When you think of tech talent, it’s easy to limit that purview to developers and programmers. The Valley is loaded with opportunities for tech talent, and they span far more than coding gigs. In this episode of our special series on TechTalent, Heidi Jannenga, co-founder and president of WebPT, discusses misconceptions new grads have about tech jobs, what makes her top employees stand out and what they look for in the hiring process.
How do you define top tech talent?
There are these mythical creatures we’re always looking for as full spec engineers who can span the different areas of development including DevOps, the delivery team world in the cloud, and coders that are very well versed in the latest languages. They understand how to build large-scale platforms and converge and integrate different parts of technology and platforms together. I think they are problem solvers, have empathy and they understand the customer is the most important piece of the puzzle.
Are there particular qualities you look for in tech talent?
Of course we look for their technical competencies first and foremost, but as an organization, WebPT hires for culture first. We’re looking for motivated and passionate individuals who understand our purpose and vision, and can really get behind it. We want people who are very collaborative and work well in teams. We have an agile work environment, so we have smaller team groups that work together. We look for people who understand the importance of quality of code and putting out good, bug-free products. Top talent are those who continue to challenge themselves to learn more, don’t think they have all the answers and are open-minded.
Thinking of your best employees, what has made them stand out?
It comes down the problem solvers. They’re nerdy, geeky and hobbyists. They’re problem solving when they’re not even here, and then they come in super motivated when a lightbulb goes on. They fully embrace the purpose of our organization, including our members and the problems they’re having. Our best tech employees are those who are efficient, love what they do and love to inspire others.
What roles do you have the toughest time filling?
I asked our director of software development that same question and he said, “All of them!” Programmers, DevOps, scrum masters, product managers, and product owners, we have quite a few opportunities open right now. If you go to webpt.com/careers, you’ll find what we’re interviewing for.
How do you recognize some of your best employees?
We hold a monthly stand up in which we have a special kudos section where we recognize folks for their valiant efforts. We also have our annual holiday party where we recognize 11 people in the organization that have gone above and beyond our core values. We also have a newsletter where we spotlight employees and share feedback so they can continue to grow and develop as employees. Different departments recognize employees in different ways.
If you were mentoring a group of emerging tech talent students, what’s one thing you’d want them to know?
There are many different opportunities within development. When people think of development, they think of the guy with the hooded sweatshirt coding away. But there are so many diverse opportunities, including IT, scrum masters, developers, quality assurance folks and then the whole product management side.
Is there one book you would pass along to emerging tech talent?
“Rework” by the founders of 37signals. It is about how to build software, as well as some of the business principles behind it. It is important as a technologist to understand how your role fits into the overall organization.