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Unqork @ Work: Jason Cust

Jason sitting at an outdoor restaurant

Take a peek into the average day of USAF veteran Jason Cust, an Unqork Engineering Manager.

Jason Cust’s job as an Unqork Engineering Manager is to support, align, and enable multiple teams across Unqork. This includes giving everyone the necessary tooling, structures, and access to information, as well as ensuring the overall team has a solid structure and all the skill sets for success. Jason’s also in charge of understanding individual and team-wide goals and ensuring a “maximum sustainable velocity” for the execution of quality work. Clearly, Jason has a full day ahead of him—let’s hear all about it, directly from Jason himself! 

5:45 AM - 6:00 AM: Rise and shine! I’ve always been a bit of an early riser as every day is an opportunity to tackle a new challenge. Since I am a bit of a morning person, I haven’t owned or used an alarm clock since I was 14.

6:00 AM - 6:15 AM: I like to start my day with some morning stretches and a mini-meditation, where I focus on my goals for the day.

6:15 AM - 6:45 AM: Here’s when I prepare for the day, do my morning chores, and catch up on the news while eating a light breakfast. I have a pretty balanced news diet—along with news sources like the New York Times, The Economist and the Wall Street Journal, I’ll tune into local news channels like WYNC, world news like the BBC, and tech blogs like Wired or TWiT. Sometimes I’ll also listen to the late night show monologues from Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, and Seth Myers for a bit of a comedic take on the news to help round out my perception of what is happening in the world.

6:45 AM - 8:00 AM: Depending on the morning, I’ll either take an 18-20 mile bike ride around Central Park’s famous loop or go on a 4-5 mile run around its reservoir.

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM: Afterwards, I get ready for the day by brewing some of my favorite loose leaf tea (even though I’m Italian, the English side wins out here as I’ve never taken to coffee) and having a small snack like oatmeal or a pastry if I want to treat myself.

8:30 AM - 9:00 AM: Now it’s all about some quality morning time with Louis, aka Lou, my French Bulldog. Our morning routine is generally either a stroll in the park or around the neighborhood. Some mornings, we’ll also go to his favorite dog run so he can catch up with all of his friends!

French bulldog Lou sitting in leaves

Meet Lou.

9:00-9:30 AM: Time to start my workday. I begin by reviewing requests for help with data or query performance issues from our client teams. I’ll also go over any Client Intake tickets for the Unqork Analyze Camp. At Unqork, engineering teams are split into five thematic camps: Operate, Create, Extend, Analyze, and Manage. In the Analyze Camp, we manage analytic capabilities and data management, access, and persistence within the platform as well as support the data analysts team.

9:30 AM - 11:00 AM: During this time, I have my daily team meetings for the three incredible teams I manage within the Analyze Camp. Every day, we have standup meetings that help us align with and support one another. These meetings are also a great opportunity to facilitate bonding and to nurture team chemistry.

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Now, I coach my teams during their weekly team grooming or planning sessions. Each team is responsible for grooming incoming requests for work, then breaking it down into manageable units that we can include in future planned work. Team grooming sessions are another opportunity to build team cohesion and foster learning within a team, while simultaneously focusing on understanding our agreed-upon approaches for delivering a high-quality and scalable work product.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: This changes day-to-day! I could be in Engineering leadership meetings, syncing with other stakeholders, or catching up on emails and Slacks. Sometimes this hour is dedicated to attending one of the many social lunches that ERSGs and other Unqork groups conduct throughout the month.

As President of the Veteran’s ERSG, and having served active duty in the US Air Force, I’m really excited for what we have coming up for Veteran’s Day. The Unqork Veterans ERSG is looking to align the first three weeks of November around multiple military perspectives, bringing awareness to these experiences and what it means to be a veteran. We’ll have a panel discussion on women in the military in collaboration with the Womxn of Unqork, another collaboration with the Caregivers ERSG about military children lovingly known as “military brats,” and a guest speaker on mental health and its unique impact on those who served in the military. 

Jason standing between two members of his USAF drill team squad

Jason (middle) with some members of his USAF drill team squad.

We’re also beginning a new Veterans ERSG initiative where we’ll offer veterans professional career coaching to help support their career growth at Unqork. It’s difficult to transition from the very structured military to civilian life with clear-cut career paths to the private sector, especially since every organization is different. This is why we’re starting the Buddy Program, which will pair veterans new to Unqork with an established Unqork vet to aid them during their transition phase into the company.

1:00 PM - 3:00 PM: Depending on the day I might have Analyze Camp Leadership meetings, Veteran ERSG meetings, or 1:1s and catch-ups with client teams. Bi-weekly, I lead the Engineering API Guild meeting that aims to foster continuous learning within the engineering group.

3:00 PM - 6:30 PM: This is my main window for daily focus time. Generally, I focus on consolidating and capturing daily feedback, as well as gathering updates on teams, roadmap items, or engineering camp concerns. This is also my opportunity to work on requested investigations or fixes for data and query performance concerns. It’s also a great time to think about future opportunities and how to act on them. 

6:30-8:00 PM: Dinner time! I’m a bit of a foodie, and my kitchen is one of the most important spaces in my home. Generally, I pick up specific cooking tools while on various world travels—traveling is another passion of mine, and I’ve visited over 50 countries so far! One thing that has certainly helped on my travels is being a dual citizen of the US and Italy.

Jason overlooking Machu Picchu

Jason sitting atop Machu Picchu.

8:00-12:00 PM: I use my time at night to wind down slowly. First, I take Lou for a nice long evening constitutional, then set aside some catch-up time with family and friends. After that, I have an evening workout and then I will generally spend the rest of the time reading a book or catching up on the news, researching new projects, or brainstorming ERSG initiatives. Then, it’s finally time to get ready for bed and the start of a new day tomorrow!

To hear more perspectives from other Unqorkers, check out the other entries in our Unqork @ Work series and Creator Spotlights.