The YML team is diverse, separated across four continents, and now entirely remote. "Spotlight" is a monthly series showcasing a different member of the YML team from across design, strategy or technology.
Who are you, and what do you do at YML?
Hey, I’m Brent! I’m a Senior QA in the Indianapolis branch here at YML.
As a QA, I wear many hats. Day-to-day, it’s my responsibility to ensure that our work meets the high standard of quality our clients expect. From a larger perspective, my job is to not only test the final product, but to be a part of the process from beginning to end, working with both our internal team and the client to craft a product that is understandable, testable, and outstanding.
Where are you from / where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Bedford, Indiana. It’s a small town just south of Bloomington. Bedford is a quintessential Midwestern USA town, boasting the title of “Limestone Capital of the World” and vast, vast amounts of farmland.
A couple of years ago, my family and I moved to Franklin, a town just south of Indianapolis. We just bought our first house here, and we’re excited to explore this charming, local business-focused town.
Tell us a little about your background.
Considering the work I am doing and loving today, I have an extremely eclectic background. My first “adult” job following high school was in Quality Control for a medical device manufacturer, Cook Medical. Obviously this was confirming quality on a physical item, not software, but quality is quality, and this job really prepared me for a direction I didn’t even know I was headed at the time.
Following Cook, I worked in Technical Support for a small ISP in Southern Indiana, followed by an IT Coordinator position at a large Central Indiana industrial supply company, where I got to drive all over the state to assist some incredibly interesting manufacturing companies with controlling very expensive tools used in manufacturing trucks, giant gears, jet engines, etc. via vending solutions.
Opportunity knocked at YML, but I had a lot to learn. I had to learn how to apply the basic tenets of quality I had acquired at my previous jobs to the very specific domain of software quality assurance. I was brought into an entry level QA position at YML about four years ago, and through a combination of stellar on-the-job training and self teaching, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing experts to create impactful products.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever built? Whether at YML, a different job or in your personal life. Why does that resonate with you?
The craziest thing I’ve ever had the absolute pleasure of being on a team for was a hackathon project done by the Indianapolis office in 2016. It was…ahem… “MOST EXTREME UX CHALLENGE!” - a satirical game app which was a set of mini-games exaggerating notable pitfalls in app design and UX. I helped coordinate between team members and our designer, who came up with some really amazing designs from the ideas we gave. This project was a blast from start to finish. That’s my voice in the trailer!
This project resonated with me because I find humor to be one of life’s biggest outlets for frustration. This project really encapsulates that - it allowed us to take this big subset of frustrations in app design and make something humorous out of it.
Why did you choose to come to YML?
I came to YML because YML gave me an opportunity! Even just four years ago when I joined the company, remote work wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is today, and jobs in tech aren’t prevalent in Indiana where my roots are. YML blew me away from minute one with their company culture and approach to product design and execution. I continue to feel thankful every day for getting to collaborate with such experts from around the world in first class software engineering.
What’s your favorite project / client you’ve ever worked on? Why?
My favorite project was my first. As I mentioned, I worked with Cook, a medical device manufacturer, as one of my first jobs. Starting at YML, my first project was on a very lean team of two developers and myself as QA, developing an app for internal use by Cook Sales Representatives. Having this fortuitous opportunity to work with a client I was familiar with allowed me to develop my QA chops, get started with automation, and generally become immensely more comfortable to tackle the larger projects I would eventually be a part of.
What about this industry are you most passionate about?
Growth! Both within the industry and personally. Despite existing for decades, I still consider the tech industry to be in its infancy, and I’m not sure how far it has to go before I won’t think that anymore. I see so much potential everywhere. There are so many problems yet to be solved, with more to do than we can fathom yet.
For me personally, I have a long way to go in my career, and YML has given me the room to get started. I’ve been on one of the smallest projects at the company (me and two developers for a healthcare client) and one of the largest projects in the company (a giant team for a major Fintech client). I don’t see a point at which I’m going to feel like I’ve learned or experienced enough to be satisfied. There’s always something more to accomplish.
What are some companies you admire and why?
Hello Games is a small British game development studio who released No Man’s Sky in 2016. Leading up to the game’s release, an enormous wave of hype surrounded the game, and the developer had signed on with Sony for publishing, which increased the public excitement even more. Publicity efforts leading up to the game’s release had Sean Murray out on the interview trail. He was so passionate about his game, but he had a difficult time managing expectations during his interviews. When the game finally released, public reception was pretty abysmal to put it mildly. Hello Games did not take the money and run.
Hello Games went dark for months and got to work. Later that year they put out the first of many updates which would bring many of the expected features that were missing from the initial release, and quite a few others that nobody was expecting. I have deep respect for a company owning their mistakes and working to increase the scope and quality of their product.
What’s something you’ve learned — a skill or about yourself — during quarantine?
I’m not nearly as bad at home DIY projects as I thought. We’ve recently moved from a rental home to our own. In the rental home I’d learned how to repair and install PVC, as it was pretty difficult to get anybody in to work on anything that wasn’t an absolute emergency. In our new home I’ve had to hang TVs, install curtains, paint, hang shelves, and all kinds of things that I was pretty scared of before. Don’t make fun of me.
How do you spend your spare time?
I have two kids. I spend a lot of my time savoring every moment I can watching them grow up. We play a lot of video games together during social distancing, and we hang out in our back yard playing in the sprinklers.
I also do a lot of video gaming on my own, which has been invaluable for staying close to some of the others in the YML Indy office who play games as well.
Currently, several members of the team are playing Space Engineers together on some evenings and weekends. Please enjoy my greatest creation on our server - the Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, complete with spinning sign and drive-thru homing missiles for defense.
Gaming has also been great way for the office to give back to our community. Every year the team gets together to participate in a nation-wide fundraising event called Extra Life (extra-life.org). We play video games for 24 hours, and take donations during that time for our local children’s hospital.