Meet the Team – Gretchen Walker
At Punch Through, we encourage everyone to proudly be themselves and want you to know the people behind the work that we’re so proud of. That’s why we launched our “Meet the Team” series, where we introduce you to one of our team members each month.
Meet Gretchen. She’s a Mobile Software Engineer who enjoys spending time with family and friends, researching Bernese Mountain Dogs, taking all types of dance classes, and writing iOS apps.
What were you doing before working at Punch Through?
Going into college, I wanted nothing to do with computer science. I didn’t think I had any interest in programming and felt kind of out of my element. So, I started my college career seeking a degree in psychology. Then during my Junior year, a friend begged me to take “Intro to Computer Science” with him for moral support. I loved it! It was the first class that I actually started all my assignments the day they were assigned. I loved programming. I’d never been that enthused about a college class.
The rest is history. I switched majors and completed a computer science degree from Hamilton College in upstate New York. After graduation, I decided I wanted to move to San Francisco and started to apply for jobs in the area. I wasn’t hearing back from a lot of companies, and I knew that I needed to learn new skills in web or mobile development. Because teaching myself iOS wasn’t going fast enough, I signed up for a boot camp. I figured it would help me learn while also making a few connections. I ended up meeting someone from Punch Through. He came to our class to demo the Bean (our old product), and I thought it was the coolest.
Honestly, Punch Through was the first company to really catch my eye at that point I applied and got an interview, and I’ve been here ever since. I even met my now-fiancé (friend of my coworker) at a product launch party the day I got the job!
What is your favorite thing about Punch Through culture?
I would say the emphasis on “leave your ego at the door.” Support is very important here, and so is creating a positive environment. Sometimes projects can be difficult, just like at any job, and everyone tries really hard to do what they can to help each other and encourage a positive work environment for both employees and clients. We protect our people and our culture, and it makes all the difference.
Tell me a story about your most memorable moment while working at Punch Through
Oh gosh. Since I’ve been here, we’ve had so many crazy, fun, weird adventures.
During my first two years at Punch Through, we spent our annual company trip at a ranch in the mountains of San Luis Obispo. The house and views were beautiful, but my favorite memories were touring their goat farm (and the cheese tasting afterward). Everyone left the tour covered in mud and I learned my lesson about leaving long hair loose near a goat’s mouth.
Another more “serious” memorable moment was when I had a meeting with another engineer to discuss a project. We got off on a tangent, and he ended up explaining to me all about how the internet works. I knew the basics, but this was the comprehensive front-to-back explanation I never knew I needed. I still draw on that conversation to this day and even though it was off-topic, it was an hour well spent!
What cool or rewarding things do you get to do on a regular basis?
From day one, I was encouraged to make decisions and to put forward my opinion. As a green engineer fresh out of college, I was committing code to real projects on day one. A friend of mine at Google didn’t get to do that for six months. I learned how to take things into my own hands and felt fully supported when giving my input on projects, processes, everything. Feeling this from leadership and everyone on my team, it helped build my confidence. I’ve learned to trust my instincts and voice my opinions, while still feeling comfortable asking for feedback when in doubt.
The nature of consulting work is a regular cycle of new projects and challenges, so this kind of attitude is crucial to success and personal growth. I constantly get to learn new things and push the boundaries of my role.
What is the most valuable part of your work to you on a personal level?
It’s helped me grow a lot as a person — both in confidence and open-mindedness. I discovered how easy it is to learn new things if you’re open and willing. I’ve even been inspired to take on other hobbies I always wanted to learn like cooking and dancing because the process of starting from scratch is so much less daunting than it used to be. I no longer assume I just “don’t have the talent” for anything without giving it a try first.
What is different about Punch Through versus other places you have worked?
I haven’t worked at other engineering firms, but I have lots of engineering friends. In my opinion, Punch Through strikes the perfect balance between relaxed and professional. Everyone here really enjoys what they do and no one takes themselves too seriously. Some of my coworkers have become some of my closest friends. It’s a cliché, but it really feels like a family. There’s so much genuine celebration of each others’ accomplishments (and birthdays). There’s so much empathy and understanding when life happens and someone needs to work from home because their kid (or dog) is sick.
I’m comfortable talking about anything with my co-workers. There is a low tolerance for negativity and selfishness, and it’s so refreshing. It helps foster a super positive environment where we can grow and learn together — as individuals and as a team.
Interested in Learning More?
To meet more of the Punch Through Team, check out these interviews:
Meet the Team – Karel Kalthoff – Firmware/Software Engineer
Meet the Team – Louis Barrett – Engineering Intern, Summer 2019
Meet the Team – Erin Moore – Hiring Coordinator and Office Manager
Meet the Team – Alec Letourneau – Software Engineer
Meet the Team – Andy Lee – Senior Embedded Engineer
Meet the Team – Amanda Nguyen – Embedded Engineer
About the Blog Series…
Great culture builds great products. Some of the ways culture is expressed at Punch Through are through authenticity, autonomy, and experience. The individuals at Punch Through not only build great products, but they are the culture. The individual team members aren’t defined by their past or title. They’re encouraged to be true to themselves, learn from each other, and grow professionally and personally.
It’s essential to get to know the people behind the projects and to understand how culture plays a vital role in everything we do. To help get inside the heads of the genius behind the brand, we’re launching a “Meet the Team” blog post series. Each post will feature one of our talented team members where you can get to know them on a bit more personal level, and see how their contributions make Punch Through what it is today.