Eugenie Chen, our Director of Analytics, discovers a unexpected connection between anime and career development.
Vistar Media has been named to Inc.’s Best Places to Work 2018. Learn more about the list and how Vistar approaches company culture, read our blog.
The past few weeks, Vistar employees have been abuzz with activities! From running races to learning how to make drool-worthy cupcakes, we’re sharing their highlights.
The first few months of this year have been incredibly busy for the team at Vistar and we’ve been thrilled with the results so far…
Meet Gavin - a Baruch College grad, he started his career off in the media world. After a few years on the agency side, Gavin is now a manager on the Analytics team at Vistar Media. He’s responsible for working on campaigns from start to finish, maintaining relationships with our data partners, and is never afraid to crack a joke - even if it's at his own expense. Recently, we sat down with Gavin to learn more about his role and experiences since joining Vistar.
Q: Tell us a fun fact about yourself
A: I am a born and raised New Yorker from the Lower East Side. I graduated from Baruch College and started my advertising career in the agency side. I am a PC gamer and also into the raw denim jean culture and under the school of thought that jeans don’t need to be washed.
Q: What's your favorite thing about New York?
A: My favorite things are 24 hour shops and Citibikes. It’s great to know if I were hungry at 3AM, I can hop on a bike to the LES and hit up San Loco.
Q: What is the most interesting part of your job?
A: Dealing with clients from every vertical. Previously, on the agency side I was only dealing with one client, but at Vistar, I am exposed to a plethora of clients in different verticals. The work involved in conceptualizing strategies and how to best measure a client’s goal keeps me on my toes and enjoying coming to work.
Q: Since starting at Vistar, how has your view on out-of-home changed?
A: Out-of-home is pretty cool. My initial thoughts of out-of-home was that it was old and outdated, but Vistar has showed me otherwise. We are helping revitalize the industry so out-of-home is backed by audience movement data and actually being measured. With DOOH, brands can now buy inventory when and where their target audience is throughout the day and have the option to layer on real-time weather triggers.
Q: Tell us about the best team event you’ve attended
A: The best outing the team had was one with our product team at the Comedy Cellar. We watched Jim Norton and a few other comedians throw shade at Louis C.K while enjoying good food and drinks. We ended the night playing a game called Impressions, an app created by another Vistar employee.
Q: What is one thing you wish you would have known prior to joining Vistar?
A: We love our hot sauces.
Interested in working for Vistar?
Recently, Uncubed visited Vistar Media’s New York City office to learn more about what makes our company different. Needless to say - they noticed a few!
The Vistar Media 2018 Company Offsite began with breakfast and catching up with colleagues - followed by a game of Mad Libs for good measure! Over the course of a day and a half, all Vistar employees had a chance to hear what other teams are up to, ask questions, and learn what is in store for the business over the next few months.
CEO and Co-Founder, Michael Provenzano kicked off with a brief overview of the state of the industry, sharing how we fit into the out-of-home ecosystem in 2018 and beyond. Outside of highlighting his love for his home state of Texas, one of the main features of Michael’s presentation was company growth. In 2016, at the last all-hands meetings, the team was 48 people. As of February 2018, Vistar has a workforce of 88. We’re excited to continue this growth in the coming year as we expand to new markets and continue to deliver results for our clients.
Afterwards, our CTO and Co-Founder Mark Chadwick took to the stage. After a throwback to the early days of the company, in a small row home on Smedley Street in downtown Philly, he shared his genuine amazement over how far Vistar has come in six short years. From the start, our goal was to “bring the efficiencies of RTB (real-time bidding) to out-of-home”. Today, our technology has expanded from these initial building blocks, but our goals remain fundamentally the same: power and enhance every transaction that occurs in the global out-of-home industry.
The two keynotes were followed by a series of department overview sessions designed to align teams on business goals, a panel featuring leaders in the out-of-home industry, and a raucous night of team trivia, sparking new project ideas and friendships (who knew a trivia competition could have such amazing results?!).
As a company, we work hard to support a culture of innovation, emphasizing the importance of open communication and collaboration. We respect and value each other, and genuinely want to see our company and colleagues succeed. The atmosphere of the Offsite served as a reminder of how close a team we have built here, even as we’ve grown over the years.
If you’re interested in becoming a part of our team, you can find the latest job openings below:
Check back for more inside peeks into Vistar’s 2018 planning over the next few weeks!
Recently, we sat down with Vistar's Director of Client Services, Marcela, to learn more about her role and experiences since joining the team.
Originally published in Technical.ly
The snack shelf is stocked at Vistar Media and so is the technology stack.
“It’s cool working with tech that isn’t yet widespread,” said software engineer Piotr Romanowski. “We’re not afraid of being early adopters.”
