UPDATE: Joe won the award for Best Tech Manager in the Bay Area at the 2019 TIMMY Awards!

We’re honored that our Senior Director of Platform Engineering Joe Freund has been named a finalist for Best Tech Manager in the Bay Area at the annual TIMMY Awards!

We have a long and illustrious history with the TIMMY’s, taking home the award for Best Tech Work Culture in 2018, Best Tech Manager in 2017 (for our VP of Product Brian Marchiel), and Best Tech Manager in 2016 (for our VP of Engineering Joanne Pons). Help us make it four years in a row by voting for Joe!

What Makes Joe a Best Tech Manager?

Joe is not only one of our longest-tenured employees — going on 16 years! — but also one of our most loved. A naturally gifted teacher, he is a consistent favorite around the office and in our new hire orientations. In addition to his full-time gig here at MyVest as Senior Director of Platform Engineering, Joe co-founded ShelterTech, a non-profit that provides much needed world-class technology to the homeless community.

Joe (left) with one of the winning teams at the 2019 MyVest Hackathon.

How does he promote career growth?

Joe’s hallmark as a leader is fostering a culture of radical empowerment. Team members are given total agency over their work from project conception through development, testing and deployment. This encourages them to learn every step of the SDLC and build the skills they need to progress as engineers. It’s his philosophy that a top-down approach doesn’t encourage team members to be responsible for their work — and that responsibility is critical for growth.

Joe also believes that collaboration is very important in growing a career. He pairs junior team members with experienced engineers so they can learn from their more senior peers. According to Joe, “People want to grow, and the only thing I have to do to foster that is to set up an environment where they take responsibility for their work.”

Joe’s total trust in team members extends to all levels. He recently entrusted three college interns with a 100% mission critical rewrite of application functionality. They had to learn our (very complex) software from top to bottom, and within four weeks they produced production-grade code.

How does he inspire innovation?

Innovation on the platform engineering team stems from empowerment. A naturally curious group, the platform engineering team is always looking to try best-of-breed technology. As Joe says, “If team members feel like they have agency and that they’re totally responsible for their work, they will seek to innovate.”

Joe also inspired innovation throughout the company this year as the organizer and host of our annual Hackathon.

How does he employ a clear vision to produce a great product?

Senior management has always been clear on mission, vision, and company directives. One of these directives is to “do great things together.” The Platform Engineering team members have internalized this, and understand how teamwork is essential in delivering a great product.

As one of the longest tenured teams in the company, many team members have become thought leaders within the company, sharing their knowledge at engineering town halls and team meetings. They actively seek to not only to empower themselves, but also to help other engineers to be as productive as possible. In that vein, they recently created a build support program (essentially tech support for engineers) in which they directly work with new hires to help them understand our complex product.

How does Joe ensure a great team culture?

Joe believes a strong culture is predicated on mutual respect. And respect flows naturally from empowerment. Each team member not only trusts their own work, but that of their team members. The team’s culture of trust encourages a continuous cycle of open and honest feedback.

Joe never behaves in an autocratic fashion, and decisions are as democratic as possible. Team members weigh in with their opinions and, in the case of difficult decisions, majority rules. All the team members we interviewed felt that their opinions were equally valid, and most importantly that they all felt truly heard.

As you can imagine, this culture of trust, openness and respect fosters true camaraderie. The platform engineering team regularly hangs out after hours, heading to happy hour or playing Magic the Gathering in the game room.

As one of his senior engineers puts it:

“Joe believes in me, he doesn’t micromanage, he helps me when I need help — and he’s just a nice, good-hearted person!”

Cast your vote for Joe — once a day — until Friday, September 27th (a quick & easy registration is required). The we’ll find out October 8th if Joe wins this year’s TIMMY Award for Best Tech Manager. Best of luck to Joe and the other nominees!

Want to work for our award-winning team? You’re in luck – we’re hiring across the company!