It’s Break Time with Avanti!

We want you! (to get to know the people who make up our talented team). Join us for a quick glimpse into the world of Avantians – what they do, what they value, and whatever sneaky thing we could get them to reveal.

Meet: Trevor Herr, Director, Software Development

Trevor is our Director, Software Development, and he leads a talented team of software developers. An old-timer, Trevor Herr has been with Avanti for close to 14 years.

Trevor at the Google Chrome Dev Summit 2018 in San Francisco. Looks like he’s having an awful time.

7 questions with Trevor

Tell us a little bit about your experiences and what brought you to Avanti.

I was never a huge fan of school. But I’ve always loved to work on computers and computer programs, so I went to school for a degree so I could get a good job, and I finished school as fast as I could – I just wanted to start working. I got a few job offers and I ended up picking Avanti out of the bunch, because I enjoyed working out and they had a very nice gym in the basement of the building. Being here, I love the work, I always have different things to do, and the variety is what’s kept me interested over the years. And I’ve never had a desire to leave since!

As a Director, Software Development, what do you see as Avanti’s greatest strength as a software company, and an area you're hoping to help work towards improvement?

Being a small software team for a majority of the 40 years we’ve been around is absolutely one of our biggest strengths. We’ve been through the process of iterating on our software, and doing it in a smaller team in a scrappy manner gave us the ability to share knowledge amongst each other very easily. If we ever faced an issue, we knew where to get the answer from. That helped us understand our product and really build it up – and now, we’re in a position of growth, trying to expand the product even more. That’s one area where we need to start applying the small-team mentality on a larger scale. More people and more teams – it means we can focus on specific areas of the program, and become better at everything across the board.

How does Avanti help you with your work/life balance – especially now that we’re all WFH?

Without a doubt flexibility is the biggest factor for me. I kind of work weird hours – sometimes I get up extremely early and sometimes I go to bed really early. I can just make up my time whenever I like. I tend to get more done spending extra hours on the weekends so during the week I have some downtime to do little things like run out and get errands. While this has been less of a problem in the last couple years, I hate being in very busy, very crowded areas all the time. So if I need to run to Costco, I’d much rather do it in the middle of the day than on the weekends. I really love that flexibility.

The other thing is vacationing is very easy. If I want to take a week off, it’s almost never an issue. And as someone who occasionally will just be like ‘hey, let’s go on a trip in a few weeks’, it’s usually pretty easy to do!

Which Avanti value do you naturally align with the most?

This one is easy for me and it would have to be innovation. It’s kind of why I’ve been here so long – I always get to try new stuff, I have the freedom to explore different avenues when I approach problems instead of sticking to the exact way we’ve done something in the past. I just love coming up with creative ways to solve complex problems, and encouraging other people to try new things as well. When I see someone come up with some great new idea, something I never would’ve thought to do, and it’s going to save us time, or potentially help our clients, even if the old way might be the easiest way to whip up a solution – it’s something I enjoy greatly.

In your opinion, how should a leader lead, especially in times of conflict within their team?

In general, a leader’s ability to build a good environment for their team is extremely important. For me it’s always about getting stuff done, but I love to do it while having fun. Joking around, having fun, helps produce better work and as a leader it helps develop those real, good relationships with the team and amongst each other. When you have to work late nights and no one’s happy, it sucks the fun away. So I also believe time management is key. It’s stressful when you get put in tight deadlines, so doing your best as a leader to manage time and expectations is super important.

I’ve been in a lot of situations where there’s a conflict and it ends up being a top-down approach. Someone at the top makes a decision and they just do what they think is best. I’ve never had the best experiences with that, and I find that I don't want other people to go through it either. I try to provide as much guidance to my team as possible, encourage everyone to share their opinions – especially the parties at conflict – and try to resolve it as a team. I just want everyone to express their ideas, and to come to the best decision possible as a group.

How would you describe this job to someone from another planet?

Oh, this is such a hard one. Well, first I would ask the alien – assuming I could communicate with it – do you have jobs on your planet, and if you do, what sucks about your job? Then I would say, well, on Earth, we try to make your job easier. We try to build something to make that part of your day less difficult. I guess try to explain it to them like that, try to relate to whatever they do.

Now, if they don’t work – that’s a problem!

Fitting question for a fit guy: Would you rather have to always hop around on one foot, or always have to squat?

I would say squats, I’m very good at squats. Wait, but eternally squatting? Let me think about that again. Actually, I would probably choose hopping, because here’s the thing, I'm fine with squatting while I’m at my computer, but then when I get tired? Yeah, I guess I’d hop around on one foot. That just seems less intrusive to my life. No, wait, final answer: squatting! Squat sit, squat walk. Squat.

Thanks for getting to know Trevor! Interested in working on his team?

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