David was nominated for our Career Spotlight by Vy, the Director of Product Development. David has held various roles at REW that have given him a really well-rounded view of the business, which his peers and the industry can benefit from learning about. He has also been recently promoted to lead of the Product Enhancement squad in Product Development.
Hello David! What's your favourite thing about working at REW?
Every day I come into work it's different. Something's different. And sometimes it's interesting when you come back from vacation because a lot of things have become different. I mean different in a good way. It's not instability or scary—it's just different. Every day it's a new task and we're really focusing on making ourselves better. I feel like every day we're improving. Some days it's a really big step, other days it's a tiny step, but we're always moving in this positive direction, and I really like that. It's something that has really been driving me.
What do you enjoy about your specific job and the work you do?
Motivating people. It's been kind of an interesting transition because my job used to be more about motivating myself—not to say that was difficult [laughs]—but just writing my own code was something that I was passionate about. And now my role is more about inspiring others to write the kind of code that I would like to write. My time is much more focused on providing guidance and really motivating people; just finding what motivates people to strive and make our product better, and how to work as a team.
Can you give us a rundown of your history here at REW?
Sure. It starts in 2010 and it's been ever-changing! I started out in Customer Support, just managing the phones, emails, all that. The company was small—I think there were about 32 people when I first started.
About a year later, I became a team lead and that was a lot of fun. I had never been in a supervisor position before so it was a really good learning experience. Then I transitioned over to an Educator role, focusing on Support training, which I did for another two years.
After that, I moved over to programming. It was really fun because I got to do things that I previously hadn't done before and I really got an appreciation for what programming does.
Then I moved back into Support, and focused primarily on code review. One of my first main tasks was transferring our code source. Our existing source code was managed using Subversion, and one of my first tasks was to move Subversion over to Git.
That was really interesting and really fun. I ran into some interesting hurdles there and really had to overcome them in some strange ways. Like installing my own distro of Linux, just so I could get the right version of YAML, because the one that was available on our production servers had a bug in it.
What advice do you have for others considering a job in programming?
Never stop learning. That's probably the greatest advice I got from one of my teachers in college. “If you learn anything at this school, at least learn how to learn.” That really is an asset.
There's some things you're going to learn in school and you're just not going to get it, and that's probably okay. But if you learn how to learn, then not only do you start to really retain the knowledge, but then you also learn what you're really interested in.
That's one of the other keys: doing something that you're passionate about. If you're not passionate about it, you're probably not going to pay too much attention.
And finally, as a programmer, don't just read about it. Try it. That's the best way to learn. Try it and, if it breaks, try to fix it. Try it, break it, strive for something, and think about the steps you need to take to achieve your goal.
What's your favourite piece of technology at the moment?
I'd have to say Git. Git's really cool. Git likes to look at code changes not only as set of changes, but also as the steps on how to implement those changes again. It's like a recipe. Think about it like baking a cake. "I tried a bag of salt. No, that was not good. Let's take a little less salt." …You don't want to give a recipe with all of your mistakes. When you publish it, you want to have that nice set of steps—and that's really what Git will help you to do. If you're going to implement it on your own project, this is how you do it.
What do you do on the weekends for fun?
Weekends used to involve bike riding, or hiking, board game nights. Now my wife and I, we're a family of five. We have our son Owen—he's nine weeks old—he's so tiny, but he's growing! We also have two foster kids right now. They're really great. One goes to elementary school and the other is in daycare.
What are your top 3 favourite destinations on Vancouver Island?
Mt. Washington. Definitely Long Beach but we don't get there often enough. Same with Mount Washington. It's always a trek, but I'd say it's worth it! One other favourite destination is Parksville. The sand flats, and there's so much mini golf! It brings a lot of good childhood memories.