Vistar prides itself on experimenting with the bleeding edge.
When Vistar devs aren’t in the midst of code reviews and one-week sprints, engineers will set up shop for late-night board game tournaments, tech community meet-and-greets and spike project tinkering.
“Definitely come to our open houses,” Romanowski said, while mentioning Vistar also sponsors local meetups. “When we meet people there who impress us, we keep them on our radar for potential hires.”
Technical.ly Talent sat down with Romanowski to chat about Vistar’s company culture, its work with new tools like Bazel and why everyone loves end-of-week presentations.
What about the company culture strikes you?
It’s very open. We have core teams and project-based teams, so people aren’t placed on a team and forced to stay there forever. It affords the opportunity to learn a lot of different technologies.
I also really like the thorough code review process. Not every tech company takes testing and peer review seriously. No code here makes it to production without going through at least two engineers.
If engineers are getting stuck anywhere, they’re encouraged to get into a conference room and figure out the problem. I don’t know if perfect code exists, but we submit code that’s as close to perfect as possible. Always.
Which of Vistar’s technologies interested you?
One of the tools we’ve been learning is Bazel, a fast build system written by Google. Google has an internal version, and they’ve begun to open source it. We’re building most of our software through Bazel, and we use it for testing, as well. To my knowledge, it’s not yet used widely by many companies.
It’s cool working with tech that isn’t yet widespread. For example, we also have an app where the client-side code is TypeScript. Some software companies wait for new technologies to battle-harden before using them.
At the same time, we still use frameworks like Flask, which has been around a while, and we still have code written in Java and Python as well.
What is the average week like at Vistar?
Mondays are actually pretty great here. One of the engineers will bring in bagels for everyone, and we review the past week, while setting goals for the new week.
We all have lunch together twice a week in one of our kitchens, and on Fridays we’ll end the work day early to present what we’ve been working on to the team. It’s a little happy hour for everyone to show off what they’ve been working on — everyone looks forward to it.
Do engineers get the chance to work on side projects?
We work on spike projects that don’t have to be a product for the company. It could be a tool that will have some use to the team in the future.
We’ve had a wide variety — one week we had two people write a Chrome extension to help people when reviewing code to correlate test cases to the code itself. We even had one pair use Amazon’s computer vision service, Rekognition, to detect when lunch arrives and alert the team.
It gives us time to work with tools you wouldn’t expect, and sometimes they do end up making it into our work-related projects.
How does your role at Vistar complement your personality?
I find myself trying new activities outside of work every week. I’ll try a new brewery or do touristy visits to Dilworth Park and Penn’s Landing with my friends. This past summer me and my brother decided to go jet-skiing, and I spent a lot of my summer going to different beaches. But at the same time, I’m your typical nerd, playing video games and binging Stranger Things, or rewatching The Office for the millionth time.
At work I get to try new things all the time. Being able to work on short-lived project-based teams from time to time offers nice variety in my professional life. For example, right now I’m on a team working with one of our designers in New York to recreate some of our internal tools. I’ll be working on newly designed components in the product itself.
What kinds of social events does Vistar host?
Vistar sponsors local tech meetups, like Software as Craft. One night recently everyone just got together, took a piece of good code, and threw back some drinks while trying to write the worst code they could manage. Other meetups are more like workshops or talks, and it’s actually a great way for us to meet people we might recommend apply for a role at Vistar.
Every couple months or so we’ll do a board game night which is really fun. We’ll order food and play a couple games. Lately we’ve been playing Resistance, and everyone always thinks I’m the spy. We’ll all end up staying really late at the office just playing and ordering food.
What advice do you have for prospective new hires at Vistar?
Definitely come to our open houses. When we meet people there who impress us, we keep them on our radar for potential hires and usually suggest them our recruiter Diane Worthington or give them her business card. It’s a good way to show that you’re interested to learn more about the work we do, since it does take time in your day to go to these events, especially when you’re going after a long work day.
For a new employee, because I’m in the interview process sometimes, one of the things I really like to see from a candidate is someone who has done their research and knows the company.
Obviously, we’re also looking for someone who’s open to trying out new tools and new tech, because you may be placed in a team where you’re using the tools you’re not familiar with. We don’t want someone showing up uninterested and not really have a clue what they’re interviewing for. It’s a good quality to come with questions, as opposed to just showing up and asking about code and vague computer science questions or something.
The interview process usually starts with you meeting with one of the engineers either in person or over a phone call, kind of a pre-interview interview. After that you’re given a code puzzle to work on that gets submitted to the team for review, and once that’s done you’ll come in and do some whiteboarding and we get to know you some more.