A Day in the Life of a XuKeeper: John


Meet John Skolfield, Senior Software Engineer, User Interface located in the Boston office. John has been a XuKeeper for 2.5 years, but many years ago his band opened several shows for members of Wu Tang.

How do you explain your work to your friends/family?

I help build interfaces for a software platform that optimizes how advertisers buy ads online. I don’t know how to troubleshoot your iPhone/laptop/new TV, but I know how to serve it ads about the new shoes you covet.

How did you land at DataXu ?

I studied Computer Engineering at Tufts, then spent most of my 20’s as a test engineer in the defense industry simulating and debugging aerospace defense systems. Looking for something more fast-paced, I moved out to California and rebooted my career as a web developer. Various contract work led to a long-term position where I built several generations of a real-time social media business intelligence platform. Eventually my wife and I returned back to our native New England because the Bay Area housing market is soul crushing. Among my options in Boston, DataXu stood out as the next rung up on my ladder.

John white water rafting
John white water rafting.

DataXu’s core values are: Excellence, Collaboration, Innovation, Trust and Customer Obsession… the value that resonates with you most is….

Customer Obsession. Everything else tends to fall in line when you put the customer first. It’s a tremendous motivator, clarifies priorities, and helps continuously raise your own bar.

If you weren’t doing this for a living, what might you have ended up doing instead?

I’d be a starving musician. I’ve managed to force my music gear addiction into remission, but if you were to show me guitar ads right now it could quickly get out of control.

What would you say is your greatest strength that translates to the workplace?

My drive. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done and I don’t back down from challenges.

What is your life motto?

It’s hard to answer this without it sounding like a bad high school yearbook quote. Probably some version of “this too shall pass.” You can get through just about anything by keeping this in mind. On the flip side, good times seem to pass even faster than bad times, so it’s important to enjoy the journey as well.

John and his son embarking on a train adventure
John and his son embarking on a train adventure.

Favorite perk of working at DataXu?

Being a parent of two young kids, for me it’s the respect for family needs. Developers are given a lot of trust to complete work and balance personal lives, making it much easier to accommodate doctor appointments, school events, and so on.

Favorite snack in the DataXu kitchen?

Cashews crush it in the food category but let’s be honest, I’m here for the beverages. I have severe seltzer and coffee addictions that will probably require counseling at some point.

Favorite DataXu memory?

Winning the 2014 Meatball Sub Eating Contest. Being new to the company I was a massive underdog but I knew this was an opportunity to put myself on the map. I narrowly avoided overtime in a dramatic photo finish. They say pain is temporary but glory is forever, and it’s true – the disgustingly realistic trophy on my desk is proof.

John lifting his eating competition trophy

If you could have coffee with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Anthony Bourdain. The guy has an amazing life and a great perspective on things. He could narrate paint drying and I’m sure I’d learn something new.

What is a fun fact about you?

Many years ago my band opened several shows for members of Wu Tang. In the process we were partially involved in getting hip hop shows banned from the Middle East (one of my favorite music venues in the Boston area). Apparently you’re not supposed to let 100 people into the green room through the back door.