Every few months we sit down with a team member at Digistorm to talk about their life, their career, and what their experience has been since working at Digistorm. In this interview, we chat with Mark Whitney, one of our Senior Developers on Funnel. We cover Mark’s passion for development, his hobbies outside of work, and what he loves about working at Digistorm.
Regan: Would you mind introducing yourself and your role at Digistorm?
Mark: My name’s Mark Whitney, I work in the dev team here at Digistorm. There were already two Marks in the team when I started, so everyone at Digistorm knows me by Whitney.
Regan: Tell us a bit more about what you work on within Funnel.
Mark: So I work on both the front end and back end, I also help with the designing of the system.
When I started at Digistorm, Funnel was the next project that was on the horizon. So, I guess one of the most satisfying parts of working at Digistorm was being able to start at that time and become a big part of designing Funnel, and then seeing where it is now and how many schools are using it every day. It’s just really satisfying to have been part of that.
Regan: What was your journey into becoming a developer - was that always the plan?
Mark: So I went to uni after I finished school but I didn't really know exactly what I wanted to do. I started doing a dual degree of exercise science and IT. I quickly realised that IT is the way I should go, so I dropped the other part of the degree.
After I finished uni, I started at an IT-based company; I was just in support. I started automating all the tasks that I needed to do daily, and after maybe six months I got moved into the development team. After a couple of years I left that job and I’ve had a couple of other development jobs since then, sort of getting more senior. And now I’m at Digistorm.
The job that I worked at prior to Digistorm wasn’t the most enjoyable job for a developer. It was very sales-oriented. We weren’t able to go in the direction we’d like if the budget didn’t cater for it. I think one of the things that makes the development team so great at Digistorm is Tim, the founder of the company; he was a developer and he actually developed the first app that continued on to actually start Digistorm, so he’s really aware of the development processes, which just makes it easy to approach him if there’s anything that needs discussion.
I really love being a developer. I almost look at it like you’re kind of solving puzzles all day, just need to work out what you want, and you’ve got all the pieces there; you can just put it together in an elegant way and you get a really nice solution at the end.
Regan: Tell us about the Dev team at Digistorm. What’s the culture like?
Mark: So the dev team at Digistorm’s a great team to be part of. Everyone’s super helpful and approachable; if we ever get stuck you just chuck a question in the chat or have a chat with someone if you’re in the office. There’s always someone there willing to point you in the right direction or help you solve a problem. On Fridays most of the dev team is in the office, and we’ll often head down to get burgers and sometimes a beer for lunch.
At the end of last year we went down to the beach to do a retro for the whole year. We had some burgers and a couple of drinks down at the beach. We thought the beach was a good idea but unfortunately it was pretty much torrential rain not too long after we got there, so we spent most of the time just trying to hear each other underneath the gazebos there, trying not to get completely soaked. But it was still a good afternoon.
When it comes to developing a new feature, we’ll sit down with the design team and collaborate with them to come up with specifications and then well set up our sprints which generally go for a couple of weeks, after that we’ll have a retrospective to discuss what we think went well and what we can improve, and we’ll continue those two week sprints until the feature is finished. During that time we’ll just ask any questions of the design team or any other development team as we go.
Regan: What was the interview process like at Digistorm?
Mark: Interviewing actually, was probably the least stressful interview I’ve had. I can sort of tell straight away that it was a good culture and the team just seemed like the type of team that I would like to be part of, straight from the get go.
Regan: Tell us a bit more about the overall culture at Digistorm
Mark: So at Digistorm, there’s a high priority put on work/life balance, and also we like to have fun, but work really hard as well. So that’s really noticeable within the team. There’s a lot of team building type things that happen.
Every month there’s a lunch where a bunch of different people go down to one of the local pubs or surf life saving clubs and catch up and have lunch, and just chat with people that you wouldn't otherwise get to see because the team has grown a lot, and it’s quite a large team now, so you sometimes sort of lose track of other people.
I feel that Digistorm as a company is a really inclusive and very encouraging place to work; everyone’s super helpful and approachable. If we ever get stuck, there’s always someone there to point you in the right direction or help you solve a problem.
It’s a really supportive place, and the developers are encouraged to learn new skills and definitely to share ideas and new things that have been learnt in the team and with each other. I know that we’ve purchased a bunch of different courses based on the frameworks and that sort of thing that we use, and we’re given some time within work where we can research and just get more skilled up with these new technologies that come along.
I also really enjoy working from home. I save a lot of time not travelling into the office everyday, so I can finish work and straight away see my family. So at lunch time I can head out the back; I’ve actually got an archery target set up in the backyard, so I’ll often shoot some arrows, and that sort of gets my mind off the computer for a little bit and I feel a lot fresher when I come back in after lunch. Sometimes I take the kids out; they’ve got their own bows as well. And I often go out with another guy from Digistorm as well, who also enjoys doing that.
Regan: What are you most proud of working on at Digistorm?
Mark: So within Funnel, there’s a feature called automations. I really enjoyed working on that, and designing the way that it would work, along with a couple of other guys on the team. But it was really nice seeing that one come together, and just automate a bunch of things that schools would often have to do manually every day, and it just sets it up so you can kind of set and forget it.
It’s really good seeing the automations feature being used by lots of schools, and it's saving a lot of people a lot of time every day and every week.
Q: Beach or mountains?
Both! Beach if I had to choose
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Q: Dogs or cats?
Q: McDonalds or KFC?