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June 18, 2021

Meet our Team: Alex Liu, Software Engineer

Welcome to the latest installment of "Meet our Team"! In this post, we're featuring one of the newest additions to the Fieldguide Engineering, Product, & Development (EPD) team, Alex Liu.

Name: Alex Liu

Position: Software Engineer

Location: San Francisco, CA

Tell me about your role and team at Fieldguide.

Fieldguide has offered an environment where I’ve been able to ship high impact features and contribute across the stack – from React in the front end, to Hasura, Postgres, and TypeScript in the back end. What’s cool about the team is that we’re small and trust each other to move fast without breaking things. My first week, I shipped code to production, and now I’ve ramped to the point where I’m helping shape the technical direction of our product. 

The most rewarding part about the team is our customer focus and tight feedback cycle. I’ll ship a new feature one day, and often by the next day, we get excited feedback from the customer. We’re building software for an overlooked industry, and for our customers it’s revolutionary to be able to suggest a new feature and then be able to use it in the product within only a few days or weeks. 

As an early-career engineer, a high priority of mine is definitely learning and growth. I’ve picked up from the team best practices and patterns that help us leverage the latest in web development technologies. Since we’re building business-critical enterprise software, I’ve also been able to learn about and implement security practices, permission management, and a wide range of integrations. I’ve been able to take on responsibilities that are usually off-limits to early engineers at larger companies, such as production support, change management, and database tuning.

What’s your favorite aspect of working at Fieldguide?

Definitely the team! They’ve been quick to respond to questions and happy to help out with technical challenges – no one has a “not my problem” attitude. We work remotely, so our Slack is constantly buzzing with activity as we collaborate on problems, and we often meet over video calls to chat things through or throw up a virtual whiteboard.

Most importantly, our team takes pride in our product and what we do. I get to develop product expertise and shape product decisions. We think through every detail of the user experience, and if we identify a problem, we’re proactive with suggestions and solutions. Engineers also care about the velocity of the team as a whole, so code reviews are fast and there’s no endless re-review and refactoring. 

Fieldguide’s founders are experienced and know how to manage a startup well. They grant the team significant autonomy, ownership, and responsibility over their work, which on a day-to-day basis means I have control over my time and can work autonomously. Our founders also invest in weekly one on ones, and I feel like I have a front row seat in shaping company strategy and vision.

What led you to Fieldguide?

I graduated from Amherst College in 2019 with a double major in Computer Science and History. During college, I pursued my lifelong interest in finance, and after graduating worked as an Equity Derivatives Trader at Barclays. Ultimately, I decided I wanted to do something more mission-driven and entrepreneurial.

When I was looking for opportunities, I prioritized early-stage companies, as I wanted to get in on the ground floor, learn as much as possible, and make a really big impact. After connecting with Fieldguide, I was convinced that this unique combo of team, product, and market had true rocket-ship potential. 

What excites you about the Fieldguide platform?

Having worked at large financial institutions, I’ve personally experienced the pain of using software that hasn't been updated since the 1990s and bending Excel to do things it was never intended to do. At all of these places, I was “the kid who can code”, so I would help with quick fixes, but I was still working within a lot of constraints. 

At Fieldguide, we’re building a bottoms up solution that’s aiming to transform the audit workflow, not hack together some VBA and call it a day. The audit industry is currently served by software companies that can essentially be described as dinosaurs – massive companies that generate billions of dollars in revenue, but deliver software that only runs on Internet Explorer. Fieldguide not only has the technical talent to build a powerful, flexible platform, but also the audit industry expertise to put the auditor first and improve every step in their workflow.

Describe Fieldguide’s culture in three words or phrases.

  1. Customer obsessed
  2. High trust
  3. Thinks big

What has been your proudest moment at Fieldguide so far?

Just three months in, I had major ownership and responsibility over a new feature that integrates with open source software. The feature will help audit firms deliver a differentiated client experience by automating significant portions of clients’ security and compliance journeys. I have been leading the integrations and it’s been really cool figuring out how this project impacts our entire stack–from data model changes to designing permissions and the UX. As I mentioned before, engineers really have responsibility and exposure to the full stack. 

What does your remote workspace look like?

I live in a studio, so my desk isn’t far from my bed (or anything else in my apartment). Also, I am pretty tall at 6 feet 7 inches, which has benefits, but also drawbacks. For my standing desk, I added casters to the bottom, and luckily, that was enough to bring me up to working height!

Since I move around pixels for a living, I wanted a nice monitor setup, and to my surprise the Macbook Pros we get issued have great speakers, so I like to blast Spotify to really get into the groove. I mainly like to listen to house and pop music, but in general I’m a sucker for a good bassline or a groovy four on the floor beat!

What do you like to do in your free time? 

I spend a lot of time at the gym, and recently have been pulling our CEO, Jin, into some workouts too – last time I coached him on squat technique. What I appreciate most about lifting heavy weights is that it’s almost meditative – you can’t really think about work or life problems when there’s 200lbs hovering over your neck during a bench press. I’ve made it a daily habit and look forward to that hour where I live completely in the moment.

Want to make a huge impact at Fieldguide? Grab a front-row seat. We’re hiring.

Katrina Lyter

Business Development @ Fieldguide

Climber and outdoor enthusiast.

Katrina LyterKatrina Lyter

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