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The People Project with Brian

Interview with Brian Harp, USA

Hi Brian, where do you gravitate geographically?

I grew up in Wisconsin and, early in my career, worked in Honeywell in Minneapolis. But I tend to gravitate to big bodies of water, and I've lived most of my life on the coasts. I spent almost a decade living in the beach cities of Los Ageles and working at the Information Sciences Institute, which is part of University of Southern California (USC). I also got my masters degree there. After that, I've lived and worked in New York.

Big bodies of water are inspiring. What inspires you?

At my core, I'm about taking an idea that's not yet defined and delivering something practical that people can use, like a product or new digital features on a website. Actually, my job now is to lead digital development projects, which in the end, give people the ability to interact with a business and its products in different ways, to buy online, to pick up conveniently, to use new features on our e-readers and tablets.

Have you always been into Computer science?

I bought all the tools and was a carpenter for a few years

Actually, I started out wanting to be a carpenter, which is practical and tangible and creates things people can use. After high school, I bought all the tools and was a carpenter for a few years. I then decided that it wouldn’t take me as far as I wanted to go, and went to college to get a computer science degree. What I loved about computer science is how it converts something intangible, an idea or a problem, into something meaningful. You start with a goal and end up with a program that does something useful, all with just ones and zeros. That was amazing to me.

I never thought of computer science as "tangible." To many of us, it seems magical.

I enjoy bridging gaps between people and technology

And that's the energy behind technology - it can be and do so many things. I'm not as motivated by pure technology, as I am by the problems it can solve. I enjoy bridging the gap between people and technology. Every role I've had has been about helping people leverage technology and using it in a way that would benefit them.

Is there an element of service in that?

I’m comfortable leading from the back where I can see and guide

Yes, there’s an element of service in the kind of work I do, but also in the general way I operate. My goal is to bring value to my team. I’m comfortable leading from the back, where I can see and guide people versus from the front, where all I can see is what's in front of us. It's about support and collaboration.

Supporting without subordinating your views to others is an intricate balance. When did you learn to do that?

most important lessons are learned from intensely personal experiences