CEO Dave Gray Will Serve on the Board of the YMCA of Greater Birmingham

By | Community, Culture, Healthy Stuff, YMCA | No Comments

Our CEO Dave Gray recently joined the board of directors of the YMCA of Greater Birmingham. Dave has long been a supporter of the Y movement, and Daxko software runs behind the scenes at many YMCAs across the country. In addition, Dave serves on the board of the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in North Carolina.

“I am honored to serve on the board of directors of the YMCA of Greater Birmingham,” Dave says. “I am passionate about the work of the YMCA in our community, and I look forward to collaborating with Stan Law and his team, as well as other board members, to promote the Y values of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility across the Birmingham area.”

Dave’s involvement on these boards sets an example for Daxko team members, as community involvement is encouraged of all who work here. We participate in semi-annual Impact Days, in which team members take a day to work outside of the office to give back to our local community. In the past, Daxko has worked with the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham, and the Young Women’s Christian Association.

Local community involvement is one way for us to make lasting impact within our own communities, just as our software products do for Ys and other organizations around the country.

Design and Friendship: A Conversation with Erika and Kirsten

By | Culture, Free Career Advice, Talent, Technology | No Comments

Daxko is celebrating women in tech all February long, and this week, we focus on interaction designers Erika B. and Kirsten W. I got to know both of them at the Daxko Reach conference back in 2014 and have admired their drive and design skills from day one. Last week, I sat down with them and asked a few questions to prompt what turned out to be a very captivating conversation that truly reflects their friendship and how passionate they are about their work.

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Janna: Both of you started at Daxko in 2014 within a month of one another, and it seems like you immediately. I still see you together a lot around the office. Why do you think you became friends so quickly?

Erika: The tech side of the office used to be divided into product and software, and there were really only guys on our side! I related to Kirsten because we clicked fast, we’re the same age, and we were working on the same thing.

Kirsten: It helped that Erika was a girl. Becki was the only other girl on that side of the office at the time. Erika and I both went to art schools too, so we had a lot of similarities. We like a lot of the same types of art, like minimalistic line work.

Erika: Kirsten is really good with watercolors, too!

Janna: Kirsten, what’s something you have learned from Erika?

Kirsten: Whoa, that’s a long list. Erika is formally trained as an interaction designer, and I’m not. So I learned a lot from her about doing research. She knows so much.

Janna: And Erika, what’s something you’ve learned from Kirsten?

Erika: She always brings a perspective to the table that I’m trying to get to or that I haven’t thought about. She became a guru with Daxko Operations, so when I had Ops-related questions, she knew the answers.

Kirsten: Our products affect one another in different ways that we don’t really get to see on a daily basis.

Erika: We actually got to work together on a project not too long ago, and it was so cool to see Kirsten completely own it. It was some experimentation with Daxko Engage. Kirsten jumped right in and did so much awesome work, including some stellar interviews with our customers.

Janna: Tell me about some projects that you’re most proud of.

Erika: Daxko Engage analytics! We were trying to give more insight to our customers about what their users are doing in Daxko Engage. I started by creating a hypothesis, moved on to validation, and along the way, the project ended up flipping completely. Engage analytics is an innovative way for customers to see retention over time. It’s been a learning curve to see how customers are adopting this and how they’re creating strategic initiatives based on the data. A customer actually told us the other day that based on the analytics, they’re going to launch an initiative to see how their short-term retention is affected.

Kirsten: I’m most proud of what I’m working on right now around member experience. I paired with Jason W. at first, and we worked together on thought processes and planning the flow of how everything would work. Jason has since stepped away from that particular design role, and I took over. This is the first project I’ll be involved in from start to finish, and I love it because it’s new and innovative. I’ve gotten to talk to customers a lot, which I’ve really enjoyed.

Erika: Talking to customers is fun, because we get to push them to think about how they really use the software or how they would use a particular feature. It’s interesting to hear their thought processes.

Janna: What’s the toughest obstacle you’ve had to overcome as interaction designers?

