Employee Spotlight - Michael Girard - Senior Software Engineer

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We’ve known it from day one: Without a strong team, Covered will go nowhere. That’s why we’ve taken incredible care in assembling a smart, resourceful, and utterly solid team of collaborative, quality-focused professionals. That’s also why we do our best to celebrate our team at every opportunity. Our employee profiles help us do exactly that. This month’s profile celebrates a truly crucial member of our engineering team, Senior Software Engineer Mike Girard.

In the eyes of his engineering colleagues, Mike is a superhero in his own right. He unites Iron Man’s technical genius, mentorship, perseverance, and heart with the Tick’s nigh-invulnerability, superhuman strength, and glee for discovery. He tops it all with a laid-back demeanor, a sense of humor, a talent for cooking and food science (we’re happy to report being quite happily well-fed), and an ability to quote just the right line from a movie at any given moment. Who wouldn’t love having Mike on their team?

Source: The Tick & Iron Man

Mike is engaged, reliable, and unshakably thorough. He’s able to see the big picture even while knee-deep in the weeds, eternally mindful of the potential impact across all of Covered’s systems and architecture. And he’s always focused on mastering whatever tech he’s working in.

Mike’s unceasing curiosity about how things work means he’s knowledgeable across a wide variety of domains. Far from positioning himself as an unapproachable genius, he’s an amazing teacher who’s endlessly patient with all of our questions.

So without further ado…

What is your favorite Covered Core Value (Accountability, Transparency, Collaboration, Excellence, and Generosity) and why?

Collaboration. Why? Because I said so!

Okay, the real answer? Collaboration speaks to me, and to how I love to work. I always prefer to work with a small group of people who can share ideas, show me better ways to do things, and keep me honest. With true collaboration, I feel all the other key values just come along for the ride!

What aspect of your role at Covered do you enjoy the most?

What I’ve enjoyed the most is working on software that matters to the business and our future as a company. It’s great to be laser-focused on designing and building software that adds value to the business and improves the customer’s experience.

What do you enjoy about working at a startup?

Didn’t I just answer that? ;-) The best part of working for startup is that it’s all the things I love: doing stuff that matters, and working with a small team that’s agile and top-notch.

What are you listening to/reading these days?

Hmmm… my children? Nothing like having two teenage kids! They know EVERYTHING and aren’t afraid to tell you. As far as my reading goes, I typically read SciFi/Fantasy, but there’s not a lot of new stuff out right now. I’m currently re-reading some of Brandon Sanderson’s early novels.

What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?

I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love cooking, but I love that it is a hobby rather than a career. I get to do all the fun stuff without having to deal with the grind of “doing your time” in that industry.

Early in high school I had a fascination with architecture, and that was a consideration before I discovered programming. So, I probably would have continued down the engineering and architecture path.

Source: Megan Savoie on Unsplash

What are three career/professional lessons you have learned so far?

  1. Listen to how people talk about their problems. Often what they say they want doesn’t jive with what they say about the problem.
  2. Good enough is usually good enough. As software engineers, we like to build beautiful, concise code. In reality we should be more workman-like in our designs and make sure that things are functional, to the point, and easy to repair.
  3. Remember to focus on what is MOST important. Do that, finish it, and ship it. Then move on to the next thing.

What were you like in high school?

Really? High school? Ugh. I was a nerd. One of the few people who were into computer programming (yeah, I’m old), advanced math, science, etc. Oh, and I played the violin. Fortunately I was in a private school for high school with a lot of other nerds, so I didn’t get beat up too often. LOL.

What’s the next thing on your bucket list?

Don’t keep one. I figure why keep a list of disappointments. I’d rather live for today than keep track of the things I’ve never done.

What is your favorite activity to do for fun?

Putting holes in paper — by which I mean I love going to the range and doing some trigger therapy. It doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should, and I really need to get organized to go more frequently. Otherwise, my current athletic activity is fencing (Olympic sport, not post-hole digging).

What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?

Weirdest? Fortunately I haven’t had many of those. My first job out of college was working for a large consulting company (not the weird part). I was assigned to do application development for Monfort (Conagra Red Meats division) in Greeley, CO. Three months after getting out of college, I was touring a slaughterhouse and writing system that ended up on the plant floor. On the plus side, I did get some really cheap steaks from the employee store while I was there.

What are your top two guilty pleasures?

Coffee and coffee. Well… I’ll admit that I don’t drink coffee, but I do spend way too much on steamed milk with a couple of shots of espresso. Fortunately our current office isn’t close to a Starbucks.

Would you rather be a tiny elephant or a giant hamster?

Too easy. Who’d want to be a giant rat? “Oh lord! Is that a giant hamster? Get him out of here before he poops on something!!!” vs. “A tiny elephant!??! That’s amazing! Will he spray me with water?!!!!!” And tiny elephants are total chick magnets. (Can I say that?) (Editor’s note: Yes, you can totally say that, because tiny elephants are indeed across-the-board awesome.)

If you could live in any other time period from the past, which one would you choose and why?

Not to be a troublemaker, but I wouldn’t. There were some exciting times in the past — like getting to be out on the western frontier with wide expanses to homestead, which sounds cool. However I know the reality is different. As it turns out, I really enjoy living past the age of 40, running water, and flushing toilets. So, I’d have to say that there’s no better time than the present!

Source: NYC Childrens Theater

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