An interview with Paul Chen, Senior Director of Engineering at SwitchFly

Hi Paul. Please tell us about Switchfly.

pchenSwitchfly’s software platform focuses on travel and loyalty programs and provides services for customer segmentation, pricing, and preferred suppliers. We work in independent, cross-functional agile teams all synchronized by a shared release train. Switchfly uses open-source and commercial software technologies including HTML, CSS, Twitter Bootstrap, JavaScript (jQuery, EmberJS, HandleBars), Bower, Freemarker, Java, Spring MVC, Ruby, Tomcat, Couchbase, Postgres, and CentOS Linux. Our engineering staff uses Intellij, Git, Jenkins, Clover and run either OSX or Linux. Our IT staff uses PgBouncer, GreenPlum, SOASTA, Capistrano, Splunk, TeaLeaf, AlertSite and VMWare. We constantly strive to keep our development cycles short, build green, and system up.

What are one or two high profile projects that your company is working on?

Our platform is used by partners across the globe, including American Airlines, American Express, Emirates, Groupon, LAN Airlines, Intercontinental Hotels, Starwood Hotels, and United Airlines. We are currently upgrading our platform’s front-end technology stack with Ember.js, Twitter Bootstrap, Handlebars, and Spring MVC, to create more dynamic and faster user experiences. Many of our clients wish to rename anonymous, but you can browse our public clients here: http://www.switchfly.com/clients

What has been your experience of Hawaii as a place to do high tech?

Switchfly was founded in Hawaii and our Honolulu team has been critical to our company’s success. We have a number of team members who have graduated from the ICS department. Our positive experience developing software in Hawaii is the reason why we continue to expand our team here.

What is your advice to ICS students who want to work locally in high tech? How can they be best prepared?

  1. Know the fundamentals. Work hard to understand all the concepts covered in class.
  2. Take advantage of your professors and teaching assistants.
  3. Know the market. Research the company’s you are interested in and know something about their technology stack.
  4. Build a portfolio. Create a github account and contribute to an open source project of your interest.

Do you have any internship opportunities for our students? How could they apply?

Switchfly is hiring full-time team members and sponsors a Summer internship program. Apply here: http://www.switchfly.com/about-us/careers

Anything else you’d like us to know?

Our team members are constantly challenged by working on different client needs, features, or platform layers. They are empowered to learn and take ownership as much as they can. If you join us, you’ll rotate through different cross-functional teams delivering value to our clients whether it be launching a new client site or developing a new platform feature. Our company is growing and so there are individual growth opportunities. You will be encouraged to learn new skills and to work on different parts of the technology stack.