By Shannon Smith, Director of Engineering Operations & Quality, K4Connect
For nearly two decades, I have fought negative stereotypes about engineers. I’ve heard many times that:
- Engineers aren’t people.
- Engineers are all logic.
- They want facts, not feelings.
- Engineers are rational, not emotional.
- Engineers are cold and dead inside.
- Engineers aren’t empathetic because they can’t be.
Through this blog, I hope to change those perceptions and show that engineers, especially at K4Connect, care deeply about the people we create solutions for. In future posts, I will introduce you to our team, tell you their stories, and share how this all works together to create a product that enhances the lives of older adults and those living with disabilities. But, for my first post, I want to share a little bit about how I got here and the unique view our team takes when approaching development.
After having worked at a renowned, large, privately-owned software company for 13 years, I joined K4Connect as the Director of Engineering Operations and Quality. On a daily basis I help lead the Engineering team toward delivering higher quality software, faster, and help the organization root out and solve quality problems. Making the move from a big company to a smaller, startup environment required a good deal of thought, but was ultimately the right decision for me and my family.
One of the major deciding factors for making the change was the direct connection between my work and improving the lives of others offered by K4Connect. My role at K4Connect allows me to apply my skills and experience to two of my greatest passions: solving problems and helping people. I saw K4Connect as a place where I would be able to thrive as an engineer that fails to live up to the stereotypes listed above.
Since starting, I have been happy to find that I am not alone in my desire for meaningful and fulfilling work. In the six months I have been a part of the K4Connect Advocate team (Advocates are what all K4Connect employees are called since we are all advocates for those we serve), I have witnessed engineers applying more than just logic and reason. We have a team of women and men applying both their hearts and minds.
As a company, we are using technology to improve the lives of older adults and individuals living with disabilities. Our desire is to serve them by making their lives “Simpler, Healthier, and Happier.” To accomplish this goal, to solve this large problem, we must solve many smaller problems every day. The motivation for our team to persevere through the fast-paced daily grind comes from more than the simple satisfaction of finding a solution – it comes from knowing that the problems they are solving have the potential to change lives.
For some team members, the problems they are solving have a very personal connection. Some joined K4Connect because they wantto improve the lives of their family members living with MS. Some teammates parents are nearing the need for assistance and believe K4 products can keep their loved ones’ independent longer. Then, we have engineers with a general empathy for others.
To put it another way, our team of engineers do not fit the mold of Mr. Spock and Sheldon.
In future posts, I look forward to introducing you to folks from our team, where you can hear about
their passions and motivations. Through this blog, I want to share how we encourage our engineers to apply both their rational and emotional minds, how we recruit for engineers that can do both, and how this continues to drive our service oriented culture. I will also be sharing thoughts on interesting trends in technology, especially as it applies to older adults and those living with disabilities.
Ultimately, I hope to fight back against the stereotype that engineers are not people, and show how developing empathy is like an engineer gaining a superpower.