Breaking Through Walls

Developer program redefines career growth and company culture.
Call Box is redefining what it means to have an authentic and remarkable culture. For the interview below, we caught up with members of the Call Box development team at their office in the heart of downtown Dallas.
Zikra Toure Machine Learning Engineer
Machine learning Engineer at Call Box since March 2018. Zikra is currently focused on detecting facial sentiment with AI.
Eric Stanulis Application Developer
Eric has been with Call Box since January 2018. He is currently tackling call categorization initiatives, and is a go-to developer.
Dawn Winsor Product Manager
Developer turned PM at Call Box since July 2017. Dawn currently heads and manages all things Texting in our product.
Jashona Young Senior Database Engineer
Developer at Call Box since November 2013. Jashona is on the Net Ops team and is currently involved with orchestrating the replacement of one of our biggest servers.
"If we're focused and pulling together in the right direction, then we can do anything." - Reid Wakefield, CEO
Why Call Box? Zikra: I joined Call Box because of my interest in the Machine Learning field, and I stayed because of the amazing coworkers, experience, and energy that I keep on feeling every day. Eric: What makes Call Box different is its vast opportunity to stretch and grow. No matter which team you join, you have the ability to create your own if you identify a need. It all depends on your drive and attitude. Jashona: I chose Call Box because of the major opportunities given during my interviews of major growth and the awesome culture & perks system. Dawn: I chose Call Box because I wanted to hit the ground running right out of college. I knew growth was encouraged here and that my success at Call Box would be dependent on the effort I put in rather than my tenure. That was very appealing to me.
"Come to work ready to take over."
Jashona Young
What is Call Box and how does it help businesses? Zikra: On top of intelligently tracking and routing calls, we provide real time alerts, automated call reviews, voice recognition, sentiment analysis and more in the effort of helping businesses book more appointments, close more deals, and increase their revenue. Eric: We help businesses know what ads are generating leads and how their agents are doing on the phone so they can direct their limited marketing budgets to their best sources and train their people to make the most of every phone call. Jashona: Call Box helps customers enhance their business by monitoring agents interactions with its customers through calls, texts, and much more. What better way to help your business than to start with how you engage customers? Dawn: Our products provide valuable insight to help thousands of businesses 'own the phone'.
A group of Call Boxers (left) await the results of the plinko board, and team members (right) enjoy the afternoon during a company celebration.
How do I grow my career as a developer at Call Box? Zikra: We have a formal 6-phase program, with specific responsibilities, expectations, and salary attached to each. Your time in a phase all depends upon your drive and the amount your work you put in. Eric: Come in every day, work hard, and ask for help when you need it. Demonstrate that you feel a sense of ownership over every piece of code you write, don't just deploy it and say that it's good enough. Jashona: Try to own as much as you can (as long as you're making improvements to your processes) and you'll move steadily and quickly through the ranks. Dawn: There's a phase program to keep developers on track with their growth here, but many have stayed ahead of the pace by taking initiative and going beyond set expectations. Call Box continues to grow as a software company, so there's a ton of areas of improvement and advancement. Recognizing those opportunities and implementing changes that enhance our processes is a great way to grow as a developer here.
"Call Box isn't the best fit for somebody who waits to be told what to do." - Dawn Winsor
Above: Call Box team members celebrate after a tough day of competition at the Fit Company Challenge. Below: Executive VP of Product, posing underneath a hand drawn Dallas skyline.
Is there a particular dynamic that makes the team special? Zikra: The developers' ability to act on urgency. When there is a pressing issue, it's all-hands-on-deck and each team member wants to help in the best of their ability in order resolve it. Eric: Everyone here is willing to go out of their way to help each other out. Each developer has certain areas that they specialize in and I've never seen anyone who wasn't willing to help out another developer if they wound up working on their area of expertise and are in over their head. Jashona: I like the blend of people. We come from all different backgrounds (educational and otherwise nerdy) and we mesh well. You can bring up an issue that you're having and there will be 6 people that jump to help with 6 distinct ideas. Dawn: We all come from different levels of experience. While some of us have been in the industry for over a decade, a bunch of us are right out of college or even self-taught. No matter one's skill-set, we're always looking to learn from one another and are just as willing to share our own knowledge. Though most projects and cases are tackled solo, no one is ever discouraged from walking over to their neighbor to brainstorm how to tackle challenges.
The company plinko board (left) on display at a milestone celebration party where a few lucky employees will get to try their hand at some generous prizes like a $500 Amazon Gift Card. Developer Ian Ruth (right) taking on camera man duty for a company outing.
(Left) A group of call boxers enjoy a friendly company team volleyball competition. A side project by some of the developers involves engineering a self ringing bell for the sales team.
"You'll struggle here if you're still spending most of your day
passively waiting for a new email that gives you something to do."
- Reid Wakefield, CEO
How is the development team organized and what does each team do? Zikra: The Hacker Farm has in itself multiple teams. We have the Application team responsible for new product features, product maintenance, and front-end development, the Database and NetOps team in charge of servers and database maintenance and network architecture, and we have the Machine Learning team responsible for artificial intelligence features, prediction pipeline to automate processes, and for crafting CARI smarter and smarter. Dawn: We are organized into 3 teams: Application, NetOps, and Machine Learning. Application works on all things client-facing, from the front-end user experience to the back-end computational logic. NetOps builds, maintains, and monitors the system and data that our processes rely on. Machine Learning takes our products a step further, making them artificially intelligent and exponentially smarter.
"the only limit on advancement is your skill and work ethic."
Eric Stanulis
Is there a personality that might not be the right fit for this team? Zikra: I feel like the team is glued together by the members' love of puns, eagerness to help ANYTIME, and our interesting sense of humor. I would say if don't have or don't appreciate any of the above, then this team may not be a good fit for you. Eric: Anyone who thinks that their way is the only way to do things, or that they're always better than other programmers. Of course some people are going to be better at particular aspects of coding than other people, but no one knows everything and people with a "my way or the highway" attitude aren't going to last long. Jashona: So far, I have not seen a personality that might not fit, except for a lazy one.
Some of the Call Box team bring out their winter apparel at a Dallas Stars hockey game. "We are always putting together outtings for our teams, building relationships is important to us." - Cameron
What makes Call Box different than other opportunities? Zikra: What makes Call Box different is its vast opportunity to stretch and grow. Eric: Call Box does a great job of striking the balance between having structured training to bring people on board while also allowing room to grow. We have a proscribed developer career structure that plans out the first couple years of a new developer's career, but I know several people here who were able to prove themselves quickly and skipped large portions of it. Jashona: Call Box was my first technical opportunity out of college and what an excellent choice it was. It's shaped my career in ways that I would have never imagined. I can probably say most companies will not allow failure. There have been times where I’ve completely failed here, but Call Box has pushed me to break through those failures, because they will happen from time to time, regroup, change directions, and make it happen no matter what. Call Box is a life lesson. Dawn: Call Box gives you the freedom to take the reigns on your direction of growth. You aren't limited by your degree (or lack thereof) here. In fact, it's a place that encourages you to step outside your comfort zone and tune in to what you're truly interested in exploring, even if that means reaching into unchartered territory in your established field of expertise. That being said, no matter what role you find yourself in here, it's up to you to see that success though as both an individual and a team player.

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Software Engineer, Machine Learning Dallas, TX
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