So first things first, what drew you to Allovue?
I’ve always wanted to make an impact in the education space but, like many, I wasn’t sure entirely how to best go about it. I’ve always believed that positively impacting education was the most significant way I could help improve the world. I also wanted to work alongside a great team that shared my values, both technologically and culturally. Allovue was the perfect place for me. I feel fortunate to be here.
So if your desire was to impact the education space, how did you end up in software engineering?
Going to college at Brigham Young University in Utah, I initially wanted to be in finance, possibly doing personal wealth management. I was accepted into the University’s accounting program and spent the majority of my first semester calculating debits and credits — by hand, on paper. Needless to say, that kind of material wasn’t engaging to me, and I couldn’t help but think ‘I could make computer programs that would do this for me.’
My lack of enthusiasm for the material earned me the worst grades of my life that semester. So I decided to switch to an Information Systems major which I enjoyed much more. I also took a couple of classes in web development which helped me get a job in my school’s Alumni office managing their computers and websites. That is where my love for software engineering and education first converged.
How do you define software engineering?
I define software engineering as turning dreams, ideas, and visions into reality. For me, that reality is in the form of a website for our cloud-based application, Balance. I’m hyper-focused on the user interface of our application, so I write computer code that allows the application to be run seamlessly on web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Our talented software designers show me what they would like the app to look like with their design tools and I then convert those designs into something that is fully interactive in the browser. I also talk to our product team to understand the goals of the interface and how it should behave.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
Every time I hear anecdoctes about how our team and our product have helped a district to find available dollars that will now be used to improve the educational quality of students, I feel extremely satisfied. I feel fulfilled knowing that I’m a part of a team that’s making a real difference in real people’s lives right now, and that will have positive rippling effects for years to come.
Which Balance feature do you feel is most exciting for districts?
I think our Balance Budget approval flow makes handling the yearly budgeting process a pleasure for our districts instead of a chore. I like how it removes the chaos and tedium of emailing spreadsheets around and converts it into a smooth, intuitive process. Districts have so much responsibility to bear, and I love that our product considers all their pain points and works tirelessly to address them in a way that is uniquely K-12 specific.
How would you describe the most challenging aspect of being a software engineer?
I hate running out of time at the end of the day. There are so many things I want to do, and it’s difficult for me to have to prioritize some and leave others behind. I usually don’t realize when the end of the workday has come around and it frequently catches me off guard that I should eat dinner.
Do you have a hidden talent?
I do; I enjoy melted crayon art. One of my best friends introduced this to me in college, and we would do it as a double date activity. Eventually, I started doing it on my own just for fun. I started out using a blow dryer and just blowing the wax around, but as I wanted to do more details, I bought an embossing heat gun and started using cotton swabs to apply the melted wax. I surprisingly don’t use that many crayons in a single painting (maybe 20 or so), but I can go through quite a few boxes because sometimes I need a lot of one specific color.
That’s really impressive, Brandyn! Thanks for sharing. Last question, if you were to write a memoir about your life, what would the title be?
I’m Not Mad; It’s Just My Face.
Fun fact: Brandyn and his wife Lilí just had their first child, Shane! Congrats to Brandyn and Lilí!
Send well wishes and Balance questions to Brandyn at firstname.lastname@example.org