Before becoming a programmer, I was a mathematician for a long time. I received my PhD from Harvard in geometric representation theory with Dennis Gaitsgory as my advisor. Afterward, I was a postdoc at the University of Michigan, ending in May 2015, when I started with BlockApps. Although I'm fairly highly educated in category theory, which you might think is related to my interest in Haskell, in fact, I don't use the connection very much in practice. The language is simply beautiful in its own right.
In academia, my only programming experience was with the macro/functional/awful language TeX, for which I wrote a few small packages, most notably ytabeau and the unpublished trace-pgfkeys (available on my website). Compared to writing TeX, nothing else is that bad.