Last updated on March 7th, 2023 at 4:45am
Meet Kevin, one of our Technical Leads on the Kion Engineering team, who discusses his love for hats, Slackbots, and emojis.
Tell us about your role at Kion.
My role at Kion is Technical Lead, which means I get to wear two hats. The first hat is that of a manager and leader within the Kion Engineering team. This means I track work being completed, manage releases, and help drive the technical direction of the team. I imagine this one would be a hard hat, sort of like a foreman on a big construction job. Then on top of that, I am also a contributing engineer on the team, taking on large work items and working them through to completion. This hat is probably something comfy like a beanie.
Most of my development work focuses on the front end of the application, or the part that end users interact with directly. This makes me largely responsible for a lot of what makes the Kion user interface great: interaction, layout, usability, information architecture, and accessibility. Of course, I don’t work on these things alone (if I did, we would be in trouble). I work closely with our product designers and the rest of our engineering team to paint the full picture. I guess this means we all wear those painter’s berets. Alright, now I’m mixing metaphors.
My passion for user interface development, mixed with the talents of the team, has proved a winning combination for Kion.
What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to and why?
When I look back on my career, the times where I've experienced the most growth are the times when I've needed help or admitted I didn't know something. By being open and transparent I get to a solution faster than I would have on my own, and I also gain a learning opportunity that I can take with me. I try to apply the same traits to my team, encouraging others to speak up when they are blocked on a task. We're big fans of learning in public, preferring to ask questions in open Slack channels over asking individuals in direct messages. I find that it helps to enable the whole team a lot faster.
How do you prefer to start your day?
I am very much not a morning person, so I try to use my mornings to get things done that don't require a lot of concentration. I try to get administrative work and light meetings out of the way early so I can clear my afternoons for more focused work.
What has your experience been with our company culture?
My primary interaction with the company culture is through emoji use on Slack. We take our emojis very seriously at Kion. But beyond the Slackbot and emoji fun, when I think about our culture I think about how well we work remotely. I think our secret is in how we lean into it, taking advantage of the benefits of remote work such as asynchronous communication. Our culture is highly transparent and collaborative, and it couldn't happen without a team that is built on trust and communication.
What are some of your most significant accomplishments on our team?
Within my first six weeks on the team, I led the effort in rebranding the application to our then-new Kion branding. In addition to that, I'm especially proud of the work that I've done to improve the accessibility of the Kion application, making the software easier to use for people with disabilities. Accessibility and usability have been my core focus as I've helped to build out several major features for our platform.
Which benefits are your favorite and why?
I joined Kion for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest was because of the remote-first policy. I got a taste of remote work during the pandemic and quickly realized that it works really well for me. Kion lets me do that permanently. I can be more productive at home in my own space. And the flexibility means I get to spend a lot more time with my family than when my commute was much longer than just walking upstairs.
How have you grown professionally while on our team?
Working at Kion has given me a chance to grow my leadership skills. I've had to learn how to manage not just my own work, but the work of others as well. It has been rewarding to venture outside my comfort zone while having the support to do so.
What's your favorite Slack channel at Kion?
It's hard to choose, so I'll pick two. We have #tunetamers (the name alludes to our former cloudtamer.io days) which is where we go to share the music we're listening to. I also frequent #culinary-corner to get some cooking inspiration from my coworkers and share some of the ice creams I'm making. And of course, there's good ol' #random which always promises to spark amusing conversation. OK sorry, I picked three. Have I mentioned how much fun we have on Slack?
What keeps you busy outside of work hours?
I have two toddlers at home, both girls. My youngest was just 3 months old when I joined Kion and in a few months, she will be 2 years old. My oldest will be 4. They love having dance parties, playing outside, and going to the pool in the summer. Aside from spending time with my family, I really enjoy cooking and, in particular, making ice cream. I spend a lot of time researching recipes and techniques and coming up with new flavors. It's a great way for me to express my creativity and, of course, enjoy really good ice cream.
What's your most recently played song?
The theme song to Gabby's Dollhouse, which is my kids' favorite show. At any given time my head is roughly 40% filled with music from that show, and I'm not ashamed to admit it's not terrible (for kids' music). My most recently played song that I got to choose (from what the girls call "Daddy music") is Kerina by Adrienne Lenker, who is currently my favorite songwriter.