Meet Brendan Yang, principal full stack engineer at CRIO. Our employee spotlights celebrate the remarkable talents and personalities that make up our team. At CRIO, we’re mote than “just the tech guys.” Here, even our engineers have industry knowledge and training to help them build the best-in-class eClinical solutions for our industry. Brendan has made significant contributions to our projects while fostering a supportive and collaborative atmosphere. In recent years, Brendan led the development of CRIO’s gender inclusive patient recruitment system. While clinical trials may still have a lot of work to do in boosting diversity and inclusion, CRIO is committed to advancing research around the globe and changing how the world experiences clinical trials.
This week, we asked Brendan about the most important skill a successful engineer needs to have and why he choose this career path. His answers surprised and delighted us:
Q: What do you think is the most important skill that a successful engineer needs to have?
A: I’m a strong proponent of the “softer” skills, especially in engineering. We’re living in an era in which cowboy coding is the exception, not the norm – so being able to collaborate effectively with technical and non-technical team members is such an essential skill set. Being able to navigate opposing technical viewpoints, harmonize with stakeholders and other involved parties, and ultimately chart a course that leaves people excited for the path ahead is what makes an effective engineering organization in my opinion.
Q: Describe an interesting hobby or pastime that you have.
A: I’ve always enjoyed making things. Whether it be baked goods or more formal illustrations, I can often be found making a big ol’ mess in my spare time.
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a career in your field?
A: Nowadays it’s not uncommon to hear stories of people switching careers – and I was one of those people. I had originally gone to school for biology, and had spent a decent portion of my Northeastern experience volunteering in a microbiology research lab. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved the experience, learned a lot, and met some fantastic, brilliant people during that time (shoutout to Godoy lab!).
Nonetheless, I’ve always felt that I wanted to dedicate my life to helping people in some form. I was thus drawn to the immediate impact that careers in software engineering have (you can spin up a new website in a couple of hours, for instance). Coupled with my prior experiences in the life sciences, this made for a natural fit with CRIO – and the rest is history.
Q: How has your role evolved since you joined the team?
A: I’ve been around for a few years, so I can attest that the day-to-day has not changed too drastically from when our entire engineering organization could fit in a small office cubicle. I’ve appreciated being able to maintain this small-team mentality throughout the years, regardless of team composition.
Recently, I’ve found myself doubling down in this regard, having been named one of the engineering team leads. Ultimately, this just means I can continue working closely with my fellow engineers to code great new features and optimizations, just as before. My team is hands-down one of my favorite groups of people to work with. We have an incredible diversity of experiences, backgrounds, and orientations that lends for great perspective sharing. Every day I feel motivated to be better and do better, not just to support them, but also to push myself and my own goals too.
Q: How do you like to structure your day?
A: Okay, so this may be a “hot-take”, but I prefer scheduling all of my meetings on the same day back-to-back. Before I lose you, hear me out – an engineer needs a certain amount of uninterrupted, focus-time to solve problems, pair-program, or even write tests. I would much rather get those meetings out of the way first so I can put on some tunes and then really get cooking.
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