It’s time the software team share some of the spotlight. Five members of the Dialexa software development team—Luke Gordon (VP Software Development), Simba Musarurwa (Solutions Engineer), Kia Wright (Front End Developer), Ehis Ojielu (Full Stack Engineer), and Brady Walker (Software Developer)—took the time to explain what a typical day looks like for them.
How Do You Get Your Day Started?
Simba: I wake up at 4:50, get ready and then ride my bike to the gym. After about an hour at the gym, I ride back, cook breakfast and do some light reading until about 7:30 when it’s time to head to the office. I ride my bike to work and I’m in by 7:40 to start the day. I make my coffee and start planning my tasks for the day, front loading efforts because I have the most energy earlier in the day.
Kia: Especially during crunch time on a project, I like to wake up at 7 and get to the office around 8. For me, Post-it notes are the best way to keep track of tasks so I spend time in the morning writing out my tasks and sticking them to my monitor. Then as the day goes on, I can get the satisfaction of crushing each one and moving along.
Ehis: When you’re a software engineer, you tend to get stuck in your own little bubble of work. So in the mornings, I like to listen to podcasts while I get ready. The topics could be politics, technology, or anything really just as long as I can think outside of work until I’m in the office.
What do you do every day to integrate projects?
Luke: One of the biggest things to keep in mind is that there aren’t any “typical projects” at Dialexa. Every project is different whether it’s in hardware, software, or a new industry and we have to be able to adapt our approach. Being T-shaped is the best way we can contribute to integration on a daily basis—thinking where I can offer the most value and where I can help others who are struggling.
Brady: The standup is our most important daily meeting as everyone gives a quick overview of 3 things—what did you accomplish yesterday, what will you accomplish today, and blockers for those tasks. Understanding the blockers is most important because it helps us collaborate better and see where we can apply the T-shaped mindset. Especially for me in QA, the standup shows me what I need to do to work alongside project managers and developers every day.
When are you most productive?
Kia: Simba’s plan to take out the toughest tasks early might be the best approach, but I feel more productive when I build momentum early. I take out small tasks so I can cross them off and start doing my heavy lifting later in the day. There’s always a lull in the afternoon, but early mornings and late evenings are when I get the most done.
Ehis: I don’t necessarily fit the night owl developer stereotype, but I’m closer to it than others. My productivity definitely lies toward the end of the day. After I’ve gained momentum through the morning and afternoon, I take care of the biggest challenges between 3 and 6 (and beyond). It’s like two bursts—in the morning I put out fires and then later in the evening you hit the groove and start moving quickly.
How much interaction do you have with clients throughout the day?
Simba: This is another question that depends entirely on the project. A major project with 10 or 15 team members would have a dedicated lead engineer or project manager, so we probably wouldn’t have much client interaction outside of demos. But with a small project, a solutions engineer like me could be the primary point of contact.
Luke: There are times when we go beyond status updates for clients and provide full workshops for a system. If we have a project that is very complicated with deep business logic and a lot of nuances, we have to get in the system with the client and see how they’re using it. The design team is often responsible for this level of research, but from a QA standpoint I need to understand workflows so the build covers all bases.
How do you overcome any roadblocks in your tasks?
Brady: Daily routines might be different for everyone, but this is something we all agree on. If there’s something keeping us from getting a task done, we have to talk it through with someone every time. The general idea is that if you’re stuck for more than 15 minutes, it’s time to talk it out with a colleague for a new perspective.
What do you do to make sure you continue to grow (both personally and professionally)?
Ehis: Reading blogs is a great way to learn how to solve new problems. One of my favorites is the Instagram Engineering blog. But sometimes reading isn’t enough. When I had to learn the new Angular 2 framework for a specific client project, it helped to get practical experience. Building something small with Angular 2 before getting into the client project helped me gain a solid understanding of the framework faster than I would have from reading alone.
Simba: Internal demos and our Lunch and Learn series are two ways Dialexa helps push both personal and professional growth. We usually do internal demos at the end of our two-week sprints so we can bring people from outside the project team in to offer a new perspective. When you work on a project so long, it’s easy to lose sight of some of the finer points. A second set of technical eyes helps us all learn more about the work we’re doing.
The Lunch and Learn initiative comes up every Wednesday when a team member gives an educational presentation. It could be on anything really, ranging from highly technical engineering to how to brew the best cup of coffee. We always want to learn more and we want to keep practicing how we share our knowledge with others.
Luke: Stemming from the Lunch and Learn, we also did a Beer and Learn recently after hours. Instead of the usual internal focus, we’ve started focusing on showcasing our lessons for local companies. We gain more experience by teaching and we get to help the local community at the same time.
What do you do outside of work?
Kia: I came to Dialexa through a shared Crossfit connection and now Crossfit has become a big part of the Dialexa culture. And on a higher level, I think we all share a similar feeling that exercise is a big part of our free time. When you’re so plugged into technology all day, it’s great to take a break and experience the physical world. I also have a personal goal to take 1 international trip every year and I run a small business in my spare time.
Ehis: It’s great to unplug from technology outside of work, but I like to stay creative. I’m a musician, so when I go home I spend time in my studio practicing my instruments and getting creative with music. And then on the weekends, it’s great to check out the Dallas music scene and play around with fellow musicians.
Delivering Results Isn’t Just About Coding
If there’s one thing our software development team proves, it’s that delivering results in the tech world isn’t just about coding. There’s a serious dedication to the projects (so much so that Kia told us she has to commit to taking more breaks to stay productive), but sometimes you have to unplug for the job (and from Slack).
If you liked this article, listen to Dialexa’s VP of Software Engineering, Andrew Turner, on Custom Made talk technology reliability and security and how in today’s current landscape CIOs won’t get promoted if everything works. But they will get fired if anything doesn’t:
Listen to all episodes of Custom Made for insights and perspectives from industry disruptors and technology leaders.
However, even if you have a superstar software team, it won’t mean much if your company strategy isn’t on the right track. If you want to learn more about aligning your business (and individual teams) for success in digital transformation, download our free ebook, Enterprise Technology for Business Outcomes.