The Ingredients for a Strong Engineering Culture

Howie Altman
Axial Engineering
Published in
3 min readNov 13, 2016


We wrote a little while back about the culture we were focused on building specifically for our engineering team. But just like great engineering feats, you cannot just set it and forget it. Anything that takes time to build and install requires maintenance and constant attention. It’s with this in mind, that we put forth a set of principles that guide each decision we make and how we interact with each other and the larger organization.

Our job as engineers at Axial is to organize and reinvent the private capital markets through great products — ultimately transforming the way private companies, advisors and investors alike connect, share information and ultimately, transact. This is a responsibility that requires productive collaboration, constant focus and a shared recognition of the importance of our goal.

The following set of principles help us keep our eyes on the ball and our unique culture thriving and intact.

  1. Members (customers) firstUnderstand the full spectrum of our product and how people are using it. Everything we build should have a positive impact on our members.
  2. Test first, Code lastTest your assumptions via design reviews, writing tests and then code. Run your tests, always.
  3. Treat everything as ProductionConsider test and QA environments as preciously as production. Everything you write will eventually end up in production.
  4. Integrity through TransparencyOwn up to your mistakes, share them, and share the lessons learned so others can avoid the pitfalls you fell into.
  5. Everyone is a Mentor, everyone is a StudentBe eager to learn as well as teach. To become a master, you first have to be a teacher. To become a teacher, you need a mentor to learn from.
  6. Be curiousSatisfy your curiosity through research and POCs (proofs of concept), see how new technologies and products can be integrated into our environment.
  7. Be thorough — Implement it the right way even though it might be more painful to do so. Always seize opportunities to improve our codebase.
  8. Fight for what is right — Have the confidence to stand up for what you know is right, stay open to constructive criticism. Fully embrace the common agreement and be willing to adapt.
  9. Do less, better — Write code that can be easily extended and reused by your peers. Do not reinvent the wheel.
  10. Have funOur work is fun and when it’s not, we fix it.

This set of principles not only guides how the current team operates, but how we think about the future and growing our organization to help us scale our impact on the market. The most successful Axial engineers tend to exhibit a few shared qualities in their interviews and earliest days on the job that point toward their long term ability to thrive and advance within the organization. Some of these traits include:

  • Extreme Openness
  • Low ego
  • Very high integrity
  • Hunger and drive combined with a passion to pursue something extraordinary
  • The ability to thrive in ambiguity

There are a lot of very talented engineers out there. At Axial, we’re focused on hiring and cultivating those who identify with our culture and who we know can thrive in our challenging, fast-paced and ultimately highly rewarding environment.