Life at Lowe’s: Meet Manager of Software Engineering of Mobile/Iris Smart Home Solutions Will Saake

Life at Lowe’s: Meet Manager of Software Engineering of Mobile/Iris Smart Home Solutions Will Saake
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Presented by Lowe’s Careers

We’ve been geeking out over Lowe’s for a while now; their campus is fully loaded with perks like a farmers market and zen garden. They’ve also got a team of employees doing really diverse and innovative things that we love getting the inside scoop on.

[Agenda story: You’re going to want to check out the Lowe’s campus]

That’s why we asked for a snapshot of the day of the life of Will Saake, Manager, Software Engineering – Mobile/Iris Smart Home Solutions. You can learn more about careers at Lowe’s here.

So, what exactly do you do?

I work on a team that builds mobile apps for smart phones that our customers use to control the Iris devices in their homes. This means I help other mobile software engineers on our team build great experiences for our smart home users. Our team develops mobile apps for the iOS and Android platforms which work in conjunction with our cloud-based platform to provide Iris customers a customizable smart home experience. I work with our product managers, user experience gurus, and our platform and device technology teams to deliver new smart devices and services to the Iris product using agile development methodologies.

How long have you been doing it?

I have been at Lowe’s for 15 years. I started in the Mooresville, NC store the year I graduated high school. I transferred to the Boone, NC store when I went to college at Appalachian State. I was accepted into the Lowe’s IT internship program my junior year and was immediately offered a full-time job in the Lowe’s Data Center while I finished my senior year. Upon graduation I was offered my first official development role as a Store Systems software developer. As the years progressed I eventually moved into Lowes.com to help with the next implementation of our web platform and from there I was given the task to form a mobile development practice within our Digital Developmenbt group. After successfully establishing the mobile development practice I was offered an opportunity to help work on the new Iris product and platform. I have been in this position on the Iris team for the past two years.

Commute:

I live five miles from the office so my commute is less than ten minutes.

What do you do during your commute?

Listen to NPR, jam to some Deadmaus, or talk to my wife (who also works at Lowe’s).

Phone type:

iPhone 7 Plus in Jet Black

 

Gadgets you can’t live without?

Definitely my iPhone but increasingly my Smart Home products of course. I like being able to know when the family comes home and the security of knowing that my place is monitored 24/7.

I am also really into 3D printing with my son with our new 3D printer. We are always looking up new things to build with the printer. Lately we have gotten into complex projects that take 10+ sub assemblies to build.

What software are you a power user of?

Xcode, Android Studio, Slack, Chrome w/widgets.

What’s your favorite spot for a work lunch? Your order?

I like to work outside at our office. We have a lot of natural areas that are comfortable to sit out in and get some work done when I need to get away from my desk. On Wednesdays I get the Indian combo lunch since I like just about all Indian food.

Social media habits:

I document much of what I do with my family on Facebook so as to keep a digital scrapbook. I think it will be neat to hand this over to my kids someday and have so much of what we ever did all in one place.

To-do list manager:

Notes on Mac OS X

What everyday thing are you really good at?

I am really capable of managing multiple streams of work. My role requires me to keep up with 4-5 different work streams at once. The key to being successful here is being able to provide consistency to those around me who depend on accurate information in a fast paced development environment.

What’s your one favorite thing about your job?

I love this job because each new assignment is a new problem to study and solve and generally doesn’t have an example you can follow. Since the Smart Home is an emerging market we get to invent the approaches to problems that few have had to tackle. This leads to exciting opportunities to work on solutions that not only improve other peoples lives but also expand my own learning opportunities. We get to work with cool and interesting partners who are also working in the smart home space so the challenges are always coming.

Sleep routine:

Bed by midnight and up at 6:30 AM during the weekdays. On weekends I might sleep an hour later than normal.

Where do you go around Charlotte/Mooresville to get away from the office?

Most Saturdays from Spring to Fall I take the family to Davidson, North Carolina for the farmers market. We like to let the kids shop for things to make for dinner on Sundays. We also like to spend time in downtown Davidson visiting the book store and the Davidson College campus for Pokemon Go hunts.

If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing?

Running marathons

Favorite memory at Lowe’s so far:

My favorite memory at Lowe’s was being given a new iPhone and a Macbook Pro and being asked to go and explore the concept of native apps and how Lowe’s could potentially develop a consumer facing app using our existing technology stack. This was a very awesome opportunity to lead us into a new technology area that not only were we not famailar with but the industry as whole was still in its infancy. I was able to add one other person to my team and together over the course of a few months we developed a live, working prototype. This experience led us into creating a dedicated mobile and web services team. I was very proud to have been a part of that work that blazed a new technology trail for Lowe’s.

Best job advice you’ve received:

I received this advice from my first manager who told me to always surround yourself with the most motivated people you can find who are ready to succeed. Never try to be the smartest one in the room but instead be there to help lead them through the challenges and provide a place for new ideas to merge and grow. I have tried to live and lead by this advice throughout my career.

What’s one piece of advice you would give someone applying for a job at Lowe’s?

Be ready to take on a challenge or question with your own thoughts and not what you think everyone wants to hear. Support how you arrived at your answer to show your understanding of the question or problem. If you don’t know the answer or understand the question then ask really good questions to help you construct an understanding of the problem. Don’t be afraid to turn your answer into a conversation. Many times that is what people are really looking for in a great candidate.

Favorite Lowe’s employee perk:

I like the travel opportunities that come along with my role here in Iris at Lowe’s. I get to travel to different places to work with different people on really cool projects and initiatives.

Want to be a part of a fast-moving team like Lowe’s Iris? Learn more about career opportunities here.

(Note: This content was co-created with Lowe’s.)

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