Marcel Laforce

Senior Director of Engineering, Big Data
NetApp

Marcel Laforce is a senior executive with a background is in Software Development and Operational Management spanning the past 20+ years. Since late 2010, he has been in the role of Senior Director of Engineering, Big Data, Vancouver Technical Center, NetApp. In addition to his engineering responsibilities, he is also the Site Lead for the Vancouver Technical Center.

Prior to NetApp, he was at Electronic Arts for 10+ years with his most recent role being Vice President, Group Chief Operating Officer, Games Label Canada, Electronic Arts Canada. He has also held director and development management roles at Spectrum Signal Processing, Microsoft and Motorola. He holds a degree in Computing Science from the University of Alberta.

Marcel is married to his lovely wife of 22 years and has two kids – a 16 and 14 year old daughter and son, respectively. He enjoys golf, wine, photography and snowboarding.

Up Close

When did you first get interested in computers/computing?
When I was in Grade 10. I had an amazing High School Science teacher – he taught me math, Chemistry and Physics. He had a TRS-80 at home and he asked if there was interest in learning to program in our Math 10 class. Looking to get out of regular math classes, everyone agreed it would be interesting. He taught us BASIC on the blackboard and then assigned us programming assignment. We would write up the program on a sheet of paper and he'd take them home and type them in exactly. He'd bring a print out the next day and we'd correct our code and he'd rerun it the next night. Amazing devotion. It got me hooked.  

The next year, he purchased computers for the school with a 2:1 ratio (students to computers) and started a Computing Science 20 & 30 program. We started on Commodore CPM and Apple IIe computers. I spent every waking minute in the computer lab, challenging myself. From there, I knew what I wanted to do and owe it all to my High School Math teacher. I went back many years later and thanked him for the impact he had on my life.

What have been the highlight moments of your career related to Computing Science?
My time @ EA. Pushing the edges of technology, building something my mother-in-law could enjoy (my first Christmas after joining EA was spent play SSX on the PS2 with the entire family), working with extremely creative people.

What do you believe is the future of Computing Science?
Good question. There are trends from an Enterprise standpoint that I believe with continue – SaaS, Cloud Computing, Big Data with new roles coming as a result. Data mining will be critical as consumer practices change and Bricks and Mortar establishments will become secondary to virtual institutions. These changes will all result in new careers in the field of Computing Science and will include more than software development.