Hi, I’m Wade! You probably knew that, based upon the header above and the entire home page.
I’m a Software Engineering Team Lead at Synacor, a company that makes identity management, e-mail, and portal start pages for Fortune 500 corporations. Some of our clients include AT&T (where I’m currently staffed), HBO, Centurylink, and the Vatican, so I have opportunities to work on challenging and interesting projects. I’m currently leading a Front-End Portal team, which actually means I’m a full-stack engineer working with Preact, PHP, and Go, helping millions of users daily get their news, catch up on sports scores, and track their stock portfolios.
I got here the long way ‘round. When I graduated from college, HTML was still new enough that I learned to write it by reading the entire language spec. I coded freelance essentially full-time for four years, learning DHTML and Active Server Pages before embarking on a detour: getting my MBA at USC, and spending the next 10 years as a Product Manager. I very much enjoyed helping engineers and business teams communicate clearly and work together to increase revenue and user satisfaction, and evangelizing Agile processes to startups and small and mid-sized businesses.
But, ultimately, I realized that what I enjoyed most was solving the engineering problems and writing code, more than writing PRDs and mapping out the business problems. So I circled back to engineering, and became a full-time engineer after attending the Codesmith bootcamp in Venice, CA. Synacor hired me out of bootcamp, and has been an amazing place to grow. I’ve had the opportunity to wrangle some challenging features and bugs, and rose to Lead of one of the company’s most productive teams.
My approach to being a Lead is simple: empower my team and get things (including myself) out of their way. If they’re in their own way, help out with that, too.
Of course, it’s not all that simple. I also:
- Monitor Agile metrics such as velocity and rollover, to see when someone is starting to fall behind or get in the weeds, often before they do
- Engage in regular 1-on-1s, so that my team and I can have frank discussions and I can make sure everyone is working towards their own personal goals, as well as towards business goals
- Collaborate with Product Management to scope projects and make sure all tickets are high-quality, sizable, and ready-for-work by the time they hit the engineering team for grooming
- Advocate for my team as a whole, and for team members individually, with the wider organization, because when the team wins we all win
- Focus on quality, measuring that objectively through unit and integration testing, and subjectively through code readability and maintainability
- Challenge us all to be better, through regular code reviews, evangelization of best practices, and group presentations
- Communicate constantly, within the team, laterally, and upwards — I’m comfortable speaking both in a crowd of engineers and to a flock of senior managers, salespeople, marketers, clients, and more, across all of the core competencies a business must have
- Build predictable, repeatable processes that automate or standardize the work that we do over and over again, so that we can focus our energies on creating new features and improving the codebase
- Support diversity in background and thinking style, because we all work better together
Sometimes I get to write some code, too, which is tremendously fun. I try to make sure I write at least enough to understand the big picture of what the team is working on, and ideally enough to help out with troubleshooting and planning approaches to user stories. This detailed knowledge is also a great aid to focusing complex architectural discussions and designs to deliver practical, actionable, high-quality results.
At home, I’m married to the lovely Courtney, have an amazing son, and two adorable dogs. We travel as a family every year, and I sometimes also have short getaways of my own, to clear my mind. I like to visit all kinds of places, try new foods, learn to cook them, see exciting sights, and take photos of it all.