Meet Neil, Our New Tech Lead. He Loves Open Source. And Saxophones.

Jun 17 2021
5 min read
Meet Neil, Our New Tech Lead. He Loves Open Source. And Saxophones.

Who are the people making growth happen at GrowthSpace? And who are the rising stars that we’re helping to grow?
To kick off our Meet The Growthies series (no, we don’t actually call ourselves that yet; yes, we will consider it if you ask us to), we interviewed Neil Kalman who recently joined our research and development (R&D) team as Tech Lead (that’s a shiny new title, Neil!). The R&D team, led by our Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Izhak Kedar, are the magicians who pour over L&D taxonomies and generally develop the GrowthSpace product. At least that’s what they tell us they’re doing. Neil’s previous professional background is in the software development industry and he also sports an undergrad degree in bioinformatics (we think that means he knows random things about biology as well as computers). Prior to joining GrowthSpace, he worked at VMWare as a Full Stack Engineer on the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) solutions team. He’s excited to be joining GrowthSpace because he loves jobs that are “more than just jobs.” Neil is joining our internal employee development program — GrowIn — as a Beta tester. Yes, we use our own tech internally too!

What are you going to be doing day to day?

Hi! I’m Neil! And I’m joining GrowthSpace as a tech lead. Which means that I’m going to be taking the existing code that we have and will try to minimize the technical debt. My responsibilities at GrowthSpace will involve working on our AI taxonomy to hone it into the most advanced employee development matching engine ever developed. I’m also here to simplify and streamline our codebase in order to make it into something that’s easier for other engineers to understand.

Can you break that down into human for us please, Neil?

Sure. GrowthSpace has developed its own tagging system for connecting employees with the coaches that can really help take their careers further. To do this, we’ve developed our own taxonomy — which is basically a massive index of soft skills on both sides of our platform. It’s been developed in consultation with HR and L&D staff at major companies, from the feedback we collect from users, and even from our own internal employee suggestions.

Tell us a little bit about the onboarding process at GrowthSpace?

GrowthSpace is committed to offering all of its employees the same level of learning and development (L&D) that it helps drive at outside organizations. This has been one of the really cool things about joining this company. You start growing within it from day one! We have our own internal L&D program called Grow In and I’m one of the Beta participants in it. This has been a really exciting chance for me to see first hand what you can achieve through L&D. My colleagues are also all really into growth, on both personal and professional levels, and it’s encouraged from the top down. For example, when I first had coffee with Omer (Glass, our CEO) one of the first questions he asked me was “how do you hope to grow today?” Those kind of conversations happen all the time and reflect the kind of culture that we’re building here. We’re one big family growing together and helping other companies grow. It’s a really fun project to be a part of.

How do you see your previous roles influencing your work at GrowthSpace?

At Google, I was part of the live results team working on the cards that populate at the top of Google results when you search for a current event like a sports game. At RedKix (acquired by Facebook) I was involved in working at a Slack competitor helping to find innovative ways to connect employees. I like to build things that make the world a better place. At GrowthSpace, we’re creating excellent learning and development solutions and also setting up connections between organizational talent and the best experts to help their growth that they might never have connected with otherwise.

What else are you interested in?

I’m a big fan of open source projects. I’m also active on Github. A lot of them are development tools that I found were missing. I have a few cards that I did to work with a home automation system and people are using it and opening bugs. I also developed a tool that’s intended to gamify code reviews by providing awards for clean code.

What brought you to GrowthSpace?

I loved the idea of a platform to streamline growth from the moment I first heard about it! I’ve seen first hand how impactful excellent mentoring and coaching can be for R&D teams. But there are still too many companies that either aren’t investing in L&D or who don’t think that they can do it well because they think it’s impossible to scale it. GrowthSpace is here to change those attitudes and solve that problem. Being part of that, and making growth happen at companies that I admire, is both inspiring and fun.

What do you do in your spare time?

I’m an avid saxophone player and have had a saxophone in my hand almost as long as I can remember. Playing the saxophone is more than just about learning an instrument for me. It’s about providing me with an outlet to express my creative side and express myself. A couple of my new colleagues at GrowthSpace are also musicians – so it’s going to be great to connect on that level too. Thank you for your time, Neil!

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