EMPOWERING Software Engineers

Senior Software Engineering Manager | Agile Leader | Software Craftsman

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Pair Programming

Overview of my journey with pair programming.

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Test Driven Development

My journey with Test Driven Development.

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My experience with the SOLID principles and how they can benefit any project.

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Automate everything and enjoy the reclaimed time.  My experience improving the path to production.

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I do best

My Skills

I am a Sr. Software Engineering Manager with a solid technical background. I have experience empowering software engineers to improve their process, products and productivity. I like to observe and understand the entire delivery pipeline. I look for the technical debt, lack of automation, and the single points of failure that are the quicksand of software development. I like to talk to the product owners and understand how our customers use our solutions and what improvements they need. I also want to understand how we use analytics to drive product and technical decisions to make the most significant impact for the customers. Driving outcomes is key.

I have introduced Gradle to my development teams. I have also introduced the concept of a three-word build which compiles the code, runs all tests, runs static code analysis, code coverage reports and produces a simple success or failure status that is easily integrated into a continuous integration and deployment pipeline. I have collaborated with both product and technical staff to automate the path to production for all products in our portfolio. I have introduced Test Driven Development, Paired Programming and SOLID to multiple development teams. I have empowered teams to take ownership of improving their craft by embracing Code Katas and Technical Book Clubs (Clean Code, Effective Java, The DevOps Handbook, etc.). I have also pushed decision making down to the lowest responsible level. I have coached both Scrum and Large Scaled Scrum teams. I have built relationships with key stakeholders that impact our customers experience to find out how they think we could improve.

I feel like the items listed above are just the start of a long journey towards leadership excellence. Soliciting feedback has helped me improve the way I lead and coach. Some of the best feedback I’ve received has come from one on ones and 360 surveys. I’m continually looking for ways to improve and make a more meaningful contribution to the organization and society. Eventually, when things do go wrong, I take responsibility. I lead blameless root-cause analysis sessions. I ask the five whys. I work with Product Owners to get risky technical debt prioritized. Operational excellence is critical for great customer experiences.

Culture is also key! I encourage my teams to create their own identity and own it. I encourage cross-team collaboration and discussion. I encourage my teams to celebrate successes and make the workplace a fun place to be. I support honest and forthright communication with an emphasis on face to face communication. I encourage my teams to innovate and have fun doing it!

Agile Leadership

I worked within a development team constructed by Steve Katra. Steve is a fount of knowledge when it comes to web based development and ideal software development practices. I am surprised by the amount of things that I was able to learn by just observing him work. I am intrigued by his opinion over development or team management issues because they are straight forward ideas but have the ability to win over any arguing side. His troubleshooting skills are admirable. I felt more confident and comfortable while coding; and was able to see myself grow as a developer under his supervision.

Kartik Yadav
Intern - Wolters Kluwer Health

Steve and I worked together as IT consultants for NVISIA. We were both assigned to the same client in down-town Chicago. From my experience you can expect two things from any NVISIA consultant 1) well above average technical ability and 2) a genuinely nice person with whom it is a pleasure to work. Steve is a great example of someone who has both of these characteristics. He is naturally extremely bright but he is modest also. I've witnessed his ability to pick up new technologies and run with them quickly and I've also witnessed him take time out on multiple occasions to be a mentor to others and/or lead by example. When something needed to be done, Steve CONSISTENTLY just jumped in and did it. In no way is this a bad reflection on the rest of the team (that perhaps they didn't do the jumping in), but it is a reflection of how smart, how quick, and how committed Steve is with regard to his work. Steve also has a great attitude -- very positive as well as very encouraging of others. It was a real pleasure working with Steve at NVISIA. I wish him the best of luck and continued success going forward. As I told him on many occasions, "Steve -- You're a star".

Eddie Meyers
Tech Lead - NVISIA

Steve Katra is a dedicated worker who will give back to the company more than he is given. He is a trusted friend and colleague and I have witnessed his late nights and hard work pay off in some of the nicer features of our intranet. For coming directly out of College and being hit with a full work load, he has handled it gracefully while still finding time to help others reach out for new learning experiences.

Peter Double
Tech Lead - Allstate