Letter to the team

It’s important to meet everyone, especially if what you’re doing is all about the people.

I’ve written a short piece to everyone who has joined our story in the past year, to express my gratitude for their hard work and excitement for what next year holds.


Queen’s University

We asked for a group photo, and we got this

Steven (president):

  • One of the highlights of summer 2016, was when you drove to London from Hamilton after work and spent the entire day with Anwar, Michael Park and I. I was a bit afraid of leaving you with Michael Park alone at night to be honest haha. Your leadership style was unique to me, it involved a great deal of nurturing the internal relationships which I took as model at western during my time as president. It also showed me what I could take and incorporate from people’s style, since our positions were quite similar. You still have to show me what this DSK is all about.

Tony (vp finance):

  • The first person I reached out to outside Western. When I manage to connect with you, I felt it was like a plate full of luck was served for dinner. After 3 weeks of harassing friends on Facebook, I was finally introduced to you and it was something like this: I knew person X, who knew person Y, who then knew you. What’s even more crazy is that we are both coincidently on exchange at the same university at the same time. We have got to go out for dinner one more time before we head back.

Brandon (vp operations):

  • Another big coincidence to have another friend on exchange a few hours away, in Taiwan. I hear the food is incredible over there, lucky duck. I think you’ve seen the biggest change sifting underneath your feet, during your time as VP Operation at Queen’s. We got the organization structure wrong back then, initially thinking that we can use the org structure (standard university club) we knew best and we’ll make our operations work, but it didn’t. It was always a pleasure chatting with you, and I really respect how far you pulled through during a time of chaos.

Vincent (software developer):

  • When you were finishing your training, you built a Pokemon website as your second project and a simple e-commerce as your final project. It reminded me of why I took up web dev, which was to express ideas to friends I had difficulty describing. I am proud to hear that you’re working with ATS to help Cambodia attract more teaching volunteers while building a system to allocate volunteers more efficiently across charities.

Michael (software developer):

  • The boy who survived. I remember when first working with Anwar to mentor you, I thought to myself “How can someone work crazy hours at McDonald’s and have leftover mental capacity to learn web dev”. I don’t need to say anything else, except that you’ve pulled through that bootcamp, and I can’t wait to see what you build to empower the inspiring school in Guatemala.

Leonard (software developer):

  • It’s funny how when we started, you were in Hong Kong and I was in Canada. Now we’ve switched places, and it’s always good I think to see what it was like form the other side ;) When Harrison started training you on web dev, we didn’t have a formal training plan, and we were only 4 people. The Queen’s team is and will always be a special team to me, you have stayed on track at times of uncertainty and also when it got hard with school. This is something we could not have pulled through without the team’s perseverance.

Ben (vp finance):

  • The man who with stories about what exchange is really like. I believe it was a late move to get the finance team together regularly (2 weeks helen? ;) ), I am incredibly proud of how you managed to connect with Cambodia and Guatemala. I’m hoping my and Steven’s advice helped you with direction, but I really think we need to chat about this. I would really love your input and Helen’s on making Finance better and more efficient. Have an incredible summer in Vancouver man =]

Linus (technical product manager):

  • The commerce/ultimate frisbee’er/python prodigy who has shown me that even non-techs can hustle and keep up with training while managing a product team on the side. I realized work started getting serious after your first few client meetings, with some clients taking more control than expected of the meeting than intended. One of our first clients once wanted us to build them an app, so I feel you there haha =P. I also remember in one of our early morning meetings you fell asleep towards the end (you were on audio only) and woke up 15 mins after Eunsu and Shafaaf left. This was the week after I slept through the same meeting hahaha. So there was definitely a timing issue on both ends @eunsu @shafaaf, thankfully this won’t be an issue next year.

Western University

The team where it all started with…

Harrison (president):

  • Can’t recall how we met, but it was definitely in the context of Western Cyber. We go way back when I remember trying to order pizza from Waterloo for our first ever CTF back in Sept 2015. Western Cyber was a huge success and still is with a healthy community shaping the era of cyber security at Western. Then I pitched you DevFound during a ‘we need to talk, and I’m only going to tell you then’ phone call. I’ve also had the guilty pleasure of waking you up for tech support during the hours of 4PM-8PM (I know right?). I think we’ve done incredible progress and have innovated our way to get here. I look forward to building the future of college education and disrupting social innovation with you.

Anwar (vp finance):

  • The guy that looks like he’s a man with a plan. You and I go way back to our first project together in first year where you stopped replying to me when we started building a website. Thank you for throwing me into rough corners (3 times?) where I was forced to learn the things I was asking people favors. I do see however a huge improvement in how you deal with things now, but I think this is just the start in unlocking your full potential. Good luck with your year long internship at Waterloo Anwar =].

Michael Park (vp tech):

  • The guy who I do not want to be around when angry at a company for some product failure. You sir have taught me how to count my blessings when relying on anything in my life, but you also taught me how to (re)evaluate everything I took for granted. You were also the first member after I got harrison on board, and you’ve taken every challenge we’ve thrown at you and spit it back out. Also wanted to mention how incredibly proud I am of watching you develop your speaking skills at Western Cyber and DevFound.

Christina (product designer):

  • When you joined, I had the biggest challenge getting you interested in working with us on some designs. I remember it took us some 3 months until I asked if it was the Dolly video that changed your perspective. Granted, you joined when we barely had anything to show/offer, so why would anyone want to waste time with a bunch of nerdy geeks talking about some crazy idea changing the world? ;) You’ve pulled through, learnt everything we’ve thrown at you (from booklets to web design) and I hear you’re super vocal about your designs since I left (this reminds me of last summer https://goo.gl/hnFJ1a).

