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Meet Ryan. Ryan Luker is the Tech Lead at Greenspace Mental Health. When he’s not solving his way through software puzzles, you’ll find Ryan balancing out his tech-filled life with fishing, hiking and camping.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Merritt, a very rural and outdoorsy place where there were only a few career paths to choose from. At the time, it felt like if I wanted a career in tech, I would need to move somewhere else. So that was always on my mind as I was thinking about options for university pursuing a degree in computer science.
Why did you choose the Okanagan to call home?
During my co-op internships at Thompson River University, I got to explore living in different places around the interior working with BCLC and Tolko, but it was a Startup Weekend event that set me on the path to Kelowna. That event showed me that startups were more up my alley than bigger organizations. The connections I made there led to my first experience working for a tech startup at FreshGrade and eventually to my current position.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I work for Greenspace Mental Health as a Tech Lead for one of our scrum teams. I assist with the design and architecture of software solutions that we build for the users. When I joined Greenspace, mental health was a little more stigmatized but it’s becoming more widely recognized because of the impacts of COVID-19. Now, health is seen more as a balance between good physical health and mental wellbeing.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
One of the reasons I love the software engineering industry is because there’s always a new puzzle to solve. There isn’t a 100% right way to solve them—there is probably a 100% wrong way—so you get to have fun finding a solution that meets the customer needs and weighing it against the time investment of implementing it. That complex puzzle is super addicting and it can be a challenge for me to maintain a proper work-life balance because I could do it all day.
What do you enjoy about working in a startup?
Through a startup, you get to learn so much about the technology, the terminology and the industry you’re working in. When you’re in school, you learn about computer sciences but, at a startup, you’re learning about the industry, and using your craft to navigate it. I went from working in education to mental health. I knew nothing about either of those industries but got to learn so much just by being in a technical role with a startup.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
Companies are more open to hiring someone remotely now. They want to make sure they’re hiring the right person for the job no matter where they are, and they’re not as interested in what university you went to or the previous positions you held. They want to know about your accomplishments and the contributions you’ve made. It helps to have a portfolio of things you’ve built yourself so you can demonstrate your ability for critical thinking and solving puzzles. I see the tech industry as a meritocracy in that way—you’re valued based on your merit and what you can do.
How do you like to give back to the community?
I always want to give back to the community because it gives so much, I want to help others the same way that I was helped. In the technology space, I like to give back through open source contributions. As developers and tech consumers, we underestimate how much is powered by open-source software built by individuals for no monetary incentive. Programming and maintaining open source projects helps me feel fulfilled.
Is there advice that you commonly share with people?
Always have a beginner’s mindset. During your career, you’ll eventually get enough confidence that you think you understand something, but then you keep getting more knowledge and realize you don’t know anything. The technology field moves so quickly so you can’t just sit on your laurels. You need to be willing to reinvest in your skillset.
I always want to give back to the community because it gives so much.