#Epi25: How the People of Episerver Have Grown with the Product

There are some things that never go out of style – like a little black dress or a classic pair of loafers.

There are other things that thankfully do – like Hammer pants and mullets. While other things that were once the talk of the town are, well, once again the talk of the town – we see you Beverly Hills 90210. The best things, however, continue to reinvent and reinvest in themselves for the betterment of their followers/partners/audiences/customers. Episerver fits into that latter bucket.

After 25 years in business, Episerver is seeing some of its biggest successes yet like a five-time leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management and being named the fastest-growing commerce vendor in the industry – and it’s all thanks to our employees who better our product, strengthen our partnerships, work hard for our customers, and market it all to acquire, retain and better business.

As part of our 25th birthday celebrations, we are highlighting some of our longest-tenured employees – each with ten-plus years at Episerver. Perhaps even more so than entertainment and fashion, the technology industry moves incredibly fast and these employees have helped us anticipate the next great feature our customers need, document how to use it and share how it can help. We hope you enjoy this fun Q&A highlighting how the people have grown with the product – and some interesting stories they have along the way.

Tell us a little about your role at Episerver.

Jacob Khan, Global VP of Solution Architecture: I head up the presales architects at Episerver.

James Stout, Solution Architect: I help prospects see the value of Episerver solutions through demos and in-depth technology conversations.

Shannon Gray, Solution Architect: I support the sales team by explaining and demonstrating the business value of the platform to new/existing customers.

Rob Folan, Sr. Solutions Architect: In my role as Sr. Solutions Architect, I help in the sales process by providing demos, technical deep dives, answering questions as well as facilitating understanding of our offerings.  I am basically the salesperson’s technical counterpart. I ensure that our solution is the right fit for our prospects and clients’ needs.

Per Gunsarfs, Manager, Software Engineering: I manage the development team in Stockholm who build Episerver Commerce. We add new features, improve existing and fix bugs in Episerver Commerce.

Andrea Filyo, Senior Director, Documentation: I lead a team of five dedicated technical writers in Stockholm, Nashua and Berlin. Together we manage the Episerver product documentation and release information. I also work with a team of developers in Hanoi, managing our Episerver World community website.

What is one of your first memories of working at Episerver?

Jacob Khan: When I started as an intern, I had to talk in front of the entire company and introduce myself – I was very nervous.

James Stout: I joined with Ektron in 2009. I had been a member of the community for several years prior, so it was sort of like a homecoming to walk into the office and be welcomed by people I had met and admired over the years. It was also surreal to suddenly be a part of a group of people that I looked at as the “real” developers and engineers.

One of my first specific memories aside from walking into the office is my first business trip with Ektron. I went to Kansas City to work with an existing client alongside Justin West – who also is now with Episerver. We worked together to tear apart some code looking for improvements, sure, but we also enjoyed some really great BBQ and jazz music.

Shannon Gray: When I first found out Mediachase was being bought up by Episerver, the then-CEO Martin Henricson told us he was excited for us and that great new opportunities were opening up to us. In retrospect, I more than agree.

Rob Folan: Having come from the Ektron side of the house, my first memory of working here was opening the new training center in Nashua, NH back in 2007.  I helped set up the new computer systems and began training new users on the platform.  This was a huge upgrade from the first training center in Amherst, NH. The first training center was just an old condo that had been opened up to allow for training. Our new facility in Nashua had state-of-the-art systems as well as three separate classrooms.

Per Gunsarfs: During my first year at Episerver, or ElektroPost as it was called at that time, a picture of me was selected to be used on a binder in education. Those binders were handed out to anyone taking any of our classes. It was quite surreal seeing people walk around the office or riding the elevators carrying a big picture of me.

Andrea Filyo: I joined Episerver when the company had 50 employees and CMS was on version 4.61 (today we are on 11+ with 700-plus employees). One of my first tasks was to install CMS on my computer. It was pretty complicated at that time, so I ended up having to reinstall everything on my computer (installation today is super-easy).

How has Episerver progressed since then?

Jacob Khan: I was developer number 51 when I started, and we had offices in the Microsoft office in the suburbs of Stockholm. Since then we have grown to a global company with a large amount of employees.

James Stout: Well, the biggest change for me is that Ektron merged with Episerver.

From my perspective, what this meant for the organization was greater maturity in the way we implemented and went to market with the product.

I think while our current offering is strong, we can and should use resources to do more to stand out from the crowd.

Shannon Gray: When I started in Expert Services (now Customer Success), we didn’t have Episerver Digital Experience Cloud and the Expert Services team was a couple of small scattered groups of engineers and managers. Customer Success is all grown up now, sophisticated with so many divisions and teams and integrated with Sales as it never was. And Sales has gone from something that (as far as I could see from my Expert Services standpoint) was small to much larger and more mature, sophisticated.

Rob Folan: I started as a CMS trainer back in 2007. Since then I have spent some time in our services department, helping implement clients’ sites. The bulk of my time at Episerver has been in my current role working with the Sales team. In that role I have learned new products and industries as we have grown. It is amazing to think back on the journey from demoing just a simple editor to now showing off our Machine Learning tools.

Per Gunsarfs: When I started, directly out of university, we were 30-something people working out of an office in a Stockholm suburb. Now we over 700 spanning offices all over the world. It’s been quite a journey!

