Home People Tech Talent: This Experienced Sales Engineer Looks For a New Challenge to Build Inclusive Programming

Tech Talent: This Experienced Sales Engineer Looks For a New Challenge to Build Inclusive Programming

by Muriel Vega

Greg Foreman spent 20 years in the telecom industry, most recently at Verizon where he managed a large team of engineers monitoring network performance. Despite the fact that he was quite skilled in the sales side of the business, he kept getting pulled back to his college days of engineering. 

He enrolled in DigitalCrafts Full-Stack Immersive program this past fall to expand his knowledge in web development and programming. He worked on several projects during his time there, including a MARTA dashboard that displays real-time data on train arrival times and a group project called Meetcha that searches for Meetups based on topic and zip code. 

After spending most of his career in the corporate world, Foreman is looking for a position in a mid-size company — he’s aching to wear many hats and level up his programming skills. Learn more about this experienced sales engineer that found his way back to his technical roots.

What is your previous education and relevant work experience?

I graduated from Georgia Tech with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering. More recently, I completed an Introduction to Web Design certificate through KSU Continuing Education, along with several online courses with a focus on web development and programming topics.

Since graduating from Georgia Tech, I have spent over 20 years working as an engineer in the telecom vendor industry. I started with Lucent Technologies, which merged with Alcatel, which was purchased by Nokia a few years ago.

Since 2000, my primary role was a Sales Engineer on the account team that sold hardware, software, and services to Verizon Wireless for deploying their 3G and 4G mobile network across the southern U.S. One of my neatest experiences during that time was being involved in the massive network build-out for the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston. I worked nights in the VzW control center in Houston with a huge team of Nokia and VzW engineers monitoring network performance and addressing any service affecting issues on the mobile network at various Super Bowl event venues around the city. 

Why the interest in the technology field?

During my Sales Engineer career, I always had the gnawing feeling that I was more ‘Engineer’ than ‘Sales’.  I’d rather spend my time solving problems — new and interesting technical problems that challenge me on a daily basis and that frequently require me to learn new things.

What tech projects have you worked on?

From a web design perspective, over the last few years I have volunteered in numerous webmaster roles related to my children. This has included maintaining existing sites and creating new ones for their elementary and middle school PTAs, Cub Scout Pack, travel softball team, and high school drama club.

During my DigitalCrafts cohort, my projects have included:

  • A Python program that uses a Twilio API to allow a user to submit an unsorted list of integers via text message and then receive a reply text with the list of integers sorted.
  • Meetcha — a front end project using JavaScript and REST API that allows searching for Meetups based on topic and zip code and then displays the results on a Google Map. I plan to convert this to a React app.
  • GeoMindr — a backend project using IFTTT, Twilio, Express, NodeJS, and PostgreSQL for creating geographical reminders based on GPS location.
  • Marta Dashboard — a React project for displaying near-real-time data on train arrival times for each station on the four Marta train lines in Atlanta.

What tools are essential to you as a developer?

Chrome DevTools is like an Iron Man suit set to Beast Mode for web developers. With it, I can investigate how the browser has rendered my HTML, de-bug my JavaScript, manipulate CSS style rules and DOM elements on the fly. I can also monitor React state changes, test my site’s responsiveness on different screen sizes, troubleshoot nagging performance and missing file issues, perform SEO and Accessibility Audits, and so much more.

While the DevTools Accessibility Audit does a decent job of catching issues that make your site less accessible to those who use assistive technologies, WebAIM’s WAVE tool is even more thorough. Enter a URL in the tool and WAVE quickly scans the site, placing markers on each item that is inaccessible in some way. 

How do you stay on top of emerging trends?

I follow various experts and groups on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I regularly read articles on CSS Tricks, Smashing Magazine, Medium, and several web dev-related blogs. Email newsletters are also a great source. For my daily commute to and from DigitalCrafts, I usually listen to Youtube videos aimed at new developers or to Wes Bos’ Syntax.fm podcast.

I find meetups and live webinars very informative and a great way to learn from, and share with, others who already have the expertise I seek. In fact, I was so impressed with all of the meetup opportunities in the Atlanta area that my first DigitalCrafts team project, called Meetcha, made use of the Meetup.com API to display nearby meetups on a Google Map.

What are your best technical or creative skills?

I feel that I have an uncanny code sense — kind of like my Spidey senses start tingling when I am looking at a buggy block of code, usually before I encounter any error messages or IDE syntax highlighting. Sometimes I just know a function or loop is going to fail before knowing why, which then gets me completely invested in finding out why and in fixing it.

I am also bursting at the seams with empathy, probably due to growing up as middle child. I live to make life better for others; I don’t want you to have to click three times to do something when you should only have to click once. Empathy is why web accessibility is so important to me. I want to build inclusive web experiences that are available to everyone no matter their visual, audio, cognitive, or physical abilities.

What’s next on your list to learn?

I will have to give you the abridged version because my curiosity meter is off the charts. Aside from continuing to master JavaScript and React, I plan to explore tools like React Native, Ionic, and Flutter for building hybrid mobile apps, as well as learning about Progressive Web Apps and Service Workers.

Back to my telecom roots, I am very interested in learning about programming IoT devices since recent 4G advances and upcoming 5G network deployments will generate a huge need for IoT programmers (think Alexa, smart appliances, smart homes, smart cities, fleet management and so on). 

Are you interested in working for a startup, mid-sized company, or a corporate giant?

I’m leaning towards a mid-sized company — one that has the decision-making closer to the troops on the ground. I’d love the chance to explore wearing different hats and working on a larger variety of projects. I’m open to the right opportunity that give me a real chance to contribute meaningfully to the success of the company while also providing opportunities to grow into an expert-level developer.

Interested in looking at Greg’s credentials? Here you go! GitHub, Portfolio, and LinkedIn.

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