Paul (software developer):

  • I remember when Harrison and I were interviewing you back in January (you had the first time slot), I kept thinking to myself when you were stretching with your hands behind your head, “how is this guy so relaxed in the interview O.o”. I am super proud of how fast you’ve picked up web dev during school, I would also argue you and Alex now know more than I do in a lot of things. I’m aware you’re doing summer courses, I’ll also be in London often staying on campus, we should grab a beer with @Michael and @Eunsu sometime =]

Alex (software developer):

  • Your interview was right after Paul’s and I remember how despite you struggled with the tech recursion question, you didn’t give up and bomb the rest of the hour. In fact, you surprised us with your design judgements when designing wireframes for one of our questions that we considered you for a design role =D. I hope your time at DevFound has helped you and Paul find your calling for your careers and personal goals. Hope you have a great summer beyond the border ;)

Eunsu (technical product manager):

  • Despite the natural finals’ exam panic, we met up the evening before one of our finals at the UCC in December. I remember how we both had broke our screens and sharing that misery gave us that medium to vent about technology and exams. What’s interesting is that we crossed paths before at a Japanese restaurant last summer. I’m pretty impressed how you figured how to pick up everything when I helicopter dropped you in the middle of a few product developments in January ;) . Hope you have an awesome time at 3M next year. May many more universal studio visits to come =D

University of Toronto

Y’all need to take a team photo!

Makrand (president):

  • The man I torture equally but with less reason than Harrison. We met at WearHacks Toronto (one of my favorite hackathons of all time), and I remember I found you a bit scary and very serious. I think I learnt that you’re like a cat, super gentle when in a good mood, but when cornered and stressed will start acting weird and scratch. Being at the heart of Toronto, means you have access to much more resources, and bigger audiences. Your team skipped working with university clubs, and jumped directly to working with charities, which none of us have done before, another example where we learn from each other! I’m excited for what next year holds for the UofT team man =)

Grace (software developer):

  • I think every team has an underdog, and I feel you’re the one at UofT! I know Mak will be a good friend and mentor who can push you to be a better software engineer and leader in the future. Make mistakes, take risks but calculated, and learn =) Hopefully you can join us this time for the full retreat this summer Grace! Looking forward to seeing you again!

Helen (vp finance):

  • The Google Calendar addict. I can safely say if someone wanted to rob you, they only need to access your calendar to trap you somewhere. It’s a bit ironic how none of us tech people here don’t rely on productivity softwares as much you do haha. I would love to chat with you and Ben about how we can structure and plan the agenda/training for vp finance for the next year. This needs some pivoting to make Finance awesome.

Brandon (software developer):

  • The guy I dangerously have to watch the time when we chat. You reminded me of something that I overlook, and forget to tell myself. I think society doesn’t talk enough about taking unconventional routes with school, even if it means taking 1 less course per semester. If I was a bit more courageous I think I would taken a year off after 1st year and tried joining a startup. I hear there’s a new charity on the table with your team, I LOVE what they’re doing and also their name! Hahaha. I’m pretty excited for this Brandon! We have to link up again as promised, maybe even grab some ice cream and pick up where we left off with Japan? =]

Shafaaf (technical product manager):

  • Our first alumni. I think we share a lot of things in common Shafaaf. School is always chaotic, no one knows when we actually sleep and we’re pretty open about our passions in life. I’ve genuinely enjoyed working with you, your ideas were always valuable during our weekly meetings, bringing solutions to problems that we faced across other teams. Hope you enjoy your trip to Peru this summer!

HQ

Bonus Question: What does Harrison dream of at night?

Jashan (HQ software developer)

The boy who got a prize at his first hackathon and semester. Sometimes I feel we shouldn’t have met so you can have a normal uni life for the next 5 years ;) When you first joined, Harrison helicopter dropped you in the middle of a PHP nightmare project and you took some 3 weeks to get really familiar with what’s happening. Having you and Harrison work on it, puts me in full confidence that it’s in the right hands. I think we got to have another hackathon together, perhaps we’ll hack together again at HTN?

Sandy (HQ marketing)

I took some risk when you came on board. I asked myself can we teach a creative artist some marketing, and hand her the leashes soon after? I think I learnt that this is only successful if there’s enough guidance, support and communication. At the same time, due to the nature of our work, we had a lot of operations that could be used in a marketing perspective differently. So we prioritized, and I think we prioritized correctly. I’m super pumped about the future of the marketing team, the work we produce will be life changing for many.

Daniyal (HQ partnerships)

The man who has been able to survive in the darkness of Finance up until now. This is also the same man who had trouble finding a profile picture for Facebook when making his introduction in our group. We’ve got a big Finance challenge on the table man, especially since this is a space untouched in Canada, let alone most of the world (student education, and tech experience with social good). We’ve also got the ball rolling now, let’s make the most out of it =)

Yanish (Design mentor)

In my previous medium post I mentioned how design is at the centre of our attention over the next year. We’ve started working on our manuals, and training incoming designers, but I know this is something we can’t rush if we want to ship quality products. Super pumped about learning from you and @Mak about how to set up and operate agile product teams in the summer. I hope we get to also know each other from our future collaborations Yanish!


Last words

I wish everyone an incredible summer ’17, I also hope to see many new and familiar faces in the retreat (more info this weekend). Let’s welcome our new members joining us throughout the summer =]

Yours truly,

Fadi Azmy