SRT opens Ann Arbor office, more than triples its employees

Close your eyes and picture a computer scientist. Nerdy white dude holed up in his parent's basement come to mind?

The reality is much different, according to SRT Solutions co-founders Diane Marsh and Bill Wagner. The company, which provides software development consulting, has just opened an office in Ann Arbor which will open its doors as a third space of sorts for the local computer community.

"Community is really important in the software field," says Marsh. "We can all learn from one another." SRT's offices will host meetings of the Ann Arbor Computer Society, Ann Arbor.Net and the Michigan Python User Group. They will also host "lightning talks," events in which participants talk about a new idea or concept for a short period time in order to elicit feedback from fellow programmers and developers. "You hear from people that think like you and from people that use different techniques than you do," she says.

All of this talking and interacting counters popular wisdom as to the social sophistication -- or lack thereof -- of a typical software designer. "Software development actually requires a lot of communication skills," Marsh says.

SRT's community-mindedness is not entirely altruistic: it brings talent to the company in a manner that is conducive to their future staff expansion. "It's hard to get a bead on how talented is someone is until you have worked with them," says Wagner. Interactions at networking sessions and full-day conferences let Marsh and Wagner feel out how a person thinks and how he or she might perform on the job.

Since the duo formed SRT in 2000 they have grown from two to four full-time employees along with an additional six full-time contractors. And they plan to hire an additional six in the next six months.

SRT is eager to get the word out about Ann Arbor. "All kinds of things are being innovated and developed here," says Marsh. "The media -- and Ann Arbor -- fails in not doing a really good job of promoting the area. There are a lot of really smart people here."

Sources: Diane Marsh and Bill Wagner, SRT
Writer Kelli B. Kavanaugh

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