Business and pleasure: LA tech professionals talk about why they love their jobs

John Siegel

They don’t call it “work” because it’s fun. That’s the old adage, but to an extent, it’s still true. We do what we do to make enough money to live happy and fulfilling lives.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t also enjoy ourselves at the office.

Tech companies struggle to retain talent as the pool of qualified candidates becomes aware of just how in-demand their services are. So companies are adapting to keep that talent around. From interesting perks and competitive salaries to team trips to Hawaii, here’s why these LA tech professionals love their jobs.

 

Andrew Kou oversees the engineering department at RealtyMogul.com. A lot is expected of his team, but ultimately, the technology they’re working on gets him out of bed in the morning.

Favorite perk: I love our office foosball table. It allows us to take short 10 to 15 minute breaks off work and create some friendly competition. Ultimately, it ends up helping us refocus.

Stand-out memory: We recently completed a few demos that performed very well with our stakeholders. We’re working on tech that has never been done before at the company, likely in the entire real estate industry, and I’m proud to hit milestones along the way.  

Tale from the trenches: I’ve had a few challenging projects, and throughout each one, it was very clear to me that I had an incredible amount of support from Sameer to do what I needed to do. It was a combination of the resources and ability to make the important decisions that empowered me to act.

Pitch to job seekers: Fintech is a very interesting space to be in right now, especially in real estate, which has historically been slow to adopt new technology. We’re at the forefront of transforming the real estate industry. Our CEO Jilliene Helman has aligned the company to develop and harness the power of great technology.

For marketplace operations associate Imani Clark, it’s great to work at a place that offers lunch budgets and Dodger games. But when it comes down to it, she said it’s the people who make RealtyMogul.com worth coming into work every day.

Favorite perk: My favorite perk at RealtyMogul.com is our lunch budget from Eat Club and snack program. The team is great at taking input on snacks we like to eat, so there’s always something new in the pantry!

Stand-out memory: My favorite memory was our last company meeting earlier this year. We had colleagues in from our offices around the country, including Atlanta, New York and San Francisco, and it felt like summer camp. It was great getting to see everyone in person when you work with them on a daily basis while building camaraderie through fun exercises like egg drops off the CEO’s balcony.  

Tale from the trenches: My favorite work story was a company-sponsored outing to the Dodger’s game. We had a great time meeting everyone’s friends, spouses and significant others, all while taking in Vin Scully’s last game.

Pitch to job seekers: I love working at RealtyMogul.com because of the people. My coworkers are incredibly hard working and great at their jobs, but they’re still people who like to have fun every day in the office and on the weekends. I also get to learn so many new things from other teams, from development to sales and investor relations. My coworkers are always willing to show me what their jobs are like. I feel like it’s helping me become a better at my job.  

 

Impact Health uses machine learning to help businesses and individuals make sense of something that, traditionally, makes little sense: offering healthcare benefits to employees.

Catered lunch means free food, but it also means an opportunity to eat with the group. For full-stack developer Jenna Davis, the importance of these impromptu get-togethers can’t be overlooked.

Favorite perk: I’d have to say my favorite perk is catered lunches, and not for the obvious reason of getting free food, but because it more often than not leads to the whole team eating as a group. It’s awesome getting to chat with coworkers in a casual lunch setting, whether the conversation ends up being about work, weekend plans or a new restaurant someone has tried.

Stand-out memory: The whole Impact Health team came together to work on a very pressing automation that we needed done within a week’s time. It was an email automation feature, and the customer success and product teams collaborated closely on every step of the process. It was not only fun working so closely with the whole team, but also incredibly rewarding to complete.

Tale from the trenches: A funny work story I like to look back on is when the engineering team finished up a huge feature that we had been working on for over a month. We finished it up on a Friday, in the early afternoon. After deploying, we all looked at each other with a ton of excitement, some disbelief and awe and a decent amount of confusion because we weren’t sure what to do next. Leave early on a Friday? It was a first in a long while, but we did it and it felt great.

Pitch to job seekers: What I love most about Impact Health is the team of brilliant, hardworking people I get to work with. I’m inspired every day by the consistent innovation we all work to achieve and the dedication we all have to making our goals a reality.

For front-end developer Luis Pena, the opportunity to help users make potentially life-changing decisions is a perk in and of itself.

Favorite perk: Unlimited time off, although I don't use it as much as I'd like to. It's very generous, and I love that we take into account that people have lives.

Tale from the trenches: The night we first launched our referral program. We kicked it off by running a script latched onto a spreadsheet that emailed about 200 people at once inviting them to share their links on social media. I was very nervous (literally shaking) because my script was to email actual customers. I'd never done anything like that before. I was relieved by our head of growth at the time and his assurance. Also, the beer helped.

Pitch to job seekers: We're here fixing something that is totally screwed up in this country. The current state of healthcare and insurance reminds me of the most complicated board game that you don't ever want to play. The thing is, you have to play; you have no choice. It's your health, and that’s not a game. It takes too much time for individuals to fully understand the ins and outs of the convoluted state of health insurance. That’s where we come in — we've done the research already, we know the rules and we can beat this "game" for you. And we do it for free.

 

DTLA-based Magnopus, a VR/AR startup that uses art, science and technology to make meaningful virtual and augmented reality experiences, offers its employees something only a handful of startups in the world can offer: a product as a perk. According to senior engineer Sally Slade, the ability to work on awesome projects as the best part of working for the company.

Favorite perk: My favorite perk is the flexible hours offered.

Stand-out memory: My proudest achievement is the day Mission:ISS went live. It was a blast to read/watch each review as it came in.

Tale from the trenches: I like the "story" of Argos: A growing society of VR enthusiasts had drafted a bible of "things not to do in VR.” We broke every rule, created a compelling work of art and won a Proto award for our trouble.

Sales pitch to job seekers: I would recommend working for Magnopus because, although its public-facing purpose is to deliver premium content, it seems demonstrably important to the company that the employees are healthy, happy and continually growing.

Kalan Ray wears a lot of hats in his role as lead experience designer. Between speaking on panels and shooting VR projects at the company HQ, Ray will always find time to get a little D&D in with his colleagues.

Favorite perk: I love being able to appear on panels and give talks.

Stand-out moment: Shooting The Argos File, a VR experience, on the roof of the building.

Tale from the trenches: A bunch of us got together to investigate some mysterious events that had taken place in a small river kingdom. Everything was going well until the halfling started causing a scene. A demon emerged from a nearby church and threatened to kill us, but our very handsome friend, Pepe, slew the thing with only two strikes from his sword. Okay, so we have a D&D club.

Pitch to job seekers: Magnopus is not only invested in the technology of this industry, but they are invested in the futures of their employees. That is evident every day, through every interaction with upper management. Coming from VFX, I've been at shops that pride themselves on having the fastest horse in the race to the bottom. In my eyes, Magnopus has emerged as a leader — not just in terms of quality of content, but as a model for how modern businesses should be run.”

 

Images via participating startups. Responses have been edited for clarity and length

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