Dan talks about the Altitude team and his leadership philosophy.
Daniel Ostrower, CEO
After graduating as a mechanical engineer from MIT, Spencer has expanded his horizons to the world of design. His drive to understand why he engineers has set him apart from the conventional engineering world. Developing industrial sized hot glue systems, improving manufacturing assemblies, and building architectural robots has taught him the power of observation — be it closely watching his experiments or catching a falling coffee mug. He focuses his problem solving skills early in the engineering process, to empathize with users and understand their core needs.
A student of guitar legends Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix, Spencer hopes to one day play for someone other than his roommates.
Sailaja loves to learn. She spent several years collecting degrees from local universities and engaging in consumer anthropology. This comes in handy in her role as Operations Manager where she is the curator of cool and culture, making sure the needs of clients and coworkers are met. No matter what the job, Sailaja is ready to make it happen.
When she’s not ensuring altitude employees have all the beer, ice cream and post-its that they need, she can be found in and around the Somerville area hanging out with her two kids and husband, helping to change the face of early childhood education, and creating books for her children’s library.
Before making his home outside Boston, Aaron worked with new medical device technologies in Silicon Valley, where he developed a passion and proficiency for making complex systems intuitive and beautiful. At Altitude, Aaron leads projects balancing form and performance to create achievable, user-centered product experiences. He can equally champion nuanced CAD surfacing and shop experimentation.
With his daughter’s guidance, Aaron is slowly mastering the sublime game of Uno. He obsessively reads classic science fiction, because all has been foretold.
Barb is a relentless weekend warrior. An avid Boston sports fan, Barb is a keeper of batting averages, passing yardage stats, and free throw percentages. She leveraged her exceptional math skills to become a controller with a steel trap memory. She quickly realized that her efficiency, dexterity, and free-spirited nature all pointed to being her own boss. As a controller for several firms, Barb keeps us all on time, on budget, and on point. Time is money and brevity is her favorite quality. Timely expense reports and time sheets that account for every hour never fail to bring a smile to her face.
You could describe Barb as a lover of moguls and fresh powder, everybody’s favorite wedding guest, and an honest and true friend.
Alex developed his passion for user-centered design early in life, watching on as his architect mother translated her clients’ ideas into their dream homes. His father’s technical aptitude, together with a New England practicality, led him to engineering. Fortunate to serve multiple roles at Altitude — mechanical engineer, facilitator, strategist — Alex’s drive comes from the people and the process rather than the project or product.
Outside of Altitude, you’ll find Alex redesigning an abandoned building, piloting a ’66 v-tail bonanza, or having dinner with his 98-year-old grandfather on Tuesdays.
Founder & Chairman
Growing up, Brian earned the nickname “TQ,” which stood for “Twenty Questions.” To this day, he refuses to accept the status quo and voraciously seeks the not-obvious solution to challenging problems. It’s this innate curiosity that inspired him to start Altitude. What drives Brian: connecting with people. He builds fruitful relationships upon the foundation of integrity and respect. Creating an atmosphere of trust and inspiration, Brian has made Altitude into a special place, where people are supported, encouraged to continually learn, and of course, ask lots of questions.
You could describe Brian as a gregarious thrill seeker, who looks for new challenges and people to engage. He embraces social responsibility and the practice of leaving something better than he found it.
A former therapist with a master’s degree in social work, Cortney has honed an empathy-driven approach to human-centered design that builds trust and gains access. Showing a talent for connecting with people from an early age, she has spent the last 10 years in management consulting addressing systematic challenges and helping companies manage their people through large-scale organizational changes. At Altitude, Cortney is able to blend her talent for understanding people with her desire to build system solutions that provide greater reach and impact.
Cortney is an avid explorer of the world — seeking to understand the lives of people foreign to her own. She is a lover of skiing and hiking. She is happy anywhere on a beach. But her happiest moments are when she is connecting with her two children.
Describing Chris’s professional background as diverse would be selling it short—he has done everything from selling sausages to all of Red Sox Nation to teaching pre-school. But his myriad professional experiences and relationships have all shaped his ability to connect with people in a meaningful way that cannot be taught in any classroom. With a natural understanding of people, a knack for storytelling, and classical industrial design training, Chris can synthesize insights from clients and consumers in order to efficiently envision solutions to meet their needs.
Some folks might describe Chris as a polite old soul. His father calls him a “necessary challenge.” His mother just calls him an “ah’tist.”