Kirsten: Every day, we are battling. We’re battling for our customers, and we’re met with challenges and limitations from the products.

Erika: Thinking about our processes to solve problems is always an obstacle. I am constantly thinking about the list of risks I get from each experiment that I do. Dependency on other teams is a challenge.

Kirsten: And compromising can also be a challenge. The software engineers give us restraints, and that’s difficult because Erika and I are both really passionate about wanting the best experience for our customers.

Janna: Who or what inspires you?

Kirsten: Looking at other design work is very inspiring for me. I love to look at what other people are doing and seeing how innovative they can be in solving the same kinds of problems I face. I also look to Erika – she is very inspiring!

Erika: I’d say the same thing. When I was studying industrial design, I looked at a lot of books to help address problems I was trying to solve. I like to see things in motion, so I also look at Pinterest and graphic design work. Anything that can help me better my design skills.

Kirsten: Seeing things in a different light or being used in a unique way is really inspiring.

Erika: I usually try not to look at things I’m working on. Say I’m designing a table or a form. I try to avoid looking at those things in particular. Instead, I look for minimalistic design type stuff. Design can be hard because simple design is good design.

Kirsten: Everything we deal with is pretty complex. But we have to try and make something complex as simple as we can.

Janna: What advice would you give to young women entering your field, especially since you work with so many guys?

Kirsten: Just do it. It’s not as scary as what you think it’s going to be. And bring food!

Erika: Ha! Yeah, sometimes I forget, but bringing food is always good.

Kirsten: The way to a man’s heart is through food.

Erika: Also, if you’re a designer, you need to know technical language. Learn the same lingo as the developers you work with. Learn HTML and CSS, your basics for front-end development. And you’ll learn a lot of the back-end stuff too as you work with developers.

Kirsten: Ask them questions. Seriously, if you don’t know something, just ask. I’ve found that the developers I work with enjoy explaining things to me. I also like to sit with developers sometimes and just watch what they’re doing.

Janna: Who are your mentors?

Erika: I haven’t found a technical mentor, but I still keep in touch with my mentors from SCAD. I still use their advice every day: that every experience and every job helps you build your personal toolkit to work towards your end goal in life.

Kirsten: Josh S. is my team lead now, but he wasn’t when he became my mentor. He sat near me and helped me a lot when I first came onto the team. Like me, his degree is not focused in interaction design, so we shared a lot of the same struggles. He’s really encouraging and has a lot of design skills to bring to the table when I’m trying to think through a problem. He’ll tell me, “I see where you’re coming from, but let me put it to you in a different way. Let’s stop thinking about what you can’t do and refocus on what you can.”

Janna: How do you stay current in your field?

Kirsten: I look to Will S., who used to work here; I still follow him on social media and keep up with what he’s doing.

Erika: Yeah, me too. Also, when I’m not at Daxko, I help Code for Birmingham. This helps me explore what’s out there beyond what I’m working on for my job. I also read a lot. Any design book I can get my hands on, I read!

Kirsten: Me too. You should see all the books on my desk.

Erika: I like to look at trend reports. Those are always helpful.

Kirsten: I follow different boards on Pinterest and look at Dribbble to see what’s trending, and I look at Google and Facebook’s design libraries.

Erika: Oh, those are good!

Kirsten: They’re always on top of what’s new and innovative!

Janna: Last question, and it’s totally random. What’s your favorite emoji?

Kirsten: The grinning face. This one:
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Erika: The punching fist and the muscle. I also like the watching eyes.

Janna: I sense a girl-power theme.

Erika: Oh, and I like the new one with the glasses, because it reminds me of myself when I was younger.
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Janna: Thank you both for this awesome conversation! I’m always inspired by you two.

Erika and Kirsten: You’re welcome!

WIT


Are you a woman in tech? Tweet us @Daxko using the hashtag #WomeninTech to let us know why you love your job, what you look for in a job, or what advice you’d give to young women entering tech careers.

