Get to know the people of Cloud City. In this regular (and sometimes irregular) series, we sit down with our designers, engineers and other team members to talk about development, consulting and life in general.
Today, we’re chatting with Caroline Taymor, a new member of the Cloud City engineering team. Read on to discover how they bridge the gap between business needs and tech challenges — when they’re not tending a mini urban farm in their front yard.
Currently crafting: A quilt
Currently growing: Aurora peppers and basil
Currently planning: Teaching a Talmud class
Did you always know you wanted to be a software engineer?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut or a ballerina. Then I realized the risk of dying in space was a little too high and I did not have a ballet body.
In college, I studied math and graduated just a few credits shy of double majoring in comp sci. I discovered how fun coding could be when I helped build a Rails app for a woman bootstrapping her startup, which was why I took so many CS classes.
That’s great. So what inspired you to become a full-fledged software engineer?
I learned a lot about software engineering at Pivotal Cloud Foundry. I eventually landed in a hybrid engineer manager role, which I enjoyed. Systems and processes are for people too, not just for tech.
Then I worked at LTSE, which has a super cool mission. They’re a stock exchange where companies pledge to focus on long-term goals for a broader set of stakeholders. Not just their shareholders, but also their employees and people who live or work near their factories.
Now I’m really excited to be consulting with Cloud City.
LTSE’s mission seems very in line with Cloud City’s commitment to “wholehearted development.”
Yeah! I build software, but people are a big part of that process. And at Cloud City, now I can focus on teaching what I have to share and making our clients as successful as possible.
One thing I focus on is identifying sociotechnical roadblocks so clients have the skills to communicate, make decisions and collaborate together better. Sociotechnical problems are very technical, but they’re also about people.
So one of my big goals is answering: How can we make the humans around us better at delivering business value?
Sounds like all that keeps you very busy! What else do you enjoy?
I find time to explore other interests, too. Like this winter, I’m hoping to teach a Talmud class.
As a trans Jew, I first started learning about it in a queer Talmud camp. By learning the foundation of Jewish law, Jews on the margin can say, “I’m studying the same texts, I can talk to you on equal footing” whenever someone tries to say that feminism or queer liberation aren’t in an authentic part of the tradition.
Sharing and teaching seem important to you.
Studying and teaching is huge for me. It’s also helped make me a better software engineer, actually. Traditionally, learning Talmud and Torah is something you do with a chavruta, kind of a study partner. Your goal isn’t to teach yourself, it’s to help your partner understand.
That mindset changed my approach to how I work with others. Most of the time, the best thing to do long-term is to take a little extra time to teach what I know. That way, another person can do it themself next time and the whole team can move faster.
Love it. How else do you spend your time?
When I’m not at work or chasing around my preschooler, I love to knit, sew and quilt. I think of myself as a bit of a fiber Renaissance person. I even make my own skirts.
I think there’s a huge number of engineers who knit, actually. A knitting pattern is basically a computer program and you’re the computer processing line-by-line instructions. Some of the earliest punch card programs were inspired by knitting machine programs.
I also really enjoy gardening. My family is finally growing enough vegetables that we can’t eat them all. Every week, I do a crop swap with neighbors where I share green beans, basil and spicy peppers.