- by Cody Erben
An Inside Look Into Our Technical Career Path.
With my bags packed on Thursday, September 12th, 2019, I embarked on the longest, yet most fulfilling journey of my career. Heading to the Boise airport, I knew the next time I laid eyes on Idaho things would be different, but I could not be prepared for the magnitude of how much.
Joining me on this adventure is another first-time traveler to India, fellow software architect from our Sacramento office, Scott Bloom. Late in the morning on the 14th of September and 7,890 miles from our Meridian office, Scott and I met another group of In Time Tec travelers in Jaipur. Soon, we were all surrounded by co-workers from our India team who treated us like family.
Scott and I represented two of the senior leaders of our US-based engineering staff on this trip. We had a variety of things to do during our two-week stay in India – visiting the Jaipur and Bangalore offices, connecting with teammates, and meeting with the technical leaders of our India team, all the while immersed in the Indian culture each day. Additionally, we would also participate in a two-day technical workshop occurring at both the Jaipur and Bangalore sites during our visit.
After several days in Jaipur, I traveled mid-week to Bangalore, affording the opportunity to attend the Friday and Saturday sessions of the technical workshop in their entirety. This workshop was designed to enable our next generation of 60 technical leads and mentors to continue their training in software design principles. It allowed them to apply the knowledge they have been gathering on-the-job, in their personal time, and through our development program, and put it into practice.
As In Time Tec continues to grow our software services client base and software product offerings, we need to build development teams with the right mix of skills. To ensure our developers have experienced leaders available to consult as we deliver software to our clients, we recognize we must provide a technical career path to build our technical leads and architects. There are 60 engineers in this path currently, with developers partnered with senior technical leaders as mentors studying software design principles (such as S.O.L.I.D.) and software modeling techniques. To get on the court with the training though, we cannot just spend time acquiring knowledge through reading and videos – we MUST practice the craft. The technical workshop was created to do just that.
On Friday morning, September 20th, I headed up to the top floor of the hotel and met up with the workshop participants and the technical mentors from the Bangalore office. I have worked with a number of the participants during my tenure at In Time Tec, knew of a handful of others, and soon became connected with the new faces. As founder and Chief Technology Officer Rakesh Sawan spoke to the participants to introduce the workshop, I was inspired by the commitment of the participants and their mentors. The ability to jump in and participate with Rakesh in leading the workshop was a great experience. The opportunity to be on the court participating is how this workshop solidifies the journey we are on as a company to build our technical staff. It also gives Scott and I the experience, insight, and tools to take back with us as we continue working with our US-based engineering staff to develop the next generation of technical leads.
After an introduction, the first project for the day was introduced. The participants would have several hours to work in a group to design class and entity relationship diagrams for an inventory management system. This exercise was designed to simulate a possible client scenario where there are some clear requirements, but there are also areas of vagueness. The first task the teams needed to tackle was to break down the problem and ask questions (from the mentors representing the customer). This is where the training eclipses the technical knowledge. Instead, it starts to build the leadership skills of taking action and driving a solution instead of waiting to be told what to do or how to do it.
After the teams spent several hours understanding the solution and creating a class diagram and entity relationship diagram, each team then presented their design to the entire group. Over the next several hours, we grew together by leaps and bounds, not because the perfect designs were presented, but because we actively engaged to analyze each design, question, discuss, and provide feedback in a manner consistent with our company values. We were not out to make each other wrong or to demonstrate one’s superior knowledge, but instead, the mentors and teams collaborated in real-time.
Once all the group projects were discussed, the second phase of the workshop was introduced on Friday evening. Using the training to-date, including the session from the current day, each individual was assigned the task of creating a design document for an E-Commerce system. This assignment was due at 8AM on Saturday morning, and then for the rest of the day, we would analyze as many solutions as possible as a group.
This second exercise would stretch the participants by exercising additional areas of software modeling such as creation of architecture and sequence diagrams. Also, it afforded the opportunity to continue to dive into S.O.L.I.D. design principles. Even though there was not a single line of code written over the two days, S.O.L.I.D. principles showed up continually through the discussions on Friday and Saturday. Whether we are designing a system or implementing it, we consider these principles at each step to ensure we deliver high-quality code on-time for our clients.
The technical workshop was one of many experiences on this trip that cemented our company value of One Team. It is One Team between our Jaipur and Bangalore sites, it is One Team between our India and US sites, it is One Team between our Meridian, Portland, and Sacramento sites, and it is One Team between our In Time Tec and client teams. To solidify the One Team value, the India and US senior technical leaders are committed to showing up for each other on each side of the world. As workshops continue in India, I look forward to attending again and bringing along developers from the US team with me. Additionally, our US technical staff looks forward to our teammates from India joining us as we host technical workshops in the US.