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Meet Joseph Nam: The Fast Interview

Joseph Nam, Engineering Manager, Orders Team

Joseph Nam

Role: Engineering Manager

Team: Orders

What do you do at Fast?

I’m an Engineering Manager for the Orders Team. I joined Fast in July of 2020. I primarily drive our Direct Integrations project – we work on the unified API that allows us to work with any seller. Our team is the primary touch point for our backend checkout and order management systems.

Where did you grow up, and what were you like as a kid?

Atlanta, Georgia. I was quiet and reserved, and super, super awkward and angsty. To be honest, I’m still angsty.

What’s your proudest moment as an engineer?

Here at Fast, creating an API to make a one-click checkout process and getting it to work for the first time. There’s an incredible amount of complexity in understanding the possibilities and types of products alone. Then, being able to tie together the user's information, validate inventory, verify the user's card, and pick a shipping option in less than five seconds was definitely a challenge. Even then, allowing users to make changes to their order, batch and fulfill orders together, and doing it all based on the seller's limitations and processes, was extraordinarily challenging. 

But we did it.

What led you to engineering?

As an idealistic teen, the early ’90s to 2010s phase of the internet was the representation of the human spirit: freedom of knowledge and instant access to anything you can dream of. I was on the computer all the time.

I went to college to become a doctor and immediately hated it. My roommate suggested I read Learn Python The Hard Way. I fell in love with programming and finished my degree in computer science at Georgia Tech. At Uber, my last company, I was an individual contributor software engineer.

Why did you say yes to Fast?

There are a lot of cool startups in the Bay Area. But Domm (Holland, Co-Founder and CEO at Fast) sold me with a single line: "Talk to your mother about the opportunities on your plate, and I can almost guarantee the only one she’ll understand is one-click checkout."

The team has product-market fit and humans (read: non-engineers) can understand it. I checked out their social media presence and thought, "Okay. They just need strong talent to iterate and deliver."

What was your first job?

Piano teacher. I’m a classically trained pianist from age 5 to 19, and I taught in high school. I made $30 an hour in 2010.

What’s something you’ve found at Fast that doesn’t exist elsewhere?

Fast has incredible people. I know every startup says that, but it seriously takes a certain type of person to push hard on challenging the e-commerce giants of the world. 

In the past, I’ve seen tons of incredible engineers not receive attention for their work, and projects nosedive from engineering mismanagement and personality conflicts. When I joined Fast, I quickly became technical lead for Fast Checkout – managing a team with my deeply technical background helps me identify the truly important work for them.

What sparks your creativity?

Music. Hearing people's creativity and what inspired them makes me want to get on my keyboard.

What are you doing in five to 10 years and how does Fast play a role?

Here at Fast, I’m getting so much visibility and insight into how all the arms of a business operate together. I’d like to be my own boss someday, so this experience will give me great insight into founding a startup. 

What food or drink is always at your desk?

Coffee, water, and Macallan 12 Year (scotch).

Morning person or night owl?

Night owl.

What's the most used app on your phone?

Apollo, a Reddit client made by one guy. It’s light years ahead of the official Reddit app.

Advice for engineers wondering what to do next?

Being successful doesn’t come from being the smartest in the room, it comes from solving problems others find useful. Find that audience for the problem you want to solve, and hone in on that.

One thing about you that is forever true?

I...am contrarian.

Where can we follow you?

LinkedIn