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Will Schroeder
President & CEO

Please tell us a bit about your background
My father worked as a spy (really!) and I traveled around the world when I was a kid. I was born in Cyprus, lived in the Philippines twice for a total of five years, as well as Germany for a couple of years. As a result I love to travel and naturally appreciate the incredible cultures around the world. I've always been athletic; I used to play on basketball teams and run track all year round (indoor, outdoor, cross country. I'm a middle-distance runner). Even now I kayak, hike, swim, run, bike, snowshoe and move outside whenever I can. My wife and I love to create beauty in the form of gardens and design (she's a landscape architect). To me well-executed software is an artform just as beautiful as any sculpture; and I've spent my professional years trying to realize its full potential.

How did you come to Kitware, and how did you get where you are now?
It's a long story, suffice it to say I've loved being a computational scientist since my days at U. of Maryland. I used punch cards at one time (I'm that old!) and worked on all sort of mainframes. The advent of the mini-computer and now mobile computing has just enthralled me with the possibilities, both then and into the future. After years of writing computational software including mesh generators and analysis systems, I was fortunate enough to work side-by-side with incredible software people, and then do the amazingly stupid thing of writing a textbook with software (Visualization Toolkit). The open model soon opened opportunities for a new way of collaborating and doing business, which I and my co-founders jumped on.

Could you describe a project that you particularly enjoyed working on?
The early days of creating VTK with my co-authors Ken and Bill, and the amazing evolution of a demonstration toolkit to become a 100+ person company. We made a heck of lot of mistakes, what is gratifying now is seeing new employees, with amazing talents, come in and fix what we started. It's humbling and exciting at the same time to see the process unfold.

What's a typical day like for you?
Sometimes I feel like a middle linebacker in American football: Trying to fill in holes and coordinate my teammates. I love to write so I find myself involved in many proposals and in the creation of strategic, corporate documents. When I can I stay involved with developing technology, both as an algorithms person but also more strategically, looking at what makes sense for the future of the Company and for our customers. I am heavily involved in HR processes at Kitware, since our Company revolved around our incredibly talented team, we do all we can to develop the careers of our employees and I like being in the thick of that.

What separates Kitware from other places that you've worked?
There are not many large open source businesses out there. Kitware is open to a degree that is rarely seen in business and even academia. We also have a collaborative environment with little hierarchy, it's common to see the less senior employees working side-by-side, as peers, with senior management. I love learning from the junior folks, they keep me enthusiastic and honest about what I know, and more likely, what I don't know.

What are your research interests?
Engineering simulation, computational geometry, visualization. The Open movement is incredibly important to me, both as a cool way to work, as well as a disruptive process to get important stuff done.

What is your favorite Kitware perk?
Flexibility; people are treated like adults. As long as work gets done, employees can manage their own work life. That plus the scooter I ride between buildings.

Favorite book?
There are too many great books to narrow it down. I enjoy several categories of books: science fiction and fantasy, historical narrative, exercise and health, and poetry. Some of the books to recently have graced my eReader include 1491, 1493 (books about the new world before and after Columbus), Empire of the Summer Moon (about the most fierce native american tribe the Comanches), The Hunger Games, Born to Run, Barefoot Running Step by Step, The Science of Yoga, The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians, Rumi: The Book of Love (Rumi is my all time favorite poet), Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science, and Looking for Calvin and Hobbes (can't get enough of Calvin). I probably read on average one book per week.