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Meet Kevin Stephens: The Fast Interview

Kevin Stephens with his partner, Ashley, backpacking at Glacier National Park

Kevin Stephens

Role: Senior software engineer

Team: RAP (Reliability, Automation, and Performance)

What do you do at Fast?

I’m a senior engineer for the RAP Team (reliability, automation, and performance).

Describe your typical day at Fast.

My team mostly serves the teams developing user-facing products like Fast Checkout. After my team’s stand-up, I often drop in on other team's stand-ups. I give internal support to other engineers, work on my sprint features, and help my peers on their designs and features.

What led you to engineering, and to Fast?

I asked for Visual Basic as a birthday present in middle school. I studied civil engineering but decided it wasn't for me, then spent five years in agricultural management. After that, I decided to try programming as my career and it’s been my profession for the last seven years.

I checked out the LinkedIn profile of a former client and saw his Fast connections. And here we are.

Where were you before Fast?

I worked for a consulting company. While you can make suggestions, each client has the final say, so you just put it together. I ran out of growth opportunities.

Why did you say ‘yes’ to Fast?

Work-life balance is important and so far, that’s true here. I really like the ambitions and vision of the team, the product, and the e-commerce industry as a whole, where I wanted to stay. Working remotely is also incredibly useful.

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

Lafayette, California, where I was very curious and always trying something new and asking a million questions. I had lots of interests – sports, instruments, programming.

What are Fast engineers doing that catches your eye?

I think Fast is setting an engineering standard. There’s a strong emphasis on the performance of our product, so we face interesting challenges in how we approach tech and architecture to pull it off. If companies don't have good direction, it can be hard if you're ambitious. At Fast, you feel like you know where you're going. 

What’s something you’ve found at Fast that really stands out?

I love the transparency from the top. Domm (Holland, Co-Founder and CEO at Fast) and Allison (Barr Allen, Co-Founder and COO at Fast) are open and always asking for you to talk to them. The all-hands meetings are pretty cool – to hear from the top of the organization at a high frequency, in such a casual manner, and to know communication channels are open and feedback is encouraged. 

I feel empowered to say, “This is what I believe is the best for this company,” and I have more autonomy to advocate for these things. And you really get to own your work. We have high ambitions and the talent to pull it off. I'm going to get to see an engineering organization actually pull off some cool stuff.

Advice for engineers wondering what to do next?

It's okay to not know. Stick to what you want – don't follow a path because someone else sets it. I hope they get to experiment in their career without consequences. It's good to be able to say this isn't for me and step back. I think Fast allows that. 

How’s your desk set up?

I have a split keyboard for ergonomics. It's also nice because I can put a coffee or small plate in between the two sides. I have a standing desk I should use more. And a plethora of plants.

What sparks your creativity?

Traveling. When I go somewhere, my thinking process spikes. I think people often find they can leave their headspace by just moving into a new location.

Morning person or night owl?

Morning person.

What’s something you regularly do, but know you shouldn't?

Eat two desserts.

Your non-negotiables for life?

For work: Follow your gut. It's a source of stress but you have to do what you enjoy. In life: Allow yourself to be curious. Prioritize curiosity over what's outwardly seen as the right decision.

Where can we follow you?


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