We spend much of our time bringing the stories of our clients to life with Shopify. Hearing about their passions, learning about their products, and then using our skills to take what’s in their head and turn it into a reality. While we’re usually more than happy to take a backseat to focus on our amazing clients, today we’re taking some time to turn the spotlight on one of our own. With a primarily remote team, we have a very diverse range of people with all different backgrounds, and our “meet the team” blogs offer the chance to glimpse into their stories.
For this instalment, we’re sitting down with Josiah Mory - our Director of Engineering.
Josiah’s path on our team from our first full-time Developer to Director of Engineering has been a natural fit. However outside of The Taproom, to say Josiah has led an interesting life would be quite the understatement. He grew up in sunny Orange County, CA, before moving to the Philippines at 8 years old where his family started an orphanage, running events and putting on food for local children. He moved back to California for college when he was 18 where he studied music, and worked as a side man and musical director playing electric and upright bass for bands in the Los Angeles area. Eventually his focus was drawn to development and ecommerce, and before joining our team at The Taproom he was running his own Shopify consultancy business.
What were you originally hired to do at The Taproom, and what drew you to the role?
I was originally hired to be a developer - technically The Taproom’s first full time developer. When I saw the job description for this role, it talked about there being a lot of access to clients and being able to have conversations around the problems they were facing. Coming from owning my own consultancy, I was very drawn to this and wanted to be able to provide feedback to clients based on my experience over the years in ecommerce.
An additional thing that drew me to The Taproom was that I would be coming into a company and could help to grow our developer team and our processes. Turns out I have done way more along those lines than I could have ever imagined!
How has moving to a Director position changed your role, or your perspective on your area of the business?
From the time I started, it was clear we needed more in place to standardize our codebases, create processes around our typical project flow, and overall create better communication between the dev team and our ops team. I have been able to work with Kelly, Victoria and the rest of the team to implement improvements, so in that way very little has changed. Coming from running my own business, Kelly and I would talk about different strategies and ways I had approached things in my company, but as I have moved into the director role, that involvement in the day-to-day and long-term growth of the company has only increased.
Tell us more about that day-to-day, what’s a typical day like for you as Director of Engineering?
My days can look drastically different. The thing that always remains the same though is that my role is to support our development team and make sure they are equipped to address the challenges that come up with each project as best as I can. This often requires being involved with leads that come in from early stages and knowing the solutions we are recommending, working with our devs to iterate on the standardization of our codebases and processes, and hopping in to help with issues they have run into.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?
The biggest challenge has been the transition from ‘doing tasks’, to learning how to manage people better. Not just any people, but specifically my team and learning what they need for support. When I first made this transition, I didn’t know how to best track all I did in a day, but reverse todo lists, writing down things I help with or am pulled into as/after I do them has helped me make this transition.
What do you find the most rewarding about your role?
The people. Helping others learn new skills and accomplish their tasks, especially when it seems impossible or we have never done that type of task before is always the most rewarding. I get to work with each member of our team and hear what they are enjoying and being frustrated by each week and, the best part of this job, celebrate and call out when they have done something awesome.
One of the unique things about Josiah’s area of the business is that it requires him to have his finger on the pulse with what’s going on in the development and engineering side of ecommerce, as well as managing his team of developers.
With everyone at The Taproom being spread across all different locations, is it challenging to manage a team of people remotely?
To be honest, I don’t know anything else! I have always worked remotely, so I do think a lot about how a remote team can work and effectively communicate being remote. I believe having my team enjoy their work, their work/life balance, be challenged, and be successful in tasks is a strong indicator the team is moving in the right direction.
What would be the biggest lesson you’ve learned then in your time at The Taproom?
Biggest lesson has been that your people make your team. It definitely seems obvious, but having the right people can push a team to operate at a high level and push each other to be challenged and grow.
Let’s talk more on the more technical side of your role - What about the ecommerce industry specifically do you find interesting?
User experience has always been the most interesting part of my work. This often is what most people think of, how a user interacts with a store. But there is also the UX of the merchant in managing their store, UX of our dev team’s processes, and UX of how a codebase is laid out.
Are there any current trends in the world of engineering/development that you’re excited about?
I try to keep a pulse on a variety of different areas in the tech world. But I have also seen a lot of ‘the cool newness’ fade away after time, while ‘the proven, but boring’ keeps providing lasting value to a team and to clients. So I generally like to be patient and wait and see a technology’s adoption, tradeoffs and limitations before introducing it to the team or to clients.
Based on his introduction, it’s safe to say there’s a lot more to Josiah than just his role at The Taproom. As with our other profile, let’s get a little bit more personal.
From OC to the Philippines to California, where do you live now? Any pets?
I live in Montana in a small city of 1500 people. While I don’t have any pets, I do have a 1 year old and he keeps me bu-sy!
What do you like doing in your spare time?
What is spare time?! I mostly end up taking care of my son and doing things with our small family in the times I am not working. However, in the few moments I get spare time it is generally watching baseball or learning, either about the outdoors or the house/personal project I might be working on at the time.
How about time online - what are some of your favorite sites to spend time on?
If you could learn any skill, what would it be?
Now that I live in Montana, there is wildlife around all the time. Tracking and understanding how to read the story of an animal’s movements if only to understand what was outside your house during the night and what they might be doing or interested in is fascinating to me.
Where would you most like to travel to one day?
I have had the opportunity to travel to a lot of places, but Greece has been somewhere I haven’t had the chance to go to yet that I would like to. As a close second, New Zealand seems awesome and has the plus of being close to the place I would most like to re-visit, Australia.