HR&D – How to buy a gift for a software engineer ?

Last year I wrote why I believe engineers should stop outsourcing their emotions at work (hence the *HR + R&D title), so after joining Forter last month, I had the chance to start a new tradition. The occasion? Itay Kimia, one of our engineers, was turning 24.

What could I get him?

Buy something functional, give something emotional

A few members from the team suggested buying Itay a gift card for a local Apple shop in Tel Aviv, as Itay was already planning to buy a few things there. That was pretty easy. A few phone calls and some Google searches later and it was done. Mission completed? Hardly!

This is a functional gift. While useful and fun to receive, it’s not memorable. It lacks personality. It lacks a story. I was still looking for ideas.

Then something happened. I was sitting in Itay’s room (talking with another engineer), and I heard him say something interesting:

“Hey Liron, let me know if you have some time for a short Code Review. It’s really short and simple. 5 minutes, tops.”

At Forter, we conduct Code Reviews for 99% of our commits (via GitHub’s Pull Request). It’s pretty common to hear engineers ask for CR on a daily basis, and try to soften the effort with funny remarks.

“That’s it!” I thought to myself.

Hair conditioner!

Wait, what?! Yes, hair conditioner! Well, in Hebrew it sounds better (softener), but the idea is to soften the request for a Code Review. So I bought some hair conditioner and together with Loet (another awesome DevOps engineer), we prepared the gift. Here is what we (by “we” I mean Loet) wrote on it:

“100% conflicts FREE!

Code Review Conditioner

Instructions: apply carefully on reviewer’s head while going through the CR process, massage gently for best results.”

Here is Itay: ItaiK

We gave Itay the gift card and the personalized hair conditioner after our Wednesday Architecture Hour (where we raise different architectural solutions to various problems we have at hand and discuss trade-offs). He was a bit confused, and rightly so – and then all of us began to laugh as Loet and I explained why we had chosen that gift.

But, does it web scale? (OR: How to distribute it?)

The short answer is Yes! Just like MongoDB, it does!

The easiest way to scale a tradition is to distribute it. Our solution? The last person who got a gift will buy the gift for the next teammate. That way, it won’t cause too much overhead for any single person in the team.

So, what was the best gift you got at work? What was the best one you bought for someone else?

P.S. we’re hiring!

*The term HR&D is “trademarked” by Loet. He’s a genius.

About This Author

Oren is VP Engineering at Forter, where he spends most of his time building a robust and scalable team, so that the team can spend their time building robust and scalable software.