Name: Jessie Puls
Designation: Agent 0085
Double Agent Role: Senior Consultant
Special Skills: Making complex things simple
Aliases: jessiepuls
Location: Madison, WI
Favorite Emoji: 🧐

In my previous job I was a development manager, and the primary focus for our team was replacing legacy services that had been around for quite a while with new/more flexible services. My primary role on the team was working with the team to make sure everyone understood our goals and guiding solutions/architectural decisions. A little bit of in the weeds coding stuff but much more so in the planning and architecture of it. So the thing I was the most proud of was my team for coming up with a solution to phase out the legacy stuff, and also working with very different technologies than they were familiar with. They really got on board and were enthusiastic and excited about the new things, and not intimidated by going into unfamiliar territory. I was really proud of both how they worked and what they accomplished. They worked really well together and everybody played an important part in finding a solution. It was successful, and the work is still going well.

The thing I love about consulting is the variety you get from it. You don’t get a chance to get bored with things because, by the time something starts feeling like you have your legs and you’re really running with it, another project comes by and you change focus. The last couple of years were very focused on working within the confines of one team within a company and how we were going to solve things. I am already getting involved coming up with a solution for what’s going to work on a project with Azure. And then I’ll go on to the next project which will be something completely different. I like the variety and chance to do a lot of different things.

I really love the way people here interact with each other and really care about how we do work. The interactions on Slack are very in-line with those goals. There’s this great balance of attention to diversity and inclusion and also talking about the technical stuff. We have a lot of really smart people working on a lot of cool things, and also working hard to work together and be inclusive.

There’s a lot of importance placed on the autonomy of employees in the company. I think that’s really unique. I think the fact that we’re all remote and that Test Double is very upfront with our clients about that gives people a chance to balance their life and their work in a way you don’t always get. I think that’s exciting. It’s something I don’t think is actually valued as much as it’s talked about at other places. It’s impressive because it’s really easy to believe something is important, but sometimes it’s hard to make it what actually occurs.

There’s almost like a separation between those two things in most places. It’s like DevOps stuff is kind of a mystery to some people. Definitely not all, but a lot of the time it is. I think it’s because we haven’t made it easy enough yet. It requires such an understanding of how networking and things like that work. It’s too much cognitive load to put on people to say you need to understand all of this and be good at writing software. Something I’d like to try to focus on is making that piece of it as simple as possible. Because even if you have somebody who really understands that stuff, if they have to make a platform you’re running on or modules you’re using, or stand stuff up, it can be challenging. I think as much as you can make something that just works, it makes it so much easier for everybody to work with. That’s been the focus both in the things I’ll be working on here and in my previous role. If you’re working with a team of developers, you want them to be focused on writing good software. That should be most of the focus, but the code that they write has to run somewhere. Increasingly they’re in charge of that somewhere. So figuring out how to make it so that they don’t have to have as much knowledge as a network engineer about networking in order to run their software is a fun and challenging problem to solve.

In 2020 a lot of stuff happened, but also nothing happened, right? This might be the most cliché pandemic thing that has happened with people, but I think it applies to me. Having everything in my life kind of get shut down by force gave me a chance to evaluate, and make some decisions. I moved from Iowa to Wisconsin and started work at Test Double this year. I really enjoy working remote. I think it is something that allows me to work in a way that’s better for me. In the last year having that kind of forced on me, and everybody else, and then having it be for an extended period of time gave me a chance to step back. Eventually things are gonna start going back to something like a normal situation. So what do I want that to look like for me? I’ve made a lot of life decisions that are focused on more of what I want out of my life than what I want out of my job.

Work and moving. Madison is only a five hour drive from Des Moines, so not a huge move, but I’m moving closer to a lot of my friends and family. I have talked about doing it for a while. The house that I’m moving into is in an area where I can walk to things near where I live. I’m currently excited about being able to go take my dog for a walk over lunch and really simple things that come from going to a new place and doing new things.

I feel like for a while here I haven’t had capacity for books. I like reading books a lot in general but everything going on in 2020 made it so I haven’t spent the time to read as much. It seems like every time I try to sit and read a book I get tired like five minutes in and go to sleep. I listen to a lot of podcasts about video games. I also play a lot of video games, especially in pandemic times when you can’t go places. Going to movies in the theater hasn’t been a thing for about a year now. I think the only movie I’ve watched in the last year was Wonder Woman, and that wasn’t great. I really like a lot of Japanese role-playing games and things like that right now. I’m playing Persona 5, which is an extremely long game. I’ve been playing it for about three months and it’ll probably take me about another three months to finish. I think my favorite series is Zelda games.

I really am looking forward to not having to be careful around my friends. The last year with friends it’s been sitting outside and coming up with some really great ways of adapting to that in the winter. Lately with any day it’s even slightly nice we have hung out around a fire outside. I’m just really looking forward to hanging out, making lunch or something, and not having to think about things or be careful because you don’t want to get each other sick.

I really enjoy tinkering with things, so I tend to get into little hobbies for usually short periods of time. I’ll stick with them for a few months and then get interested in something else.

Really early on in the pandemic I got into building my own keyboards, wiring the whole thing. The keyboards started from reading about some person who had done a Kickstarter for PCBs (which is just a printed circuit board) for these little 30% keyboards. When they got the pieces they were incorrect. So they were selling a stack of them for $20, and I bought some of them. I thought, “That sounds interesting, I’m going to learn how to do it.” Eventually I was like, well, I don’t want to have 27 keyboards sitting around, so I moved on to other things.

I like doing smart home things, like scripting stuff to make lights in my house turn on at the times I want them to or have my home realize when I’m waking up in the morning and do things to save myself 10 seconds pressing buttons. I think I’ve spent hundreds of hours to save myself minutes but it’s fun. I like little things like that, where you can focus on and learn something and it’s fun to do.

This interview is based on a recorded conversation with Jessie Puls and Cathy Colliver. It may or may not self-destruct.

Jessie Puls

Hash An icon of a hash sign Code Name
Agent 0085
Location An icon of a map marker Location
Madison, WI

Cathy Colliver

Hash An icon of a hash sign Code Name
Agent 0080
Location An icon of a map marker Location
Louisville, KY