My Time at CVS

I joined CVS Health around August back in 2021, I was coming out of a five year relationship with my previous company and looking forward to a new environment. I had interviewed with Derek Jackson, Sunggun Yu, and Jenny Dolan and they had gotten me very excited about CVS. In the interview with Sunggun, I had just ended a call with another company doing some l33t code moments before, at that time I was doing 30ish interviews a week at various rounds. Sunggun started the l33t code challenge and it was the one I had just solved and still had up, I explained to him I had literally just done it and Sunggun laughed and said that was okay, go ahead and explain it then. Sunggun is everything I want to be in a leader, engineer, and friend. Over the course of the next 3 years he would become one of my best friends, and mentor.

Interviewing with Derek and Jenny I could tell they cared about people, and had great leadership skills. God was speaking to me through these individuals and I knew CVS was the right choice for my next job. Derek took care of me generously over the00 next 2 years, rewarding my efforts, and providing constructive feedback for my missteps. We would talk about our kids and and challenges at work, and what we wanted out of our careers at the company. When I needed a change of scenery, Derek would make it happen for me. It was a blessing working with him and I hope we get the chance to do it again in the future.

In my first few weeks at the company on team Promethium, which would end up being the most technically equipped team I would be on. Jenny went out ofm her way to ensure my onboarding was smoothe and resolved any concerns I had initially. We would check in with each other on a regular basis for the entirety of my time with the company, sharing details about our lives with each other, and how we could help each other out at work. Jenny among many other skills, has a strategic mind. She always knows how much money we are saving with an initiative, or why it is important to the company. It is important to me to know why we are doing something, and how it affects the customer, Jenny always had the answers.

Team Promethium

Promethium was made up of Sunggun as team lead, Shannon Bayless as the Product Owner, and Derek as the director (who at the time had 50 direct reports). The engineers on the team were stars in their own right. Wizkid Ari, Koby, Matt, and Azeem. To say the team was stacked is an understatement, sadly the team did not have a customer base by the time I joined them. After a few months of me joining the team was disbanded and the organization went through its annual reorg. We had been DFP, and now we would become DSSP. Long live Promethium

On DSSP, Jenny was tasked with forming an “Operations” sub org. All the engineers were surprisingly being asked about which new team they wanted to join, and Jenny explained she needed help on GoOps, specifically team Martial. I am always looking for a challenge and to help where its needed, so I was onboard.

Martial’s mission was to keep the AWS infrastructure up and running, which mainly comprised of a few ec2 vms, IAM permissions, some storage buckets and 4 mission critical kubernetes clusters. The team also was responsible for Android and iOS mobile development for some apps I have zero understanding of. The wise reader will note this team mission made no sense, as the skills required for mobile development are vastly different than the skills required for managing kubernetes clusters and cloud infrastructure. Prasad was Product owner, Pavan Mada as the Manager, Shoukath as the Director, Kevin Fries as AWS Team Lead, Matt Graves as Mobile Lead, and some other amazing engineers like Bharath Veeramalli. As we were a brand new team, of people that did not know each other or how to work together, it was the perfect setup for working agreements. The team formed around the agreements which laid out each of our roles, and how we were expected to work together on these disparate tasks. I firmly believe all humans are equal, and in a company we are all equal coworkers regardless of title. However, we do not all have equal roles and responsibilities, and so it is vital to explain what that role and responsibilities are, to remove confusion and frustration when one believes someone else is stepping over the line, or not picking up the slack. Pavan and Shoukath made it clear to the team they cared about them on a personal level, and wanted to see us all succeed. Prasad had a clear vision for what the team’s goals were, and the engineers all rallied behind these leaders. I am very proud of the work this team did and how we made the organization better. To date, this is the team I am proudest of being apart of in my career. The trust the team had in each other was instant, and the love each member had for another was apparent, the culture was amazing. We mentored each other, and trained up in areas we were weak, we never shied away from a challenge.

Towards the end of the year, Jenny formed a tiger team to reinvent how CICD was done at the company. Members from multiple teams were lent to this tiger team with the understanding they would go back to their original team once the goal was complete. These are exactly the kind of opportunities I get excited about and was overjoyed to be included. Jenny, John Behringer, and Shannon Bayless represented product. Ethan Kiczek represented Architecture, and did a majority of the engineering work on implementation. Jon Poplar and other engineers would learn how the new way worked, document it, and then train the new CSE team being formed later in 2023 on how to support onboarding for new teams and engineers. I was very interested in leadership and was hoping to join Jenny’s product team at the time, so my main role on the team was product based, trying to understand the challenges we were solving, and how the customer would benefit and use our solution. Ethan did a fantastic job managing the constantly changing requirements to deliver a solution. We would use Github Enterprise Managed Users, for our SCM. This enabled us to get all the security of Github Enterprise, with all the features and ease of use of I love this solution and would recommend any company out there to look into it. For managing enterprise requirements on team creation / modification, we would use Github Entitlements. I really enjoyed this solution as well, it made adding people / teams as easy as creating a Pull Request on Github. The company was already familiar with CircleCI and Harness, so those were chosen for CI and CD solutions. Christine Hersh managed the CircleCI / CVS relationship and is a joy to work with. We had weekly meetings on feature requests and she always had answers and prioritized solutions for us from CircleCI. Rakesh would do most of the work to enable the new Harness CD solution for Github EMU, and would win a company leadership award for doing such a great job. Thousands of engineers would end up using these solutions this small team put together, and it was an absolute joy working with such brilliant minds.

