'All Things Upside' with Kenn North

In this edition, we chat with Principal Partner Technology Manager Kenn North about his Upside journey.

May 23, 2024
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'All Things Upside' with Kenn North
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'All Things Upside' with Kenn North

In the latest edition of All Things Upside, we chat with Kenn North, our Principal Partner Technology Manager. Kenn dives into what he loves about his team, the most important professional lessons from across his career, and how he spends his time outside of work. 

Upside: What brought you to Upside?

Kenn: Some friends from my previous company work here and encouraged me to apply. The culture was a big draw. This is my second job out of college (class of 2006), so taking the leap to a new company was something I considered very carefully. 

Upside: What is it about our culture that keeps you here? 

Kenn: Transparency. There are so many open channels in Slack that anyone can look at and see how a deal is going, or get an update on an initiative. There are many people, including leadership, that post comments in public channels. 

Also, our “Be an Owner” value really resonates with me. I work hard to take ownership of things that come across my desk, and I appreciate others who do the same. Upside hires great people who take accountability for the things they do, and my team is full of people who care about their jobs and genuinely want to help us all improve. 

Upside: What’s the day-to-day of your role like? 

Kenn: There are the morning meetings with the Data Ingest team. This is followed by meeting with a merchant or two as they work to provide us the necessary data. These meetings are focused on keeping them moving and answering any questions. I then use whatever time is left to analyze data and get information to internal stakeholders and external merchants. 

Initially, my role was shared collectively across the team of engineers and data operations. We have worked together to define handoffs and work within the structure of the engineering team sprints. We are now working on tooling and processes to enable operations to implement a merchant data feed end to end.

Upside: What are the most important skills to have in your role? 

Kenn: Patience and enthusiasm. Patience helps keep me sane, but enthusiasm helps us all be successful. We have a great Sales team at Upside, and I truly enjoy working with them. I know that if I can help them succeed, we all win.

Upside: What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career?  

Kenn: I’ll share three of them:

  • There is ALWAYS something to be done: look around and find something to keep you busy and add value to your team. 
  • There are two types of engineers: the know-it-all and the always-learning. It’s best to be the latter and stay open to learning.
  • While there are times to share feedback and make an argument you are willing to stake your reputation on, in general, those moments are rare. It’s better to try to be a team player, cheer on your colleagues as they have successes, and look for ways you can contribute.

Upside: What is one of your proudest professional accomplishments? 

Kenn: In my previous role, I led a team to rework the naming structure of all products the company sold. The catalog was rather large and focused on marketing new model numbers as opposed to marketing a “product.” That initiative introduced me to great leaders in the company and made a meaningful impact on how the company marketed, sold, and even developed new products.

Upside: What are your hobbies outside of work?

Kenn: I love DIY projects, classic cars, home networking, and being with my family. For larger projects, I keep albums of the work I’ve done. I’m currently building a dog cubby under our stairs and just replaced our water heater with a tankless.

Upside: Favorite books and/or TV shows? 

Kenn: I recently read Hail Mary by Andy Weir, who also wrote the Martian, which is a great book. I like sci-fi fantasy a lot. In terms of shows, I love Parks and Rec, Cheers, Home Improvement, and MASH, to name just a few. 

Upside: If you could have any superpower, what would you pick and why? 

Kenn: The ability to understand the history and origins of any item I touch. I love knowing how things are built and where they came from.

Looking for a career that invests in your future? We're hiring! Learn more about our open roles and apply.

'All Things Upside' with Kenn North

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