Team Stirista: Karl Van Delden
For this month’s “Team Stirista” blog we present Karl Van Delden, our Deployment and Software Services Manager. Karl plays an essential part within our IT Department from managing customer inquiries to developing new concepts for future internal and external software services to better serve users. Let’s learn more about Karl.
1.) Tell us more about your responsibilities and tasks, and what your average workday looks like.
Working with our developers is the bread and butter of what I do. Our efforts are collaborative, but there are many individual projects as well, so checking in with each of them and working together to keep all of the plates spinning is important. I also help the Sales team understand the software we’re working on, how it can help their clients, and consulting with them on solutions for new business opportunities. To help ensure the quality of our software, I do testing and validation for our beta builds before we take them live and support their release by fielding technical inquiries and customer support. Occasionally, I’ll do some writing to establish the vision and scope for new projects, document functionality for end-user reference material, and even some content writing for our email campaigns. A little bit of everything, to keep it short.
2.) What do you like best about working at Stirista?
I like a lot of things about working at Stirista, but I think it boils down to the people. If you find yourself at a company where everyone’s too siloed, you don’t always get to make the connections that you need to move forward with what you’re working on or foster a positive company culture. I like that it’s all very open, that everyone is really friendly and good at what they do. I’m the kind of guy that, if it seems like I’ve got to take on something outside of my usual scope and do it for myself, I don’t have a problem with that, but, we also have a lot of talented people who are very skilled and happy to help out, and I think it’s this collaboration that has really taken us to new heights as a company.
3.) What sparked your curiosity about this position?
Interestingly enough, I heard about this position through our Director of IT, Arin Reyna. Arin and I met and worked together at my previous job, which was at a rather large company that has been around for a long time. My curiosity was piqued when Arin left and told me “Hey, I’m at this new company; it’s a lot smaller than where we were working, but it’s a lot of fun!” As you might expect, I was very interested to see what it would be like working at a smaller company – what the culture would be like, what opportunities I might have to make a bigger impact and be more autonomous. Coming aboard was quite the change, but in about the best ways I could have hoped for, some of which I wasn’t even expecting!
4.) What excites you most about what you do?
I think it’s the breaking of new ground and variety of challenges that come with it that gets me most excited. We’ve come a long way from where we started, as a company and in the context of our online services. New teams, new offerings, new clients – it’s all been very cool to see this growth firsthand. On the software front, we’ve made huge strides in realizing our SaaS aspirations and reaching new clients online, creating a unified service platform that supports an ever-expanding suite of tools. We’ve also created some internal tools to empower own own staff so that they can do their respective jobs more effectively. When you can provide someone with something new and valuable, they get very excited, and the enthusiasm is contagious!
5.) What did you do before coming to Stirista?
I started out as a Integrations Analyst at my aforementioned first job, working in tandem with a very skilled developer. I learned a lot of things there that I’ve got double duty out of over here because it involved working with some different data sets, process improvements, making things play nice with other systems, and seeing the big picture while dividing and conquering the many aspects needed to make it possible. It was more focused on analysis and less on new software development. While it was a narrower scope, I learned some useful things along the way.
6.) Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I am an avid karaoke fan and have a recipe for cheesecake OREO balls that everyone is nuts about. I tried bringing something different last potluck, but, needless to say, this omission was quite the disappointment! In fact, there is a message on the refrigerator that says “We need more OREO balls!”, so one of these days I’m just going to bring a surprise batch. That’s the plan.
7.) What advice would you give to those who are interested in doing what you do?
This goes beyond specifically what I do, but there is great value in good communication. It can be the difference between a great effort and a wasted one. I’d say that there are few things worse than being misunderstood; the stakes may vary, but the hardest truth of this tragic irony is how avoidable it is. Foster good will, get context, figure out exactly what you are working towards, and be understanding of other people’s duties and obligations. I don’t feel like people necessarily wake up in the morning looking to make each other’s lives harder. If there’s a conflict, it’s more indicative that you have multiple parties with a very strong conviction for the importance of the matter at hand. And that’s something that you can share, even if you don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, keep an open mind, and don’t miss a chance to let someone know that they are appreciated.