Meet Jimmy, a Full-Stack Engineer at Kion, who discusses career development, flexible PTO, and his chihuahua.
How long have you been at Kion, and how did you find the company?
My 1-year Kioniversary will be at the end of June! I found Kion through some incredible people I previously worked with, and once again have the pleasure of calling colleagues. Seeing all those talented, kind, and funny people gravitate to Kion, I knew it must be a great company.
Tell us about your role at Kion, what you're most passionate about, and the tools and skills used in your position.
I'm a Full-Stack Software Engineer, which means on most days, I'm implementing new features specified by our User Experience specialists in Product Design or making improvements to our existing codebase if we find something that is not working as it should. We also work closely with our Delivery & Support colleagues to meet customer needs as they arise.
Being a Full-Stack necessitates engaging with the database, server-side code, and client-side (web browser) code, but my passion is developing client-side code. I love bringing a design to life and building it to deliver a great user experience on top of well-engineered code that will be useful to future developers.
I'm in a phase of my career where I'm still doing a ton of learning. In terms of tools and skills, I use the standard developer toolset of a database client, an API client, and an integrated development environment (IDE) to write and test code. But I think, more importantly, the skills of articulating and communicating are the ones I lean on the most. I need to understand how other developers' code works, technical documentation, product requirements, and domain terminology. This means I need to be able to ask many good questions and know when to seek help from my colleagues. And when I'm the one giving a demo or code walkthrough of what I've built, I need to be able to show the value to audiences of non-engineers and engineers alike. One of my favorite new tools for communicating is FigJam virtual whiteboards. I even use it to explain stuff to myself!
I also serve in another role on our team, Scrum Master, the title of which always feels way too advanced for my degree of mastery. My team has embraced "Scrum Padawan" as an alternative. Either way, this is a team captain role. I'm not the manager calling the plays, but instead, another peer responsible for helping the team be their best as we execute those plays. This is achieved through leading discussions where we determine how much work we can commit to accomplishing in a sprint, ensuring that on a day-to-day basis, everyone has the support they need to get our jobs done, and once we complete a sprint, how we can improve by using the lessons we learned.
What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?
Everybody manages their finances in their way, and that's true for our customers and cloud service providers. Additionally, financial jargon can be a bit obtuse, and sometimes even the same term has a different definition in different contexts or to diverse audiences. Our team is working on features to support even more customization in how customers can process and visualize their financials in the application. I know that arithmetic and charts don't sound like the most exciting thing in tech these days, but ultimately, these will make the cloud make even more sense to our users. And if it makes sense to them, they can use it to do great things, which is exciting.
What's one thing you're learning right now, and why is it important?
I've been interested in component-driven UI development and bringing a front-end workshop tool into our development and documentation process. I feel this is important because Kion is rapidly growing, both as a company and as an application with more and more features. These methodologies and tools will let us scale quickly, increase knowledge sharing and quality control, and offer a medium for interacting with and testing components available to departments beyond Design & Engineering.
What parts of our mission do you connect with?
To transform organizations by empowering their people to move farther and faster in the cloud.
So, not to blow this out of proportion or anything, but there's a bunch of stuff that needs solving out there in the world. Fortunately, there are also a bunch of brilliant people out there who are motivated to solve those things. And we at Kion build something that helps them get past the technical barriers so that they can solve problems and make the world a better place.
“I love that we are able to support missions across a potentially limitless set of domains. Through collaboration with our partners in government, scientific research, education, and other sectors we're accomplishing something greater than the sum of our parts.”
Which benefits are your favorite and why?
The combination of remote-first and our flexible time-off policy grants me so much freedom and enables a work-life balance that would be really difficult to achieve in a more traditional environment. For instance, over the winter we were able to have an extended visit to see family in Wisconsin because I was able to write code in the mornings, amidst stuffed animal colleagues in our nieces' playroom, then head downstairs to catch that afternoon's matineé Pixar sing-a-long.
What's the most unique part about working here?
When I tell people my job is fully remote they generally have two reactions: "That's so convenient. I'm jealous" and "Do you feel connected to people, though?" Unequivocally, yes. We have a vibrant community even though we're all spread out across the country. I think the strength of that community is due to a lot of intentionality on Kion's part. There are so many opportunities for us to connect through "not-work" interactions. We have randomly paired virtual coffee dates, monthly team activities, lunch & learns to share our hobbies, a highly competitive team-based fitness challenge, watercooler conversation topics (turns out we have a lot of strong opinions about condiments), Slack channels for whatever your special interest is, and so, so many custom emojis.
What's your favorite Slack channel at Kion?
So many good ones, but Tunetamers is definitely number one for me. We share everything from video game soundtracks, jam bands, original jazz compositions, our not-so-secret emo/pop-punk playlists, and concept albums featuring historical audio from the space race era. It's fantastic.
What keeps you busy outside of work hours?
A 12-pound Chihuahua named Zach and a 3200-pound 1986 Volkswagen camper van.
What TV/podcast are you hooked on currently?
For TV, we just finished Ted Lasso and just started Mrs. Maisel's final season. For podcasts, I'm a regular listener of Upgrade from Relay.fm which covers all things Apple, Marketplace, and The Indicator for economics news. I'm also excited to start the recently-dropped season 5 of the investigative journalism series CounterClock by Delia D'Ambra.