As Mobile Heartbeat continues to innovate and transform clinical communication & collaboration, we’re looking for employees who are eager to work on an important product that affects hundreds of thousands of users and their patients. This monthly article series highlights some of the current MH employees who exemplify our values and are helping us work towards our goal of improving communication in healthcare.

This month’s interview is with Valerie Arena, a seasoned engineer that loves a good challenge.

Can You Tell Me About Your Decision to Become an Engineer?

That was a long time ago! I started out as a high school chemistry teacher. I started biochemistry in college and went on to teach and even got my masters in education, but it wasn’t for me, and that’s how I got into computers.

Actually, I didn’t even know what I was getting into. It was the late ’90s—we were still using dial-up to access the internet. I just started to call temp agencies and ask them to tell me what I needed to do to get started.

They told me I should learn Word and PowerPoint and Excel, and from there I went to the library and reviewed profiles of programmers, I went to different certification schools and started to take a few classes to see if I liked it, and I found that I loved it. I would work on something and look up and hours had passed.

So I took my certification program and I had a job lined up before I even finished the program, and was lucky enough to get my first start as a programmer analyst. I got my masters in computer science to catch up and from there I couldn’t get enough of the work.

I kept asking for more work, more challenging work. And I’m still the same way, I can’t get enough of my work. I love learning new technologies, backend challenges, very mysterious integration problems that need to be resolved—I love an awesome, crazy, weird puzzle.

How Many Companies Have You Worked for as an Engineer?

This is my sixth over the 18 years I’ve been an engineer. I did move around a bit because what’s important to me is working on new technologies. At these companies, I would work on projects, work on platforms, but there wasn’t a whole lot of opportunity for me to learn new technologies because those technical changes don’t happen quickly.

Once you architect your platform and decide which technologies you’re going to use, you’re kind of stuck with that. The only opportunity for me to grow was to move from one company to another. In addition to a company not really switching up their technologies once they’ve developed a mature platform, they don’t even usually upgrade their version.

I wanted to continue learning and then applying what I learned, but I also wanted to stay marketable, so the only way for me to do that was to move from company to company.

How Did You Hear About Mobile Heartbeat, and What Made You Want to Work Here?

I first heard about Mobile Heartbeat because I had worked with Mike Kellstrand at another company. So after I left my first programming job, I wanted to learn more about enterprise technologies, especially enterprise Java technologies, and more about frameworks.

Computer software companies are very different from IT companies, so I knew what I wanted to work on, but it seemed like what I wanted to work on was at the software companies and not at the IT level. When I interviewed with Mike Kellstrand, Saji Aravind and Ron Remy at Modiv Media, it felt like such a lucky break. Even though my experience wasn’t that of a traditional engineer, they still wanted to hire me, and I learned such amazing skills while I was there. Even when I moved onto other companies, I always kept in touch with Mike.

Then when I was looking for a new job, I emailed Mike to see if he would be available for another reference, and jokingly I said, “Hey, is there anything there at Mobile Heartbeat?” and he said, “Oh, I think that there is.”

So he told me about the company and about the technology, and all of these opportunities to integrate—which I love, I’m crazy about integration—and I went in and met with Saji and a few other people and I was lucky enough to be brought on to the company, it was awesome.

It’s funny because, at Modiv Media, Ron didn’t have an office, he liked to sit out with everyone and just listen to us all, and when I joined Mobile Heartbeat, there he was again, no office, sitting right out in the middle of the engineers.

How Would You Describe the Work You Do Here?

It’s a lot of backend Java development, so it’s working with servers and databases and integration, which I love. It’s not purely Java development, though. Sometimes we need a server upgrade, so there have been a couple times where I have to look into the internals of our Tomcat server and try to understand what has changed and what’s new.

There was another time I had to configure databases for a failover, and even a couple of projects coming up, we’re thinking about upgrading to Windows 2016 and SQL Server 16, so I’ll help out a little with the load testing that’s involved to see how our products will perform on those servers. So it’s a lot of backend stuff, most of my experience is in Java development, but I’ll do anything on the backend.

I’ve had the opportunity to do a little bit of Android development too, but not much. I’m totally a newbie when it comes to Android development, but I’m definitely interested in learning more about that. As an engineer, I think it’s really important to understand the big picture of the whole platform.

How Has Your Experience Here Differed From Other Companies?

It’s different in a lot of ways. Number one, the projects I work on are super challenging. They’re kind of crazy—integrating with the hospital systems can involve some new technologies that I didn’t even know were out there.

For me, the work has always been the most important thing, and that’s kept me interested for three solid years. I think before that my longest stay was maybe two years at another company, but I haven’t felt bored yet at Mobile Heartbeat.

I feel like I—no joke—am learning something new every week, and feel like I learn something really big every month. Just learning, I mean, there’s a lot to learn!

Another huge thing that’s so different about this company is the people. At my other companies I never really made people that much of a priority because it was just more important for me to work on stuff that interested me and would help me grow.

But here at Mobile Heartbeat, people are so awesome. Everyone is so hard-working, it’s amazing. If I have a question, people will drop what they’re doing in the middle of it and try to answer my question and help me out. You know sometimes at a company you’ll have a culture where you don’t feel very comfortable asking a question. I definitely feel like I can ask anything and sound as stupid as I might sound. That’s the culture of our company, everyone is hard-working, people leave their egos at the door and everyone is accessible.

I think people are having a lot of fun as well. There’s a real positive vibe. Like when we did the Hackathon, that was so cool! We’re not a company of just young new people, some of us are older developers and we still get excited, just pumped up about this stuff. There were so many great, innovative ideas, I was just blown away. There were a lot of different projects I wanted to work on.

How Have You Seen Mobile Heartbeat Evolve Over Your Time Here?

It’s been mind-blowing the way the company has evolved. The number of hospitals that use our platform has exploded, just like the size of our company.

When I joined, the company was still pretty small, so I feel like a lot of the infrastructure, like the processes that help speed up development weren’t in place. We didn’t have a DevOps team or an Automation team or have continuous integration and delivery or other tools that make a developer’s life better.

But we have all that now. I can’t believe the major changes in such a short amount of time. Even when it comes to Agile, we are now doing SAFe. The progress is so impressive, and it has definitely made everybody more productive.

What Direction Do You See Mobile Heartbeat Taking in the Next Few Years?

I feel like it’s continuously evolving. Everyone is really open-minded, and everyone wants to make the product better and they want to be a great team player. Whatever direction we take over the next few years, I’m sure it’s going to be incredible and amazing. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

To learn more about working at Mobile Heartbeat, visit our careers page, or call 781-238-0000.