Life at Viam
December 13, 2022

Leading with Curiosity & Learning at Viam

Written by
Emily Egan
Head of People

“Lead with Curiosity'' is my favorite core value at Viam. Not only is it the value that gives us the chance to play around with fun robots, but it also encourages us to grow in our careers. Whether it is providing the space in daily interactions to learn from each other, or monthly “Show and Tell” sessions where we share our latest projects so everyone has visibility into what other teams are working on, we put continuous education at the forefront of our culture. 

The most obvious implementation of this value is our Learning & Development program. Each employee is granted a generous annual budget to increase their skills and enhance their contributions to Viam. The budget can be used in various ways, such as online or in person courses, webinars, seminars, conferences, books, professional organizations, or advanced degrees. I was able to chat with a few employees on how they utilized this program to upskill in their roles at Viam.

Chris Payne is a Hardware Engineer who normally tinkers away in the lab everyday, but became interested in learning more about software after joining Viam. “I took a Python course in early 2022 to develop my general programming skills and to also learn some Python techniques at the same time that the Viam Python SDK was being developed.” 

Developer Advocate Hazal Mestci decided that just one course wasn’t enough for her. “I am doing a Masters in Computer Information Sciences with a concentration in Software Engineering and Software Testing. I have always been dedicated to learning, and continuing my education within my career trajectory so I decided to do a Masters.” 

Hazal shared that the opportunity to receive a Masters helps her apply the work she is learning immediately. She said, “One advantage of this learning stipend is that it allows me to build skills and work concurrently. By having this opportunity to work on personal up-skilling, I am allowed to create my unique learning journey rather than a set stone mentorship program that may exist within the company, but is not as customizable. In return, it is definitely improving my engagement, my dedication to my company, and is promoting my career development in the tech space.”

Chris felt similarly to Hazal on the point of career development, sharing that he hopes this course, and similar ones, will help him expand his impact at the company. “Ongoing projects of this nature allows me to broaden my engineering skill set and ultimately, I would like to be able to coordinate the development of entire robotic systems/enterprises using Viam.”

Robotics Engineer Jeremy Hyde had a much different approach to the budget. He decided the best way for him to learn this year was to go to the iROS 2022 conference in Japan. 

When I asked him why he wanted to attend a conference with his Learning and Development budget, Jeremy said “it allows me to be up to date with the robotics field, communicate new ideas and focus both to my technical and business colleagues. I not only attended many lectures of my area of focus, SLAM, but also spoke to companies regarding the hardware and software they were using and what their business model/plans were for the next few years.”

The greatest thing about the budget? It refreshes yearly. Continuous education cannot exist if the program itself is not continuous! And it really does make a difference. Hazal shared “It is great to work with people who truly support my long-term career goals and ambitions, and it allows me to be in a better headspace everyday as I walk into the office.”

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