November 15, 2021

6 Questions with Adam Howard: Generous Collaboration, Hacking The Moment, And Embarrassing Code


Felipe Espinosa

WOW! Has it been a month already? I guess time flies when you’re having fun and working with extraordinary and talented people.


And speaking of extraordinary and talented people – are you ready for the second edition of our newest blog feature: Six questions with Nexient team members who you really need to meet?


Believe me: You really need to meet this Nexient teammate. His name is Adam Howard, and he’s part of our Microsoft practice at Nexient. Let’s say that his interview pretty much reminded me of why we have such a passionate, positive, and collaborative culture at Nexient.


But enough with the intro. Please, join me in welcoming Adam as he shares all about his career, technical approaches, memorable moments, and more.


Give us a quick summary of who you are, what you do at Nexient, and how you got here.


I am a Senior Developer II and Tech Lead.


Tech is actually my second career after spending several years being a lawyer. While I was staying home after my first son was born, I decided to teach myself how to code, and I was immediately hooked. After a while, I realized that someone would probably pay me to do this, and that’s when I found Nexient.


Seven years later, and I am still here. The difference is that I now manage an eight-person app development team. I spend most of my days collaborating with my teammates—helping them over technical hurdles, making sure that they have what they need to excel, and removing any blockers that might prevent us from delivering quality software quickly to the client. In this role, I don’t code as much as I used to, but there is a whole different set of interesting challenges to tackle.

What has helped you the most to be successful at your role?

I would say that the biggest thing supporting my success has been the people who did and do for me what I am currently trying to do for my team members. I have had some fantastic managers at Nexient who actively supported and empowered me to learn as much as I wanted to and could about programming, software delivery, and leadership. I definitely would not be where I am now without them.

Now, on a larger scale, I can say that Nexient has been great at helping me find well-fitting positions as my abilities and interests grew.

How do you and your team think about the problems and challenges you’re constantly solving?

I have a problem-solving technique that’s kind of my go-to approach, as I’ve found it very useful in many domains over the years: When given a large problem or challenge, break it down into smaller parts. Then, break those parts apart and so until you have a lot of small, usually simple, problems to solve. From there, you can get to work.

It turns out that this works very well with Agile software development. After we figure out what the work is and how to break it down into easy-to-digest chunks, we work with a product manager at the client to prioritize parts of the overall feature and work on those first. It’s safe to say that this technique lets us start delivering value to the client as quickly as possible.

My team also enjoys when our work for the client provides new challenges and problems to solve. It is a chance for us to stretch ourselves and learn new things. Coming to work with the attitude that a challenge is meant to be relished not only helps us grow in our careers but also keeps work fun and satisfying.

What’s your favorite Nexient moment?

I know this sounds a little cheesy, but it’s hard to pick just one moment.

Truth be told, I have had a lot of good moments at Nexient. But if I had to choose, I would stretch the definition of “moment” a bit and say that the hackathons I’ve participated in are my most memorable Nexient moments.

Working in a small group to make something totally new over just a few days is really fun and basically a distilled form of what I like about working at Nexient: close collaboration with smart people to solve interesting problems. The friendly competition among the teams is also something that gets me very excited here.

Our hackathons usually end on Sundays, so I love when it’s the end of the weekend, and we get to see the super creative things others have done and hear all about the problems they encountered and how they overcame them. To me, our hackathons really embody one of the best things about working at Nexient.

What Nexient value do you identify yourself the most with and why?

I definitely identify the most as a Generous Collaborator. I have found that I deeply enjoy working with other people toward a common goal, and the opportunity to mentor my more junior colleagues to help them reach their potential is a great example of this. I am a career coach to several developers here –and talking with them, learning about their goals, and advising them about how to reach those goals are some of the most satisfying things I’ve done in any job I’ve ever had.

I’m also at a point in my career where I need to decide between focusing on the more technical aspects like architecture or people management and the delivery process. And it’s a bit funny to say this because a couple of years ago, I would not have even had to think about it—I would have picked the option of getting more and more technical for sure. But now that I’ve had the experience of leading teams and mentoring other developers – I find it hard to, as I realize how much I value generous collaboration as a part of my daily Nexient experience.

What's an old project or piece of code you wrote you'd be embarrassed to read again, and how much has your code improved since then?

Honestly, I often find myself wondering what that guy was thinking when I look at some of the code I wrote. Sometimes with code that’s only a month old!


I guess a lot of developers have the same experience. We’re always learning and improving, so anything old at all can seem embarrassing.


Seriously though, I wrote a little Android app several years ago to randomly choose the setup parameters for a game of Sentinels of the Multiverse based on which expansion packs you own, how many people are playing, and so on. I was pretty proud of it at the time as it was one of the bigger projects I’d taken on by myself. However, I’ve been thinking about rewriting it using modern frameworks and all the skills I’ve gained since then, but I am kind of dreading looking back at that code. I’m sure that it is going to seem very naïve at best or completely insane at worst. Maybe I can just take it as a way to measure how good I am now.


“6 Questions With” is a Nexient monthly blog series that spotlights some of our best and most talented team members who are doing great work. If you missed last month’s edition, you can check it out here.


Be sure to keep an eye out for our next feature to learn more about the #NexientTeam!


The Latest from Nexient

We're hiring

Design cutting-edge software and digital experiences for America’s most admired brands with Nexient.

Join Our Team