Trineo Spotlight: Jack Forrest
October 23, 2020
Trineo team members live in cities ranging from Seattle, Washington, to Christchurch, New Zealand, with interests that include Jiu Jitsu, cartooning, and herbology. In this series, we’ll learn more about these extraordinary people we are proud to call friends and colleagues.
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Your Role at Trineo: Staff Engineer. (I haven’t actually built a staff yet but I bought a wizard hat so I’ll look the part when I get around to it.)
How long have you been at Trineo and what has been your favorite project to date?
Almost 2 years. Favorite project is a solid tie between CCO (Clear Channel Outdoor) and cracking jokes with my teammates.
Describe the Trineo culture in 3 words.
Capable, conscientious, cheerful.
Give us a high level of your professional background prior to Trineo.
I got my start as a teenager building projects for Craigslist entrepreneurs to help save up for wrestling camp and got an excellent introduction into the consulting life from that. Working on everything from municipal payroll systems to large e-commerce sites was very educational and certainly more lucrative than mowing lawns.
Since then, I’ve mostly gone back and forth between start-ups and consultancies building all sorts of things on all sorts of stacks for all sorts of industries. I have the sort of luck where my start-up experiences have been worthwhile, but the pace and drama are generally unsustainable. I’ve enjoyed some stints of running my own little consultancy with the clients I’ve kept up with since high school, but it’s difficult to create an environment I can continue to learn technical skills in those situations and I’m really not so great at the whole actually running a business thing. I greatly enjoy the focus on building things that Trineo offers and the confidence that comes with having such a competent and collected team around me.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Boulder is a pretty easy place to stay busier than I should! Hiking, biking, paddling, and weightlifting help get some pent up energy out at the end of the workday. I’ve strategically located my residence adjacent to Boulder’s seedier dive-bar offerings and always enjoy a stint with friends around a pool table undoing whatever good the gym did me afterward. I also really enjoy heavy involvement with Boulder’s awesome library where I help with all sorts of youth programs and was stoked as can be to share that experience with some Trineos during our holiday event last year.
Since the pandemic hit though, just about everything I’ve usually filled my life with has gone on hiatus. I try to help friends get out of the house for hikes, disc-golf and socially distant bbqs here and there, and I get to keep up with helping some library kiddos with their projects remotely, but the abrupt change from days spent around town to being mostly at home was certainly jarring. However, my girlfriend and I found a great way to adapt by buying and fixing up a tiny camper trailer that we’ve been living in for months at a time as we road-trip around the U.S. since both of our jobs have become remote. I must say I am deeply appreciative of my fellow Trineos for working with me on facilitating that sort of sanity-preserving change in lifestyle!
What is an interesting or fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
Wow, I talk about myself so much it’s hard to think there’s anything people don’t know about me. One thing I suppose I am sometimes shy about is my utter lack of higher-level education. I dropped out of high school and turned down a wrestling scholarship as a kid since I was pretty sure I knew all I would ever need to by age 18. I instead went straight to overselling my technical skills to get a job at a software start-up that ended up getting bought by LinkedIn shortly after. Despite the lucky break, I sometimes still feel the lack of formal education has left me with significant gaps in my knowledge (like I have no idea how calculus works) but I think needing to learn how to self-study has been really beneficial as well.
How has your career grown/evolved since joining Trineo?
I’ve mostly built things for smaller companies, so learning how to navigate the corporate structures and much more vast technical landscapes in larger enterprises have been a welcome challenge. The art of getting things done when there are 6 pieces of software and 10 different people involved in each decision is an interesting one to study! Watching my colleagues working on (customer) Clear Channel Outdoor effectively drive carefully considered technical change with quiet confidence has taught me a lot.
Anything you would have done differently leading up to now, professionally?
I’ve had plenty of experiences that were certainly negative in the moment, but the growth that comes from those has done me a lot of good. I would not have wound up at Trineo without those negative experiences to draw contrast to and make me appreciative to be in and contribute towards an environment that puts people first, and I wouldn’t have the confidence to do my job the way I do without having tried most of the wrong ways first. So no, I don’t think I’d change a thing!
What do you like most about working at Trineo?
The general attitude towards work exhibited by everyone from senior leadership to junior folks I team up with is outstanding. Tech, in particular, has its share of giant egos (of which I have sometimes been one) and the problems that come with that. Confident yet conscientious approaches to problem-solving are everywhere I look, and I aspire to set the same example.
Favorite holiday and why?
Christmas! I get to foist the truly gnarly results of my incredibly impatient approach to woodworking on my friends and family and there’s nothing they can do about it.
Any hobbies or activities you started this year during the pandemic?
Music has been my favorite outlet. I’ve been making little soundtracks for the games that library kids make as a way to help them stay motivated. It’s been great to have enough time to put into these where I’m actually pretty proud of what I get to make for them!
Favorite city/region you've traveled to?
I’m lucky enough to live in one of my favorite spots in the world! I am not as well-traveled as I wish I was though, so perhaps I’ll find a place that can dethrone Boulder someday. Lucerne area in Switzerland is certainly a contender if I can find a way to spend more time there. The area is breathtaking, the people are kind and fascinating, and I set my all-time rock-skipping record on that lake when I was last there so I think that’s a sign.
As we are almost to the end of 2020 (What. A. Year.), what would you consider as your biggest challenge or biggest win this year?
I think I’m not alone in saying that 2020’s got too many challenges to count so let’s stick with the win! With much less of my volunteer time going to our local library since the pandemic, I’ve looked for other places where I can do some bit of social good with remote work. Politics has been my primary outlet for that as I feel that’s where the most impact can be made these days. The groups I’m working with have seen astonishing improvements in our key metrics leading up to our U.S. elections that reflect a bit on our efforts, but more importantly, I think show a rekindled passion for societal improvement from folks who haven’t been involved enough to even get out and vote previously. We’re in some hard times, but if we can use the hard times as a catalyst for change then I think we’ll see a lot of good come out of this in the next few years.
Want to work with people like Jack? Trineo is always looking for great people to join our team.
To learn more, visit careers at Trineo.