Name: Sam Jones
Designation: Agent 0019
Double Agent Role: Client Services Lead
Special Skills: Curious coaching - helping others find the answers inside themselves
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Favorite Emoji: 💚
Becoming a Client Services Lead is what I’m most proud of. Over time I’ve found that what I like to consult on has shifted from test suites and codebases to the underlying cultural things like team communication and team dynamics. As a consultant, I found myself helping others on the team have those conversations instead. It’s been really great to bring that back to Test Double as a Support Agent. Now, as a Client Services Lead, I get to partner with our clients and help our consulting teams find the best way to support our clients’ needs and their organizations.
I am really excited about what we are kicking off with the evolution of our career growth and People Success system. When I joined Test Double, we all fit around a single table. It was really easy to have conversations, get to know everybody, and be aware of what everyone was doing. As we’ve scaled, we’ve created technical career paths for all of our agents. In order for people to be able to navigate those, we need things like objective, equitable, and fair promotion qualification systems. We need strong systems of feedback, so you don’t have to know everybody in the company to have a fair shake in a promotion. We are establishing a culture of feedback so that our agents can invest in each other, show that they care about each other, and have each other’s backs at our clients when they’re deployed. I’m really excited about the direction we’re heading, because I think we have the opportunity to do something a little bit different and model some best practices for the industry.
The opportunity that we have right now with our growth. We’re scaling, but we’re doing so in a way that models our value of being principled. We’re making sure that we’re making the right decisions as we scale: changing our operational model, building technical career paths for our consultants, changing the story of career growth at Test Double, and changing the story of how to partner with and provide service to our clients. I’m really seeing a lot of opportunity for our agents to get involved in how those things are shaped over time at Test Double. As an example, one of the internal projects I’m leading right now has a number of agents all working together to improve the story of feedback. It’s really cool to see how much we can get involved in the evolution of our company and shape the way we change over time.
I think the level of autonomy that our consultants have. We believe very strongly in some of the principles in the book Drive, like finding purpose and high levels of autonomy. Our mission is to improve how the world writes software. But because we’re so autonomous, I’ve seen the ways our agents choose to improve how the world writes software be very personal, very unique, and very tailored to the specific situations of the teams that they are joining. And that’s always been really cool to see — the types of problems that someone is drawn to, the type of change that they want to try to influence at a client, the way they want a team to operate more effectively and more healthily after we leave. I think all of that is due to the level of autonomy we want our agents to feel as developers, as technologists, and as team members on our client teams.
When I was a new consultant, I used to think that if I could just get a team to recognize my idea, it would be the best way for them to write software. Over time, I’ve come to realize that there really isn’t a best. What we should really be focusing on is better, rather than best. That’s really shaped the way that I consult, work with teams, and work with our agents as a Client Services Lead. I don’t always have the best answer. And it’s often more effective for me to help somebody else identify a better solution or help somebody else champion a solution they have. I want them to experiment with their ideas and learn what better means to them, rather than a top-down approach of mandating what I think is best in a given situation. I think we need more of that in our industry. I think we need to help grow the skills of early career developers and to help foster leadership on all of our teams.
My wife, Melissa, and I had a pandemic baby. My daughter, Sage, was born last November during the pandemic. We couldn’t see family right away and that was hard. But since then, we’ve been able to go see my parents in Ohio, and Melissa’s parents have visited several times from New York. I think that’s probably going to be the thing that’s most memorable—in a period of intense chaos we had a baby and because life was kind of shut down for us and we could focus on our family more. I think we came out more stable.
Let me tell you a story. Because of the pandemic we didn’t really see anybody. My daughter left preschool and my son didn’t get to do his first year of preschool. And they didn’t have a ton of social interaction with other kids. When my oldest daughter, Quinn, started kindergarten this fall she started making some friends. Now she has a best friend that she plays with on the playground every day. And every morning for school they hold hands and walk in together. After not being able to meet other kids or make friends for so long, it’s just really great to be able to see her enjoying school, and making friends, and getting to know other people in our neighborhood.
I’m in the middle of a book right now: Lies My Teacher Told Me. It’s fantastic. I was never really big on history when I was growing up. What’s really funny about this book is it tells you why. I really like the way it approaches some of the topics we have taken for granted in the American education system. Historical accounts that aren’t actually accurate or stories that are just shared for whatever reason. Instead, it focuses on sharing the true story and sharing the critical thinking behind the historical events that we learned as kids. I like that a lot, because that’s the kind of stuff that I’m drawn to—not just in books like those focused on anti-racism. I’m drawn to questioning popular thinking and questioning the popular way of doing something. That one’s been really exciting for me. It has plenty of good content, and I highly recommend it.
Getting a babysitter. I’m looking forward to when the kids are vaccinated and we’re comfortable leaving them with somebody. And my wife and I can, you know, go out to dinner or even go to Lowe’s and pick out tile together.
I’m the type of person that likes to really research and dig deep into a topic. And I do that with hobbies, too. I’ll share the last few hobbies I’ve been cycling through. I like to dig really deep into something but then I get fascinated by something else and move on. I have a collection of yo-yos. They were really interesting to me. They’re not like they were when I was a kid. They have ball bearings inside and you do tricks that last for minutes. That was a lot of fun. There’s different shapes that affect the types of tricks you can do. Getting into the fountain pens and inks and notebooks was next. Recently I just got into mechanical keyboards.
This interview is based on a recorded conversation with Sam Jones and Cathy Colliver. It may or may not self-destruct.