5 Questions with a Partner Engineer | Meet Kevin
Hey Kevin! Thanks for sitting down to chat. How would you describe what a partner engineer does at Merge?
The partner engineering team drives the development of our partner integrations to keep them running efficiently and release new impactful features for our customers! I work closely with our fantastic Head of Partnerships, Zack Kousnetz, that drives the relationship between our integration partners, a crucial part of our product.
What's your favorite part about being a partner engineer?
Easily, it’s the Merge team, we have an abundant amount of cross-functional opportunities where we get to see the whole user journey and lean on specialists to up-level ourselves and the product. For example:
- When addressing customer use cases, we get to collaborate with our post-sales team and iterate to the best feature solution for them.
- Our platform team does great strategic work guiding our Common Models to proactively enable our customers to build their own features for end users. Assisting our strategic partners is a great way to flex our business sense and build a great, scalable product.
- We also get to peek behind the curtain and work with our product engineers to further optimize performance and usability.
Finally, as a virtue of being a startup, there’s plenty of opportunity to work with the rest of the Merge team by bringing exciting data analytics to discussions and finding inventive ways to be good partners to the rest of the org!
What type of experience did you have that led you to become a partner engineer?
I started my career doing bug bounty contracting. This experience honed my skills in reading docs and logs. This is incredibly helpful when reading third-party API documentation to get a fundamental understanding of our partners' solution philosophy. Additionally, reading logs helps identify where we can be more efficient as well as identify any unexpected behaviors.
After that I had the incredibly good fortune to join a startup, Vanta as one of the first 10 hires and saw it grow across 4 years to almost 400! I was given the opportunity to be a founding member of building the support org, the customer success org, sales org, partnerships org, and ultimately the GTM org. The whole time, I learned from incredible team members, stakeholders, and mentors. As a critical member of developing all of the tools, I learned so much about the integration industry and how critical it is to be able to seamlessly integrate with not only the core players in each space, but also the rising stars and disruptors of the space.
What was a time a coworker really went above and beyond for you?
Do I only get to pick one? Merge is filled with people who go above and beyond, but one that recently comes to mind is our absolutely fantastic solutions engineer, Jack Cavalier. We had a new feature that was most useful when an immense amount of data was synced every 5 minutes. We did some stress testing and weren’t happy with the performance that was to be delivered to a customer. While I was still onboarding, he walked me through the problem in incredible detail and even outlined the solution! We quickly shipped an efficiency update which overnight improved a number of metrics across the org.
Having a win like that so early on is exhilarating, and I really have to hand this one to Jack. The crazy thing is, that’s not an uncommon occurrence. New Mergies get big wins all the time because of the incredible support culture that has been instilled and clearly trickles down from leadership.
How have you grown in the role?
Coming in, I wasn’t sure where to start. However, with guidance from Tara and the rest of the platform team I’ve been able to scope out a few storytelling metrics and projects that guide the work and role for partner engineering. I’ve already begun to tackle and track these projects and KPIs to show impact to myself and how I can best partner with the rest of Merge.
Pulling from my previous high-growth startup experience I’ve backlogged a few non-critical, but highly impactful initiatives. I’m thrilled to either coach, collaborate, or hand-off these projects to our next few members of the partner engineering team, or better yet, learn from their fresh new perspectives!
How do you Relax / Focus on Yourself?
My partner and I have two border collies: Butter and Potato. My mind is always thinking about the next thing I can tackle for my role and for Merge. However, there is something about dogs that just always grounds me. They don’t care how well I know any of our big integrations, they just care that I get some walking in around Gramercy or Central Park; and if I can still give them both head scratches and belly rubs at the same time - a skill I’m still improving on.
Favorite office snack?
This opinion is certainly controversial in the office, but I have to say, I do love my GrapeNuts. They pair especially well with our never ending supply of greek yogurts. Or sometimes, if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll eat it as a cereal with 1 part oat milk and 2 parts cold brew.
Cold brew or hot coffee?
Cold brew on just about every occasion. The only exception is when I’m sitting on our couches staring off into the New York City skyline. Nothing beats a hot drink and a beautiful sunset (though I try not to drink too much coffee in the evening).
Thanks so much for your time, Kevin!
If you’re interested in joining Kevin on Merge’s partner engineering team - check out our careers page! We’re always looking for talented and driven people to join our team.