Code culture: 5 Colorado tech engineers share what makes their teams unique

by April Bohnert
April 5, 2019

Behind every great tech product is a team of engineers and hours of collaborative effort designing, coding, testing and iterating. Far from the stereotype of the solitary software developer, today's tech teams rely on each other to share knowledge, bring new ideas to the table and leverage their diverse skills and experiences to build something truly special. It's what makes every tech team and its culture so distinct.

Today, we're exploring the qualities that define the cultures of Colorado's tech teams and what they look for in new teammates as they scale. See what these engineers had to say.
 

Church Community Builder engineering team culture Colorado
Photo via Church Community Builder.

Church Community Builder’s cloud software helps churches empower, engage and connect their people — transforming their ministries into communities. Head of Software Development and Technology Aaron Senneff gave us a glimpse inside the culture of his team and how a willingness to both teach and learn keeps them ahead of the tech curve.

 

What are some of the most unique things about your team that make it special?

At Church Community Builder, we have a uniquely strong learning culture and subscribe to the value “give more than you take.” The team's camaraderie and mutual respect for one another make it perfectly OK to nudge a coworker and ask for help — and expect to get the help you need. We help our fellow associates succeed whenever possible.

 

The team's camaraderie and mutual respect for one another make it perfectly OK to nudge a coworker and ask for help — and expect to get the help you need.” 

What do you look for when hiring for your engineering team? How can you tell when someone has something unique to add to your culture, and are there any traits that all your team members share?

We highlight both the ability to learn and the ability to teach in our evaluation process. Due to the fast pace of change and the increasing pressure to deliver, the software industry is, unfortunately, suffering from a rampant epidemic of imposter syndrome, where even seasoned professionals doubt their capabilities and worth. We want to combat that by bringing in people who can empathetically come alongside other developers and teach them through new challenges. Likewise, it's equally important that even the most senior associates — especially the most senior associates — have the humility to ask for help and be taught when they are themselves encountering something new and challenging.

 

SpotX engineering team culture Colorado
Photo via SpotX.

SpotX brings efficiency and transparency to the complex video ad landscape, delivering a video inventory management platform that helps broadcasters and publishers streamline demand and maximize revenue. QA Manager Kate Siple explained a bit about her team’s unique dynamic and what traits she looks for in new additions.

 

What are some of the most unique things about your team that make it special?

Our team works every day to be open and communicative. We work together as a group to get projects done. This isn’t an environment where one person finishes their work and then “throws it over the wall” for someone else to handle. Each engineer has ownership over the features we release to production, and we work as a team to make sure each release is a success. We collaborate, we innovate and we evolve.

 

This isn’t an environment where one person finishes their work and ‘throws it over the wall’ for someone else to handle.” 

What do you look for when hiring for your engineering team? How can you tell when someone has something unique to add to your culture, and are there any traits that all your team members share?

At SpotX, we believe in our people. When it comes to hiring, we look for eagerness and enthusiasm. It's not always about how much somebody knows, their experience, or whether or not they got the correct answer, but rather about their capacity and desire to both learn and grow. How did they work through the problem? Did they struggle or did they have a clear and concise thought process? We are a problem-solving team, so if a candidate seems capable of catching on to concepts quickly and shows a desire to become a better engineer, then I know they will be a great fit for the team.

 

IHS Markit Digital engineering team culture Colorado
Photo via IHS Markit.

IHS Markit turns complex financial data into beautiful, intuitive user experiences and visualizations, helping businesses make their information more approachable, usable and insightful. Group Director of Technology Brett Hobbs explained why building a well-rounded and diverse team has been crucial to their ongoing success.

 

What are some of the most unique things about your team that make it special?

The people required to support our systems really make everything work through their passion, curiosity and persistence. We use such a diverse mix of technology that we need talent with a variety of backgrounds, experiences and skills. Each of our teams has its own unique flavor, and our culture of continuous learning supports cross-training and advancement.

 

We get excited when people can challenge our assumptions and bring innovative ideas to our teams and solutions.”

What do you look for when hiring for your engineering team? How can you tell when someone has something unique to add to your culture, and are there any traits that all your team members share?

In addition to looking for strong development skills, we're really looking for fit. We get excited when people can challenge our assumptions and bring innovative ideas to our teams and solutions. We need people with experience in technology transformation and a drive for process maturity. And, we want to have fun while we solve hard problems!

 

CampMinder engineering team culture Colorado
Photo via CampMinder.

There’s a whole lot that goes into running a summer camp — fundraising, staffing, communication, transportation, among countless other things. CampMinder helps camps keep things running smoothly, delivering a single tech platform that supports all of its operational needs. Software Engineer Doug Stillings opened up about his close-knit team and the unique balance of technical skill and curiosity that defines it.  

 

What are some of the most unique things about your team that make it special?

We are truly a team. We all work together to improve the company and each other. If someone is an expert in a topic, we pair them with someone who might not be as knowledgeable in that topic in order to share knowledge. Everyone enjoys the work that they do, and we have fun working together. It is not uncommon at the end of a sprint for us to all go to lunch together or to periodically do a team BBQ at the office.

 

Our team is very diverse in our skill sets, but the one thing we have in common is the desire to continue to learn...”

What do you look for when hiring for your engineering team? How can you tell when someone has something unique to add to your culture, and are there any traits that all your team members share?

We look to see if a candidate has the technical acumen in our tech stack, but also that they understand and will embody our core values. During the interview process, we ask technical questions about our core values. We might ask a candidate to give us an example of some specific technical challenge they’ve faced, but also ask if they can give examples of times that they demonstrated one of our core values. We look for people who are not robots, but who are willing to ask questions and have open discussions to make sure we are doing things the best way we can.

Our team is very diverse in our skill sets, but the one thing we have in common is the desire to continue to learn — whether that be in our area of expertise or an area that we are not as familiar with.

 

OnDeck engineering team culture Colorado
Photo via OnDeck.

Small business is a big deal for Denver-based OnDeck, whose tech platform and financing services support small business growth with easy-to-access loans. Software Engineer Mandy Swinton shared how generosity and respect serve as the foundation of their team culture.

 

What are some of the most unique things about your team that make it special?  

At OnDeck, I find everyone very generous with their help and expertise. For example, when I asked my HR representative for advice about interviewing candidates to be my direct manager,  he not only created a whole interview training course in less than a week, he also expedited the first session to make sure I could take it before my interview.

 

We are very different people who bring different skill sets to the table, but we share a general respect for each other that makes it easy and comfortable to work together.” 

What do you look for when hiring for your engineering team? How can you tell when someone has something unique to add to your culture, and are there any traits that all your team members share?

We are very different people who bring different skill sets to the table, but we share a general respect for each other that makes it easy and comfortable to work together. We look for people with positive attitudes who are excited by the prospect of making a difference in our company and can look at a process and see all the places that they could improve it, rather than being complacent with something they know isn’t right.

 

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