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meet the maker: chuck lloyd

in meet the makers by Ann Whittaker

Chuck Lloyd, Director of Software Systems & User Interface at Rethink Robotics, along with Baxter, the smart, collaborative robotChuck Lloyd is our Director of Software Systems & User Interface.  Chuck’s deft management of the release process in the past year enabled Baxter to get its groove on.  Not only has Baxter flourished, but the Rethink Robotics software team also caught Chuck’s infectious low-drama and high-enthusiasm approach to working together and making things happen!

Chuck, you are an avid and disciplined athlete, boldly challenging yourself in several sports.  Tell us what drives you to push your physical and mental limits, and how it informs your work ethic.

Chuck: Working out helps me keep a positive attitude. It’s how I’m wired. I’m grateful to work out with other very positive people, which makes it fun.

Having the right mindset helps me overcome both physical and mental challenges. We never know what we will encounter on an ocean swim. It could be a raft of seaweed, a swarm of krill, a bloom of jellyfish, or a few curious seals. Before we begin a tough ocean swim or a challenging high-mileage bike ride, someone always reminds us: Expect the unexpected and be comfortable being uncomfortable. Finding a creative new solution requires the same mindset.

I watch you operate at multiple levels.  You’re thinking the big thoughts, engaging people in your own team and across other functions, and then you giddily swoop down on a workstation and dance with some serious code.  What gets your creativity flowing?

Chuck: I like writing code. I joke that I get paid for meetings but write code for free. I love working with people who enjoy solving problems. If we make enough creative space for people who love solving problems, they will almost always exceed our expectations. The more that people are empowered and effective, the fewer meetings we need — and the more we accomplish.

You have a super dry sense of humor and a twinkle in your eye.  I sense you find fun in the inane and silliness of our human lives.  Speak!  Share your insights!

Chuck: I’ve been writing software for a while. I’ve done some really brilliant things and some stupendously dumb things. You have to be able to laugh and learn from your mistakes and not get too caught up in your success. If I make fun of something stupid we do at work, it’s so we realize we did it, understand it does not define us and move forward. Griping about our mistakes feels too much like a meeting. (Did I mention I don’t like meetings?)

We all know software programming is where the money and career development are these days.  But what’s the love?  What makes a great programmer, and, while you’re at it, what is Chuck’s recipe for a well-rounded human being?

Chuck: A really good software programmer wants to be a better programmer. That means they are open to a constant process of trying new things. It also includes finding a way to learn from other programmers. If you can’t keep an open mind and work with people, I think you will fall behind.

As far as being a well-rounded human being, for me it is more about perspective than balance. I try to step back and listen to my friends, family, and mostly my wife. They see the things in my blind spots.

 

For more Meet the Maker interviews and other blog posts, catch up with us here. And check in with us anytime on Twitter for a daily dose of robotics chatter.

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About the Author

Ann Whittaker

Ann is a co-Founder of Rethink Robotics and VP, People & Culture. She has developed strategic and tactical expertise in the operational and human resources domains, creating an engaging, vital culture in which corporate objectives are achieved and employees flourish. Prior to co-founding Rethink Robotics in 2008, Ann held high-level administration and communications roles in educational, philanthropic and life sciences organizations. Her past affiliations include MIT’s Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the David Rockefeller Jr. Family Office, Millennium Pharmaceuticals and PAREXEL International Corporation. Ann holds a BA from the American University and an MBA from Babson College. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School and previously served on the Senior Advisory Board of Cellanyx Diagnostics.



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