At Sovrn, there’s always room for improvement. The publisher technology platform has grown dramatically since launching in 2014, but it’s not just the company that has experienced upward mobility.
A whopping 40 percent of employees have advanced internally, thanks in part to onsite and sponsored continuing education, as well as a culture that encourages everyone to think outside of the box.
We caught up with a few employees to learn more about the opportunities Sovrn offers for upward and lateral movement.
EMPLOYEES: 220; 153 locally
WHAT THEY DO: Sovrn helps publishers and content creators build and grow their businesses by providing publishers with a platform for advertising tools, technology and other services, such as a large data commons.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Boulder
NOTABLE PERKS: A focus on continuing education and learning, a flexible vacation policy, an on-site barista for caffeine fixes of all sizes, weekly yoga classes and on-site meditation rooms to practice mindful awareness, and periodic catered breakfasts and lunches are just a few perks at Sovrn.
Anna Carpinello, Software Development Engineer in Test
Anna collaborates with data platform engineers to build out automated testing for managed applications.
BEYOND WORK: Anna loves spending time in the mountains and is training to run her first marathon in December.
You were a teacher before joining Sovrn and not only have you changed careers by becoming an engineer, but you’ve been through four title changes at the company. Tell us about that journey.
I started at Sovrn with very little idea of what I wanted to do with my career. I had been a teacher, which was completely different, and didn’t really know how to fit myself into anything else. But over the past three years, I have been able to build a path of my own that has changed everything about what I thought I was as a professional. My roles have grown in technical literacy, with each step breaking me further into the engineering world. I am really grateful that Sovrn was willing to give me a shot. I don’t know how many other companies would have given me that chance with my unconventional background.
How does Sovrn welcome new engineers?
With open arms! I have had the privilege of working with multiple teams across the organization and each has been as welcoming as the next. Everyone is very open to giving assistance at any time and has created a really accepting culture. My teammates have helped me build up a mentality where I feel comfortable failing and learning quickly from my mistakes.
There’s also the Farm to Majors program, which was my first engineering experience at Sovrn. It’s one thing to learn a language or code base of a particular application, and completely another to build something from scratch with all of the appropriate planning, systems, processes, collaboration and testing associated. The Farm to Majors classes helped show me how an Agile engineering team actually operates on a daily basis and gave me a much more holistic view of what it actually means to be an engineer.
My teammates have helped me build up a mentality where I feel comfortable failing and learning quickly from my mistakes.”
What’s something you’re working on that really excites you?
Much of my new role was completely foreign to me when I started. Most of the programs were written in a language that I wasn’t very familiar with, we worked with dozens of applications that I had never heard of, and even the overall concept of what the team did was difficult for me to wrap my head around. This transition has been my most challenging yet, but I have never had the opportunity to learn so much with so much support. My teammates knew where I stood when I started and are happy to drop what they’re doing to help me out. I’m also taking online classes that Sovrn was happy to pay for. So, I still have a long way to go, but the pieces come together with each new project that I dig into.
Scott Schoenberger, Product Manager
Scott works across the engineering, data science and business organizations to help craft and realize strategies for data assets.
BEYOND WORK: Scott loves mountain biking and backcountry skiing with his friends.
What were your expectations when you joined the company? Has your experience lived up to your expectations?
Sovrn was in a period of explosive growth in a much smaller office when I started. It had already gone through an acquisition and spinoff, but since then we’ve moved into a much larger space and have acquired a handful of companies. The constant has been change, which was what I noticed when I started and what I still see now. It’s certainly not a stagnant environment!
How are goals defined for your team?
The goal for my team is to listen and empathize with our customers and build solutions that solve important problems for them. That is what drives us. It is so gratifying to hear when something the team delivered is providing real value to real people.
The goal for my team is to listen and empathize with our customers and build solutions that solve important problems for them. That is what drives us.”
What kinds of cross-collaboration occurs at Sovrn, and how has that helped inform the decisions you make?
Nearly all of my projects require coordination across different engineering groups and data science and business folks — so much so that my stakeholder meetings can get a little packed. For example, we are working with a publisher who has asked us to enrich their audience’s profile outside of our standard exchange offering. It has required the team to work across the aisle to understand how different applications work and how we can solve this particular customer’s need with existing infrastructure. We would not have been able to reach a successful conclusion without close coordination across teams.
Theresa Secore, Software Development Engineer in Test
Theresa writes and maintains automation tests for UI and API testing needs and runs manual tests for the Sovrn-Meridian application.
BEYOND WORK: Theresa has many hobbies, including developing new plant-based recipes, biking, sewing, knitting, reading sci-fi and horror novels and learning a slew of new things, including Korean, how to play the violin and guitar, and how to compost.
You transitioned from accounting to software engineering. Did you expect that kind of transition when you joined?
I knew shortly after joining Sovrn that I could probably transition to engineering. I saw that Sovrn was a different kind of company — they were willing to take risks. So I knew it was just a matter of time before I could convince them that I could do the job and become part of the engineering team. Sovrn is very open-minded, creative and not afraid of people who are willing to swim in different lanes. They saw the potential in me and took a chance.
Sovrn is very open-minded, creative and not afraid of people who are willing to swim in different lanes. They saw the potential in me and took a chance.”
What opportunities are there to work on different products, features or tech stacks?
You can apply for any available position in different departments or on other teams. Within the engineering team, I’ve had the opportunity to work on pretty much every team, and that has given me insight into how each team’s tech stack works and how they’re developing their products. It’s given me a great overview of how all the products are interlinked and work in concert together.
What about your work inspires you?
The fearlessness at Sovrn is inspiring. The adtech space is volatile and can be intimidating, but we’re not afraid to pivot when something doesn’t work. We hunker down and solve problems, try new approaches and implement new methods. We inspire each other to keep learning and growing.