It’s all about being mindful as a developer at Headspring. That value is instilled in the company’s training programs and throughout the work its client services team produces.
New junior developers go through a six-week CareerStart program to give them the tools they need to work with clients, while senior developers have access to a 10-part training series on mindful development. The end result is a more prepared and efficient team.
We spoke with four members of the team to learn more.
EMPLOYEES: 72 (64 local)
WHAT THEY DO: Headspring provides high-end consulting services, industry insights and cloud-based enterprise software to help transform organizations.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Austin
GROW AND GIVE: As part of Headspring’s employee referral program, the company gives employees and a nonprofit of their choice each $1,000 when their referral starts and again on their one-year anniversary.
Dustin Wells, CEO, Founder
As CEO, Dustin Wells sets the vision for the company and keeps everyone focused on the mission.
BEYOND WORK: Dustin loves mountain biking around Austin.
As you grow the company, what are the biggest challenges you face?
Our biggest challenge and opportunity are the same thing: How do we scale our business while maintaining our commitment to both our culture and clients? For our people, we are focused on creating a place where they can learn and grow faster than anywhere else.
We are focused on creating a place where [our employees] can learn and grow faster than anywhere else.”
How will you take advantage of those opportunities?
We create those opportunities through growing the business. If we can continue to successfully hire, onboard and develop the best people, then we will continue to deliver the best service to our clients and grow our business. As we scale, we’re making sure the company’s core values are kept intact.
Collaboration is crucial for any team, but especially for client services. How do you approach collaboration with other departments at Headspring?
As a consulting company, we all operate as one team focused on the client's goals. There's no room for silo mindsets. People from all departments are the heart of the customer experience, not just the software developer writing the application. They’re in constant communication with each other because they're all focused on delivering great software.
Patrick Lioi, Principal Consultant and Primary Instructor for CareerStart
Patrick Lioi works with clients to solve their technical challenges. He is accountable for the technology choices, quality of his teammates’ work and the success of the project. He also leads the CareerStart training program for junior developers and mentors teammates.
BEYOND WORK: Patrick runs an open-source software project called Fixie, which allows him to experiment and hone his skills outside of the office.
Describe Headspring’s approach to training new employees.
Last fall, I created a 10-part series of training sessions on mindful development, which covers how to be an effective software developer through being present, aware and deliberate in work. We apply this mindset to everything we do, from working on our teams to working with unfamiliar technology and implementing small design changes.
The capstone lesson, “Winning with speed,” contrasts a typical problematic software shop with the ideal we strive for: a team that is highly-effective as a result of mindful development. What makes us better at software development also makes us faster. Speed isn’t the cause — it’s the effect.
We strive for a team that is highly-effective as a result of mindful development. What makes us better at software development also makes us faster.”
How has Headspring helped you develop in your career?
We have agency in our own growth and support from our teammates to achieve that growth. For me, that took the form of writing technical articles for the Headspring blog.
From there, I became a member of the “Los Techies” blogging community, which led to the creation of an open-source project that gave me a lot to talk about in our Friday lunch-hour presentations. Those experiences sparked a passion for mentorship that I never knew I had. I'm a different developer and leader today than I ever could have imagined seven years ago because Headspring pushed me outside my comfort zone and encouraged my growth.
You designed a six-week new-hire training program. What does the training entail?
The software development workforce skews heavily toward the inexperienced, which poses a challenge for us. I can't in good faith hire a person straight out of school and throw them into the deep end on a client project. An unprepared junior developer will not operate effectively and make mistakes. However, we've found that with deliberate mentorship early on, they can do the job effectively.
The training guides our junior developers to become mindful in their work. We drill on the good habits of great developers and dig heavily into the “why” behind our decisions so they can approach new challenges effectively. At the end of the course, they will have built a representative application in the Headspring style. They're ready to join a project with their more experienced peers.
What is one tip you received when you came to Headspring that helped you succeed?
Show up, take your work seriously for a normal-length work day and then go home. I don't care if a company talks about the importance of a work-life balance. I only care about that balance being real.
At my previous job, we worked long hours and watched the team shrink as each person got burnt out and left. When you emphasize rushing and overwork instead of successful delivery, it causes you to make mistakes. It's bad for you, the company and the client.
Erin Knight, Senior Consultant
Erin Knight is on the service delivery team where she builds web applications for clients. Her team finds the best way to deliver the custom software clients need.
BEYOND WORK: Erin enjoys crafting, particularly crochet, cross-stitch and quilting based on 8-bit video game art.
Describe Headspring’s approach to training new employees. Does the company emphasize it? How?
Headspring has several outstanding teachers and mentors and several ways that we handle training. For our new CareerStart hires, we have a six-week curriculum that teaches them to develop software the “Headspring way.” For experienced hires, they have access to our training materials. We also have learning hours and brown bag presentations every week.
How does Headspring facilitate your career and personal growth?
Learning and growth are instilled in our core values. If there's an area you want to learn more about, you can make that a personal goal and your manager will help you reach it. We have learning hour courses on a variety of topics and weekly lunch presentations. These programs give everyone the opportunity to practice skills that they may not get to practice on their day-to-day projects.
If there's an area you want to learn more about, you can make that a personal goal and your manager will help you reach it.”
It enables me to work closely with the client, meet with our end users to learn what difficulties they face in their day-to-day jobs and then design and build the software to make their jobs easier. All of the front-end developers at Headspring meet to share ideas and experiences and standardize our approaches so we don't have to reinvent the wheel on every project.
Yogiraj (Yogi) Aradhye, Principal Consultant
Yogiraj Aradhye directs the technical vision of projects at Headspring. He makes architectural decisions and builds out features to support that vision. His team is currently breaking down a monolithic application into microservices for a financial company in Philadelphia.
BEYOND WORK: Yogiraj is an avid sports fan. He follows a variety of sports but loves to play tennis.
What attracted you to Headspring?
Headspring’s thought leadership was one of the most attractive factors to me. Some Headspringers are active in the development community. I had an opportunity to interact with them at several events. They approached me for the position because someone there liked my answers on Stack Overflow. It was a no-brainer decision for me to join the team.
We try to pair mentors with new team members. We have a robust framework built to make you succeed.”
What is Headspring’s approach to training and mentorship?
Jimmy Bogard, our chief architect, has a huge following in the development community. He has a series of public talks, presentations and blog posts on various topics such as web development, domain-driven design and more. Most senior engineers coming in are aware of this and are already primed on the newest technologies and development approaches.
Internally, Patrick Lioi has handcrafted some really neat courses that help you understand how problems are solved at Headspring. We try to pair mentors with new team members to train and give them more real-time feedback. We have a robust framework built to help you succeed.
What opportunities are there for growth at Headspring?
We have clearly defined job charters. At any given moment, you know where you are. You also know what the next level requires. We have regular meetings with our managers. They will help you build a plan to hit the next level.