The Life of a Full Stack Engineer at Forum Brands

I started my role as Forum Brand’s first Full Stack Engineer on June 1st, 2021, the same week a group of Forum members toured NYC in search of our first office, and the week before we landed our triumphant $27M Series A funding, being used to scale our tech platform. Since then we've raised an additional $100M in debt financing to grow our portfolio of brands and our team has nearly doubled. To say it was an exciting time to be joining this company would be an understatement. Normally, starting a new role remotely can feel daunting and isolating, however, I can only describe my first few months as warm and welcoming. I’m happy to say that the excitement I felt during my interviews has carried on full force throughout my time here at Forum.

How did I get here?

First off, Hello! My name is Josephine and I am a newly minted pandemic career changer. Coming from a non-technical background, I found out that coding is a lot more imaginative and collaborative than I realized. I fell in love with the creative process of having an idea, teaching myself how to build it, and then doing just that. I have had many past lives in education, hospitality, office management, and fundraising and I didn’t see as much room for growth and impact as I craved. When looking for my first full time tech gig, I knew I wanted to focus on finding a team centered on innovation, collaboration, and mentorship. After completing Grace Hopper Academy, an intensive software engineering program in NYC, and doing some front end work for a non-profit, I was eager to find my new home full of intelligent and transparent leaders that would challenge and support me.

First Impressions

I interviewed with Salvatore Randazzo (VP of Engineering), Alex Kopco (COO & Co-Founder), and Ruben Amar (co-CEO & Co-Founder). My impressions were that they are passionate about Forum’s vision and that they genuinely care about who I am, my character, and my professional growth. They drew me in by nerding out about AI/ML and the booming opportunity that is the trillion dollar ecommerce ecosystem. They spoke of their flat team structure where everyone is approachable and generous with their time and knowledge. I was told that my first few weeks would be dedicated to getting to know the team, the industry, and training in their modern and cutting edge microservice architecture. After my interviews, my expectations were that I would be joining an extremely collaborative team, working towards an exciting and calculated vision.

The Culture of the Team

I began to understand the culture of the team during my first two weeks, which included a whirlwind of get-to-know-you one on ones, tech courses, and a hands-on practice project. With each conversation, I was more and more hyped about Forum’s journey and vision. I learned the nitty gritty of each person’s role across departments and how the technology I’ll be building will support them and exponentially grow our business. I’ve received crash courses on brand building, mergers and acquisitions, business operations, supply chain, and more! I’ve participated in daily stand ups and product meetings, giving me a deeper understanding of our on-going projects. And best of all, our Engineering team has weekly meetings centered on building culture, working norms, and supplementary training on topics we vote on each week. 

Looking Ahead

It’s safe to say that I made a great decision by joining Forum Brands. Salvatore shared sentiments that have really resonated with me since day 1. For example, “It’s important that you feel valued, that you feel like you are growing, and that you are generally happy working here.” Here at Forum, they want my perspective, suggestions, and ideas towards building a company that we’re all proud of. I already get to be a part of the hiring process for our growing team! We’re all creating a safe space to speak our minds, experiment, and even make mistakes as long as we’re learning from them and getting better. Inge Groth (Category Leader) said it best, “We don’t expect perfection from each other. We are all evolving together.” Along with being each other's best advocates, I’ve learned how to further advocate for myself with our leadership principle of “ownership". I was given an on-boarding playbook and an open schedule where it was up to me to arrange my meetings, ask for help, and understand how I learn best to inform when and how long I spent on my courses. All and all, the foundation I created in my first two weeks has set me up for success here at Forum. I am now mainly working on our proprietary growth forecasting system that scales our category leading brands portfolio with the help of AI/ML. I’m building technology that is at the forefront of disrupting the ecommerce industry and I couldn’t be more grateful to be in the trenches creating something truly unique with Forum Brands.

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