Tech Isn’t Just for Dudes: An Interview with a #GirlWhoCodes

By | Culture, Free Career Advice, Life at Daxko, Talent, Technology | No Comments

I recently sat down for a chat with Maria A., a developer who works on Daxko’s flagship product, Daxko Operations. Maria discussed women who have careers in tech, what she loves about being a developer, and more. Read on for the interview!

Maria

Janna: Let’s get right to it. What do you love most about being a developer?

Maria: I love the challenges. Technology is constantly changing, and what’s new and hip one day might be outdated tomorrow. So I am constantly learning and trying new things. Tech is never boring!

Janna: You’ve been at Daxko for almost a year. Now that the honeymoon phase is over, what are some cool projects you’ve loved working on during that time?

Maria: I’ve been working on Daxko Operations from day one. I used to work on maintenance, and the cool thing about that was that I never knew what tasks I’d get to tackle from day to day. Daxko Operations is a huge system, so I’d come to work every day wondering what I would get to work on. I’ve been working on the feature side of Daxko Operations recently, which has also been really fun.

Janna: You also got step away from your day-to-day work and do some innovating during our most recent Daxko Lab Days.

Maria: Yes! An idea was pitched for a volunteer matching service, so I got to help build the system. We created an open platform using Ruby on Rails, which I had never programmed in before. It was really cool! Ruby is very dynamic, more so than C#. And Lab Days also gave me the chance to work with Adam L., another developer who I don’t get to work with normally. It was really awesome to collaborate with him.

Janna: How do you stay up-to-date in your field?

Maria: Working with my team really helps. Every day when I come to the office my teammates are talking about new technology. We watch a lot of videos about new tech. And Steven W. is a human Wikipedia – he knows so much stuff about technology and just has general knowledge about basically everything.

Janna: You started off as a contracted team member, so you got to court Daxko for a while. What made you say “I do” to a permanent role?

Maria: I truly felt like Daxko was a great company. I just felt good about the work I was doing, and I wanted to continue. I loved the code I was writing, and more than anything, I loved the people.

Janna: I love the people here too. Why are you so fond of your teammates?

Maria: Everyone on my team is really nice and always willing to collaborate. If I don’t know how to do something, I know I can ask the senior developers on the team. And if I make a mistake, they’ll tell me – but they never make me feel inadequate for making an error.

Janna: Do you have a mentor?

Maria: Honestly, I view my team lead, Matt D., as a mentor. I always feel comfortable asking him for help or advice, and he never makes it seem like it’s just his “job” to offer guidance.

Janna: Recently, SAP North America became the first tech company in the U.S. to receive a gender equality certification. What do you think other companies could do to follow suit and hire more women for technical roles?

Maria: I don’t think companies are intentionally trying not to hire women. But there are significantly fewer females in tech. I think we need more young women to decide they want to enter tech careers. And then once they have their degree, apply to any role they think they might be a fit for. Women need to ensure they’re getting out there and making their voices heard. This field is not just for men!

Janna: What advice would you give to young women who desire a tech career?

Maria: Don’t ever believe you are being undermined. If you think it, it becomes a reality. Even if you feel like people might judge you or think you’re inferior if you make a mistake or ask for help, don’t be afraid to do it. And ask someone to mentor you. You’d be surprised at how nice people are and how much they want to help you.

Janna: How would you encourage school-aged young girls to develop a passion for tech?

Maria: Math and logic skills can help you immensely when you start to learn about coding. Play games like chess to develop your logical thinking skills. I actually never went to school for computer science, so I am living proof that math and logic skills can take you a long way and help you understand coding languages.

Janna: There are so many cool tech companies and jobs in Birmingham, but it feels like our city can sometimes fly under the radar. As a recent transplant to Birmingham from the Dominican Republic, what do you like about living here? What would you tell someone who is considering taking the leap and moving here?