When Dan stepped, awestruck, into the Guggenheim Museum at the age of 10, he knew immediately that he wanted to use his life to create amazing new things. He has done so through a career that has spanned technology and strategy, leadership and execution, big company and start up. He has brought new products, technologies, and companies into being. Dan is now thrilled to be leading Altitude. He focuses his energies on helping clients solve innovation challenges and building an empowered organization.
You could describe Dan as a movie maven (equal parts blockbuster and art house, please), lover of travel, and a recovering headbanger. He fancies himself a great dad, decent photographer, and compelling speaker, but these qualities all seem open to debate depending on whom you ask.
Debra left the world of marketing to attend art school, where she pursued her passion for art and design. Now in a profession that partners right brain creatives and left brain business minds, Debra is a master of extracting and interpreting individual needs, assimilating them into outcomes that are as compelling as they are intelligent. She uses her business experience to connect with her clients and their challenges and ground her emotive brand work in business strategy. She is an intuitive thinker, who brings emotional intelligence and an empathetic approach to visual design and brand thinking.
Debra is an accomplished sculptor, nature enthusiast, sometimes yogi, and people person, who loves to laugh.
Evan is a natural problem solver who is driven by the wide variety of challenges the design industry presents. Evan was first drawn to the world of design while studying Industrial Design at Virginia Tech, where he was immersed in a culture of creative and visual people who were dedicated to doing what they love. Evan is a long time member of the Altitude team, who loves taking full advantage of the diversity of talents in the office — from the technical skills to the storytelling — in the various projects he has led over the years.
Outside of the office, Evan can be found hard at work on a different kind of design, primarily building couch forts and Lego towers with his little girl.
For Joon, tapping a deep sympathy for the consumer has the power to turn an ordinary object into an extraordinary product. Joon has been a Buddhist temple monk, youth soccer player, break-dancer, frozen tuna courier, and even a member of the Korean army. These diverse — and occasionally extreme — experiences have helped him develop a better understanding of people and empathy with a wide spectrum of end users. Field research is Joon’s favorite part of any project — even if it means grooming rambunctious dogs to create new designs for a clipper.
You could describe Joon as a great Korean chef, who likes to cook everything from Korean style egg rolls to spicy seafood stew, and share his creations with friends.
Kenneth has been a first-time mom, a jet-engine mechanic, and a park ranger. Well, not really. But he empathizes with them. Kenneth is driven to deeply know what people value — and what they desire — in order to create products and services that resonate with them. Being a designer helps him envision new solutions, but having an unofficial anthropology and business degree makes sure they hit the mark.
You could describe Kenneth as a gear geek, armchair psychologist, and adventure-riding enthusiast in search of the perfect road.
A frustrated architect, Kory spent the first part of his career building houses. Turns out he was really fascinated by building teams that created homes people love. For the past 25 years he’s immersed himself in the world of design and innovation, specifically in creating cultures and environments that motivate and inspire people with amazing and unique abilities. He’s a relentless steward of democracy within the organizations of which he’s been a part — purposefully championing cultures that embrace empowerment, transparent communications, and workplaces that naturally blend creative energy and talent with business acumen and success.
You could describe Kory as a weekend captain of the high seas, someone who seeks out friends who speak the truth, and an explorer of new cultures.
A one time student of architecture and a lifelong visual artist, Lee is a Mechanical Engineer with an strong appreciation for the importance of design. This valuation extends not just to the interiors and exteriors of each product he’s worked on or admired, but to the creation process itself. With a professional background in aerospace in Los Angeles, start-ups in San Francisco, and product development in Minneapolis and Boston, his style is to use an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s perspective to solve challenging design problems from both sides.
Lee spends much of his leisure time keeping up with his two boys. He enjoys building legos or drawing with them at the dinner table, and joining them on the soccer field or hockey rink as their coach. They’re on their own for singing and dancing, however.
Amy developed a practical sense of working with her hands early in life. On a trip up a mountain in Colorado at age 9, she learned that there would be snow at the peak, so she crocheted herself a pair of gloves en route. Since then, she feels surrounded by inspiration for making useful things. She combines that inspiration with an obsession for detail, delivering her clients solid and inspired engineered solutions.
Amy thrives as a teacher. She takes full advantage of the teaching opportunities offered to her as a graduate student in mechanical engineering at MIT, where she assists with several undergraduate product design courses. Amy loves using the plethora of tools available there to push the bounds of prototyping processes — especially to make interesting gifts.
