This is the first in a series of Q&As with former DockYard employees. For more on what it’s like to work with us, check out some of our posts on employee engagement, building community in a remote workforce, and more. And for a full list of open positions, visit our Careers page.
At DockYard, we’re proud of our team members—even when they’ve moved on from their roles with us. So, to highlight some of our alumni’s experiences, we caught up with them to hear about their time as DockYarders and how it impacted the next steps in their careers. Some answers have been edited for length or clarity, and some identifying information has been omitted per the subjects’ preferences.
Narek joined DockYard as a Senior Product Designer and eventually led the design team through some of DockYard’s work for a marquee client. Our designers work closely with our engineers, client partners, and other team members as needed to ensure a holistic approach for each of our clients. The end result is a digital product that sets our clients up for success long after our partnership is complete and actively contributes to the wider goals of their organization.
What about DockYard drew your attention or made you decide to join the company?
I have a mixed background of product design and product management. I was excited about DockYard because of their intentionality and focus on specific technologies such as Elixir and Phoenix. I believe that “trying to please everyone will please no one” and the commitment and discipline to have a defined focus attracted me because it reflects on the culture and values of the company, and I was aligned with that.
Describe a time while you were at DockYard when you had an opportunity to expand your skills in an unexpected way.
I was asked to lead the product design team, which was a bit more management than I was expecting, but I love taking on challenges and solving hard problems, so I was open to it. Managing designers was not something I had done before but it was a skill set I was open to developing.
What was your most memorable challenge during your time at DockYard?
Having a remote distributed team with clients who are office-oriented and in-house created a dichotomy that required a careful balance of communication and routine level-setting with leadership and client stakeholders. I had to manage expectations and communication regularly on a leadership level and back down to the team level. Establishing routine meetings and communication cadence was mandatory, and I would credit having great team members for us being able to navigate this (somewhat) successfully.
Describe a particularly memorable interaction you had with another DockYarder. Who was that person, and how did that interaction make an impact on you and/or your professional development?
The first person I met in person from DockYard was incredibly kind and cool, and relieved all anxiety I had as “the new guy” and gave me a fantastic impression of the company. We worked closely together throughout my time at DockYard since we led teams on the same engagement. I was fortunate enough to hire him at my new company when I had the opportunity to bring in a strong front-end engineer with leadership experience. We are besties now and I credit DockYard for this!
What skills did you develop at DockYard that set you up for success in your next career stage? How have you put those skills to use in your current role?
Leading conversations and managing deliverables with talented team members and stakeholders with high expectations was high stakes relative to some of my previous work, but I felt incredibly supported by DockYard leadership so I was able to dive into the challenge with confidence. The result of this was a personal growth in my capabilities and a significant appreciation for the power of what can be done together with great team members. Today I focus a lot of my energy on cultivating a great team, hiring talented individuals, and then getting out of their way and supporting them to do their best, and I am having great results because of this.
If you could select a single element of how DockYard operates, and implement it at your current organization, what would it be and why?
I think having a remote team forces you to have to be intentional with automation and process. You must be disciplined in enforcing it by removing humans from the equation for getting many things done. I had seen this before in distributed teams, but I think DockYard has a long-term commitment to this “remote first” vision and operates exceptionally well towards that. It is something that has weight today in operational and process decisions in the company that I am helping build.
If you could go back to your first day at DockYard and give your past self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Spend more time getting to know your team members on a personal level. With the limited amount of time spent in the same room, every interaction counts. My team members were wonderful and I wish I got to know them better.
What was one part of working at DockYard that you didn’t appreciate (or didn’t fully appreciate) until after you’d moved on to another company?
Being fully remote and having company infrastructure made for fully distributed teams. It’s hard to appreciate until it doesn’t exist.