I'm Here: Ian Anderson, Software Engineering Manager

Hello, I’m here to listen and to amplify those with seldom heard voices. I’m here to acknowledge my privilege but will use it to lift those around me.

A couple of years ago, I attended a MinneBar session on hiring. In that session, they talked about diversity in a way that stuck with me. When thinking about diversity, think about the voices that are missing from your team. I talked a little about this at our internal conference, TechJam, two years ago. If we built a team that all graduated from the University of Minnesota around the same time, they would likely have a very similar way of approaching problems.

When we are fighting a critical issue or looking to build the next great thing for SPS Commerce, I would prefer to have a team that can collaboratively draw from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Our craft isn’t about individual contribution but about the sum of its parts.

If you are earnest about building a team that contains those missing voices, you will need to find alternatives pipelines for candidates. That is one of the reasons I am incredibly proud of what we are doing here at SPS. We are willing to consider people for engineering roles that may not have a relevant degree. People that took the time to self-learn or attend a code camp, people showing the drive to break into this industry, regardless of their age, race, or gender.

That is one of the reasons I am here: To provide an opportunity to those that haven’t previously had it. To start to redefine how we approach our staffing pipelines. If we continue to look for colleges to provide diverse candidates, we will not see those additional voices in our ranks for years to come. A person’s ability to enter this pipeline can start as early as childhood. Did they have an opportunity to study STEM subjects? Were they selected for accelerated math? Did their high school guidance counselor push college as a viable option? The list goes on, yet we want to find our hidden voices today.

Our job doesn’t end once we make a hire, which is one of the other reasons I’m here. We need to create an environment that will let our entire staff bring their most authentic self to work. Getting work done is already hard enough. Imagine feeling the need to hide part of your personality because it doesn’t fit into a preconceived idea of normal. Imagine how exhausted you’d be at the end of the day.

I’m here to embrace our differences and build the most awesome team possible.

- Ian Anderson

“I’m Here” is an initiative that SPS Technology launched to strengthen our culture, improve diversity, and become a more inclusive organization. We feature “I’m Here” stories to share experiences and perspectives from volunteers across our teams.

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