SEA 2023 Summit

September, 2023

Our Passion for Excellence – Keeping the Torch Alive

The SEA 2023 Summit was held September 21st in Pittsburgh PA.

Summit Overview

The Software Excellence Alliance is an international network of professionals who share a passion for software development. The pandemic kept us from gathering in person in 2021 and 2022, but it hasn’t dimmed our zeal for excellence.

All were welcome to attend, to discuss their challenges and celebrate their success stories. We encouraged each other with updates on the ways we’re continuing to honor our outrageous commitment to change the world of software engineering, including:

  • New exceptional introduction strategies that are changing lives and transforming organizational culture from the bottom up – Alan Willett
  • Newly released and upcoming tools to support exceptional individuals and teams – David Tuma
  • New accelerated growth up-and-out into systems engineering excellence – Jeff Schwalb
  • A new global data warehouse of project metrics for planning, benchmarking, and research – Bill Nichols
  • Continued community growth through the sharing of best practices and great ideas – Julia Mullaney
  • And the exciting things YOU are accomplishing in your teams and your organization!

We’re on the brink of momentous changes, and the opportunity to make a difference has never been greater. Accordingly, the opportunity for synergy with one another has never been more important. We discussed the ways we can support each other’s efforts, and shaped our shared vision for 2024 and beyond.

About the Speakers

The Summit was a collaborative event with opportunities for everyone to share, present, and exchange information. The following community members shared ideas and success stories.

Alan Willett

Founder, Chief Engineer, Exceptional Difference

Expert consultant, speaker, and award-winning author of Leading the Unleadable: How to Manage Cynics, Divas, and Other Difficult People, and Lead With Speed, Alan Willett is co-founder of Exceptional Difference. Alan works with clients around the world, including the UK, Turkey, South Africa, China, India, Canada, and Mexico, and of course, throughout the United States.Alan is the founder and Chief Engineer of Exceptional Difference(R) LLC, a consultancy that elevates engineers, leaders and organizations to world-class performance. Alan’s passionate work has focused on leadership, with laser focus on the unique challenges of leading in the elevated pressure environments of high-technology developments. Alan Willett has consulted to HP, Oracle, Microsoft, NASA, General Motors, Intuit, NAVAIR, Orbital ATK, OnStar, Cornell University, Rutgers University, Technological de Monterrey, Acxiom, and many more. Alan encourages everyone to make a positive difference in the world.

Jeff Schwalb

Jeff Schwalb

NAVAIR Performance Resource Team (PRT) Lead and NAWCWD Associate Fellow, NAVAIR

Jeff Schwalb is a software engineer supporting the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) since 1984. He has over 20 years of experience developing and acquiring real-time embedded software systems for avionics, weapons, and range instrumentation systems. He also began collaborating with the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), learning and applying CMM key practices, becoming a certified Personal Software Process℠ (PSP℠) instructor and then a certified Team Software Process℠ (TSP℠) coach. Over the last 25 years he has taught and consulted hundreds of scientists and engineers in various forms of personal engineering processes and coached dozens of projects in the launch and operations of team project planning and tracking. In 2017, Jeff connected with the SEI on the establishment of the organization we know today as the SEA. Today, Jeff continues to work within the SEA to identify and establish pragmatic, value-added solutions to problems currently affecting the Software Community. He is currently serving as a member of the SEA Executive Team and as a supporting member of SEA working groups in areas such as Community Networking, Membership, and Knowledge Transfer.

Jeff Schwalb

Bill Nichols

Software Engineering Institute

Dr. Bill Nichols is a senior member of the technical staff in the Software Solutions Division of the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He has more than 30 years of technical and management experience in the software engineering industry. His current work focuses on software process measurement, project management, quality, security, and improving development team performance. Dr. Nichols is a Senior member of IEEE and a member of ACM.

During his tenure at the SEI, Dr. Nichols has worked with the Team Software Process (TSP) Initiative and Software Measurement and Analysis. He has coauthored several TSP publications, including the PSP and TSP Bodies of Knowledge and the TSP Coach Mentoring Program Guidebook. Recent work includes software metrics and software security metrics including the government’s guide to using security tools in software development.

Prior to joining the SEI, Dr. Nichols earned a doctorate in physics from Carnegie Mellon University after completing graduate work in Particle Physics. He later lead a software development team at the Bettis Laboratory near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he developed and maintained nuclear engineering and scientific software for 14 years.

While working in physics and nuclear engineering, he contributed to technical articles appearing in Nuclear Instruments and Methods, IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, and Physics Review Letters. Since Joining the SEI, he has published articles on software metrics, process and quality in IEEE Software, Software Quality Professional, Transactions on Software Engineering, and the Journal of Empirical Software Engineering.

Jeff Schwalb

Julia Mullaney

Principal, Exceptional Difference

With a commitment to changing the world of software engineering, Julia Mullaney, a co-founder of Exceptional Difference, is an award-winning engineer, instructor, leader, and consultant who has worked with software companies in many industries across the globe.

While at IBM, Mullaney was instrumental in process improvement efforts and had a major role in defining and implementing defect prevention. At the Software Engineering Institute (SEI,) Mullaney was a key contributor to the Personal Software Process (PSP) and Team Software Process (TSP) through the development of training, certification, licensing, and applied research at leading software organizations. She is a Certified Smart Grid Maturity Model (SGMM) Navigator, PSP Developer and TSP Coach, and served as Chairperson of the IEEE/ SEI Watts Humphrey Software Process Achievement award from 2018 to 2020.

Her cybersecurity work at the SEI includes participation on the Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model V2 project, Team Lead of the Expert Guidance and Strategic Support to DHS, and the management, development, and release of the SGMM. Mullaney currently serves as the leader of the Software Excellence Alliance (SEA) Executive Team and is focused on growing the SEA into a sustainable network of professionals who are passionate about software excellence.

Jeff Schwalb

Gerardo Lopez

Gerardo is an entrepreneur, businessman, and software engineer with more than 45 years of experience in transforming software development to well-established software engineering practices in order to achieve top quality and reduce development cost and time.

Gerardo holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Tec de Monterrey, and spent two years working for a Master of Arts degree in Computer Sciences at Texas University.

From 1982 through 2000, he founded and grew Softtek, a software development company in Mexico, to become the largest in Latin America. In 2002, he started Towa with the vision to excel in software quality and lead Mexico to become #1 in software quality in the world (“Mexico should achieve in software what the Japanese did in car manufacturing 60 years ago”).

Jeff Schwalb

David Tuma

Tuma Solutions

David Tuma is a graduate of MIT with a passion for exceptional software development. He has contributed to the success of numerous projects in roles ranging from architecture to coding, security assessment to causal analysis, and project management to coaching. In his support for exceptional practices, he created (and continues to evolve) an open-source toolset called the Process Dashboard, which has been used by tens of thousands of developers worldwide.

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