Maria: When Daxko offered me a full-time position, I was honestly really scared to take it – not because I didn’t like the job or the people, but because of what I thought Alabama would be like. I’d heard there was crime, and if you Google ‘Alabama,’ it can seem kind of rural. I debated for a week on whether or not I should take the risk and move here. I’m glad I did, because I really like Birmingham. There’s a lot of cool stuff to do here. On the weekends, I like going to the lake and hiking. I love the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. I even like the weather! In Birmingham, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to be able to do cool things. And Atlanta is an easy drive from Birmingham, so you can easily take a day trip over there.

Janna: I’m glad it turned out to be a good experience for you. Birmingham has really come a long way!

Maria: In general, I was a little taken aback by how nice people have been here in Birmingham. Even when I’m in the supermarket, I run into people I don’t even know and strike up a conversation with them! I also really appreciate the diversity in the city.

Janna: Okay, last thing, because I always have food on the brain – what’s been your favorite place to eat in Birmingham?

Maria: I really like Mr. Wang’s. The food is authentic and just really good. I’m looking forward to trying more restaurants around town, too.

Janna: Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! You’re awesome.

Maria: You’re welcome!

WIT


Are you a woman in tech? Tweet us @Daxko using the hashtag #WomeninTech to let us know why you love your job, what you look for in a job, or what advice you’d give to young women entering tech careers.

My Top 5 Favorite Things About the Daxko Birmingham Office

By | Culture, Life at Daxko, Workplace | One Comment

Last Friday, Daxko hosted the Alabama Business Education Association for an Evening with the Experts reception before their annual conference. It was a great experience, and many guests took the opportunity to stroll around the office and see what makes the Daxko headquarters special. I received lots of comments and compliments about the office space. One of the first things a guest asked me was, “Where is the Alabama/Auburn room?” Clearly, word about the office gets around! All of the compliments I heard made me think about my 5 favorite attributes of the office.

  1. The Garage. This is one of my favorite places to do heads-down work and enjoy the sunlight. As an introvert, sometimes I need to step away from my desk, pop in my earbuds, and get stuff done. The Garage allows me to do just that, and the brightness of the room always boosts my mood.DSC_5363b copy
  2. Demo rooms. These are small breakout rooms that our Sales team uses for demos. I occasionally go into a demo room if I need to focus or if I’m conducting a phone call. I love the thought that went into decorating and naming all of these rooms. There’s Travolta, Jurassic, Barbie, and Steel City Pops, just to name a few.DSC_5423 copy
  3. Right Brain. The office actually has two brainstorm meeting rooms – Right Brain and Left Brain. Why is Right Brain my favorite (aside from the fact that I myself am right-brained)? The mural was painted by local artist and designer Alex Fuller. It features a mix of inspiring people and things that make Daxko, well, Daxko.DSC_0837
  4. DaxPark. The Park is where we have company-wide meetings and where people gather to brainstorm, take breaks, catch up, and get coffee. We love our caffeine.DSC_5354 copy
  5. The Wall. This wall features photos of all team members, as well as their team, tenure, 3 fun facts about them. I frequently stand in front of the wall to get to know team members better and to see what I have in common with them.IMG_6723
  • Bonus: House Divided – AKA the Alabama/Auburn Room. Admittedly, I’m not a football fan despite growing up here in Alabama (I’m an anomaly, I know). But I love kicking back in House Divided on one of the giant beanbag chairs, usually on the Auburn side since my dad is a huge Auburn fan. I used to hold trainings in this room so my trainees had the opportunity settle in and get comfortable after being at their desks for most of the day. Plus, we recently added an Xbox One to the room, so our gamers can take a break and blow off steam.DSC_5383 copy

I could go on and on about the office. It truly does make me excited to get out of bed and come to work, even after working here for 3 ½ years. I think my dad summed it up best when he came to have lunch with me and I gave him a tour of the office. He asked, “This place is cool! When can I come work at Daxko?”


Janna B. is the Daxko Nation Marketing Manager who wants a pet fruit bat and wishes she lived in the late 1960s/early 1970s.