Al Vermeulen was one of my systems design engineering classmates at the University of Waterloo!
He works in Seattle and lives in Corvallis - Oregon. To bridge the distance, he learned to fly.
He co-wrote a book about Java (the computer language, not the drink). At one point, it afforded him some "serious geek cachet."
He knows how to harvest tobacco by hand.
To his first job interview he wore a wedding suit. He was 34.
"I just came in and talked to folks," Vermeulen says of the interview, which led to a job at Corvallis-based Rogue Wave. "They gave me an offer that night at dinner. I think I pushed back a little bit because I heard you're supposed to negotiate these things."
Vermeulen, who oversees Amazon's huge technology operations, is something of a linguist. In the mid-1980s, as a doctoral candidate at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, he helped pioneer C++, a widely used computer language.
That expertise fit in nicely with Rogue Wave, which sold some of the first reusable building blocks for C++. (Think of Rogue Wave as a seller of ready-made foundations to software builders.)