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On the Record with Rose: Sarah Tarpley

image of Brightspot employee Sarah Tarpley

Sarah Tarpley, VP of Operations, has been working at Brightspot since May 2011

With the baseball season underway at last, Rose went on the record with Brightspot's biggest Nationals fan and VP of Operations, Sarah Tarpley. Sarah came to Brightspot in 2011 after a 15-year career at AOL. As the leader of our DevOps organization, Sarah plays a critical role in managing the infrastructure for a range of clients. During their conversation, Rose and Sarah discuss more about the DevOps team, the recent launch of Ops Desk, and her winding career journey that led her her current position.

You recently celebrated your 9-year anniversary at Brightspot! What brought you here and how have you seen the company change over the past 9 years?
Well, I had been working at AOL for about 15 years and felt like I needed a change. Somebody that I knew from AOL, who was working at Brightspot, reached out to me because there was a position available and thought I'd be a good fit. After interviewing, I decided to come along and join the team.

Over the years the number and types of clients has really broadened. We have different clients in news, media, and other industries, which that has led to some really interesting implementations of Brightspot. When I joined the company, we were just starting out with Brightspot as a platform, and it has certainly taken off over the past 9 years.

Can you tell me more about the role of our DevOps team?
For a lot of our clients, we actually provide the hosting of Brightspot for them as well as the software itself. We have developed really streamlined ways for managing many infrastructures with a small number of people. Using tools like Beam and now Gyro, we are able to make changes and build templates very easily to maintain the efficiency we need.

I read you have a Master's degree in Library & Information Science. How do you think that background has benefited you professionally?
Library science really helps you think about organizing data and information. When people think about library science they think about old-fashioned physical books, but librarians these days are thinking more about electronic content like photos, videos, and text and how to organize and index this content so people can find it. That knowledge has helped me in thinking about content management.

The other thing library science teaches about is the importance of freedom of information and how vital it is that all people have equal access to and can search for this information privately. Library science provided me with a firm appreciation of these two ideals.

You have had an interesting career path starting at AOL as an Engineer to now leading our DevOps organization. Can you tell me about that journey?
I actually joined AOL after studying sociology in grad school for a couple of years. I got to know the company through its library information program and when they offered me a job, even though I was studying something completely different, I couldn't turn it down. That moment set the tone for my whole career and I have tried to always say yes to new opportunities.

I have managed many different types of software development from publishing and reporting to advertising and video, and over the past few years, I have been working in operations. I've seen the whole spectrum of the internet from producing content to getting it online to running it for the long term. I'm happy that I've said yes to a lot of things along the way.

Can you tell me a little about the recent launch of Ops Desk and what it means for our customers and our DevOps team?
When we first started expanding our operations footprint, we built a tool called Beam Enterprise that was designed to make it easy for our DevOps team to authenticate against the many AWS accounts we manage and collect all of the information in a single place. Ops Desk is the next generation. We took everything we learned from Beam Enterprise and turned it up to 11 with Ops Desk! It's great looking, works very well, and is flexible to evolve with our business. Other DevOps teams that don't use Brightspot or utilize other cloud services will also be able to use Ops Desk to streamline their operations processes.

What are you excited about the company and more specifically, your team over the next year?
I am excited about using Ops Desk and Gyro long term across all of our products. We have 3 new guys on our team and I am excited to see them pick up our technologies and become successful in the Dev Ops field. I am also excited about the new clients that we will sign. We have been talking to a lot of interesting companies over the past few months and I'm eager to work on the operational side of their projects.

Besides the people, what is your favorite part about working at Brightspot?
Although I can't be there right now, I really love the office. It's a comfortable place to work and I like to see my co-workers there. My favorite part though is the people! I like everybody I work with. We have a good time but are serious about doing the right thing and getting the work done. I like to say that we are casually intense.

What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
I like to do what I call textile arts. I like knitting, embroidery, and other kinds of needlepoint. They are good activities to do when watching television, which we have plenty of time to do right now. I also like to run a couple of mornings each week to keep me feeling tip top!

While we are at home physically distancing, do you have any book, television, or movie recommendations to share?
I really enjoying reading letters that people write. I recently finished reading a collection of Mozart's letters that he exchanged with his father when he was traveling as a young man. His father was mentoring him and teaching him to be a sensible business man, but all he wanted to do was write beautiful music.

Currently, I am reading the letters of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. They were good friends for most of their lives and exchanged lots of mail while they were founding the United States. I would recommend picking up a collection of letters from a historical figure that you are interested in because it sheds a lot of light on their lives.

We know that you are a big Nationals fan! What's the best game you've been to in person? What is your prediction for this season?
I think the best game was Max Scherzer's 20 strike out performance in 2016. He was on fire that game! It's wasn't as glamorous as his no-hitter, but the crowd was really into it and the environment was electric. I have mixed feelings about this season, because of the coronavirus; but I'm hoping that with many returning players from last year's championship team the Nats will be able to contend. They always have a rocky start but I think we can go deep into the playoffs and have another shot at the World Series.

Rose Pleskow Brightspot employee
About the Author
Rose Pleskow has been working at Brightspot since 2011 as a content and quality assurance specialist. In addition to writing employee profiles, Rose has played a critical role on a variety of client projects with her keen eye for detail and Brightspot publishing expertise. She has contributed to the launch of various projects ranging from SpecialOlympics.org to Amazon Science and Healthgrades.


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