What these Austin engineering teams value outside of technical talent

by Kelly O'Halloran
April 9, 2019

The most effective engineering teams share more in common than technical abilities. While coding skills are a must, they’re typically not what differentiates one team from another.

For these Austin tech companies it’s all about what each engineer brings to the table and how they gel with their teammates. Culture, camaraderie and an eagerness to solve problems carry just as much weight as technical chops, and in some cases more, for the devops teams at these local organizations.

 

lee from bestow
image via bestow

Bestow’s engineering team thrives in the insurance tech space partially because of the varying backgrounds of its members. Lee, a senior engineer on the team, shared how this affects their approach to problem solving.

All of our team members are friendly and easy to get along with, regardless of workload.

What differentiates your engineering team from others?

A lot of people on our team have had completely different careers before getting into software development, which gives our team a wide range of perspectives during problem solving. This leads to very interesting conversations around the office.

 

What do you look for when hiring for your team, and how can you tell when someone has something unique to add to your culture?

We look for culture fit and technical agility. I think it's very illuminating to observe people's thought process during an interview; there's never just one answer. It's not an exam, so I want to see what perspective they have when solving challenges.

 

Are there any traits that all your team members share?

I really like that all of our team members are friendly and easy to get along with, regardless of workload.

 

new knowledge engineers
image via new knowledge

Michael Rodriguez, an automation engineer at New Knowledge, declared their team “the loudest engineering team you’ll ever know.” Here’s what that means and why it’s important.

We’re passionate about the contribution we make to maintaining information integrity.

What differentiates your engineering team from others?

We are a powerhouse of engineers with unique skill sets that allow us to produce at a rapid pace. We’re also the loudest engineering team you’ll ever know. Because we’re really good friends inside and outside of work, we often turn heads in the office with our habitual laughter. In addition to the laid back atmosphere, there are also opportunities for growth on our team. Our manager’s journey from an engineer to a leadership position is a testament to the upward mobility available to us. The engineers, including our manager, operate in an open space with no boundaries between our desks. We’ve found this is the most productive environment for tackling ad hoc requests and long-term projects that require frequent communication.

 

What do you look for when hiring for your team, and how can you tell when someone has something unique to add to your culture?

We look for someone who is easygoing and intelligent. We love enthusiastic people who enjoy brainstorming and mentoring others. We try not to have all team members share the same traits because we understand diverse experience and ideas lead to a better product. What we look for is a willingness to think outside the box in order to solve difficult and interesting problems.

 

Are there any traits that all your team members share?

We not only enjoy the work we do but we’re also passionate about the contribution we make to maintaining information integrity.

 

proof engineering team
image via proof

Greg Kopyltsov, a staff software engineer at Proof, loves his engineering team for many reasons, but we asked him to highlight the main ones. He chalked it up to the depth of knowledge, adaptability and comradeship that his teammates share. Kopyltsov, who has worked on multiple engineering teams prior, said it’s this team that he’s felt most supported by with members always willing to lend a helping hand.

We don't believe in building products in a vacuum. We talk to our customers every day.

What differentiates your engineering team from others?

The team's knowledge, when aggregated, becomes a resource that can defeat the intricacies of webpack, or go deep into the fiery depths of the backend. We can find optimizations to how we are sharding our Kinesis streams or indexing our ElasticSearch clusters. Our unique project planning and execution style, as well as flexible teams, has created highly adaptable individuals that feel comfortable switching gears when necessary and contribute seamlessly to any team they join.

 

What do you look for when hiring for your team, and how can you tell when someone has something unique to add to your culture?

We are in our early growth phases, so we're building frameworks and laying foundations that will shape the product and company for years to come. That means we're looking for leaders. We're looking for software engineers that get excited about building software right, following best practices, and future-proofing their work. We look deeply into a candidate's previous projects and teams, and seek candidates that can speak well to how they specifically contributed to projects in the past.

Currently, we are also seeking software engineers that can zoom out and reason about software architecture as a whole — not just their particular domain or project.

 

Are there any traits that all your team members share?

We're an eclectic group of people for sure, but one trait we all have in common is that when we see a problem we don't just shrug our shoulders and move on. We think of a way to fix it, and then we fix it. Another quality we all share is our customer obsession. We don't believe in building products in a vacuum. We talk to our customers every day, we listen closely, we learn and then we work hard to ship products that will delight our customers.

 

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