I joined Personify as the CTO at the beginning of 2021. As my one-year anniversary here approaches, I sat down to reflect on what brought me here, how my vision is shaping, and the overall Personify experienceDavid Reese
What was it about Personify that caught your attention and made you want to join?
To truly enjoy what you do, it needs to fill several buckets. For me, those are the technical challenges with autonomy to solve them in innovative ways; the ability to make a measurable impact on the users I’m delivering these products to; and genuinely enjoying the collaborators I work with at every level. Personify allows me to experience all of that and more, as our solutions benefit the nonprofit, foundation, and professional association sectors, building community and connection for them. Our mission at Personify is to empower our clients to fulfill theirs, so every day here is incredibly gratifying.
What was your vision coming into Personify?
I was motivated to build and implement a technology strategy to further cement the culture transformation Personify was undergoing. It has been my experience that the best teams – innovators who are excited to tackle complex challenges, who thrive in a continuous iteration and learning environment – do so when they are aligned as one team with a set of common goals. So I’m here to bring together our multiple product teams and development squads. In the past, every product operated independently, and so they were sold and supported separately. We’re now aware of what is being built for different products by pulling everyone together and taking a big picture view. As a result, we can position our solutions as pieces that fit together to benefit our clients. The integration of our products is moving along quite successfully, and we’ll continue to expand on this approach in the coming year.
To get aligned across the organization, to scale our improvements, and expand our offerings, we have to come together as a single, united engineering team. No matter what your role, you will have a voice here. My role as a leader is to let people work on things we want to build, solving real-world problems. And I want them to be happy, interested, and engaged when doing so.
Has this led to new opportunities within the company?
My team’s approach to career development has been to identify clear pathways, balance, and opportunities. By breaking down the silo walls and creating a unified design and engineering team, there is an increased opportunity to expand your development skills, work on different pieces, and use the entire tech stack. We’ve created development squads and moved talent around to balance staff on all our products. There are now two routes you can take here – a career path as an individual contributor from Developer, to Senior, Staff, and finally Principal. And a management pathway leading to Team Lead, Manager, and Director, focused on people and team development. At Personify, we want you to know you can grow your career in any direction.
Can you share any challenges and quick wins you’ve had?
My leadership role is to listen and help the team grow and be happy – that’s how the products will improve, and the company as a whole will be successful. In order to do that, my focus now – and moving forward – is to foster a one-team mindset. I’m investing in team members to become better engineers that can jump into any aspect of the product. I’m nurturing a culture where we can all exchange ideas, push ourselves, and feel confident taking on more scope and responsibility as individuals. As a team, I’m encouraging collaboration for innovation – solving technical challenges based on the team’s proposed approach. I want everyone to feel comfortable sharing their ideas, talking to each other regardless of level, and becoming more vulnerable and open.
Why should a developer join your team?
Joining Personify is an excellent opportunity to impact the world of associations, nonprofits and events while working for a fast-growing company with a global reach. We have the resources, the time, the funding, and the motivation to research and test new tools, technology, and approaches. Our products are critical to the newly re-energized events business for professional associations who are evaluating a return to in-person networking. Our products include associated mobile applications and focus on an end-user-friendly interface, while on the backend, the latest versions of modern frameworks are used to build, secure, and deploy new features and modules. If you want to come in and have an impact, you will have the opportunity to stand out as an individual contributor and a collaborative developer. It’s exciting to me, knowing that everyone in my purview is essential to our success – you will not be a cog in a wheel here.
The transformation at the organizational level has just started, and I believe that I’m here to take us in the direction we want to go – but not to authoritatively make that choice. I’m looking for feedback, insights, and excitement from my team. When I hire new technical staff, I’m looking to the future – for people with the potential and desire to become mentors and thoughtful and creative people who can contribute to the product roadmap.
What is one piece of advice you have for someone starting their career?
I loved playing 80s style video games, which motivated me to pursue a career as a video game developer. Ultimately, it led me into database and website development, leading to an internet startup. I continued to grow my expertise in different areas, moving on once I mastered the technology to continue to work with newer tools, solve various problems and ultimately grow into a leadership role. My advice to anyone early in their career is to stay hungry for knowledge, follow your passions, and continue to challenge yourself.
People of Personify
“Get to Know David Reese, Chief Technology Officer at Personify” is the first feature of a new, multi-part series, “People of Personify”. The series will showcase interviews with the leaders and talented team members at Personify who are driving innovation for professional associations and event management partners.
Personify is a tech company. This is a pure tech play for tech people who want to design and develop web, cloud, and mobile apps. If you’re ready to take your career to the next level, at a company that is investing in R&D and their team, please check out our careers site and join us – https://personifycorp.com/about-us/careers/job-listings.