DataMotion is pleased to welcome Heather Post, DataMotion Developer Advocate, to our growing team. Heather’s story is rather unique—not only is Heather filling a newly-created role, she is also a returning DataMotion employee. Heather kindly sat with us to tell her story, chat a bit about the role of Developer Advocate, and share why she came back to DataMotion.
Andrea Meyer, DataMotion Content Manager: Heather, thanks for your time. And welcome back!
Heather Post: Andrea, thanks—it is great to be back!
AM: Like so many others, myself included, you were a part of the 2021 “Great Resignation.” But where your story diverges from the typical narrative is that you returned to a previous company for a newly-created role. Let’s start with your background—you are first and foremost an engineer, correct?
HP: Yes, I have a degree in computer science from Fairleigh Dickinson University. I started my career as an engineering intern here at DataMotion then at Party City. After college I went on to work as a software engineer and then as a sales engineer.
AM: Based on a previous discussion, it sounds like you started your career here at DataMotion as an engineering intern at an interesting time.
HP: When I first joined the team as an intern, DataMotion had just become a Health Information Service Provider (HISP) and was able to provide Direct Secure Messaging to hospitals, doctor’s offices, EMRs and EHRs to help them meet new regulations and apply for government grants such as ONC Funding.
With this new development, my internship project consisted of creating an iOS health app that would utilize Apple’s, at the time, new Research and Care Kit APIs that were an addition to Apple’s Health Kit, as well as our new Direct Secure Messaging product.
AM: What was the anticipated outcome of the project?
HP: This would help customers track their healthcare documents and securely send them from one doctor to another, right from their phones.
AM: That is pretty awesome–how did it go?
HP: As a lot of intern projects go, mine was more of a research gig, and it didn’t quite make it to QA before the summer was over. But what it did do was give me new perspective on the development journey which set me up for the rest of my career.
AM: Internships are really about the long game, often giving the intern perspective of what they want to do. Which leads us to the next questions: where did you go from your internship, and what you were looking for as part of your new-found perspective?
HP: I was actually hired on as a full-time employee by DataMotion as a software engineer. I spent most of my day programming–and if I’m being honest, a good amount of any given day went to debugging. I worked with the product management and engineering teams and helped develop new products and additional features to our existing solutions.
AM: What did you like most about the job?
HP: Aside from the fantastic team here at the company, this was an amazing experience and I was constantly learning and improving. I had the opportunity to dive into other new projects such as web and mobile app development, which allowed me to be very logically creative. The only thing lacking, really, was the aspect of artistic creativity or much of a chance to interact with others, since I was usually only talking to myself as I coded.
AM: It sounds as if you needed a bit of a change from the solitary nature of coding and wanted something more people-focused. Is this why you pursued a new role?
AM: Where did you go from there?
HP: I moved into a position as a Sales Engineer in a New York City-based security company.
AM: Tell us a bit about that.
HP: As a sales engineer I definitely got the social interaction I was looking for. I developed a great appreciation and understanding for sales in general and the sales process that I might not have had otherwise. The engineering side of my role allowed me to dive deeper into networking than I had before, focusing more on server communication and spec configuration—my network trouble-shooting skills improved immensely! As much as I enjoyed my company and new position, I was missing the logical creativity my last role provided. And I still hadn’t found the outlet for artistic creativity I had hoped for.
AM: And then Fate stepped in, in the form of [DataMotion CEO] Bob Janacek on LinkedIn, yes?
HP: Yes! One afternoon in late April, when I was about halfway through my second year as an SE, I skimmed my LinkedIn messages to find a note from Bob. Bob had reached out with a job posting for a new Developer Advocacy role to see if I knew anyone who would be interested, or if I would be interested myself. After a quick look at the job description, I realized that this was what I should be doing.
AM: Was this random, or did you keep in touch with Bob after leaving?
HP: Bob is someone who has the ability to turn a routine meeting into what felt like a locker room pep talk, and give the entire room the pregame adrenaline that added motivation and drive to the conversation. He is someone I got to know well during my time with DataMotion, and made sure to keep in touch with from time to time.
AM: Some in our audience may be learning about the role of “Developer Advocate” for the first time, or might have different ideas of what you do. Could you tell us more?
HP: Developer Advocates are engineers who ensure developers have the understanding and tools needed to be successful with their product. They create “how-to” videos, share advice and tips in blog posts, and might spend hours solving an error a dev may see in their code. From a professional growth perspective, Developer Advocates also have the unique opportunity to mix the logical creativity that comes from computer science, and the artistic creativity that emerges when writing and creating videos. I’ve had trouble finding a balance between the two in my professional life, and am excited by the prospect of the work I now get to do!
AM: Aside from the opportunities that this role presents for you professionally, what is it that brought you back to DataMotion, when you could have looked elsewhere for a similar role?
HP: This is another exciting time to join the DataMotion team as we become API-focused. In the past, we focused more on email encryption with a few API options. But we learned that many of our customers need to integrate secure exchange into their existing apps and platforms, so we are shifting direction to meet these demands. As a developer, it is exciting to see so many customers build our functionality into their mobile apps, as well as their employee and customer portals without spending the time and money to develop this software from scratch. Our ability and willingness to quickly pivot to meet customer needs, and the innovation involved, was a motivator.
AM: Given your experience working with the operations and engineering teams, as well as your apt description of Bob as an engaged and energetic CEO, it sounds as if company culture played a role in your decision to return.
HP: Totally. More than finding this balance in my professional life with this new role, the idea of returning to DataMotion was really exciting for me. DataMotion is a passionate and personable company that cares for their employees and customers. The personable aspect of the teams allows us to foster solid working relationships and friendships with one another, regardless of location or department. It also allows Bob the opportunity to get to know each employee as an individual. By getting to this personal level, DataMotion’s leaders are able to place people where they can grow and excel. This gives each employee the ability to explore our strengths and creative areas and play to them. Because of this culture, we have a very strong and talented team ready to take on large and complex projects. And from a business perspective, that energy, talent and creativity translates into the ability to stay agile and deliver excellence to our customers.
AM: As we alluded to earlier, we are in the midst of the “Great Resignation” with surveys showing that over 40% of workers are considering leaving their job this year. What advice would you, as a returning employee, give to companies to retain talent, or create an environment that makes former employees comfortable returning?
HP: I really think business culture is such an important aspect. A great company culture allows employees to feel comfortable with their team and inspired in their work. When anyone in the company has the ability to propose a new idea, feature or product and (if the business justification is there) know you will see that suggestion come to fruition, is really incredible. It shows employees they are more than another cog in the machine. This comfort and inspiration will make employees want to stay.
In my case, I first left DataMotion because the new position I wanted to pursue just wasn’t available within the company. When I gave my two weeks, there were no hard feelings because of the relationships our company culture helped foster. I made sure to do everything in my power for there to be a smooth transition, and my team wished me nothing but the best as I left. This made staying in touch and returning a very easy decision for me.
AM: And finally, as a returning employee, what is your advice for those who might consider returning to a former employer?
HP: I think it is important to realize you are not stuck in one position or field. Just because you were previously employed in one department doesn’t mean you can’t come back and apply for a new position in another. Knowing the company’s product and team helps get you started quickly and allows you to focus on training for your new position.
AM: Heather, thanks for your time. And again, welcome back. It’s great to have you on the team!
HP: Thanks, Andrea. It was a pleasure speaking with you.