Leadership Series: How a software engineer is part car mechanic, structural engineer and painter

There are many software engineers in the world.  There are not many however, who are dedicated to making the lives of seniors better with the code they develop. That’s Brian Hann, SeniorVu’s Director of Software Engineering. Brian and his team are behind the scenes working on the magic that keeps SeniorVu running and continuously improving its platform for client communities.

Brian has been a SeniorVu team member for 4+ years and in software development for 21+ years. He provides expertise in all realms of software engineering because Brian is a guy who never stops learning. When he isn’t writing up new code or spending time with his family Brian is connecting with others in the software community discovering the latest and greatest of their craft.  

In this conversation with Brian, he shares what a day in the life of a developer looks like as well as tips for people who are just starting out:

  • You’re a software engineer. How is building software for senior living different than building software for some other industry?

Our philosophy at SeniorVu is to help and improve the experience of individuals and families going through the senior living journey. So, while much of the software we create is directly used by senior living professionals, and we want them to have an excellent experience, our ultimate goal is to empower those professionals to deliver amazing results to their customers: the families searching for senior living. We want what we do to improve the lives of seniors. 

  • What does a day in the life of Brian look like and remember you’re talking to people who are not software engineers!

A typical day looks something like a blend between a car mechanic, a structural engineer, and a painter.

Like a mechanic, we often have parts break down on us and for similar reasons:

  • A car could break down because you’re driving cross-country instead of running errands around town. This is a “load” issue. Software might do the same if you suddenly have thousands of users where you used to have tens.
  • A car could also break down if you’re using a small hatchback to tow large granite blocks. Like a car, using software in ways that it wasn’t originally intended for can cause problems.

When we create software, like a structural engineer we’re trying to anticipate how people will be using what we create so we can build for maximum optimization. We construct software with what we learn from fixing things like a mechanic. We are able to learn what breaks down more often, what tools are better than others, etc. in order to continuously create better software.

Lastly, like a painter (and an engineer I suppose), we get to be a bit expressive in how we create things. While a bridge is functional, it can be beautiful too. Code can be beautiful and elegant as well, it’s just a bit harder to appreciate for the uninitiated. One way you can see it is in software that is a pleasure to use: seamless, snappy, clean and does what you expect. It takes a lot of forethought by many people to get to that point. Conversely, it’s easy to throw something together that gets the job done but is frustrating to use, crashes, lags or is hard to navigate. My goal every day is to develop software that is hardy and beautiful.

  • What are some tips or steps you would recommend for someone starting out in software engineering?

A love and joy of learning is essential. The industry moves very fast, and while you don’t have to wear yourself out keeping up with the absolute bleeding edge, you need to be ready to dig in and learn new things as they come.

Good fundamentals are also crucial. New tools and even languages come and go, but principles of software design remain the same. This is because the same issues arise regardless of what tool or language you’re using.

  • While working from home, what tips do you have for other coders who have kids under 5 at home?

I’m going to step outside myself a bit and say: enjoy this time while you have it. This period won’t last, both as a world or the age of your kids. It’s hard to remember this when you’re head down in the same problem for hours on end, but you won’t always have a little one right next to your desk wanting to cuddle in the middle of the workday. Enjoy every bit of that while you can.

Happy Holidays

Answering inquiries for your community is what our Family Advocate Managers (FAM team) love doing, even on most holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are the only two days we close up shop. We believe all of our team members deserve time with their families. By the next morning, FAM is right back at it to follow up on any inquiries that may have come in the day before.

What about all those other holidays? Rest assured SeniorVu has your time zone covered from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on each of the following holidays:

Black Friday
Christmas Eve
New Year’s Eve & Day
Martin Luther King Day
President’s Day

Memorial Day
Independence Day
Labor Day
Veteran’s Day

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