For the win: Devs at 7 Chicago tech companies share their biggest professional wins

August 8, 2018

Everybody loves winning. It’s an addictive feeling that can only come after a challenge is bested, and professionally, it’s a recipe for growth. So why not seek out companies that encourage you to grow and win big?

We spoke to developers from seven companies about the most significant professional success they experienced at their companies, and what new challenges they see on the horizon.

 

Alex Cutlip from SpotHero
image via spothero

SpotHero lets you reserve the perfect parking spot on demand, or weeks in advance if you need to. Alex Cutlip, engineer II, is looking forward to his team’s upcoming test of blending their old company tech with the new. 

 

In your role at this company so far, what’s been your biggest professional win?

I joined SpotHero with our acquisition of Parking Panda. After the acquisition, the team and I were tasked with unifying our core business processes like inventory, pricing and accounting. 

 

Is there an upcoming project or company development you’re particularly excited about?

Now that we’re nearing the completion of that work, I’m looking forward to our next challenge — preparing the best features of SpotHero and Parking Panda to scale and grow with our business in the coming years.

 

Built In developers Michael Main and Erika Weil
image via built in

Built In — yup, that’s us — is an online tech platform that harnesses the power of content and community. Full stack developers Michael Main and Erika Weil shared their thoughts on recent triumphs and what the next challenge is. 

 

In your role at this company so far, what’s been your biggest professional win? 

Main: I’ve only been at Built In for three weeks, but I am happy with how quickly I have been able to learn and contribute to the codebase in a language that is new to me. It’s a testament to the culture and guidance of the engineering team here that I have been given the space to grow on my own while having the help to bypass the obstacles I’ve encountered along the way. But our team’s relay race win at our recent Double Dare field day was a big win, too.

 

Is there an upcoming project or company development you’re particularly excited about?

Weil: We’re currently working on migrating a lot of backend functionality from Drupal and PHP to Go. So far I’ve really enjoyed the process, and I’m excited to learn more about Go, discover creative solutions and take on leadership opportunities as we complete the project. In some cases, we’re not only replicating what we already have but we’re improving it. One feature I’m working on now will automate a task to save one of my colleagues hours of repetitive work. I’m motivated by the fact that my work has a tangible impact, and that I have a great team to work with.

 

Kevin Hurley from NextCapital
image via nextcapital

NextCapital provides investors of all types with tools they can utilize to manage and develop their investment portfolios. Kevin Hurley, a full stack developer at the company, said managing converging data systems within the company was a point of pride for him.

 

In your role at this company so far, what’s been your biggest professional win?

My biggest professional win by far has been leading the development of a proprietary integration testing framework and its associated tools for reporting on and organizing the large amount of data needed to thoroughly test the advice we’re giving to investors under a wide variety of configurations. In order to scale this setup and allow developers to easily add coverage, we had to implement many systems that allow us to seamlessly blend old tech and new.

 

Is there an upcoming project or company development you’re particularly excited about?

I’m most proud of the fact that some of the patterns we’ve established have become a model that we are trying to bring to other areas.

 

Team members at Solstice working at chalkboard

Solstice helps Fortune 500 companies better serve their customers by crafting custom digital solutions that include IoT systems, mobile application development and application refinement. Technical Consultant Alex Ottenwess is enthusiastic about the capabilities of the developmental tools Solstice recently acquired.

 

In your role at this company so far, what’s been your biggest professional win? 

My team was challenged with comparing and selecting the best of four popular cloud natural language processing engines. We took a very data-driven, scientific approach to the problem and developed an evaluation framework that compared each tool’s performance based on the same set of training and testing data. This approach gave our team and our leadership confidence to make a large investment in the best tool in the market, which in turn provided us a sturdy foundation to build upon.

 

Is there an upcoming project or company development you’re particularly excited about?

I’m excited about Solstice’s investment in data engineering and cloud computing capabilities. The combination of the two create a very powerful, easily accessible tool kit that will help transform the way our clients make data-driven decisions at speed and scale.

 

Web Engineer Rachel Brown from KAR
image via kar

KAR offers digital platforms for end-to-end car buying and selling through various marketplaces. Rachel Brown, web engineer for KAR’s subsidiary DRIVIN, said making a difference in the company after only a short time was a great thing to experience.

 

In your role at this company so far, what’s been your biggest professional win?

I have been on the DRIVIN team for two months now, but I’ve already gained so much hands-on experience. I am excited to be with a company that encourages me to work outside of my comfort zone and, as a front-end developer, I’m especially proud of the back-end code I’ve been able to contribute — taking a holistic approach to stabilizing and enhancing applications. It’s extremely fulfilling to come in as a recent boot camp graduate and have a real and immediate impact on our company’s products and customer experience.

 

Is there an upcoming project or company development you’re particularly excited about?

When you’re first learning how to code, you’re essentially learning how to build your own app from the ground up, which is something I thoroughly enjoy. Career advisors would caution that as a new developer fresh out of school, I would likely only maintain code and add new features to existing applications. I’m incredibly fortunate that at DRIVIN, this hasn’t been the case. We’re re-platforming some of our mobile apps, including rewriting the architecture. It’s one of the many perks of working for a company that remains close to its start-p roots but is backed by the robust resources and capabilities of our parent company, KAR.

 

Developer Kimberly Rowe from GTreasury
image via gtreasury

GTreasury provides banks and corporations with treasury management software they can utilize to get real-time information on the movement and status of their liquid assets across the business. Developer Kimberly Rowe added an item to her professional win column by furthering the capabilities of a key product.

 

In your role at this company so far, what’s been your biggest professional win? 

My team recently made a significant impact with updates to one of our product's core components. Our new Kendo implementation gave clients an updated interface with intuitive searching functionality. With the creation of new web services, we were also able to give users live editing features for marking frequently accessed data. 

 

Is there an upcoming project or company development you’re particularly excited about?

With more planned web services in our future, I'm looking forward to the continued innovation they will allow us to bring to the UI.

 

VelocityEHS office space pictured
image via velocityehs

Environmental, health and safety software provider VelocityEHS gives companies in biotech, mining, construction and many other industries the digital tools they need to manage their compliance and training in EHS regulations. Software Engineer II Matt Dalzell said successfully using new software tools to solve a problem was a win for his team. 

 

In your role at this company so far, what’s been your biggest professional win?

In the past year, my team completed a rewrite of a public desktop application using Electron and React. We had the opportunity to look at the problem from a fresh perspective, and seek out new technologies to help us meet our requirements.

 

Is there an upcoming project or company development you’re particularly excited about?

I enjoyed learning about these new frameworks while working on the rewrite, and I look forward to using them on future projects. Not only did we ultimately deliver a product that improved our user experience, we were able to have fun and experiment a little as well.

 

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