Here, in no particular order, are seven things to know about Adam Conrad, Director of Engineering for Indigo Transport:
1. To introduce you to Indigo’s mission, he’ll start a conversation on climate.
“I use this analogy a lot with people: It doesn’t matter how much money you make at your job if your office is ten feet under water. We, as humans, are seriously disconnected from the world we live in, from what we are doing to our climate. And the truth of the matter? We – Indigo – are one of the few technological agents of change trying to make a difference. I mean, The Terraton Initiative? Indigo Carbon? The work we are doing with Indigo Transport? Every single division of this company has an environmental or ecological impact tied to its business objective. I defy you to find another technology company where you, as a developer, can have as large and meaningful an impact as you can have here, with Indigo.”
2. His gym, located on the L Street Beach in South Boston, costs $100 a year.
A minimum of four times a week, in the evening, Adam trains as a competitive powerlifter at the Curley Community Center, right up against Old Harbor. Adam’s personal records in the three main lifts – 440 pounds for squat, 500 pounds for deadlift, and 330 pounds for bench press – may make your jaw drop, but he’s not breaking the bank in the process.
Working out provides Adam a break from his Indigo schedule, packed with planning meetings, stakeholder interactions, and employee development or prospective candidate interviewing. He rarely has free time during the day, instead finding himself setting goals for the next week of development; sharing those goals with internal stakeholders; or driving onboarding, pair programming, or whole team alignment sessions.
3. He has a daily gratitude practice.
For five minutes each morning, Adam writes in the same note on his phone: three things he’s thankful for, three things he hopes for in the coming day, and two self-affirmations. The habit has been going on for five months, with radical changes already coming to his headspace, he said. The little things bother him less, his overall outlook has improved, and he even feels more tied into Indigo’s impactful mission. “I feel like a different person.”
What encouraged the reflection? Adam learned he was going to become a dad. After his three personal threads are done each morning, Adam also writes one note to his unborn son – and now has a collected memorandum, from 2019 and 2020, for him to one day read.
4. Growing up, his favorite video game was Chrono Trigger.
Adam loved the choose-your-own-adventure aspects of the sprawling, time-travel adventure game released more than a quarter century ago. And video games were the reason Adam became interested in programming and computer science in the first place.
He remembers, at 12 years old, creating a website to house cheat codes for Nintendo 64 games as they were coming out – a first taste of bringing transparency to market information. “I guess I was one of those kids, I don’t know,” Adam said. “I knew from an early age that I wanted to work with computers, and that I wanted to work through the internet.”
5. If born a thousand years ago, he’d have been an architect.
Within programming, though, Adam was caught between the disciplines of art and science. The front-end work – or, what the user sees – and the back-end work – what the user doesn’t – appealed equally. He found that deciding on layout, typography, color, and other design elements was just as rewarding as writing the code behind those elements.
Adam cares about the witnessing as much as the building, the experience as much as the creation, all of which would have made him the perfect architect in another life. “I settled on computer science and attended Brown to study it,” Adam said. “Luckily, with the Rhode Island School of Design right next to Brown, I was able to pull in classes to work that visual skillset as much as I was able to drill down in programming specifics.”
Adam was out of school, running his own engineering and technology consulting firm, when he got an offer to come on board at Indigo. After six month as a developer for Indigo Marketplace, he had an opportunity to transfer projects, from one marketplace to another, and move from a developer to a director.
6. To Adam, the only thing more interesting than the blend of art and science is teaching the blend of art and science.
As the engineering director for Transport, Indigo’s digital logistics platform connecting shippers and carriers of agricultural products, Adam has less time to code these days. Instead, and with no remorse, he focuses on developing his team’s skills and abilities. “Getting to teach a developer a new practice or technique, watching their eyes light up with that ‘wow’ moment, means far more to me personally than what I could do on my own,” he said.
7. When he’s not working, or lifting, he’s exploring the world’s natural landscapes. I.e., snowboarding.
There’s a whole other resume Adam has in his back pocket, outside of computer programming: where he’s snowboarded. Colorado. Utah. Washington. Wyoming. California. British Columbia. Switzerland. France. Italy. Austria. “It gives me a chance to be isolated and back in touch with nature,” Adam said, “to be rooted again. Out in the backcountry, by yourself, drawing a line in the snow: what could be better?”
Japan was Adam’s favorite snowboarding trip by far. Interacting with the culture there, Adam came in contact with a philosophy of care, craftsmanship, and continuous improvement – known in some instances as kaizen – much like the one he employs with his engineering team at Indigo. Whether creating a new feature, setting the right architecture, or collaborating in an efficient way, Adam puts stock in giving every developer a “sense of urgency and purpose in the larger landscape.”