Inside Smarty - Adam Charlton

Dan Lambourne
Dan Lambourne
July 13, 2023
Uncover Smarty's unique culture and meet Adam Charlton, our spotlight this month. Discover why he's admired among the amazing talent at Smarty!

Inside Smarty - Adam Charlton

We have the luxury at Smarty of working with some incredibly intelligent, kind, friendly, and in many cases, funny individuals. Today we showcase one of those fantastic individuals, Adam Charlton.

Adam came to us with a fantastic amount of technical knowledge. Not only has he worked as a developer performing UI, database management, and security projects for companies such as Qualtrics, but he also comes to us with a robust data analytics background. These experiences have given Adam the technical skills and abilities to code in Go, Java, Javascript, SQL, Python, and C++ and expertise in data visualization, including R and Tableau.

But that’s just Adam's professional bio. To know who Adam is, we asked for some clarification.

What do you do at Smarty?

"I make the products that we sell at Smarty. Specifically, I help manage a lot of the address data we deal with. Figuring out what is a good address, all of the different types of addresses, and how to treat each of them differently in our product are some of my core responsibilities."

Adam showing off his planes

What's something surprising you've learned since joining Smarty?

"I was surprised at how many different ways people like to format their address data in their local city/state/area. New York likes to format their apartment numbers in goofy ways; in Wisconsin, you can tack on as many zeros as you want and get away with it, and Utah simply hates street names."

What do you like most about your role at Smarty?

"Being able to forcibly correct other people's mistakes tends to feel pretty good when they submit [bad] addresses.

Taking a complex problem, researching it until you finally understand what is going on, and creating a solution that works is an incredible feeling."

Adam showing off his computer rig

What's the most challenging part of your job?

"People who name their address something stupid. Some addresses are so insane that it causes me to lose faith in humanity. It's not just some solitary person either, it takes multiple people in several positions to push through what a valid address is, and some of this data shows a failure at every level of government to produce results this bad.

Most of the data is excellent though.

Seriously, addresses are WAY more complex than people believe. Creating solutions that address (ha!) all of the complexity of our products is an enormous challenge."

Where do you go to keep up to date for your job?

"I go to Smarty Documentation, USPS patch notes (not the most exciting thing in the world), developer blogs, and books. I've worked at several different programming jobs over the years and tried to learn as much as possible at each. I've found that the more you ask genuine questions, the faster you can learn the needed information. So when a senior developer tells me how to solve a problem, it greatly helps to not only ask 'why?' but also, 'how would I learn to do that?'"

Adam wearing his VR set

What projects and accomplishments here at Smarty are you most proud of?

"I wrote the original version of the Master Address File, our system for uniquely cataloging every address in the United States and information about those addresses. It was a pretty sophisticated system, and I had to come up with a couple of new ways of thinking about addresses to get this system working, and I'll always be pretty proud of that.

I've also won our company's Magic: The Gathering tournaments more than anyone else, which means a great deal to me because I'll always be able to hold those wins over Trey's head."

What lessons have you learned at Smarty that you apply to your career?

"I've learned the power of a well-earned compliment. Here at Smarty, one of the big things we deal with is validation, not just for addresses but for the people who work here. I've been trying to be better about showing my appreciation and respect for the incredible people that I work with, and I think that a well-placed complement to people around you, especially newer employees who deal with a lot of uncertainty in starting a job at a new workplace, can be life-changing."

What did you want to be when you grew up?

"It depends on when in elementary school. There was a good portion of elementary school where I wanted nothing more than to be Spiderman, but an astronaut or fighter pilot were both pretty safe bets."

What talents of yours do you enjoy honing outside of work?

"I do card magic, I used to do a podcast about VR gaming and run VR tournaments, I read A LOT, and I like Flight Simulator games.

However, I don't think any skills are irrelevant to your job. No matter your 'seemingly irrelevant' hobby, you can apply it to your job. There was a fantastic study about Nobel prize-winning scientists. They found that the more irrelevant to their field of study their hobby was, the more likely they were to win the prize because they were able to take the knowledge and skills from their hobby and use that knowledge to view the world in a different way from their peers and come up with more novel solutions."

Who inspires you?

"Gandhi, for obvious reasons

The Pillsbury doughboy, also for obvious reasons"

Have you got any tips for folks in the software industry?

"Don't passively learn; actively learn. Everyone will eventually improve their career by working with different people, technology, and problems. Still, those who actively seek to learn and absorb the information around them will rocket ahead of their peers in their ability as a developer."

We love having Adam on our team. Want to work with awesome people like Adam? Do you live in Utah? Then check out our careers page.

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