Please allow us to introduce you to Al Hammad — Front End Engineer for Bluescape based out of the Terminal Vancouver campus. This born and raised West-coaster has a sharp wit and a laid-back style which permeates through the way he approaches work, life, and everything in between.
PS — this might be the first and only member spotlight that makes mention of a nude beach! Read on to get to know Al and find out why.
Terminal: You’ve been in the tech world for some time — walk us through a bit of your Software Development journey.
Al: I started my career as a controls engineer then shifted to software. I realized software development is what I really wanted to do; it is fun, exciting, challenging, and rewarding. I also love just wearing jeans and a t-shirt to work; keeping it simple.
Terminal: We love a good t-shirt. What was it about Bluescape and the internal company dynamic that resonated the most with you and made you want to join?
Al: What resonated with me about Bluescape was the culture, technology, and vision they had. Management has tremendous experience and leadership skills, and you can feel the collective employee energy with just how passionate everyone is. It is a place where you can thrive because you are surrounded by smart and humble people who help you be at the top of your game.
Terminal: Being a native from BC, what’s it like to work in the Vancouver Terminal Campus? What makes being part of the Terminal Community unique from other companies you’ve worked with?
Al: I grew up in Vancouver but after graduation moved to Alberta to work for a few years. Although Alberta is a beautiful province, it didn’t take me long to realize I was a West-coaster at heart and so decided to move back to the ocean and mountains. One of the things Vancouver has done is establish itself as a tech hub and in my own head think of it as San Francisco’s younger sibling. That’s where Terminal’s Vancouver Campus comes in — they have done a great job building remote engineering teams and provided them with the tools necessary to succeed. As a result, there is a community feel and you are surrounded by talent all around. You meet people working with different programming languages and frameworks, and this helps us all keep up to date with the latest technology trends. As for location, I live downtown so my commute is a 20 minute walk to campus. But if you live in other locations, then bike routes, buses, and skytrain all stop within a block radius making it an ideal location.
Terminal: Why do you enjoy working at a startup?
Al: Working at a startup with high-caliber, experienced, and passionate people gives you an opportunity to be a part of, and contribute to, a product at the early stages of development. It is not always possible to do that at larger, well-established technology firms.
Terminal: What’s something that you’re most proud of, work related or otherwise?
Al: I remember hearing someone say: “If you don’t have goals of your own, you become part of someone else’s goals.” That really resonated with me and helps to drive my own goal planning process. I made a commitment to personal growth on all levels: family, career, health, and spirituality. I have one, five, and ten year goals for each that help focus my day-to-day activities. This is more of a direction because I also believe it is ok not to reach half of those goals. Failure helps us grow and is an important part of life.
Terminal: When you’re not developing, what are some of your favorite ways to unwind?
Al: One of my favourite things is to get together with good friends and play board games. Summertime is coming up and hitting up one of the local Vancouver beaches for a BBQ is a great way to unwind and catch up with everyone. After work, I usually go to the gym a few times a week to get that natural kick of endorphins.
Terminal: Growing up in Vancouver and spending so much time on the West Coast — what are your top 5 must do’s for anyone visiting the area?
Al: I recommend visiting during the summer. You can start at Kitsilano beach and hang out there then make your way out to each subsequent beach for about 10km all the way to Wreck beach. Each beach has a different vibe. The last beach, Wreck beach, is a nude beach for those who are free-spirited. A forty-five minute drive out of the city gets you to Squamish, the outdoor recreation capital of Canada — I don’t need to explain this one. And if that is not enough, you can drive another forty-five minutes to Whistler, where you can make your own adventure. If you are really fit, you can compete in Ironman Canada, and if you are really chill, you can attend Wanderlust yoga festival. There are so many other activities, festivals, and competitions in between. A five hour drive will get you to Kelowna, Penticton, or Osoyoos. The Okanagan valley has great lakes, camping, and wineries.
Terminal: Hypothetically, if money weren’t no thang, what would you change?
Al: It is no secret Vancouver rains a lot. So I would spend the winter months somewhere in Hawaii coding by the beach. And when I get on video conference meetings, I’d make sure the beach and ocean are right behind me, then casually mention I’ll be going surfing after the meeting… aloha 🙂
Terminal: If you could change places with anyone in history, who would it be and why?
Al: Few weeks ago I watching Tiger Woods as he won his fifth Masters title after the first four in 1997, 2001, 2002, and 2005. A year or two back, he almost stopped playing golf, and to come back and win the Masters after all the highs and lows he went through is one of the greatest comeback stories in sports. I think living through such a moment would be an incredible life experience.
Terminal: What are some of the books, podcasts, resources that you love and that inform your work and life?
Al: Some of the books I’ve enjoyed reading include Steve Jobs’s biography by Walter Isaacson and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I also try to keep up with the latest technology and that depends on what tech-stack I am currently working with. There is a great community in Vancouver to attend courses, seminars, and meet-ups. However, due to convenience, a lot of the time I’ll go online and go through documentation, videos, articles and build mini projects to keep up with the ever-changing technology.