Josh Stafford, UI Engineer
Josh Stafford joined AOL in 2015, working on ad tech. At Oath, he started in media sales engineering and now works on the Supply Side Platform. He was a self-proclaimed geeky kid who knew his way around a Tandy 3 at an early age and got hooked on coding during an internship with a startup. Josh loves learning new languages and systems at work, and translating those to the physical world by building little robots with his kids at home.
Tell us a little about what you do at Oath?
I'm a UI engineer at the Oath office in Baltimore. I was with AOL, working on business intelligence when the merger with Yahoo got announced. That's when I shifted to media sales engineering to build the Oath Store, a unified platform used by our sales team for selling ad campaigns.
That sounds like a big change?
Yeah, our team was just a scrappy handful of engineers, designers, and product people from different teams who came together to prototype, build and launch an entire store in just six months to have it ready in time for Yahoo sales people to jump right in. It was a very high-profile, high-priority project. Millions of dollars flow through that product. That's exciting, also sort of nerve wracking and challenging.
What did you like about the Oath Store project?
I had the opportunity to get my hands on all sides of the technology stack. It was a Java backend, which I was not really comfortable with at the start, but I got to push my skills with it.
My crowning achievement was building a functionality to split advertising slots. So you could sell a single slot on Yahoo Sports to two different advertisers if it wasn't fully sold. It was a challenging algorithm, to have a hierarchy of "Is this slot available? Has it been sold? Is it pending?"
So you launched the store and you were done, right?
Ha! We built this project fast. It was operating out of the gate, but there was room for improvements.
I spotted an opportunity to reduce the rendering time on the main calendar. It was taking about 5 seconds to get useful data to load. I ran an idea past my senior engineer and tech manager, and they said, "Go for it." I dug in for five days, profiling and digging into the inner workings of Angular and the core libraries we were using. I was able to do some major refactoring and reduce that rendering time to about two-and-a-half seconds. Basically, five days of my life to save a sales person about three seconds on their transactions.
What's your team like?
It's really tight knit and hard working. We're a bunch of rabble rousers. We've got a pirate flag hanging over our area. There's always high energy, for good or bad. When things go wrong, we scramble together and we get things done. When there's cause to celebrate, we're cracking open beers.
What do you like about Oath?
I'm always finding new and interesting things to get involved in. I feel empowered. I'm working with really smart people. I never like to be the smartest person in the room, and I'm definitely not, on many occasions. There's always someone I can learn from. I feel like if I get to where I don't have someone to look up to, or something bigger to strive for, then I get bored. I haven't found that here yet. There's always another step-up that I can go.
To see more about Oath's tech talent, please visit oath.com/BehindTheScreens.