Orbis Spotlight Interviews with Jesse Walker, Python Engineering Consultant


Team Orbis

The most important foundation of Orbis is our people. So to celebrate the different characters we have within the business, we’re sitting down with our team for spotlight interviews to find out more about the passions, motivators and journeys that create the backbone of our culture.

Jesse Walker sits down with Hannah to talk about his own story in Recruitment, becoming a thought leader with his beloved Python community and his incredible home in the states. 

Hi Jesse! To start us off, can you tell us a bit about you?

Jesse: I’m a former CrossFit coach and I coached CrossFit for about 10 years. I tell people, I did CrossFit for about five years and then I made people do CrossFit for about five years, because I got sick of it myself.

I made the transition to staffing two or three years ago now. I started at a small place in Nashville, and got my feet wet there.

Now I’m the Python and Engineering guy at Orbis. 

How did you first get into recruitment within the Technology industry and how has your career evolved into this position?

Jesse: Basically, everything that I've done in Recruitment has been in Tech. I always automatically lean towards Engineering roles. I was never good at finding Business Analysts or Project Managers. I connected better with Engineers. Maybe I just got lucky, but I understand that area a little bit better.

It doesn't hurt my dad is a SQL Engineer and so I used to bug him all the time, and go, ‘Hey, hey, hey, what's this?’

What excites you most about the Tech industry?

Jesse: Speaking broadly about Tech in general, from my perspective, it’s the coolest industry to work in right now. It’s the coolest time to be alive. It's changing our lives every single day, we're going to have self-driving cars in five years, and it's going to change so much.

I guess more specifically to Python, it's such a robust language for an open source language, and it has so many different libraries and frameworks that so many intelligent people have worked on, to make it incredibly flexible for any kind of problem that you're trying to solve.

Whether it's the automation of tasks, doing more scripting, or, you know, more pure object-oriented programming and making web apps with Django and Flask.

It's just an extremely extensible language. It's gained a lot of popularity over the years, too. It's really a neat one.

What’s going on in the industry at the moment?

Jesse: I saw a recent survey showing that more people are using Python right now than Java, which is kind of ground-breaking… I mean, Java has been the father language forever. So, for Python to be getting a bit more traction right now than Java is pretty crazy!

What are your goals for 2020/2021?

Jesse: At night, outside of work, I've been doing a little Udemy course in Python. The course has a funny name, it's called ‘Zero To Mastery’ and it's about 30 hours.

Masteries is hyperbolic, but it has been super fun. Honestly, it’s really useful for when I’m talking to candidates, especially if they have coding interviews. To say, ‘what was the challenge?’ And they go ‘I had to create a key value pair’ which means ‘I had to make a dictionary’, or they say, ‘I had to merge a list’. 

Previously if somebody said that to me, I'd be like, ‘excellent, fabulous, that's great… I have no clue what that means’

It's been extremely helpful. 

If anything, it's just really fun to write some code and after it not working 25 times and banging your head on the keyboard, you change some brackets and suddenly it works!

How are you finding balance between work + studying?

Jesse: It depends on the day. If I’m getting up early, I may do a little bit of studying before work. If I don’t have anything at lunchtime, I might spend 20 minutes to do a little bit. Although, 20 minutes doesn’t really get you very far. Normally, it’s just in the evenings. I sit with my wife and my dog, watch TV and figure out how to make class objects and that sort of thing.

What does success mean to you?

Jesse: Honestly, I think broadly speaking, I think a lot of people think of success as a location. It is a point on a map that you are traveling to.

My perspective is that success is more of a matter of pursuing excellence and it’s the habit of creating your character and refining it.

If you are just thinking about getting to a place, humans always want more, and you get to whatever you’ve been calling success over the years and all of a sudden you’re like, ‘oh, this is it.’

For me, I love learning and I want to be the best that I can be, whether that means I’m better or worse than someone else, I could care less, I don’t care, but if I’m the best version of me, then that’s what matters.

We've been involving the team in certain workshops and discussions on Diversity and Inclusion within Tech. We’ve been talking about inclusion and women in tech for instance. What has your exposure to these matters been like in the industry? Have you seen any positive changes recently?

Jesse: I certainly do see a gap where there are not as many women or folks of different ethnicities that are in the space, especially in Python engineering. It's concerning and it concerns me.

Honestly, what employers are missing out on is a variety of perspective. That variety of perspective adds a level of richness that you can't get by having all white dudes sitting in a room. You just can't.

It's concerning from that perspective because I think that clients are missing out on something great that they could have.

I’m working with a start up here in Nashville, and the first detail in the job description is that they want to be a diverse, inclusive environment and it’s a top priority for us. The fact that this is the first part you see on the job description and they’re saying this from the jump is so cool.

I’ve been speaking to the CTO and I think it speaks to his character and his knowledge of having found it in another place and growing an inclusive environment. He knows the value of having a variety of perspectives.

What are you reading, listening, and watching right now?

