Each month, we speak with a different Atlas employee to highlight the contributions of our amazing team members. Today, we’d like you to meet Cory West, who works as an Engineering Director in our Seattle office…
I’m responsible for happy, healthy, productive engineering teams making great Atlas products and features. I’ve been at Facebook for almost four-and-a-half years. I’ve been on the Atlas team for the last three.
And how did you end up working in engineering for Atlas?
My career is really a tale of two halves. I studied operating systems and real-time systems, and the first half of my career was focused on network filesystems in Windows NT at Microsoft, audio/video streaming in Windows Media — also at Microsoft — and media editing hardware/software systems at Avid and Digidesign. After nearly 15 years of doing systems work, I made a conscious decision to explore product and application work and spent four years at Adobe working on design-focused tools. Then I joined Facebook. For the first 18 months, I worked on photos (face recognition, tagging and image processing), and when we acquired Atlas three years ago I moved to Seattle to join that team.
What interests you most about ad tech?
We’re finally at a point where it’s possible to really understand a person’s advertising journey and what’s working for them. This gives us a chance to make sure that the advertising they’re seeing is meaningful and valuable to them. Not only does this improve their experience, it also improves the efficiency for the advertisers. It’s a win-win.
How do you think Atlas is changing the industry?
Atlas is bringing a kind of insight to measuring advertising performance that I don’t think the industry has really had before. When we re-launched the product at AdWeek in October 2014, we introduced the industry to the concept of people-based marketing. At that time, we were the only ones standing up and talking about measuring real people and real results. Now we’re seeing the whole industry move in that direction, and that’s something that I’m really excited by.
Okay, now for the non-work-related questions. Do you have a favorite hobby?
Cooking. I grew up doing most of the family cooking, and have been a pretty in-depth student since then — mostly self-taught and self-directed. I try to learn one major new thing every year. Some examples have included jam making, naturally-leavened bread baking, BBQ (Texas- and Carolina-style), etc. I’m currently digging into wood-fired cooking in a traditional brick oven and learning to make authentic Pizza Napoletana.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a pianist and played pretty seriously in high school to accomplish this goal. But within my first few months in college, I realized that computers were my passion. I dabbled in music off and on throughout college and in my thirties, and it’s something I really enjoy when I carve out time to do it.
What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
In the middle of my career, I worked on the professional audio editing product Pro Tools. It’s an industry standard and has had a major impact on how audio editing is done across the music, TV, and film industries. While I was there, we were awarded a technical Oscar for our contributions to sound design and editing. I even have a picture with the Oscar statue. It definitely makes for a good story!
Lastly, is there anything you want to tell clients about Atlas that they don’t know?
We realize this is a challenging time for marketers. There’s more data to understand than ever before, and there are more measurement techniques available than ever before. And while it’s getting clearer which techniques to use when, there are still scenarios that come up where it’s not obvious how to measure correctly to get the answer you want. When that happens, we love to partner with our clients to help them figure out what to do. This also helps us find ways to improve our products to make them simpler in the future.