Meet Brandon Cummings,
Software Engineer at Terminus
As a self-taught engineer who’s been working at Terminus since March 2015, Brandon has seen Terminus’ engineering team grow to 10+ employees — larger than the entire company was when he first came on board.
So what does a software engineer at a marketing technology company do? I asked Brandon to ELI5 — explain it to me like I’m five years old. His answer?
“We make the product, Terminus, work. The product runs on code, and we make sure it’s fully vetted and running properly. Whenever the product team has ideas, we create those ideas in code.”
ELI5: What does a #martech software engineer do? “We make the product work,” says @brandon_cmngs
Before we learn more about working as a Terminus software developer, let’s get to know Brandon a little better with some fun facts.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
My wife and I go to a lot of different restaurants around Atlanta. We go to a bunch of places off Buford Highway. We also love throwing parties and watching different sporting events. We’re huge Florida State football and basketball fans. It all just revolves around food!
What’s your favorite restaurant in Atlanta?
I have to give a shout-out to The Nook on Piedmont Park. I used to live right next to it, and that place is awesome.
What was the first job you ever got paid for?
I’m from Tallahassee, and when I was eight, we used to go to St. Mark’s a lot. I would dive down and get sea urchins and sand dollars, and then I would make those into Christmas ornaments and walk around my neighborhood and sell them. That’s when I learned the difficulty of sales, but I made at least 20 bucks off that.
What’s your dream job?
I would be the guy that invents and builds the ship that can get people to and from Mars. I’m really interested in interplanetary travel!
A Day in the Life of a Terminus Software Engineer
So, what’s a typical day like as a software engineer at Terminus? Read on for Brandon’s daily schedule, explained in his own words:
5:45 a.m. — Wake up! I get coffee going and turn on the news, on-demand shows, or sometimes even a full movie. Then I crack open my laptop to work from home for a few hours.
6:30 – 9 a.m. — My morning work hours are easily my most focused time. I review PRs (pull requests), push new Terminus product features live, and figure out loopholes around macOS Sierra — frustrating! 😉
9 – 10 a.m. — My dog usually tells me it’s time to go outside. I’ll close the laptop, take him on a walk, get ready for work (and put on my Terminus t-shirt if it’s Terminus Tuesday), hop in my neighborhood golf cart (Nissan Leaf), and arrive at the office around 9:30 or 10.
10 – 11:45 a.m. — I continue working on projects, have a sprint review meeting, have a product review meeting, or have a magical planning session. I also have a weekly one-on-one during this time slot with our chief product officer, Bryan Brown. We usually just high five and say “Software’s done!” in unison.
11:30 – 11:45 a.m. — Time for the development team check-in. Each team member will say what they’re working on, their current progress, and if they have any roadblocks that others can help with.
11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m. — This hour is different almost every day. It involves lunch, but it might also include beating Lucas Ulloque in ping pong, playing a team game like coup or mafia, going out to eat in Buckhead (I love Jack’s New York Deli), or just pushing through the lunch period to keep the focused work going.
1 – 4 p.m. — This is also a strange time block filled mostly with paired and solo programming, sprint retros where we look back at our progress, backlog grooming, or super intense whiteboard sessions! Also, this is when a vast majority of the sweets on our side of the office are consumed. It’s like everyone in Terminus wants to bring desserts and chocolate covered stuff over to our desks after we just had lunch. It’s a blessing and a curse!
4 – 5 p.m. — I try to wrap up everything I’ve been working on for the day and leave a good starting point for the next morning. I try to get out of the office by no later than 5 p.m.
5 – 8 p.m. — This is my time to decompress after work. I usually walk my dog, go to the gym, and help my wife cook dinner between 7 and 8.
Building a Career & an Account-Based Marketing Platform
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to Florida State — go Noles! — and I studied finance. I only use finance now for my spreadsheets at home.
How did you end up working in engineering?
