How would you describe Vistar Media’s engineering culture?
Everybody's so talented and passionate about their work, and it's really motivating to be surrounded by that kind of energy. Everyone's always willing to lend a hand or point you in the right direction if you have questions. We have a comfortable and fully stocked office, and regular happy hours and outings/meetups. Everyone's extremely friendly, but at the same time it's very focused.
Are there any special Vistar Media traditions?
We recently started doing an annual company off-site event. That's when we fly in everybody from around the world who is a Vistar employee and we all get together for about two days to hear all the company updates, plans and the vision for the year. Then, after a day of presentations, we have a company outing. Each summer, each of the offices will have a summer party, so, for example, the New York office does a beach day. We also have a remote hackathon in January to experiment with interesting tech, and incorporate that into what we do daily. Other activities include meetups in the park, visiting Independence Beer Garden, attending Phillies games, and social events for remote team members too.
Are there any fun events for new hires when they come on board?
Within their first few weeks, our new hires go through a full day of onboarding and meeting the directors of all the different teams. They learn what they do, and in their individual offices, they'll do a group outing with their respective team. We also have a buddy program to pair new employees with other team members to help them settle in.
How do the remote teams work together?
We have regular meetings two to three times a week over Google Hangouts, and then we're always IMing each other over GChat. Luckily, we don't really have any problems with it. If anything ever has to be moved, it's easy enough. We've gotten the hang of it at this point. We also encourage engineers to go up to the New York office occasionally to interact with members of other teams. We always had remote teams and collaboration, and that has expanded with COVID.
What would you say are the major qualities you look for in applicants?
Somebody who craves learning. Someone who has a true passion for engineering. Most of the time, the people on our team have their own personal projects that they're working on outside of work. They just show that true passion for coding. Definitely being humble. Not afraid to ask questions, not afraid to admit if they don't know something rather than just trying to “fake it 'til you make it.” Technically, we look for well-rounded full-stack engineers who might not necessarily have experience with every single tool that we use, but who could come in and pick up our codebase pretty quickly.
Do you look for candidates who specialize in a certain language?
Not really. In fact, the freedom of language choice and coding ability is a compelling plus to working at Vistar. Most of the time, the bare minimum that people need to be well-versed in would be at least one compiled and one interpreted language eg) Go and Python. Right now, we are kind of keeping our eyes peeled for somebody who has extensive experience with Go or React.
What is the workflow like?
Mondays are spent in planning for the most part. We work in weekly sprints, so throughout the week we have standup every day. Then people are working on projects and picking up tickets based on priority. On Friday around 4 o’clock, everyone will gather around and do presentations about what they worked on during the week, giving an opportunity to showcase work or review interesting bugs they ran into, and share tips with the team. It’s very collaborative. Vistar Media’s “Code Review” is an important part of the daily tech workflow. Every line of code is reviewed by at least two people before being cut, an impressive feat considering that Vistar Media has a one-week development cycle. That means almost every week, employees are working on a new set of code or new product.
How does Vistar Media view hiring recent graduates?
In the past couple years we've had a lot of luck hiring pretty junior engineers who have only been out of school for a year or two. For them, coming in and working with our more senior developers has been really helpful. We've seen these early career hires come in and really quickly rise to be some of our top performers. Overall, we prioritize a well-balanced workforce with both early and experienced team members to allow mentorship and learning opportunities.
How does Vistar exemplify long-term growth and success in the ad tech industry?
Our founders and top leadership know this industry inside and out. They are at the point where they can anticipate problems and solve them before they even come up. They are super open with the rest of us, both with our successes and if we are having any kind of setbacks or certain departments are struggling to meet a goal. We have monthly company updates with a Q&A portion, and people can anonymously submit questions. Our CEO is usually the one answering them live, and there's really nothing that's off limits. They're very open and they're not shy to talk about any concerns.
What’s at the core of Vistar Media’s business model?
From analytics to product, and across all support teams, we put technology first. Vistar’s industry-leading technology allows the world’s largest brands and agencies to autonomously transact with media owners, and bring targeted advertising to the physical world in a privacy safe way. And its enterprise software solutions for media owners gives digital signage operators full control of their network from device management to monetization.
Vistar engineers have developed software solutions in a multitude of coding languages (our team is 'agnostic to tools' and will learn any language necessary for the task at hand), addressing the needs of both the buy side and sell side of digital out-of-home media. From refining our geotemporal data analysis to improving our programmatic ad exchange, Vistar’s engineers are constantly tackling new challenges.
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