Company Culture

Connector Spotlight: Erin Gallagher

Software Engineer, National 30 Under 30 Developer, Animal Foster Momma. Meet the incredible Erin Gallagher!

Connected

April 9, 2019

If she’s not going loco for tacos, she’s probably travelling, coding, taking care of animals, or all of the above. There’s just no stopping Erin!

Tell us a little bit about the project you’re working on.
I am working on a small team at Connected focused on the launch of a new product for a leading audio electronics company. I am developing the Android portion of this application and we are barreling towards our finish line – the product launch! Our team is made up of Android and iOS developers and through our close collaboration, we are rocking the feature development in parallel. I have had the opportunity to focus on more low-level hardware interactions which were brand new to me and such an amazing experience. It has been an awesome feeling to be given the opportunity to learn new and unreleased technology on a super fast-paced team and exceed what I thought I was capable of.

Sounds like we’re keeping you busy! Where were you at prior to Connected?
Prior to Connected, I was an IT Solutions Developer at TD Bank. I worked on the Android & iOS core mobile banking apps for TD. I also led the Chinese localization project for Android. Through this project, I became very familiar with navigating a phone in traditional and simplified Chinese and often helped my coworkers escape the settings screen! I also instructed an iOS course part-time at Lighthouse Labs and am still a mentor for the iOS Bootcamp now.

There’s definitely a lot we can learn from you! What are you most proud of from your career?
While at TD Bank I received the “Act for Impact” award. It was awarded to me for my consistent execution of projects with impact, purpose, and ownership to provide a legendary customer experience. In addition, I participated in 2 internal hackathons while at TD Bank and received First Place for both.

While attending Queen’s University I received the “President’s Award”. This is awarded to a student within the School of Computing who the Computing Student’s Association President feels has most contributed to the betterment of the university experience for students through their dedication and initiative.

Recently, I made BetaKit’s list of Canada’s 30 Under 30 Developers for 2019. I was actually backpacking in Colombia when I found out I had made it to the next round. My sister and I were running around our hostel with excitement about the next steps. I had to borrow a German woman’s laptop to answer the extended application questions and her modified keyboard made it a little tricky, but a hilarious story. Once I had found out I won, I was shocked! When I was able to make the announcement I had to immediately message my girlfriends in our “Girl Nerds” group chat. Having such a supportive group of women in my life as I've progressed through my career has been so important to my development and I couldn’t have done it without them.

Erin receiving the Developer 30 Under 30 Award at the Evoke conference

Wow! Those are quite some achievements! Anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve collaborated with the Women Who Code community for a TD hosted “Intro to iOS” workshop! Helen Brown and I developed and led the workshop, which focused on teaching the fundamentals of iOS app development to beginners. We received a lot of great feedback on our workshop's step-by-step guide which can be found on Github. We had a great turn out with over 40 Women Who Code members and mentors at the event. In addition, we received great support from Apple Canada who provided additional MacBooks for attendees.

That’s awesome, you’ve achieved so much at such a young age! Tell us, why Connected?
The people! Never have I worked for a place with people who are so passionate, creative and caring. I look forward to coming into the office every day because I am challenged to do my best work. Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed, my team really motivates me to keep going and help me become "unstuck". The #donut-friends channel on Slack has a bot that randomly pairs members of the channel every other Monday to encourage them to meet, are also so much fun and have really helped me meet people at the company I probably wouldn't have reached out to.

I also love Connected's focus on continuous learning. I was very impressed by how much my opinion about what I'd like to learn and what skills I'd like to develop has been considered when placing me on projects. I had heard that that was important during my interviews but to see it followed up on for myself and my colleagues has been an amazing experience.

What advice would you give to someone just starting at Connected?
If you start out on Bench don't sweat it. I started my first month at Connected on Bench and was able to work on an amazing project which (I think) will be used as a portfolio project for the company (Channels). I really wanted to get right to work with a client but through my Bench project, I was able to develop skills I didn't even realize I enjoyed developing. Working with Unity was so much fun and I realized my passion for AR & VR. Through company demos, I was really able to increase my visibility to the company and find my place.

Tell us about other fun projects you've been involved with.
My first project at Connected was an augmented reality application. It was Pokemon GO style where a user could make AR drawings at any GPS coordinate around the city. Someone with the app walking past that same area would be able to see there was a drawing there and relocalize it with the ability to collaborate. We were inspired by Google's "Just A Line" application but wanted to take it to the next level.

That sounds so fun! How do you disconnect outside of tech?
I love watching musicals, whether it be professional Mirvish/Broadway productions or community theatre. It’s why I consider the Elgin Winter Garden Theatre as one of my favourite places in Toronto. My favourite musical of all time is Next to Normal. It follows the story of a family trying to navigate mental health issues and strive towards finding their “normal”. The rock songs are definitely my pump up music while coding!

One of my favourite things to do is plan my next backpacking trip! I create very elaborate Excel spreadsheets and budget everything down to the bus fare. My most recent trip was 2 weeks in Colombia and it was so beautiful! Once I return from a trip I create a physical photo book of all my memories and hope to keep them with me forever.

I also like experimenting with my Soda Stream, figuring out what to make bubbly next (very important).

What else have you been working on?
I am working on an Android App outside of work as my own personal project. It is a travel safety app with the current working name "Trek In Sync". My goal is to enter the first beta soon.

Trek In Sync is a travel safety app which allows users to exchange selective emergency information while travelling using a QR code. When backpacking alone or even with a few friends this app provides a fast way to pull up someone's emergency information if needed. The app will be localized in 4 languages (English, French Spanish & Mandarin) and allows a user to share their information in that language to reduce barriers while travelling. Finally, talking about emergencies can be awkward especially when you're with people you are just meeting for the first time. My goal is that Trek In Sync can encourage users to have those conversations and stay safe while travelling.

I was inspired to create the app after reflecting on a serious accident my friend experienced at University. At the time of the emergency I came to realize I didn’t know emergency contacts for my close friends or any critical medical information the paramedics may require. The app started out as a shared google sheet with emergency details between friends, but that wasn’t the greatest solution. After returning from my first backpacking trip I realized that this situation could have easily happened to me while I was going from hostel to hostel and city to city. There was not an app on the app store that created a mobile friendly solution to my needs so I decided I to make one.

Tell us some fun facts about you.
I foster cats & dogs for the Toronto Humane Society! So far I've fostered four cats (Harry, Pickles, Captain & Regalia) and two dogs (Lucky Duck & Kelowna). It is so rewarding being able to take these pets into a loving home while their new forever homes are being located. It can take many months for an older pet to find an adoptive family and it is very stressful for them to stay at a shelter for that entire time.

Something weird about me… When standing up straight, my knees look like baby faces. I didn't develop the talent but I was born this way.

Erin with her foster dog Kelowna near the CN Tower

What song is on repeat while you work?
Found/Tonight - Hamilton & Dear Evan Hansen Mashup

What’s your favourite Toronto restaurant?
Right now it's La Carnita. I don’t have a favourite menu item, I would just say go with ALL THE TACOS! It’s also dangerously close to my office.

Stay tuned for more profiles about the great people here at Connected.

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