Carlson Software Spotlight: Sarah Winter

June 25th, 2015

Sarah Winter is a software developer at Carlson, and has worked for the company for over eight years. She is an integral part of the development of Carlson SurvCE and has helped to ensure our data collection software is equipped with the largest list of hardware drivers in the industry. She is also a mother of three and a book lover, bringing a well-rounded set of skills to her role at Carlson Software.

Sarah Winter meeting customers.

What led you to your current role at Carlson Software and how did you get into the field? What do you like about working at the company?
I actually got my undergraduate degree in electrical engineering. I had always been interested in coding, so I took a job in firmware development directly after college. I made my way to Carlson three years later.

I know, personally, that a lack of autonomy can bug me in the workplace. That’s not a problem at Carlson, everyone is allowed to operate very independently, and there’s still a sense that we’re all working on the same team.

Why do you think Carlson SurvCE is so popular around the globe? How do you feel that you contribute to that?
It starts at the drivers. We can quickly adapt our software and are very responsive to our customers’ needs. Our philosophy revolves around making a positive impact in the fields that we serve. That vision drives our development as a company and has inspired our customer-first approach.

Every customer’s needs are unique, and the applications to which they apply our software are innumerable. With the huge selection of old and new hardware and firmware on the market, we really need to stay on our toes.  It can be hard for customers to receive the one-on-one attention from bigger companies that’s necessary when adjustments to the software are necessary. We take our customer relationships at Carlson very seriously and that’s helped us compete across the globe.

I know you work primarily on drivers. What are some of your goals and challenges as a programmer when creating software that can run on large variety of hardware?
The biggest challenge is keeping up with the pace at which hardware development is accelerating. In Asia, especially China, hardware manufacturing is ramping up and they all want and need drivers for their products.

What about working with Carlson, in terms of the work environment or your day-to-day experience, do you appreciate the most?
I really appreciate the direct interaction with customers and dealers. I know so many of them personally after all of these years, and feel like I can pick up the phone and contact them directly about a problem, or even drive and meet them on site.  That small-company feel is what people love about Carlson, and it’s what I love about working here.

When you aren’t behind the desk at Carlson, what do you like to do with your time off?
Well, I have three young children, so when I’m not at work, I’m with my family.  If I’m not chasing kids around, I love to read.  I’m a bit of a title/author guru.  That’s my trivia expertise.

Describe an aspect of your role at Carlson that people might find surprising…
I think people would be surprised by the amount of traveling a software developer can do–I know I have been! With all of the onsite debugging and customer and manufacturing support we provide, it’s not the strict desk job that a lot of people think of when they imagine someone who works with software.  We don’t actually sit in a dark hole in the basement.

It’s a great field that pays well and is very rewarding for anyone with an analytical mind who likes to problem solve.

Do you have any advice for young, up-and-coming programmers or students interested in coding?
I would advise them to consider engineering as an undergraduate degree. Quite a few of the software developers at Carlson got their start in electrical engineering and picked up programming along the way. Having the broader background is useful in the field and helps you keep your options open.

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