When it comes to guiding engineering efforts at Travelers Haven, Warren Wright is big on the power of individual talent coming together and delivering as a collective.
“My goal for any team is to foster a collaborative environment of bottom-up innovation and teamwork,” Wright said. “I keep my teams flat in terms of structure and actively interview for candidates’ skill and desire to collaborate and work as a team.”
As VP of Engineering, Wright places a premium on hiring thoughtfully and encouraging talent to continually flex and grow their skills. And according to Wright, team members’ focus goes beyond their day-to-day responsibilities — for example, engineers channel a handful of hours per week into their own development, as well as “Tech20 Work” — that is, various side projects to help keep the company’s tech sharp.
Wright recently shared his approach to culture-building and professional development at the company — which helps connect on-the-move professionals in fields like healthcare to temporary living accommodations to fit their unique needs — and highlighted some of the exciting work engineers are currently immersed in.
“Between a collaborative team, professional development and our Tech20 practices, we have a unique environment here at Travelers Haven,” Wright said.
Describe your role at Travelers Haven.
As the VP of Engineering, I manage and run the engineering team, including QA and automation, with a hand in product management as well.
I am responsible for hiring and managing engineering and product, and empowering my teams to innovate and drive Travelers Haven forward via a mix of product development and process innovation.
How do you build team culture?
Team culture starts with the hiring process: I look for folks that exhibit humility, shared ownership and strong problem-solving skills. Culture moves forward with agile practices like daily stand-ups, retrospectives and more ad-hoc opportunities to get the team together.
I encourage two practices that make a big difference in this area: personal development and what we call “Tech20” work.
Each team member is expected to spend up to four hours of their main working hours on professional development each week and share what they learn with others (often in the form of a book club-style get-together).
As a team, through Tech20 work, we also commit to putting 20 percent of our work efforts into things the engineers feel should be done to improve our tooling, keep our codebases from growing stale or hard to change, and generally anything else to help the team be more effective.
My goal for any team is to foster a collaborative environment of bottom-up innovation and teamwork.”
How do you help your team grow their careers?
The foremost tool offered is time. I encourage up to four hours a week to be spent on professional development. This enables and encourages team members to grow personally and to do so in an open way.
Mentoring is also encouraged as part of our normal practices. More senior members will often be found pairing with other team members on their work and we see it as an extension of the collaborative environment we want to work within.
Travelers Haven at large often offers classes and training to team members, particularly leadership training.
What is something exciting that you are currently working on with your team?
Right now I am most excited about our long-running project to implement Salesforce across the company, a multi-team collaborative project that is drawing to a close in the coming weeks and will enable Travelers Haven to innovate on its workflows and processes at a much faster rate.
This work includes a much stronger and more robust integration between our main portal software (custom software our engineering team continually adds new features into) and Salesforce, via an asynchronous queueing system.
What is the employee value proposition for those thinking about joining your company? What impact does working at Travelers Haven have on someone’s career?
Individual team members are empowered to choose their work, improve the technical architecture and direction of the codebases regularly, and help me foster an environment where we train and teach one another.
Engineers at Travelers Haven also enjoy the opportunity to work across the full depth and breadth of our applications. Each team member is encouraged to work full stack and to take on cards related to areas where they have less expertise in order to grow into a more well-rounded engineer.