Director, UX Design
A self-defined creative realist, Philip has a passion for making things beautiful yet functional and intuitive. After studying Industrial Design in the UK, Philip joined Altitude, eventually leading the Industrial Design Group, where he got to hone his left and right brain sensibilities. Feeling the lure of digital and seeing the opportunity to further expand his passion for design thinking and human-centered design, Philip moved into the field of user interface and user experience design. He now lends his critical thinking and creative eye in leading Altitude’s UX group.
You could describe Philip as a consumer of all things tech, a tea addict, fiend for his wife’s homemade kimbap, and co-art director for all of his son’s embarrassing photo sessions at home.
VP, Program Development
Daunted by her freshman drawing critiques, Susan sought advice from her professor on how to improve. His advice still echoes: “Do every assignment to the best of your ability. Then do it again as if you were someone else.” She seized that challenge as a lifelong mission to pursue perspectives outside her own, and naturally gravitated to working in interdisciplinary environments. At Altitude she quenches her thirst for creative problem-solving by spotting new opportunities and tailoring engagements that align our clients’ success with the work we love to do.
Susan shapes her time away from work with urban adventuring, living room dance parties, and dreaming up ways to improve the pedestrian approach to the B.U. Bridge.
Tom is quick to admit that his innate interest in the world of experience design has emerged from a life-long personal and professional journey, rather than a well-defined master plan. An interdisciplinary designer at heart, he’s a true believer in Altitude’s focus on improving our clients’ business through a deepened understanding of people. Tom feels his goal at Altitude is to establish an environment where people are supported in their development, challenged in the definition of their role, and encouraged to take risks.
You could describe Tom as a wannabe Mainer, who oversees a small flotilla of lake craft and enjoys freshly shaken martinis on the dock at his camp in the deep woods.
Trained as a mechanical engineer concentrating on manufacturing, Linda has developed an eclectic mix of experience: project management for full scale launch of fine jewelry, operations and mechanical design of optics equipment, and product improvement and innovation for a medical diagnostic. Regardless of role or company size, human insight is a key to her success – be it developing a strong customer perspective or understanding the needs of the production team. She enjoys tinkering with products and designs, and always looks forward to learning something new.
Outside of work, you can find Linda cooking, swing dancing, or training to run oddly long distances (thanks to some very convincing friends).
Nathaneal blends his passion for design, innovation, and technology to create interactive and visual experiences for digital products. To make an impact on organizations and businesses in meaningful ways, Nathaneal believes these experiences must be orchestrated to delight, captivate, and engage. He has an affinity for experimenting with new technologies, prototyping early in the process, challenging design status quos, and broadening his understanding of the problem.
Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in a multi-racial family, Nathaneal’s skillset and perspective is rooted in his hybrid cultural background. Exposed to many cultures, Nathanael has developed a deep sense of empathy and curiosity about the world he lives in, a trait that has become an indispensable advantage in his problem-solving and creative processes.
At the age of 21, Marco began traveling the world as a merchant marine, where he became one of the most tech savvy geeks on board the ship. He mentored crewmembers on the knowledge of technology, software, and systems engineering. With a passion for tech solidified, Marco eventually jumped ship to pursue IT. At Altitude, he manages all aspects of the IT infrastructure, enabling the creative forces of the designers and engineers through his technical support.
When not fixing Internet connections or rebooting the server, Marco loves cooking portuguese food, spending time with his family and being a one man comedy show for anybody who’ll watch the act.
Jon finds inspiration wherever he looks, from details in nature and science fiction to cruise ship assemblies and food truck interiors. He is passionate about the fusion of science, technology, culture and its interaction with people. Whether it is experimenting with new materials and methods, or fast paced sketching and prototyping, Jon comes at problems looking for opportunities that put users first.
As a champion of breakfast foods, both in cooking and eating them, Jon gets up early on weekends to tackle both. He loves exploring Boston’s museums, and running the city’s historic streets.
Early in life friends starting calling Gretchen the ‘Energizer Bunny’ and it stuck. She is always in action, doing the unexpected, seeking new ways to enjoy life and help her fellow humans succeed. Tough challenges energize her. In particular she loves immersing herself in customer experiences with an eye toward making them better. As an action oriented dreamer who reaches beyond the expected, innovation is a natural place for Gretchen to land.
A recent California transplant with her 2 young kids and 3 dogs, she is busy acclimating to Boston. On the weekends she can be found with her gang adventuring outside, coaching soccer and thinking up new things to try like building a tree fort or creating a Scooby Doo parade.
