Meet our Director of Technology, John Azinheira. He’s been with the team for almost a decade and is responsible for keeping the website up and running. We have to thank John for being part of the tech backbone at Saylor and for helping to make our courses available to many around the world. Read his story below.
Saylor Academy: Tell us about yourself. What is your background? How long have you been with the team?
John: I’m originally from south Florida and came to DC to do my Master’s at Georgetown. That’s when I started working part-time at Saylor Academy. After taking on a number of changing responsibilities, I’m here, nine years later.
SA: What does your role at Saylor Academy entail?
J: Any and all things tech! The big things are keeping the website up and running, addressing issues, improving the student experience, and guiding my team to do the same.
SA: What does a typical workday look like for John?
J: It can vary a lot, depending on what I’m working on. Sometimes it’s programming, sometimes it’s investigating server issues, and sometimes it’s resizing browser windows for compatibility checks. There’s usually a pretty steady stream of tech-related questions from the staff, and I’m also “on-call” pretty much all the time – unfortunately tech issues don’t seem to stick to schedules very well.
SA: What is it that you like the most about your job?
J: I like problem-solving, and the job certainly does a lot of that! I appreciate working on a variety of projects and getting to interact with so many people on the team. It’s also so great to feel like I’m doing something to improve the world, just a little bit.
SA: What are you most excited about at Saylor Academy? What are your hopes for the future of the organization?
J: We’ve grown a lot, and that’s been exciting. One thing I’m looking forward to working on is further automating and scaling what we do, while still guiding students in a more personalized way, so we can help empower more students to learn and improve. It’s a fine line to walk but it will be an interesting challenge!
I also hope we strive to be a more multicultural organization, as we try to help students overcome skills and education gaps around the world.
SA: What do you like to do when you are not working?
J: I love motorcycling and the friendships, adventures, and tinkering it brings to my life. I’m currently trying to rebuild a 40-year-old motorbike, which is certainly proving to be a challenge! I’ve also been getting into 3D printing over the last year, and have been designing and 3D printing planters. It’s been fun, though sometimes it seems like I end up repairing and upgrading the printers more than actually making planters!
My real love is traveling – getting to go to new places, meeting people there, learning about the culture, seeking out new foods and flavors to try out back home, and picking up some of the language.
SA: What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you?
J: People are usually surprised that my Master’s was in biochemistry and I used to do cancer research. Or that I double majored in Classics in undergrad – I took way too many classes on Catullus!
SA: What is your personal philosophy?
J: Something I learned while hiking to the base camp of Mt. Everest is that while you need to lift your head up every so often to keep an eye on where you are going to adjust your direction, just focus on each step, and eventually, you’ll make it. I’ve found that applies to other areas of life as well. The other thing I learned on that trip was that there’s nothing like a big yak steak and a cold beer after trekking for 2 weeks.