Jesse: I read ‘The Man Who Solved The Market’, a book about Jim Simons. He was the founder of Renaissance Technologies, which was one of the first places to apply a lot of natural language processing to capital markets. Super interesting read so far.

I am also watching Hamilton on repeat.

The thing is, I am naturally the most skeptical person if somebody says, ‘this is awesome. You have to watch it.’ I'm immediately like, it probably sucks. It came out on Disney plus, and my wife and I watched it. Then we watched it again the next day, and I don't think a weekend has gone by when I haven't turned it on and watched at least some of it.

Any albums? We haven’t talked about music yet…

Jesse: The Hamilton Soundtrack, obviously.

I'm a big hip hop guy. There’s a trend in hip hop right now where it's getting inspiration from jazz and R&B. There's this really cool musical amalgamation of these three different genres, with a few artists like Anderson Paak, which is awesome.

I saw him live last year. Funny story, my wife was supposed to go but she had to cancel, and I was getting my haircut that day. I told my Barber and he stopped cutting my hair, and he goes, ‘Are you going to see Anderson Paak? Dude, I'm so jealous!’ then I asked him if he wanted to come with me. So, my barber and I went and it was the best time! He bought my beer, it was great. It was a wonderful day. I love Anderson Paak.

Favorite place to travel abroad?

Jesse: I'm really fortunate, I've had the chance to go to a lot of places.

I've been to South Korea, Haiti, Latvia, Germany, France, Germany. My wife and I almost got stuck in Morocco in March and honestly, Morocco was spectacular.

I really like Latvia a lot. The culture is awesome, the food is spectacular, and the scenery is great, too. If I got the chance to go anywhere tomorrow, I guess I’d go to Latvia.

Favorite staycation location?

Jesse: It's so ‘bougie’ but my wife and I really like 30A in the panhandle part of Florida. Everybody in Nashville has these stupid 30A stickers. It's really fun.

Otherwise, honestly, I'm from East Tennessee and I could look out my front door as a kid and the Smoky Mountains are right out the front door. I'm also an only child and when I go home, it's just really sweet because my parents are some of my best friends. I got a couple dogs in a big open yard so all our dogs can play together and it's a blast. I mean, I'd go back there tomorrow.

Favorite place to eat & drink?

Jesse: Okay, gosh, food is the best.

My favorite place, hands down, is probably a place in Nashville called ‘Rolf & Daughters’. It's farm table, modern Italian sort of thing. The owner is literally the coolest guy, he was on Action Bronson's show on Vice and he's a super cool dude, the food's killer. I can't pronounce a quarter of the stuff that's on the menu.

What are your guilty pleasures?

Jesse: Guilty? But I'm not guilty about anything.

One of the things that are kryptonite for me, is Cream Horns. They’re little croissants with sweet cold cream inside.

Any favorite quotes or philosophies to live by?

Jesse: A quote from Theodore Roosevelt, it's way too long to quote really, it's like an excerpt from his speech called The Critic. Effectively what he talks about is, it’s so much better to be someone who tries and fails than to be a critic who criticizes the person who tries and fails.

I love that because I think that we're all our own worst critic, we don't need somebody else to assist us in criticizing, and if you're bold enough to try, that's a victory by itself. If you fail, it is what it is.

Another one, and this one’s really obscure, is a Greek historian, he has this quote that says, ‘we must remember one man is much like another, but he is best that's brought up in the most rigorous schooling’.

This idea that we as people are all on the same playing field, and the people who excel are the people who discipline themselves, and work hard. I like that a lot. I don't think of myself as somebody that's smarter, or more intelligent, or more talented than anybody. It's really just that I feel like I'll work hard and hopefully, some stuff will happen.

There's another one that I just learned recently. It’s a Winston Churchill quote. I'm going to butcher this one too… But it's basically ‘Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. What matters is the ability to continue on’, or something like that.

I love the idea of ‘failure is not fatal’. I think it's fair to say that there’s a theme in my life, this concept of freedom to fail. If you feel free to fail, then you will be bold, you'll try and you'll do things that other people would never dare to. If you are crippled by the idea of failure, and maybe this all circles back to what I think success is, right?

Success is not some destination, failure is neither right? If you mess something up, it doesn't mean you're stuck there. So, if you have that destination of thinking, you know, it would be so easy to be like, well, I'm just not going to do anything.

Okay let’s go through some quickfire questions…

Late night or early riser?

Jesse: Neither, I just want sleep a lot.

Online workout or 5k run?

Jesse: Definitely a run, I don’t like online workouts.

G&T or cup of tea? What’s the USA equivalent to this question?!

Jesse: Bud light or Coffee…

How many unread emails do you have in your inbox?

Jesse: My personal one has 6000, my work one has 3.

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you do?

Jesse: If money was no object, I'd open a winery.

Your biggest inspiration is…

Jesse: I think ultimately, the idea of excellence is what drives me and I think foundationally beneath that surface is the idea of doing what's right. 

I think that those things happen simultaneously.

You can't be excellent and do what's wrong.

I think the idea of doing what's right by people and being the best you can be, is what inspires me.

Thanks Jesse! 

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