At the root of IHS Markit Digital’s professional development philosophy is a commitment to flat structure and cross-departmental collaboration.
Engineers are encouraged to work across departments, learn from peers and own projects. Meanwhile, senior contributors are just as recognized and celebrated as managers. The result is an environment where collaboration and innovation thrive, and a culture that enables employees to gain skills and develop along a career path that suits their personal goals.
We spoke to four engineers to learn more.
EMPLOYEES: 480 total (400 local)
WHAT THEY DO: IHS Markit is a digital agency that specializes in financial services. They work with clients to develop digital strategies, build consumer experiences and drive advertising and marketing solutions.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Boulder
AHEAD OF THE CURVE: IHS Markit Digital was one of the first companies to build and design an iPad app, winning Apple design awards in the process.
COMPANY STORY: IHS Markit Digital has remained innovative within an increasingly-evolving industry. The company's founder has learned to embrace change to turn what was once a "Wall Street by Fax" company into a cutting-edge digital agency. Learn more.
Bethany Baer, CTO, IHS Markit Digital
Bethany Baer leads all the technology, quality and product management teams at IHS Markit Digital. She also works directly with prospective and existing clients. Her goal is to guide the company’s strategy for technology, execution and product offerings.
BEYOND WORK: Bethany fills her life with variety, whether it’s hanging out at Comic-Con with her daughter, watching the Cubs, going to a musical, gardening or reading.
We understand cross-collaboration is an emphasis at IHS Markit Digital. What inspires that approach?
The best decisions are made through collaboration. Bringing together different disciplines and a diversity of thought creates the constructive tension that leads to optimal choices. Our teams are built cross-functionally so that collaboration is foundational to our organization design and allows for the greatest possible autonomy for any team to meet the needs of their client.
Tell us about a time when a cross-team collaboration led to a company innovation.
One of our coolest new product offerings is dynamic video. We combined dynamic data, machine-authored text and templatized storyboards to create hundreds of thousands of personalized videos with minimal time and processing power. The product was the result of a tech team solving a niche problem with a Twitter integration. When our design team saw it, they envisioned exciting new use cases which led to the product our clients love.
The foundation of our career path is the recognition and celebration of both individual contributor and manager roles.”
What opportunities for growth exist at IHS Markit Digital?
The foundation of our career path is the recognition and celebration of both individual contributor and manager roles. Too often, technology organizations undervalue the senior contributor and force their best engineers into a management path if they want to expand their influence and responsibilities.
We’re not all killer managers, and we’re not all genius technologists. Sometimes we don’t know which we are until we try. We make it safe for our highest performers to try their hand at either path and adjust if it doesn’t work out. That’s what makes our career path work for everyone.
Jesse Coffin, Director, Software Engineering
Jesse Coffin works with the feature delivery teams and executive leadership group. His job is to do whatever it takes to turn the company’s vision into a reality.
BEYOND WORK: Jesse enjoys making music.
If you look at your to-do list, what’s your favorite task to tackle?
While I love technology, I look forward to talking with my team members one on one on a weekly basis. Whether it is a deep technical dive, a strategy session on career maneuvers or just hearing about people’s lives, our conversations remind me that software is ultimately about humans and helping us all do things better, faster or more efficiently.
When I look at my major accomplishments, those that stand out are when I was able to help someone get to a place where their talents could flourish. Building the right team doesn’t happen by accident, but when you pay close attention to culture, astonishing things can happen.
How does IHS Markit Digital facilitate career growth?
Markit Digital is built on individual growth. From an opportunity perspective, products like ChartWorks, Dynamic Video and Adhesion all started with developers who saw an opportunity to use our data and tooling to bring value to our customers. We also have established career tracks with transparent and attainable stepping stones to help individuals grow.
A flat structure means that you’re constantly cross-pollinating with talent across the spectrum, and our stability as a company allows us to frequently experiment with teams and roles. My own journey from intern to developer, senior engineer, team lead, development manager and now, director, is a strong testament to the possibilities of growth here.
We have established career tracks with transparent and attainable stepping stones to help individuals grow.”
At a time when many tech employees change companies frequently, what advantages does it provide to stay within the same company?
I often see people chasing new experiences for years or even decades. You risk having 10 years’ worth of the same two-year experience. Full stack engineering skills require fundamentals to build on and time to develop the confidence to create a scalable, performant and elegant solution from the ground up.
Teams that are like families can take time to intertwine their roots and reach the harmony that makes coming in to work a joy. We have so many technologies, teams and problems to solve to keep an engineer’s interest and spark passion. In the last six years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with 16 clients across four continents on nearly 100 codebases and projects spanning several unique tech stacks.
Nick Mooney, Associate Director of Client Solutions
Nick Mooney meets with clients and understands the needs of their financial business and then translates that into technology.
BEYOND WORK: Nick is a talented juggler.
What is the breakdown of your day?
My day begins with a daily team stand up, talking through goals for the day and blockers to progress. Then I join a few client calls to demo progress and talk through new requirements. My afternoon is spent writing and learning with emails, requirement tickets, goals and project plans.
The most unique part of my day is the people and communication. I have more than 30 distinct conversations every day, excluding email. That’s at least one every 15 minutes.
What values are held on this team?
We have so many good values, but I’ll pick one to emphasize: collaboration. A few times a week, I find myself smiling at a group of team members huddled around a computer, animatedly pointing at the screen and gesturing with excitement as they solve a problem.
My transition to account manager was an evolution of prior skills."
How has that previous experiences as a tech project manager influenced your current position?
My transition to account manager was an evolution of prior skills. A deep understanding of technology paired with an even deeper understanding of finance lends itself to a lot of trust from clients. I find myself not just understanding the challenges of my clients, but also helping to architect solutions in real time, which I wouldn’t be able to do without experience as a technical project manager.
Po Linn (Fo) Chia, Software Engineer
Po Linh Chia works with her team to develop an internal platform that increases product reusability and improve the developer and client experiences.
BEYOND WORK: Fo steps away from the computer to tend to her garden.
What’s your biggest technical challenge and how do you overcome it?
Intersystem communication and dependency management. We have a lot of different systems, including some that are homemade. Part of my work involves uplifting or unifying them and getting them to speak to each other. It can be challenging to overcome.
I start with a non-technical approach. I talk with the teams involved and either learn how to hook into the systems or make a plan to expose them. It’s also important to ensure there is no negative downstream impact. It makes the technical work required much easier and more satisfying.
What opportunities does working with a large swath of clients provide from a design experience?
We get to design architecture and solutions that handle frightening amounts of traffic. We get to make and use shared back-end systems that cross-reference and serve stunning amounts and varieties of data. We get to use all this collective experience to make front-end components. We have the opportunity to see what works and doesn’t work across many different clients. Going forward, teams like mine will be able to sit down and develop multi-tenant solutions for not only data and API services but UI components, too.
We get to design architecture and solutions that handle frightening amounts of traffic."
How did IHS Markit Digital facilitate your career growth?
When I joined IHS Markit Digital as a baby developer, it was primarily a C# shop. I had no C# knowledge or experience. My first thought was, “Did they hire the wrong person?” But I was assured that I’d be drinking from a firehose of information and that our flat structure meant I’d get to learn from everybody.
Three years later, and I’m still able to learn from people across the company. I’ve dug into Git, taught others and am now working with some of our most senior developers. Considering that we have over 350 people in Boulder alone, there’s a lot of collective knowledge here. It’s special to be invested in like that and also being allowed to re-invest back as a new developer.