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Employee Spotlight: From fan to joining the Shift family

Madeleine Beach

Marketing Coordinator - 18 Nov, 2021

Matt shares how he joined the Shift team as a developer.

Here at Shift every Tuesday we sit down as a team and walk everyone through what we have been working on. This allows us to be on the same page, better understand one another's roles and come together for encouragement, questions, and guidance. As we all work towards a common goal together, sometimes it's important to remind ourselves to take a step back and remember each of our coworkers has a unique life and story to tell. Everyone had a different journey getting here, with different skills, and backgrounds but comes together every day to work on a collective passion, for us that's Shift. We want to bring you behind the scenes of Shift and get to know us, who we are, and what we do. I was curious how our diverse, innovative, and dynamic team all ended up together, so I started asking. I started with Matt, one of our talented developers. 

How an accidental click led to a career in development

After nearly six years of being a Shift user and fan, Matt Longpre joined the Shift team as a web developer and shares his story with us. Matt shares how he stumbled upon web development after accidentally clicking ‘view source' on a website as a teenager. He was instantly drawn in as he was both curious and surprised to be able to see behind the curtains of the website. And that's when he began experimenting with what would happen if he changed the source code. From there the passion was ignited and while still in high school Matt began building websites for his parents' friends who had businesses. 

After graduating high school Matt got a job at a hockey arena selling tickets, but he often found his mind wandering back to coding. He began wanting to see more of the behind-the-scenes of the website and how he could change it. Matt took the initiative and began rebuilding the ticketing website for the hockey arena where he worked. His boss was so impressed with his work he promoted him to handle all web development and graphic design for the hockey teams as well as the arena. And from there his career in development took off in varying capacities and roles. 

Q: Do you feel web development has changed a lot throughout your career?

A: Absolutely. It’s incredible how far web browsers have come, not to mention the amazing open-source community and the sheer wealth of knowledge that’s available for developers of all skill levels. These days you can pull up YouTube or Twitch and watch people write code, which I’m sure sounds like watching paint dry to some. But it’s a really powerful way to learn how people who are more experienced than you think through problems, and it’s a relief to watch them struggle sometimes - you feel a little less hard on yourself.

How Matt found his way to Shift

Matt’s wife Amee is an incredible designer for Redbrick, Shift’s parent company. Through this connection, he was able to learn about Shift and get an account early on. Matt was working at an IT consulting company when he began working in Shift, he quickly found it to be an extremely helpful product and began working within it daily. Shift began to allow him to keep track of all his different accounts, as he worked with many different clients who had each provided an email address. He was finally able to keep them all separate yet in one space. His co-workers quickly became envious of how easily he was able to find things and toggle between multiple accounts, converting many coworkers into Shift users. 

Q: Do you use Shift differently now than you did prior to working at Shift?

A: Yes, certainly working on it every day has been a paradigm shift (pardon the pun).  I love the keyboard shortcut to switch between accounts, apps and tabs (Cmd + ~). Simple things like double-clicking your account icon to return to the mail tab specifically I feel silly for not noticing before. I also like being able to choose the fourth icon up in the top right (I usually have YouTube there). Probably the most powerful one is Workspaces, which I hadn’t really experimented too much with at my last job. Aside from becoming aware of more features, I’m also always keeping an eye out for improvements we could make in the future.

Q: How did you end up working at Shift?

A: I met Stew [our Director of Technology] at an event and started talking to him about potential new Shift features and improvements, to which he replied “Well maybe you should come make it happen!” and well, the rest is history.

As a daily Shift user and web developer, Matt was noticing things that could add value to Shift. He had notes on new features he was hoping to see released and ideas for updates to improve user experience. Matt was a Microsoft 365 user and represented an under-serviced market since Shift was initially tailored to GSuite users. At the time, Matt was interested in taking his development skills up a notch and it was clear that Shift would be a great fit for him. When Matt mentioned some of his ideas for feature improvements to our Director of Technology, Stewart Lord, they were clearly aligned with Shift's core values as a company. Nadia Tatlow, CEO of Shift believes freedom inspires creativity, fulfillment, and ultimately productivity. Shift remains committed to evolving, growing, and learning as a company while fostering creativity, ambition, and inclusivity amongst all employees. No idea is too big or small to bring to the table. For these reasons, it was clear that Matt was a perfect fit.

Q: What is something you are most proud of in your development career?

A: The upcoming version of Shift (version 8). Shift  version 8 is for high-performance daily drivers; lighter, and faster,  with additional app and extension support, and an upgraded look and feel. It has been an amazing learning experience working on it over the past few months and I’m very excited for everyone to have the chance to use it soon.

Matt shares his passion project 

 

Q: Any proud accomplishments outside of work?

A: When the pandemic hit and I wasn’t sure what to do with myself I built an online music bingo platform called Rockstar Bingo. Quite a few businesses have been using it for remote staff parties during the lockdown, and it’s been pretty surreal to watch it grow. 

The rapidly shifting world of work has given us a rare opportunity over the past couple of years to reassess our lives and find time for what is important to us. Pandemic-related shutdowns have allowed for people to find the time and space to listen to their creative passions, making room for their ideas to come to life. When Matt moved to remote work due to the pandemic related lockdown he was able to come up with a creative solution to bring his passions together: music, friends, and web development. Building and launching Rockstar Bingo, an online music bingo platform that allows players to virtually play music bingo with friends for any occasion ranging from casual game nights to professional events. 

How it works:

  1. Select a playlist that either Rockstar bingo provides or (as a paid user) you can access Spotify to use any playlist you like, including your own. Minimum 75 songs in the playlist.
  2. Bingo cards are automatically created for each player that joins (Players can play on any device with a web browser. No need for them to download or pay for anything.)
  3. Players tap songs on their cards as they hear them. When they call bingo, the app will verify and congratulate (or shame) them.

It can be easy to forget how amazing, passionate and creative our coworkers are and the journeys they have taken. Get to know your team, ask questions about both work and life outside of work. We work together, encourage, and learn from one another but we all have different backgrounds, skills, and interests which is what makes for a fun, diverse and strong team. Celebrating, honouring and recognizing your team as individuals is the key to creating a “better normal”.

Matt’s top tips for productivity from working from home: 

  • Working remotely means I’m often working directly on my macbook without being plugged into monitors. Stew suggested Rectangle to me for managing multiple windows, and I swear by it now. I actually find I’m more productive without monitors these days, as it forces me to choose one or two windows to focus on at a given time rather than be distracted by things on other screens.
  • Standing desk - invest in a healthy back!
  • Instrumental music playlists for getting in the flow state
  • Go for a walk - listen to podcast (SyntaxFM is my favorite)