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Inside Smarty - Michael WhatcottSmarty Dev team eating out
Dan Lambourne
Dan Lambourne
 • 
August 28, 2023
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In today's fast-paced tech world, it's essential to gain insights from those who have been in the trenches, building, testing, and creating software that impacts our daily lives. One such individual is Michael Whatcott, a key figure at Smarty. Let's dive into his journey, approach, and the knowledge he's garnered over the years.

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

Explain to a 10-year-old. What do you do at Smarty?

"I work on the tools and systems that make payments, manage subscriptions, and create reports here at Smarty. 

Imagine trying to fill in a diary years after things happened; that's what I've been doing with our databases."

What is the most surprising thing you learned about addresses after joining Smarty?

"You may or may not know this, but addresses can be a mess! But here's a fun fact: ZIP Codes are more like meandering lines than closed shapes. They help mail carriers deliver packages and can even cross city or state boundaries!"

Michael and Dirk Eating

When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up?

"I've always thought that it would be awesome to be a computer programmer, just like my dad, Dirk! And now we both work here at Smarty!"

What do you enjoy about your job role at Smarty?

"The process of turning my own ideas into working systems that derive real value is exhilarating."

What challenges do you face in your job role at Smarty?

"Something I've always found challenging is balancing visible features that stakeholders want with essential clean-up tasks that nobody realizes are necessary. This can really be quite a difficult task and is something that needs constant attention."

How have you developed your job-related skills?

"I've been lucky to work with great teachers like Smarty's founder, Jonathan Oliver, who taught me about production-grade software engineering and distributed systems. I also apprenticed with Micah Martin from Clean Coders Studio who taught me functional programming as well as Agile principles, patterns, and practices. I've also developed my skills by reading, trial and error, and coding for fun on platforms like projecteuler.net and adventofcode.com."

Do you have any completely irrelevant skills or talents?

“I don’t know if I’d call them irrelevant, but in a past life I was a band teacher and I still play various instruments. I also enjoy composing music."

What or who inspires you, and why?

"I enjoy learning about Fred Rogers. He was kind to everyone and influenced millions with his messages and music."

Smarty Singers performing at Lagoon

What are some of the most valuable lessons you've learned at Smarty?

"The core values of Smarty really are the DNA of the organization. At Smarty, I’ve learned about: 

  1. The Outward Mindset, as taught by the Arbinger Institute, which helps me measure and improve my impact on the organization,
  2. The “Getting Things Done" (GTD) methodology, which allows me to operate with a clear head and a positive sense of relaxed control even when there is an overwhelming number of things to do, which is a perfect description of Wizardry. (Also, how to design and write testable software, which is important because if it’s testable, it’s fixable!)
  3. The idea that if we’re not having Fun together, we’re doing something wrong."

What do you think makes our company culture unique, and how do you contribute to maintaining that culture?

"Smarty is unique in supporting the culture here with a shared vocabulary and an understanding of Arbinger principles. It's a vibrant environment that has only gotten better and more fun as we've grown, which is just amazing!"

What has been your most joyous discovery?

"It's a quote from the great Jazz pianist Dave Frank (and one of my former teachers), 'Within you, an infinite stream of music can flow, as endless as an ocean and as individual as a fingerprint.'"

10+ years of experience - What tips would you give experienced employees looking for career advancement?

"Career advancement isn't just about climbing the corporate ladder. Focus on becoming excellent at what fulfills you."

Tech can be complex, but people like Michael Whatcott make it feel more human. From fun ZIP Code facts to real-life advice, Michael's journey shows it's not just about the tech but the stories and passion behind it. Whether you're new to tech or a pro, Michael's story is a reminder to enjoy what you do and stay true to yourself.

We love having Michael with us here at Smarty. Want to work with awesome people like Michael? Do you live in Utah? Then check out our careers page.

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