My first job out of college was in sales. I was the only salesperson on a team of twelve people at Kevy, eight of which were engineers. That’s where I met another one of the Terminus engineers, Stevie Vines, and [CEO and Co-Founder of Terminus,] Eric Spett, was actually one who set up my computer.
At Kevy, I saw what software engineering and programming was like. I’ve always been a tech guy, and when I looked at what I was doing in sales versus what I saw the development team doing, I was like, “Maybe I could try that.”
I had the opportunity to help start a company called Voxa, where I had a lot of time to learn how to code — front-end and back-end. After Voxa, I wanted to pursue full-time software development, and after talking with Eric Vass, [CTO and Co-Founder of Terminus] and Eric Spett, I knew Terminus would be the best place to learn and grow.
Tell me a little more about your position and what you do on a day-to-day basis.
We have a product that is ever-changing. What we as the engineering team are responsible for is keeping that product working and running, and then constantly iterating according to the product’s vision. We try to make product ideas a reality.
Our engineering team has experience building different products, from people that have started their own companies to people that are coming from bigger social media sites, so we have vast experiences with what user experience and product teams should do. At Terminus, the product team comes to the development team with an idea, and then we try to poke holes in it. It’s like, “Does this make sense?” And if it makes sense, then we go and build it.
I know you’ve gotten involved with a national nonprofit, PowerMyLearning, that connects students in low-income communities, along with their teachers and families, to powerful educational technology. Can you tell me more about your work with them?
I went in to PowerMyLearning and asked, “What are y’all’s biggest pain points?” When our team went there and volunteered last year, they took us through their whole process of getting a computer, setting it up, testing it, and giving it to a child who needs it. That whole process was manual, and they do this with 5,000 computers a year. Right now I’m volunteering my technical abilities and building a website that can help automate this process for them.
As a software engineer in the ABM space, what’s the first word you think of when I say account-based marketing?
At Kevy, I was helping out with marketing and sales, and the original question I asked was: “How do you know if a marketing activity worked or not?” In Pardot, we could see if someone came and signed up on the website, and we could see the landing page they came from — but I was like, “What about everything else we just did?”
Terminus definitely helps clear the fog and tie activity to revenue. That attribution shows our customers that we actually do connect the marketer with the sale.
What is your favorite thing about working at Terminus?
Sangram Vajre, [CMO and Co-Founder of Terminus,] always says, “Give your employees the keys to the Ferrari.” There’s a lot of responsibility given to people. We interviewed you, we like you, so there should be no hesitation that you should be able to do this if you think you can.
Even though our engineering team has grown, product brings us the idea and we get to decide how to execute on it. That’s a type of freedom you won’t find at most bigger companies. Everyone’s ideas are heard.
“What does it mean to give your employees the keys to the Ferrari?” @brandon_cmngs explains
What’s the biggest challenge you face at work?
The biggest challenge is scaling our team. We’re starting to get so big, and it takes some time to get engineers to get up to speed because there’s a lot to tackle.
Now we’re getting big enough to have multiple engineering teams, so we’re working the process of keeping both teams in sync and balancing that with actually getting production code out the door and meeting the expectations from the market and the team.
What has been your proudest accomplishment during your time at Terminus?
When we won Best Places to Work in Atlanta, that felt good all around for everybody.
Here’s a fun one: what’s your favorite office snack?
I really like the trail mix!
Last but not least, what advice would you give to someone who wants to work as a software developer at Terminus?
Culture is king. I’ve learned you can’t just hire someone on technical ability; hire them because you can work with them.
When you come to interview at Terminus, the first thing we do is a culture check. We put a lot of emphasis on you being a good culture fit, so when you come to interview, just be yourself.
Join the Terminus Team in Atlanta
Are you interested in joining the Terminus development team? We’re always looking for positive, supportive, and self-starting people to add more fuel to our fire. If you think you’d be a good fit for our team, check out our careers page. We’d love to hear from you!