think the product or service was ethical to bring to the market, or if it were something I morally object to, I’m confident in my skill set that I wouldn’t have to take that work and would be able to find work elsewhere. I’m not so sure I would have been able to do that earlier in my career however.

Q: The role of collaboration in tech has never been more prominent. How do you foster a culture of collaboration with your client(s)?
A: A lot of it is having down time to talk about the non-work stuff. Things such as hanging around at the end of a call to find common interests, hanging out and talking in person, and sharing a little about family, all go a long way in building those relationships. During the pandemic lockdown, I was with a client that hadn’t previously had remote work so it was a difficult transition. People found it harder to adjust, but opted to open up conversation about family, kids. Being honest is a foundational part of collaboration, and throwing in a joke every once in a while when things get tense also seems to go a long way.

Q: What skills do you think will be most valuable for the technology workforce of the future, and how can professionals prepare now?
A: People skills are essential. There is a mindset to writing code where people can get reclusive, but having people skills is much more important to develop. I’d rather work with a team of average people who can collaborate than a team filled with diva rockstars.
Analytical skills to solve a problem are really important as well. Asking the right questions helps connect to the people skills. People who have both people and analytical skills are the people you want.


Q: If you could have dinner with any figure from the world of technology, who would it be and why?
A: Elon Musk. Anybody who innovates industry as much as he does is going to be eccentric. I don’t know if I would actually enjoy the conversation but it would be fascinating to experience one-on-one how he thinks. He actually is innovating all the time. He pioneered self-driving cars, private space exploration, and bought Twitter on a whim.

Q: What’s the one gadget or tech you can’t live without?
A: My phone.

Q: Can you share a personal success story or a particularly memorable experience from your career? What made it special for you?
A: When I was working at a food manufacturer in a previous role, my boss was a big influence on how I approach work to this day. I remember he’d say to me “I’ll never ask you to something I won’t do. There’s nothing I won’t do.” He also said, “We succeed and I fail.” That philosophy has stuck with me. He was a mentor who taught people skills.

Q: Outside of work, what’s a hobby or activity you’re passionate about? How did you become involved in it and why is it important to you?
A: I’m always in the gym. My schedule is built around classes, and I have made friends with a lot of people at the gym. It’s my social circle. With friends from the gym I also do weekly trivia and go to karaoke. The people I’m with is what matters. I also like being outdoors in the nice weather. I enjoy 2- to 4-hour hikes and I like to do that solo. It gives me time to think and process.

Q: Green Leaf is a place where there’s a good balance of serious business and good-natured humor. Can you give a fun example of when you’ve either doled out or been on the receiving end of some of that humor?
A: Any chance to do a social activity I’ll do it, as it’s easy to pick up conversation with people. Amongst the many topics we discuss, we typically find ourselves talking about beer or bourbon. I don’t have the same level of rapport as some of the others because they live near each other, but I never feel like an outsider when we get together.