Planned exists to offer event planners everywhere the best solution available for their events. In practice this translates to providing a dashboard view of the multitude of decisions and tasks which make an event successful — reliably providing event planners with a seamless, efficient, and comprehensive platform which enhances the experience of event planning for all planners.
Over the past year we’ve taken advantage of the pause offered by the COVID-19 pandemic and re-invented our platform from the ground up. Our team of developers and user interface designers have created new features, a more intuitive interface, and easier discovery of suppliers. As the pandemic recedes and social restrictions are easing in many markets, we’re continuing to see the results of their hard work.
You’re probably thinking that building a product of this complexity and scope must be challenging. It is exactly that, especially when one considers that our goal of completely transforming the event planning industry is a moving target due to ever heightened expectations of our users and industry trends, many of which have emerged to adapt to the new post-COVID-19 world.
Among the programmer wizards at Planned is the talented and resourceful Mark Conn, our Senior Software Engineer. Upon joining the team last August, Mark’s to-do list was well defined: help rebuild the foundation of the Planned platform. This rebuild would support an ambitious new feature set which will leapfrog us ahead of the competition. Since then he has been instrumental in completely restructuring our product and the way that our clients interact with it.
A focus throughout 2020 was to recreate our product so that it would be scalable and eventually a self-serving platform. Mark recognized that the foundation of the platform had to be rebuilt from scratch. He shared that, “we brought in tools that would help us really achieve a more robust and serious platform. NextJS replaced our hand-rolled React boilerplate for our client app. Typescript became universal across all apps. We picked Material UI for our component library.”
Mark’s passion for software development began in 2015. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning from Concordia University in Montreal. And from 2007 to 2019, he joined the military as an infantry soldier and eventually got specialized as a close protection operator and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014. Amongst returning home from Afghanistan, he decided it was time for the next chapter and found a coding bootcamp, DecodeMTL, that piqued his interest. From then on, his career in software development unraveled.
Mark shared, “I always thought software was fascinating but I felt like an outsider in the sense that it seemed closed off to only those with computer science degrees. However, I learned that this wasn’t truly the case, and that anyone could access the material to learn and try their hand at it.”
He naturally enjoys building and the foundations of what engineering is, and recognizes that software development is a career that is needed in any industry. “There’s a bit of a stigma of the old fashioned ‘programmer’ who just sits around hacking in solitude, but that’s definitely not the case in my experience as a web developer. You are intrinsically tied to the business and collaborating intensely with everyone else in the company to try and achieve the same things.”
His passion for building products drove Mark to pursue an opportunity at Planned. Throughout his time at Planned he has continued to feel the sense of ownership and involvement, “Marc and Emeric [Co-founders of Planned] hired me to help build the software and the engineering team and expressed that they wanted to learn along the way. This is a good leadership trait. Many places have a command mindset wherein the managerial level assumes they already know all of the answers, and their maker’s, designers and developers, are merely there to act on their commands. I think true leadership in tech acknowledges that the developer’s mindset is a critical creative force for problem solving and getting to our destination, and makes sure to include this perspective at every level.”
Striving for innovation and a desire to learn are two values that are heavily practiced within the culture at Planned. Mark’s eagerness to collaborate and ensure that our users have a seamless experience enhance those values. Our approach to company structure and management has completely transformed in the last year, in part due to what Mark has shared about his previous experiences and what he wants to see change within the community of developers globally. As we focused on hiring high quality team members — with great collaborative and problem solving skills — we accommodated that talent by loosening the grip of traditional management and corporate overhead. This is what really allows Mark and the rest of the team to continue to work at their highest potential and thrive in their work life. Mark shared, “we are really trying to break the “command and control” mindset.”
Planned is grateful to have Mark as a part of the team. We’re excited to see the ways in which he continues to assist in the development of the product alongside the team. He noted, “what I’m most excited about in the coming months will be battle-hardening the Planned platform to make sure that our users have a truly seamless experience. Like a lot of great software, it can appear simple and sleek on the surface, but behind the scenes there is a lot going on. We are beginning a new testing and stability initiative that is really a ‘user first’ mindset.” It goes without saying that Mark’s passion is driven by our users.