A born creative, Ted is a now a skilled typographer and digital designer with a passion for creating immersive experiences that captivate and inform. His background in illustration inspires his sensitivity for detail driven design, while his interest in the technology and the psychology behind design makes him sensitive and responsive to user needs. Ted is a member of our experience team where he works alongside our lead designers helping clients explore the unknown and conceptualize solutions for their ever-changing digital branding needs.
You could describe Ted as a down to earth, trained visual thinker, and in general a very tall person, who in his spare time you can find reading Wired magazine, working on personal design projects, teaching himself new software, hunting for the best craft brew, and critiquing the design of everything around him.
Since a young age, Scott has always been an explorer. This has led him to pursue a variety of interests that, to some, may seem to be a paradox. He’s been called both an entrepreneur and a management consultant; an architect and an engineer; an athlete and a thespian; a small town kid and a big city dweller. In the end, perhaps the best way to describe Scott is a creator with a strong passion and belief that together we can build a better future.
Outside the office, you can find Scott on the golf course in the summer and snowboarding or playing pickup basketball in the winter. Regardless of the time of year, he’s always up for a good debate with friends about how to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges (ideally over great food and drinks of course).
Along his journey to a robotics graduate specialization in Chicago, Sherif tinkered with high-performance remote-controlled cars during high school in Egypt. Sherif thrives on change, contradiction and adaptation, which he considers engines responsible for the creativity and dynamism of our species. Most recently, he’s been helping Accenture’s clients improve their innovation capabilities, while hunting for our own next big ideas to test and design.
Outside the office, you’ll find him reading on lazy days, hitting the tennis courts on active days, scuba diving or trekking when traveling or just enjoying food & drinks with laid back company.
Jonathan fuses his experience in business – developing innovative offerings to drive new business,; his education in Human Centered Design – from Northwestern University’s Segal Design Institute, specializing in Design Thinking, Research, & Strategy; and his passion as a burgeoning creative (Film photographer & Jazz guitarist), to approach complex challenges such as these with a holistic perspective and inspire innovative solutions.
Outside of work, you’ll find Jonathan running along the Esplanade pacing for his next half-marathon, hiding out in a Film Darkroom, or brushing up on his jazz chops to sit in at the next jam session.
From Steve’s first job out of design school, he has viewed every situation as merely another campfire requiring story-telling to keep people engaged, enthralled, and on a shared path. This has held true through design firm development, business school, corporate innovation leadership, and most recently, tech startup success. Steve is also no stranger to leveraging design thinking and methodologies to guarantee innovation that resonates with actual humans. He firmly believes in ensuring every solution is focused on insights about your audience and building champions through collaboration. Being both cursed and blessed with the need to be visual, his mantra is “let’s take it to the white board.”
When Steve is not connecting the dots at work, he’s helping his wife make her encyclopedic knowledge of biochemistry more accessible to non-PhD humans in her metabolic nutrition practice, or working backstage at one of his teenage daughter’s school of rock shows, while all the time, romanticizing about the bygone days when he played drums on stage at CBGB’s in NYC. Come spring, Steve plans to find, join or form a road cycling ERG at Accenture.
As most stories begin, Andrew was contemplating a future career in either business or design while living in Uganda and managing a startup agribusiness (…he was a pig farmer). As things would turn out, he put off making the choice either way and continued doing both, as a management consultant at Accenture and a student-turned-professor at Parsons, until they finally merged. Now, you’ll find Andrew infusing his passion for user-centered design with a keen understanding for business, helping organizations make strides into the future by designing and launching game changing products and services. And he’s still a professor of strategic design at Parsons.
Outside the office you’ll often find Andrew watching English football on Saturday mornings, reading the latest news in design, entrepreneurship and innovation, preparing lessons and grading, or spending time on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his lovely wife and friends.
While Nadine spent several years developing innovation for CPG companies like Frito Lay and Mars Snackfood, she has also left the comfort of corporate behemoths to develop innovative IoT strategies for medium sized private companies and a small Silicon Valley start-up. She loves developing the new and different – understanding what makes consumers tick, why they make the choices they do & how to deliver their unmet needs. She’s never happier than when she’s identified a ‘big idea’ at the intersection of consumer & business need and figured out how to bring it to life.
When Nadine isn’t working, she’s typically wrangling her husband, two rambunctious slightly spoiled kids, and a quirky dachshund. She loves Zombie comedies, cheesy reality shows, any movie that has an absurd montage, as well as travel, and hiking when it’s warm enough.