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AsKin Questions to Jamie Auza, Technical Consultant

AsKinQuestions Background

Our name is intentional. “Kin” refers to family and “Carta” refers to maps. When together, we’re Kin + Carta — a group of connected makers, builders and creators, who come together everyday to help our clients build experiences and plot a clear path forward in today’s digital world. Carta is what we do, Kin is who we are.

AsKin Questions is a series that brings the day-to-day experiences of working at Kin + Carta to light, all through the eyes of our Kin. And today, it’s Jamie Auza, Technical Consultant, who we asked some questions to.

AsKinQuestions Background

We’d love to learn more about you, personally. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I’m the winner of a K-Pop dance competition! This was actually something my brother really wanted to do, so right before I went to college we signed up. And, we ended up winning!

What is it exactly that you do at Kin + Carta?

My role right now is as a tech lead. In this role I spend a lot of my time working with the team — answering their questions and supporting the efficiency of our workload. We talk with our client quite a bit to understand what goals they are striving to reach and by what time, then we get to work. I partner closely with our delivery lead and product person to schedule all the workflows, and manage expectations with our client so that we’re proactively planning for achieving their goals in the days / weeks / months ahead. Ultimately, my role as a tech lead centers around talking with our client, discovering what they need to achieve, then supporting my team to make it all happen.

What's the best part of being a tech lead?

The best part is just talking to my team from both Kin + Carta and our client, and making memories with them. I love connecting with people, and to me that’s more important than the technical side of work. Bonding with our team and getting to know each other better makes the workday more efficient and fun.

What's an example of a project you're working on right now?

Our product is a mobile application that helps fly a drone over crops and fields, so farmers and growers can make better decisions on their fields faster. We also help the Research and Development team of our client create machine learning models for those drone images.

There are many challenges that come with a drone project, but the one we’ve continuously had to work on, and what we're trying to solve for right now, is the problem of testing. Only a few people have drones and the required accompanying pilot license. Plus, the seasons change, which complicates all of it. To solve for this, we’ve created a team channel where we can communicate with people from different parts of the world like France, Brazil, and Argentina. This has allowed us to do much more testing.

What's one thing that has surprised you about your role?

When I transitioned into the tech lead position, I was very surprised at how much my job centered around communication. So much of what I do now is communicating and collaborating with people within my own or across different teams. In this role I’ve learned that you have to juggle differing priorities, and you have to create a schedule and think about budgeting. It's a lot of moving parts. It's not just technical aspects anymore; it's also about the people.

We would be remiss to acknowledge that you’re a female tech lead. Do you have any advice for women in tech?

When I first got into tech, a lot of what I had to deal with was pretending to be someone else to feel more like a tech person. But what I’ve learned is that you can just be yourself. You don't have to act like someone else. And in the long run by being true to yourself, you will be happier and learn more. Right now, I'm reading a book called Not Nice by Dr. Aziz Gazipura. It teaches you to stop being a people pleaser and not being so nice to a point where it's detrimental to you. That's inspiring me to be more of myself at work.

It's also important to ask questions and acknowledge if you don’t know something. The more questions you ask, the better your team will function. One of the rules shared with me when I first started was, if you're stuck on something for twenty minutes, ask someone; don't wait. Don't try and solve it for several hours. Just go and ask somebody because someone will know the answer.

What's your favorite part about working at Kin + Carta?

Honestly, my favorite part is how supported by everyone I feel. I’ve had different mentors and people leaders in my tenure with the firm, which means there’s always someone I can reach out to with issues. Our teams are structured to allow for this support and learning. For example, my team recently was tasked to begin working with Flutter, which at the time we all had limited experience with. We were all comfortable just messaging and setting up meetings to ask questions to people who we knew worked with Flutter. We have other teams come to us with questions, too. It's those connections and openness that I certainly appreciate about Kin + Carta.

I also love that everyone on our team can be themselves, which is especially important for us because we’re a small team of five. We're all comfortable asking questions or raising suggestions to improve our work or workflows. This has led to our team being so strong, as we're much more honest and open with one another.

How do you contribute to building a better world?

Part of what I do to create a better world is developing a positive environment for my team and my client's team. The work we do to help farmers is no doubt important, but the day-to-day support of running a team smoothly and creating space where people feel empowered to be their authentic selves helps enable the work that creates a better world. It may seem small, but it’s really one of the most important things.

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