By Tracy Miller Geary
Even as a young alumnus of Khoury College, Arra Derderian (BS CS ’05) believed in the future of cloud-based technology. “I liked working with clients and solving their technology problems,” he says, leading him in 2008 to found Cloud Construct, a digital service company that takes a product from design to inception to delivery.
“Our niche is helping start-ups get to market correctly the first time,” he says. “For example, we were instrumental in setting up the fantasy sports league, DraftKings.”
Derderian looks back on his co-op experiences at Northeastern and credits them with helping him relate what he learned in his classes to real life. “In computer science, they teach theory – a ton of math and physics and an actual understanding of computer science – but the co-op is a unique experience,” he explains. “I could apply what I learned.”
His first co-op experience in 2000, at a law firm, occurred just as the tech industry boom crashed; work in the field of computer science was scarce. Derderian found a better fit with his second co-op, as a quality assurance engineer at Network Intelligence, a company that specializes in real-world networking solutions.
“At the end of my co-op, they asked if I wanted to come back,” he says. “I said yes and worked for them for the next four years” in both a co-op capacity and eventually as an employee.
His time as a member of Alpha Kappa Sigma also stands out as a defining element of Derderian’s college experience. After rushing the fraternity as a freshman, he went on to “hold all the positions a brother can hold,” eventually becoming president, an experience that taught him how to manage a household. “We had a house in Jamaica Plain, and we had to pay bills, do work around the house, you name it.” Twice Derderian was awarded the Alpha Kappa Scholarship, an award given to the most deserving brother with the best GPA and the best qualities. “That scholarship made it possible for me to stay at Northeastern,” he stresses. On a personal basis, he attributes his academic success to guidance and assistance from his parents. “Without them,” he says, “I never would have been able to attend or succeed at a university like Northeastern.”
After graduating, Derderian worked primarily as Senior Software Engineer at several companies, including Triton Digital, Ando Media Group, and Molecular. It was through his work in web development that he decided to start his own business. He credits his wife Laura, who always supported his decision to start a business, as “a big reason Cloud has succeeded for so long.”
After almost 12 years as president of Cloud Construct, Derderian recently hired a CEO to take over the day-to-day operations. Now, as chairman of the board, “I’ve come full circle,” he says. “My new position has me setting the course for Cloud Construct for the next two to five years.” For the past 10 years, they’ve been building a brand and providing strong client satisfaction, but Derderian says that now is the time for the company to “look down the road with a strategy.” He will be leading that initiative and “trying to round out the team with people to help us achieve our goals.”
His association with Alpha Kappa Sigma has also come full circle, in his newly appointed role as a member of the fraternity’s 8-person trustee board. “We just celebrated our 100th anniversary this fall,” he points out.
Reflecting on the connections he made through his co-ops, fraternity, and classes, an encounter with then president Richard Freeland stands out in Derderian’s memory.
“I needed an on-campus parking pass in order to make my co-op work, so I emailed him and he made it happen!” Derderian considers that experience one of many “cool moments” and connections at Northeastern. In the future, Derderian hopes to develop a co-op opportunity at Cloud Construct for Khoury students.
In October, Derderian was appointed Director of the Solutions Integration Lab at Digital Construction Works, a services-based company that aims to improve efficiencies in the construction industry. Through key performance indicators (KPI) and augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), they plan to develop a “digital twin of a construction site, an accurate representation of a physical job site as it exists in real-time.”