As part of our regularEmployee Spotlight Serieshighlighting members of the Styra team, we can't wait for you to meet our Site Reliability Engineer, and an early team member, Scott Anderson!
In this Q&A, Scott shares what drew him to Styra, how Styra has evolved over the past five years, and what song he could listen to forever.
Tell us a little about yourself/background?
I graduated from UC Irvine with a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology and a minor in Computer Science. I would later attend California State University, Long Beach to get a Masters degree in Computer Science. After college, I worked for two years in pharmaceutical sales, but I found that I didn't enjoy sales very much. I realized that I was better at writing the queries for the database than actually selling the product, so I decided to leave sales to start work on my Masters.
I started as a backend developer in Java before moving over to the platform side. I enjoy working with platforms because it allows you to interact with new tools and products as often as possible. Things are never boring for Platform teams! I really enjoy the freedom to be more experimental with my work. Platform work doesn’t always get the visibility UI or backend work can get, but it is a critical part of a product. No matter how good the product is, you need a strong foundation, which I get to provide through my work.
How long have you been at Styra?
I have been working at Styra for a little over five years now! I was actually one of the first 10 employees to join Styra. A bit crazy to think about now that we have over 70 employees.
How has Styra changed during your time here?
Styra has changed quite a bit over the past five years, but there are three big changes I think have made the most impact:
Styra Declarative Authorization Service (DAS). When I first joined Styra it almost felt like a research company. We had built this amazing open source tool,Open Policy Agent(OPA), that was solving a real problem in the industry, but there was still some trial and error as we started to build upon it. This experimental period led us to the creation of Styra DAS, which we quickly realized was what we had been working towards. Styra is still very innovative, but we are more focused on it now.
Remote-firstworkplace. I was one of only two remote employees for a while, but once COVID-19 hit we had to switch over to being a fully remote workplace. The move to fully remote has proven to be a really good change for Styra. It taught us how to be better communicators and has allowed us to hire from larger talent pools. I have loved seeing people from all over the world coming on board excited to contribute to Styra’s continued growth and success.
Full speed ahead. Things are moving a lot quicker at Styra now. This is great because it is a reminder that we have something great to offer and a product providing a real solution.
What hasn’t changed during your time at Styra?
Even after five years, it feels like we really have something unique and brand new. Styra continues to be a trailblazer in the industry.
What is the best career lesson you have learned so far?
Engineers often believe they need to know everything about everything to be successful. This is an impossible standard, no one can know everything! If you don’t know something it’s a valuable skill to admit that you don’t have the answer, but will find it and get back to them. Honesty helps build trust and respect with your team.
If you could have any superhero power, what power would you have and why?
I would have the ability to time travel. I am very interested in seeing the future of humanity. Do we end up traveling to the stars? I want to know! If given the opportunity to travel to Mars, I would go in a heartbeat. I would love to be a part of that journey and see how it works out for us. I am an optimist at heart; I like to think that we will succeed and not burn it all to the ground.
If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what song would you choose and why?
This is a tough question for me because my music preferences are always changing. I have a habit of listening to a song constantly for a few months until I get burnt out on it and never listen to it again. The first song that pops into my head currently is “Make your own kind of music” by Mama Cass Elliot. My daughters love this song and listening to it makes them super happy. It wouldn’t be a terrible song to hear for the rest of my life.
What is the one thing you can’t live without?
I couldn’t live without music. My family listens to a lot of music together. We have Sonos speakers all over the house that are always playing music. In the morning I wake my daughters up with music and it is playing when they come home from school. We currently have the Encanto soundtrack playing on repeat. I can’t imagine a life without music in it.
What book did you most recently read?
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. I don’t want to spoil anything so I will just say that it is a lot of fun and a quick read. If you enjoyed Weir’s other book The Martian then you will like this one since they are in a similar vein.