The birth of my fourth child, Ezekiel Mainguy happened at the end of 2022. I enjoyed my paternity leave (Big shout out to Lisa, Li, Michael Furmaniuk and all of Autobots for sending me a card and reaching out after his birth.) and when I came back, I wanted a fresh challenge, believing Martial had grown beyond me and I would be able to contribute more to the company on another team needing help. Derek allowed me to interview a few teams and I settled on joining team Griffin. I was really excited to work with Kalyani whose ambition and enthusiasm for coaching and mentoring appealed to me. Team Griffin was at a crossroads, and was about to transition into new responsibilities. At the time we believed they would become an api writing software team. With me coming off my experience on the tiger team, Griffin would rebrand as Stargate, and would own and support Github EMU, CircleCI, and Harness. I was joined on the team by team lead KV who is one of the hardest working engineers I have ever met. He mentored the other engineers on the team, handled support channels for customers, and developed new solutions to enhance the offerings. Team Manager Matt Pender has a love for his reports, and wants what is best for the team. He has successfully shielded the team from a great many frustrations they never even knew existed. He is also just a great man, and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know him. I could listen to his stories on life all day. I hope to be able to get together with him next time I am down in Atlanta. I worked with great engineers on the team Raj Singh, and Steve Miano. Raj helped me roll out ARC for self hosted runners, and Steve freely shared all the productivity tools and processes he wrote to assist the team. While I never saw myself going down the DevOps / CICD path, it was extremely rewarding building tools and a platform for other teams to consume. Seeing how fast other teams could get up to speed and be more productive was extremely gratifying.

Around the same time I joined Griffin, the annual reorg struck again. This time we would be DevEx, and Kalyani asked me to float between Stargate (Rebranded Griffin), and her other team Inception. Inception was working on standing up backstage along with custom software to provide a Developer Experience Portal. This portal would provide “Accelerator” github templates, with actual templating. Using these accelerators teams could quickly and uniformly spin up applications across a number of languages and technologies, complete with working CICD configurations baked in. This effort would enable the “5 minute push to deploy” OKR the org was looking for. I got to know team lead Naveen Chidara, who worked hard to ensure stories were in a workable shape. He explained the challenge to the team and offered suggestions on how to solve them. He mentored the other members of the team and kept everyone on the same page. The mischievous, and second in command Dzmitry took longer to get to know. At first, his dry humor can be misconstrued, but once you get to know him, you realize how hilarious he really is. Dzmitry is a good man and a pleasure to work with, and I will greatly miss his lessons on the USSR and Belarus and the area in general, to which I am greatly interested in learning more about. He is a wise soul, much beyond his years. Later on in the teams existence we were joined by two amazing engineers from Brazil, Mauricio and Weslley, whose unique experiences provided a breath of fresh air to the team. Coming in with fresh eyes they were able to help take the portal to the next level, and I am blown away by Mauricio’s frontend skills. The portal is the best looking internal site at the company now, and this is a credit to the leadership and engineers on inception, whom I am glad to call friends. Much like mobile development on Martial, I know nothing of front end work, and if I was able to provide any value to the team, it was that of someone constantly asking why we were doing something, right or wrong, to get the team to explain and help me learn how it all worked.

2024 once again brought about the annual reorg, and this time I was moving to an observability platform team. The team was made up of a group of contractors who have worked together for years, Shannon as product lead, and Kalyani as engineering manager. They operated as a startup inside the company, not holding to the rigid requirements of SAFe agile, nor holding beliefs on doing things because thats the way we do things. They have a fresh perspective and challenge the status quo in order to accomplish their goal of providing an o11y platform to enable the organization. Much like team Martial, this team just works. Everyone knows their roles and how to work together, their leader Dave doubles as scrum master and therapist. I really enjoyed getting to know Dave, Ross, Jeff, Raman, the Michaels, and the rest of the team. I am certain they will achieve the goal and that the company has the right people on the task.

In addition to all these amazing people, I worked with many times that amazing people at CVS. Compute, Web Core, DevSecOps, SRE, CSE, Glacier, Iceberg, Osprey, Eagles, Trevor Jones, Joshua Fenemore, Brandon Tarr, Lisa Yannakopoulos , Steve Lynch, Sabyasachi Sengupta, Li Lin, Nate Baechtold, Theryn Groetken, Omar White, and so many many more that I cannot name them all. I am truly blessed to have been able to get to know these individuals, and shared the work with them for this short tenure.

I am a firm believer in Jesus Christ. I believe he is fully God, and fully human at the same time. I believe he died for our sins, and was resurrected. I believe his mother Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to him. I believe he fulfilled the prophecies and is the saviour the Jewish people were looking for, and still look for today. I believe he came to save everyone, Jew and gentile alike. I believe he loves you, no matter what you have done, and wants you to love him back. I believe he will forgive you of any and all sins you have committed. I believe the only way to heaven is through Jesus’s free gift of salvation, all you need to do is accept it in this life. I believe he calls us to love one another the way we love ourselves, and it is something I strive and struggle with everyday. I believe God’s hand has been on me and my career. He made it clear to me at the end of my tenure at Bandwidth it was time to go, and it hurt as much at that time as it hurts now. Change is hard and uncomfortable, much like life in general. There was a Sunday recently, where I was dreading the next day and going to work, this was God’s message to me it was over, and time to move on. I thank God for closing the doors, and opening new ones when it is time. I thank God for my career, my family, and all that I have. I am nothing without God.

As much as I am hurt to leave, I am excited to begin a new chapter. I am excited to join a new org and get to know new people. I am excited to see new challenges and find ways to solve them. I know God’s hand is on this next journey, and I am looking forward to seeing where it leads. Thank you for reading this far, and tell someone today that you love them, be free with your love and it will come back to you ten fold.