People of Synthace: Adam Vartanian – Principal Software Engineer
Peeking into #SynthaceLife, we spoke to Adam Vartanian, our Principal Software Engineer.
If you’d like to read more about what our engineers get up to and find out if you might be a fit, why not head over to our ‘Engineering at Synthace’ page.
The mission of accelerating biological research made Synthace a place where I feel like I could make a difference in the world.”Adam Vartanian Principal Software Engineer, Synthace
What is your role?
I currently lead the data team in engineering, which means I coordinate our efforts around ingesting data from various kinds of lab devices, structuring it, analysing it, and presenting it in a useful fashion.
Where were you before joining?
Prior to joining Synthace I worked for Google for 12 years.
Most recently I was in charge of maintaining the TLS and crypto libraries built into Android, though I worked on a number of teams while I was there, including privacy, production monitoring, and ads.
At other places, I've also been a sysadmin, worked on space systems, been a game developer, and more.
Why did you want to join Synthace?
I was excited by the prospect of getting to work on something new. I had never worked in the life sciences before, and I wanted to work at a smaller company where I could have more of an impact.
Also, the mission of accelerating biological research made Synthace a place where I feel like I could make a difference in the world.
Think about the expectations you had before you joined. Is life and work at Synthace in line with how you thought it would be?
The company ended up being a bit bigger than I thought. There are still a few people who work here that I have probably never spoken to.
I also expected it to be more of a dedicated software company rather than having the laboratory science so heavily integrated, which has been a nice surprise.
Were there any concerns you had before joining that were either realised or that turned out to be unwarranted?
I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fit in with the culture: I’m a 9-5er with a family that isn’t able to work long hours, meet up for drinks after work, etc. That hasn’t ended up being a problem at all; the company has people from a wide variety of backgrounds and life stages and is good about supporting work-life balance and flexibility in working styles.
Have you held other roles during your time with the company?
I've always been in engineering, though the specifics of what I'm working on have changed as time has gone on.
Do you agree that it's possible to move around within the company?
Definitely. There are a number of people who started in a different role than they currently hold. The highest profile one is probably our Customer Success Director, Lauren, who started as an engineer. But there are a number of others: one of the engineers on my team started as a lab biologist, for instance.
How much do you agree with the following statement:
"I can clearly see how my work has an impact"
I strongly agree. The work I'm doing directly translates into new features in the product that we go out and try to sell to customers.
We get a lot of detailed feedback about how our customers are using our product and what they do and don't like, and we use that to direct our future efforts. That makes it easy to see the impact of what I'm working on both to the company and to our customers.
What do you enjoy most about #SynthaceLife
(outside of your actual job)?
I enjoy the “lunch and learn” sessions, company breakfasts and lunches, as well as the seasonal parties. The coffee-roulette chats (being randomly paired with someone else from across the company, then setting up time to learn more about each other) are also useful.
How do you think working here is different to other companies?
By far the biggest difference to me is the integration between the scientists and engineers.
Being able to tap into a rich source of domain knowledge helps make our product way more useful to and usable for our customers.
How would you describe the people and culture at Synthace?
I think we're very supportive; people are always looking out for each other, from Tim (CEO) on down.
We do a lot of volunteering to help out with a project or accepting people having tough times or just generally being available, and that's enabling and empowering.
What are you most proud of when thinking about Synthace as a company and/or group of colleagues?
Recently, I'm most proud of the response to the pandemic.
Encouraging people to work from home quickly, closing the lab despite not being required to, being accommodating of people who are having a hard time or need to take care of kids, taking individual comfort with returning to lab into consideration for scheduling, making arrangements to get everyone adequate equipment for working from home - it's all been very well done and communicates that our personal health and welfare are paramount.
What advice would you give to someone if they were looking to apply to your team? What traits and/or skills are important?
To get a job here, I think the typical interview skills are necessary: knowledge of algorithms and system design, ability to explain yourself, ability to think on your feet, and taking an interest.
How would someone know if they were likely to be successful?
In terms of actually succeeding at Synthace, I think you also need a willingness to learn, a bit of humility, a cooperative attitude, and a strong focus on the user.
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