5 MINUTE READ | August 31, 2021
10 Years a PMGer: Chris Davis, Software Engineer
Abby is PMG’s senior managing editor, where she leads the company’s editorial program and manages the PMG Blog and Insights Hub. As a writer, editor, and marketing communications strategist with nearly a decade of experience, Abby's work in showcasing PMG’s unique expertise through POVs, research reports, and thought leadership regularly informs business strategy and media investments for some of the most iconic brands in the world. Named among the AAF Dallas 32 Under 32, her expertise in advertising, media strategy, and consumer trends has been featured in Ad Age, Business Insider, and Digiday.
This month, we (virtually) sat down with Chris Davis, Lead Software Engineer and the second employee at PMG, to talk about his ten years at the company, the first PMGer to reach this significant milestone.
While I’m on the engineering team now, I started at PMG working on SEO (search engine optimization), after finding PMG via a Craigslist ad for SEO work. I’d built a website about classical guitar, which I was studying at the University of North Texas at the time, and grew that website from nothing to ~10,000 pageviews a day with SEO. I had some familiarity with the fundamentals of SEO, but no other real business experience aside from that. My first day began when my supervisor asked me to write some meta-tags in Excel, and I remember I spent a large chunk of the day manually typing them all out. Then, he showed me how to use the concatenate function to build them.
I started on the client marketing side of the business on the SEO team, and also supported some social media marketing, but at the time I was learning programming languages and processes (Python, PHP, and WordPress) on the side.
Eventually, I transitioned to doing development work. Our sister company, Koddi, and what is now Alli Products (part of our proprietary technology suite), were some of my very first projects. Admittedly, I almost left PMG as I was transitioning to development work. I had another job offer from a development agency focused primarily on WordPress development, but I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to just focus exclusively on WordPress. I came into the office the day after our — much smaller back then — holiday party and spoke with our CEO, George, about switching my role to something more engineering-focused, and the rest is history. Looking back, I’m still really glad my day job isn’t WordPress development.
Our sister company Koddi is powered by technology that was built in-house at PMG and then eventually spun off into its own company. While I don’t know how much of my code still runs on the Koddi platform, it was a pretty neat thing to build and put out into the world.
More recently, I built, launched, and led the effort to integrate our Alli technologies into a single log-in platform of marketing analytics and automation tools. Outside actual code, we built PMG’s engineering culture from the ground up with a focus on championing industry best practices, and that is something I’m proud of.
Freedom. Freedom to make what I think are good engineering choices — things that have become a part of our engineering culture, like testing, continuous integration, and automated delivery. We do all these things because I read too much Hacker News ten years ago, and no one told me, “No we can’t do that.”
Also, freedom from a life perspective. I’ve been working remotely for PMG for a long time, and I love it. Being able to be with my kids during their first few months is something that really stands out as something not many dads get to do — even with paternity leave — and PMG supported me and my family in letting us have that time together.
Maybe a year or two into my work at PMG, our CEO George gifted me a domain name. I’d been running a website at ClassicalGuitarBlog.net, and George bought and gifted me ClassicalGuitar.org. I never would have bought that domain name for myself.
A lot of my job is trying to account for an unknown number of unknowns. There are plenty of things that we can’t anticipate needing, but code, platforms, APIs, and hundreds of other things that we’re working on need to be flexible enough for the future. I also wish I had a better understanding of what I now consider good code, i.e., code that can handle changes that no one has even thought about yet. Even now, I only get it right what feels like a small percentage of the time. But one doesn’t get to learn what works without messing up a lot.
At some point early on, our CEO George and I had a conversation about how work should be mostly enjoyable. And if I was like X percent — I forget the exact number — of my work could be enjoyable, then a given gig was probably pretty alright. I really enjoy a large percentage of my work and the freedom that goes with it, so here I am.
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More and more, I’m beginning to enjoy the work on more platform-focused projects, meaning the bits of code and applications that power the technology under the hood of PMG’s marketing intelligence platform, Alli. Thinking along those lines now is really fun, and something that Mike Morgan, our Director of Engineering, has encouraged me to focus on. It’s been really cool to build tools for my fellow engineers.
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