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Hello Anthony Altieri, Software Engineer

What is your superpower?

I can think in code. Whether it be work or life-related, the first thing I do to help me solve any kind of problem is code. Even when doing chores or going to the market, my mind thinks in algorithms. I've always been a visual and process-oriented person, which fits nicely into code.

Can you tell me about your journey up to this point as a software engineer at Time by Ping?

My journey centers around startups. Even before working professionally, I actually created my own e-learning company with a couple of college friends, and I was the technical co-founder. We had no seed money, so we had to make everything ourselves. Because of this, I gained a wide breadth of knowledge and experience in different areas.

I’ve also worked for startups my entire professional career, always in various technical roles. I started out of college as a full-stack engineer. I then ended up adding infrastructure and DevOps to my responsibilities. 

At Time by Ping, I also started as a full-stack engineer, focused on onboarding. Because we're a small company, and with my range of experience, I floated around to a lot of different projects, from processes to architecture to documentation, and even to design. Eventually, I settled where I am now, as a software engineer, mostly focused on the back end.

What drew you to Time by Ping -  the mission, the people, the opportunity?

It was a combination of the people and the opportunity.

The most impactful thing you can do as a software engineer is to build something that affects a lot of people's lives. At Time by Ping, we have the opportunity to change how people work. 

Secondly, the people I've met are extraordinary. They aren’t just smart – they are approachable, effective, and kind. I’ve found more of these people here than anywhere else in my life.

What was it about timekeeping specifically, or TBP's product, that drew you in?

My dad was a worker's comp attorney. He had his own practice, and I spent a lot of my time after school and over the summer helping out and playing on the computers. I always liked computers when I was a kid. I remember distinctly how horrible the law office’s software was, so I have firsthand experience with what doesn’t work. I thought it would be pretty meaningful if I could make an impact on fixing it.

What are you most proud to have worked on at TBP?

There are two that come to mind. 

I wrote a tool that spins up all of our architecture for infrastructure for new clients. When we add a new client, my tool will create all the necessary servers and databases to power that client. Our entire manual process used to take a couple days because there are a lot of steps due to our security requirements. What I did is take about half of that and reduce it to a couple commands you run on your computer. Then it does everything for you, decreasing the time to get everything up and running.

I also wrote our Microsoft Teams integration. Lawyers take a lot of calls, and it’s important that our software can log them. Part of our value proposition is enabling lawyers to break free from needing to manually record everything they do. Our software previously only logged the phone system, but in this “work from anywhere in the world” environment, Microsoft Teams has become an important tool in a lawyer’s daily functions. Our software is less effective if it leaves big gaps of time that are unaccounted for, so I wrote the code that leverages Microsoft APIs to log these calls.

What did you learn from your experience being a founder? 

When you're an engineer, it's easy to get distracted by the task at hand, whether that be the feature implementation or the design you're creating. When you're a founder, however, you are zooming out and creating something that provides value for your customer. Having my own startup taught me the importance of figuring out what the value is and then building the technology, as opposed to the other way around. If you don't have both sides of the equation and you only have the technology, you're not going to build the most elegant solution to solve a true need.

Do you have an example of how you’ve gone through that process of defining the value and building for that at TBP?

I think our product team is fantastic at doing user interviews. They're good at getting quantitative data on how our customers use our application. Then they work with us engineers to describe technical requirements that meet our customers' needs.

We do a good job of making sure that each person in the chain is aware of what he or she needs to do, not only for their job requirements but also for the stakeholders.

What are some key elements that you take into consideration when designing new software systems?

I code for fun, and I probably will for the rest of my life. I am a little bit obsessed with writing maintainable, readable code. So I think it’s important to create systems that are scalable and to be able to demonstrate where and when we need to make choices for performance. 

An easy trap to fall into is optimizing for performance situations that you assume will happen, rather than letting your users show you where the issues are. You let the data guide you in the right direction. I'm stealing someone's quote here, but, “Intuition is for making your experiment, the data is for determining what you should do.”

What's an exciting company challenge you're looking forward to tackling this year in 2022?

Implementing at an even greater scale. We’re growing really rapidly, which means that we’re getting even more quantitative data to provide performance enhancements to our software. This is an exciting milestone for us because, like any startup, we began with only a few users. 

It can also be hectic because users often have opinions that may or may not align with the data.