Software Engineer, Team Lead, Pittsfield

Photo of Gene Hyatt

Explain your role at VidMob and how it contributes to the Tripod?

My role at VidMob has evolved as the company has grown. I currently lead a small team of engineers who are building VidMob’s Design System. Our design system is a collection of reusable UX/UI elements that our engineers and designers use throughout our web applications. Because these elements are pre-built, it makes designing and building new features quicker and brings consistency to the way they look.

What brought you to VidMob?

I was hired as our first Front End Engineer to build VidMob’s original web application. Before I started with the company I was considering a career change, but after hearing about the platform and the goals of the company, I wanted to be part of it. Plus, the challenge of building a complete web application in two months was something I just couldn’t pass up.  Now I’ve been here for more than five years!

How did you get into your field?

I have always been interested in electronics and how they work, so it was only natural that I would end up in the technology field. After college, I worked for a local dial-up internet service provider as tech support and I had a lot of free time during the day so, I started to teach myself how to build websites. After being asked by my boss to work on his website, I began to get clients of my own and I kept growing from there.

Name three people (living or dead) who inspire you and why?

I’m tempted to say Audrey Hepburn or even Louis Armstrong, but I’ve chosen three people who are meaningful to me on a personal level.

  • My Mother: She supported me in every endeavor I ever took. From getting me to band rehearsal to just being there for me, she was the parent I aspired to be to my own children.
  • Limor “Ladyada” Fried: Ladyada and her company Adafruit have been able to build an awesome online community for people that want to learn electronics or even find inspiration for projects. Not only have they built a great community online, but they have made components and kits very affordable making it possible for students, makers, and even engineers to get solid working components to experiment with. I admire what she has accomplished so far. Read about her 100% woman-owned manufacturing company in NYC and the role they are playing in recovery from COVID-19 here.
  • Don LeClaire: I have known him for nearly 20 years. He is a mentor, fellow geek, and musician. If you have ever met him, you get it.

What do you like most about your work?

One of my favorite things about my job is the people I get to meet and work with. It doesn’t matter if I am working with someone to solve a challenge that we are facing, or if it is helping newer engineers find their footing. VidMob is an amazing group of people. Getting to collaborate and work with them is one of the things I look forward to most every day. 

What’s the biggest work or life challenge you were able to overcome? 

Work-life balance has been an issue for me from my first tech job on. I have heard people say “Work to live, not live to work,” only to watch them skipping lunch and then working until 10pm at night. For the longest time, it just seemed to be the way it was supposed to be.

After a decade of putting work first and working more hours a day than I care to admit to, my body decided that it was time to slow down and take care of myself. It was a tough lesson to learn and it took major health issues caused by the stress I was putting on myself for me to learn it. I wish I had learned to put my life ahead of my work sooner, but I’m doing my best to keep things at a more even keel these days. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Why? 

Explain it to the duck.” Rubber ducking is an old debugging method in software engineering. When you are struggling to solve a problem in front of you, stop and take some time to clear your head. Then, talk to your rubber duck, which ideally will be sitting on your desk with you. Explain the problem, using natural, non-technical language.

Oftentimes, the problem will be much easier to spot and solve when you talk it through with someone else. Even if that someone else is an inanimate object!

design systems