In The Trenches With Engineering Manager Paul Howe
May 28, 2015
Paul Howe – one of the most tenured engineers at SocialCode – explains his day-to-day, which includes making key insights available to our customers and predicting the future… as long as it’s the future of impressions and storied engagements.
Title: Engineering Manager, Data Analytics Services
Time at SocialCode: 2 years
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Current town: Detroit, California (aka Oakland)
Surprising fact: I have an unhealthy obsession with ethiopian food.
Education: M.S. Computer Science
Favorite professional sports: Probably the Pistons!
Celebrity doppleganger: A future Everly Bear Kiedis (Son of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis)
Best food/music venue/thing about San Francisco/Oakland:
Food: Souley Vegan
Venue: The Metro
Thing: Brotzeit Lokal beer garden
What do you do at SocialCode?
Paul Howe (PH): At a high-level, I split my time between development and coordination. About 20 percent of my time goes into pure development, and the rest is working with engineers to coordinate ongoing projects. For example, I’m currently working with our research team – SocialCode Labs – to develop an audience-profiling tool and a seamless production pipeline. Then on the engineering side, my team – the newly established Data Analytics Services division – is focused on delivering data analysis and insights to customers so they can act on the most actionable feedback possible.
How does your work impact the business?
PH: The analytics group synthesizes high-impact learnings from client surveys and our internal teams, and makes them available through our products. The company is investing heavily in analytics, so it’s clear our contribution to smarter tools is highly valued. Some organizations have an applied sciences group. That’s how I think about the analytics team here.
Can you describe the people you work with?
PH: We have so many talented peers. Our hiring strategy is great, but you still wonder ‘How did we end up with this great group of folks?’ My colleagues teach me something new every day and it’s a huge reason why I’m here, and why I continue to enjoy the environment. I think that’s what really attracts new creative developers, being challenged by your peers and learning from their experience.
Can you give an example of an insight you found with your colleagues and how that turned into a product feature?
PH: Post predictions is a fun example. One of our research team members identified a method for looking at historical life cycles for post-level metrics (such as impressions and engagement) to generate a profile of historical behaviors. Combining this data with a variance profile allowed us to predict future life cycles with confidence, by comparing new posts with historical profiles and projecting forward in time.
So we actually have a crystal-ball-type feature in our products?
PH: Yes (laughs)… we can totally predict the future. Ask us anything, as long as it’s about impressions or storied engagements.
“Ask us anything, as long as it’s about impressions or storied engagements.”
Would you say you have the freedom to solve problems “your way?”
PH: That’s a really cool thing about this environment. We’re big enough where we have an impact and where the things we do actually matter. But, at the same time, we have a lot of latitude as individuals and teams to figure out the best solution for a given problem. The attitude is more like, ‘you’re the expert, so go figure it out.’ There’s space and an opportunity to pursue the solution you think has the best chance of succeeding.