Meet Our New VP of Engineering, Robert Sulway

PAIRIN has a new team member! We wanted to get to know Robert, so we asked him a few burning questions.


Q: Welcome to the team, Robert! Tell us a little about what brought you to PAIRIN.

A: Everyone on the team has been super welcoming! When I first met everyone during my interview, what really stood out to me was the passion and enthusiasm for building such an important tool, and for being part of a team with a focus on supporting one another and living by an awesome set of values.


Q: What are some of your previous companies and experience in software engineering?

A: My first programming job involved building out questions for the online math homework tool we were using in the classes I taught and assisted at UC Santa Barbara. My engineering career officially started with a job as a Software Engineer at RightScale, a cloud computing management and cost analytics startup, where I worked for more than six years. As the company grew, I found myself leading four engineering teams, and was promoted to Director of Development. After that, I spent two years at InVision where I led teams working on the Studio screen design application, before finding this exciting opportunity at PAIRIN.


Q: What are you most excited to work on at PAIRIN?

A: The engineering team here is very talented and hungry to deliver features to help our users achieve their goals. I’m really looking forward to better harnessing that passion and identifying ways to be more efficient, more productive and to building out a first-class, high-quality tool, while also helping the individual engineers to advance in their own growth while working on projects that excite them.


Q: What do you think constitutes a strong engineering team?

A: Luckily we already have all the ingredients at PAIRIN! The team needs to be passionate about the problems they’re solving and to have a strong sense of ownership over the features they build. If you have this, then work is fun, code is written to a high standard, and engineers are motivated to become even stronger and more knowledgeable. The result is that code written and features built tomorrow are even better than what was done yesterday.


Q: What kinds of team members and roles will you be looking to add to the PAIRIN team in the near term?

A: In the short term, we’re looking to add two more senior engineers to the team, so we can really accelerate our development timelines. Beyond that, I’ll be assessing what are the biggest needs in the department, but I’d love to hire some junior engineers who often bring a high level of passion and new perspectives that often serve to reinvigorate a team.


Q: How would you describe your leadership style?

A: As best described in Marquet’s book “Turn the Ship Around”, I’ve naturally found myself using the “leader-leader” model of leadership – I like to encourage and empower every member of my team to take ownership and responsibility for some area of the product’s development.


Q: How do you keep up-to-date with the latest and greatest in the world of software engineering?

A: I love to read blog posts written and/or recommended by former colleagues and mentors. These days I usually focus on those that are about engineering leadership, but keep a healthy mix of more technical articles about new frameworks and technologies in there too.


Q: What are some of your hobbies and interests?!

A: I love to run, and like to try and beat my personal records at various distances – right now I’m training to beat my half-marathon time. I also brew my own beer, alternating between tried-and-true classics like a Scottish Ale and experimental ideas like the Black Forest Stout I have on tap right now.