Andrea Filyo: Episerver is now a bigger company, with more established processes and specialized functions. When I started, you had to step in and help out here and there. For example, organizing a customer or partner event involved all teams, from sales and marketing, to development and training – a great team building experience! 

How has your role at Episerver progressed since then?

Jacob Khan: I started as a developer and have worked in many departments since with training, dev and now sales. I now manage many people as well.

James Stout: Since joining in 2009, I’ve had a number of roles. I started out doing direct client work as a consultant, moved into marketing and more before finally ending up as Ektron’s Development Evangelist at the time of the Ektron-Episerver merger.

Where I am now, an Episerver Solution Architect, has been a pretty great role for me. I get to travel a bit, work with the most awesome team in the organization, and do a little development from time to time.

Shannon Gray: For the first eight years, I held so many roles:

  • Expert Services
  • Documentation
  • Support
  • Even some Mediachase product development and sales support

For the last three years, I’ve been in Sales as a Solution Architect. I’ve always remained technical and my latest role has allowed me to put good use of my experience in a role I enjoy more than any other.

Rob Folan: One project that sticks out is working with the Ringling Brothers Circus. This had to have been back in first half 2008 when I was still a trainer. I remember going to NYC and going up in an elevator in a typical skyscraper. I then proceeded to the receptionist to check in and find out where the training was going to take place. She walked me into a large room filled with 20 people. Each one of these people were former clowns. They all had red noses on along with wigs of different colors. I was there to help train them on the CMS they had just implemented. It was the hardest and funniest training sessions I have ever had.

Per Gunsarfs: I initially started with application support. I then switched over to a role as a software engineer where I’ve worked both on Episerver CMS and Episerver Commerce. This year I was promoted to a manager role in the same team I was a member of. I still try to be involved in the development as much as I can though, although there are only so many hours in a day.

Andrea Filyo: Through mergers and acquisitions, we now have offices in more locations, and the product portfolio has grown to be quite large and complex. The Documentation team is now globally distributed, and we collaborate with colleagues all over the world in several time zones. Challenging and fun.

What are the most memorable Episerver projects you worked on?

Jacob Khan: I remember the headless project built by a partner, I also remember working with analysts a lot and improving our ratings. The Keynotes at Ascend were huge for me. 

James Stout: I think something I’m most proud of is my participation in the developer communities of both Ektron and Episerver. This meant working closely with some of the best developers in the world. I had the rare opportunities to learn from them and, I hope, give a few lessons and inspiration back.

Working with the community meant advocating for good implementations. That didn’t only mean good code, but also a good user and author experience as well.

Shannon Gray: Working with different teams on developing a currency exchange platform for CIBC and a B2B platform for Teleflora.

Rob Folan: Today I am helping our Account Managers assist our current clients move on to our Episerver Digital Experience Cloud service. I try to bring my knowledge of all our legacy systems and how I have seen our clients use these systems and help them get more value out of our products.

Per Gunsarfs: One of the things I’ve been part of that I most happy with, was the work to do continuous release of our products.

Earlier we released a new version of Episerver once a year, if lucky. Now we do it every week. There was a lot of work going into that, and that change has greatly benefited both us, our partners and customers.

Andrea Filyo: Moving our user documentation from printed PDFs in Swedish, to the current online format, was a big step. Releasing CMS 5 and 7 were also huge efforts where the back-end was rebuilt, and a new user interface added.

And of course, transforming our Episerver World community site from a sleepy knowledge base, into a modern site running some of our latest product versions. All done by skilled developers in Hanoi.

Where do you see Episerver going in the next 25 years?

Jacob Khan: I see us becoming a larger leader in the space and growing our customer base a lot.

James Stout: Holy smokes. 25 years? No idea. I mean, look at where Epi was 25 years ago and what we are today. There’s very nearly no way to compare the two and there would be no way someone standing in the Episerver office 25 years ago could have predicted today.

What I hope is that Episerver will continue to be focused on delivering great experiences for our own customers – the administrators, the authors and the developers. Any platform that doesn’t enable those audiences doesn’t have a future.

Shannon Gray: Becoming the next Salesforce, then something new and bigger.

Rob Folan: Since in the 12 years I have been part of the company has changed. We have gone from simply making it easier for authors to create content without having to know HTML to having machine learning AI that can help market content and products automatically. Given another 25 years, I think we will continue on that path. Making website management easier, adapt to the new technologies that come out and provide even more automation. I think the big push in the future will be to easily create your content but have AI decide how and on what device or interaction beyond the website the content needs to be delivered. Episerver, I believe will provide a platform to make this easy as the number of devices and interactions grow.

Per Gunsarfs: World domination! Or at least continue to grow the way we’ve done for the first 25.

Andrea Filyo: That’s a tough one, 25 years is an awful long time. Probably something quite different from what it is today. I hear Big Data and AI are hot nowadays…

What are three words you’d use to describe your journey with Episerver?

Jacob Khan: My entire career.

James Stout: Educational. Enlightening. Exhausting.

Shannon Gray: Exciting, fun, growth.

Rob Folan: What a ride!

Per Gunsarfs: Learn, improve, grow.

Andrea Filyo: Learning, exciting, challenges.