Growing our team (and maybe this blog?)
Around this time two years ago, I noted that the changing nature of my work was slowing my rate of new blog posts. So many of my previous posts have been publicizing individual things I had done - an important aspect of my career in my former life as an academic. As projects grew bigger and more complex, and communication about them more complex (and wrapped up with other project stakeholders, with marketing departments, and the like), I just didn’t have the same kinds of milestones that made sense for individual bloggage.
That work is going to change even more in this coming year as I take up the helm of the manager of engineering for JSTOR Labs.
JSTOR Labs has nearly doubled the size of its engineering team since I joined in 2022. We have been growing in response to our changing mandate within the organization. We don’t just experiment with technologies, now, but entire product/business models. This means our development standards have risen a lot. End users want more external finish for our maturing products like Constellate. But we also have increasing internal expectations around observability, reliability, security, and deployment processes.
I’m looking forward to the challenge of balancing these priorities against Labs’ need to remain a highly experimental and risk-taking part of the larger organization. We’ll definitely be thinking about how to steward our innovation tokens on the unique domain problems we’re working on. It’s an ambitious year for our team as we seek to build out a few headline programs towards financial sustainability, so the work will also be a lot about careful product choices as well as careful technological choices.
I’m also going to endeavor to write a bit more about the experience this year. I’m not really sure how that will go! I find it hard enough to write on my personal blog about the work I have done on larger team projects. While I’ll still be doing a decent amount of individual contributor work, obviously more of my days will now be about building and growing our engineering team, championing the awesome work of others rather than tooting my own horn. This has been a great organization to work in as an academic-turned-developer - a lot of us come from non-traditional-software backgrounds and Labs has been such a close-knit and fun group to work with. To that end, keep an eye on ITHAKA’s career’s page (and here, too), because we’ll be recruiting soon!