Rocket at 25: a real rocket man
When Johan Gedda and I co-founded the company in 1990, we chose the name Rocket Software because we wanted to be rocket scientists. Over the last 25 years we’ve had many brilliant people work here, but one long-term Rocketeer lives up to our name: Troy Heindel is actually a rocket scientist. That’s right – he worked as a NASA Space Shuttle Flight Controller, and managed the project to upgrade the Mission Control Center at the Johnson Space Center after the Challenger disaster. When astronauts called Houston with a problem, Troy was one of the guys who picked up the phone.
Troy was recruited to join Rocket in 2002, and in the last 13 years he’s had a number of titles, including COO, Managing Director of Rocketeering, and Vice President of Shared Services. A few months ago he got yet another business card: VP of R&D Operations for the whole company. In many ways, Troy’s career here is a microcosm of how we have been able to grow from fewer than 100 people to more than 1100.
At Rocket we pride ourselves on being able to roll up our sleeves and do what needs to be done. In Troy’s case, it’s hard to think of anything that he hasn’t done. He oversaw releases of three of our early Web sites, managed Rocket’s real-estate portfolio for three years (and opened offices in the US, Europe, and Asia), created our first global technical support team, and established the first Web-based customer portal at Rocket. And if you’ve ever used Rocket.Track, that is his creation. Today, in his current role, he manages our relationships with engineering teams all around the globe, including Russia, China and the Czech Republic and also oversees Customer Care so that customers feel the love in their languages, time zones, and customs.
Troy has been here for half of Rocket’s lifespan, and it’s fair to say that we wouldn’t have to gotten where we are today without him parachuting into new roles and projects as needed. All of us need to have the same level of flexibility so that we can look beyond our existing teams and job titles and take a holistic view of who Rocket Software is and what we stand for: doing whatever is required to make great software that matters and always surprising and delighting our customers and partners.
Troy may no longer be a rocket scientist in the truest sense of the word, but he’s certainly established himself as a key part of the success of Rocket Software – although the top item on his bucket list is still to fly into space and complete at least one orbit around the earth.