Meet the Tallizen: Brandon
Get to know the people behind the company that’s on a mission to make people less stressed and better off financially.
December 14, 2022
Brandon Chinn is the Senior Director of Product Engineering at Tally based in San Francisco, CA. In this role he oversees the iOS, Android, Web and Quality Assurance (QA) teams. This multifaceted organization focuses on enhancing the in-app and web experience of Tally’s popular debt payoff app, creating new features and functionality for members that can help make them less stressed and better off financially.
On a daily basis, Brandon partners closely with other engineering, product and design teams to advance Tally’s product roadmap. At any given time, he is leading his teams across various projects aimed at building and refining new in-app features while developing custom testing strategies to ensure Tally is providing the best possible member/user experience.
A Day in the Life of a Tallizen
Walk us through a day in your life. What does a typical workday look like for you?
I like to organize my time by having specific days of the week dedicated to specific recurring tasks. There's my 1:1 day (well, truthfully, it's 2 days right now!), my focus time day, and general planning/team meeting day. This ensures that I reduce the amount of context switching between the many different responsibilities I have.
A typical day starts with frantically getting my children off to school and once I return home, I start my day by making a plan that involves setting reasonable goals for myself.
An ongoing and often unpredictable part of the job, although very important, is hiring. I try my best to prioritize this as it’s one of the best ways I can set up my teams for success. I then try to end my day with 15 minutes to reflect on my goals, but sometimes this happens in the car or after everyone goes to bed.
What has been the highlight of your time here at Tally so far?
There have been many highlights during my time here at Tally, but if I had to choose one, it would be the adjustments made to how we handle the end-to-end quality assurance (QA) process. Previously, developers would rely heavily on our QA team to ensure everything was fully tested and this consumed the majority of our QA engineering team’s time. Our developers are now responsible for more thoroughly testing their features which in turn makes them more aware of the overall member experience as a bonus and opens up more bandwidth for the QA team too.
Having a deeper connection to the product and the experience we're creating for our members is important for us to be able to deliver a product we are all proud of. Additionally, we've made some significant changes to help get QA involved earlier in the development process to help identify edge cases that would allow our developers to build more thorough solutions. I am very proud of how the team has embraced and owned these changes and especially proud of how QA has invested in making these changes a success. The main reason this is a highlight for me is because it shows just how much each individual took ownership of these changes and is the reason these changes have been so successful.
Why did you pick the career that you chose? What do you love about your chosen field?
Growing up, I’ve always been fascinated by computers even when it was just green and black with the dot matrix printer. To be honest, most of my interest was because of computer games, but in high school I began learning about programming and never looked back.
After getting my B.S. in Computer Science at UCLA, I knew I wanted to make an impact on the world and I remember getting turned down for jobs because my passion wasn’t just about building new technology, but also using it for a purpose. Eventually, I found my way into mission driven companies and now at Tally I not only get to create and work with amazing technology, but also help people with their financial lives.
I have found joy in seeing how providing opportunities with sufficient support can lead people to achieve more than they thought was possible. This is not only true in my role as a people manager, but also in the product that we are building for people struggling with debt.
Which of Tally’s core values - Don’t Say Nothing, Own the Outcome, Change Shoes Often - resonates most with you and why?
“Change Shoes Often.” I think empathy is key to growth and builds strong relationships. This is meaningful both in our daily interactions with our coworkers, but also with the product we are building. If we can successfully understand the challenges that our members face in paying off their credit card debt, then we can prioritize and build solutions that will be effective.
What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
I enjoy sports. I previously played a lot of ice hockey and basketball, but have since retired and moved on to golf.
Tell us about one of your favorite vacations
This is a tough one, but my favorite is probably Australia where we got to visit Melbourne, Sydney and Cairns. Every city was unique and beautiful with lots of delicious food. Seeing all the different animals and snorkeling over the Great Barrier Reef is truly an unforgettable experience.
I also learned about Australian Football (footie) which quickly became one of my favorite sports to watch especially after the experience of watching a game at a bar with passionate and rowdy fans.
Lightning Round: This or That?
Dogs or Cats
Pizza or Tacos?
iOS or Android
Android as an operating system is significantly better, but iOS has better apps
Netflix or HBO
Iced Coffee or Hot Coffee