BLOG / 5 Questions with Celine Mol, Apeel Software Engineer

5 Questions with Celine Mol, Apeel Software Engineer

Author: Apeel Team

She’s an engineer who has a passion for working with more than code. In fact, before Apeel, Celine helped start a company that actually focused on developing a more sustainable fabric that repurposed agricultural waste called The Hurd Co. It was an idea that came out of her Master’s thesis at The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. It should come as no surprise that, outside of work, like many fellow Apeelers, she spends her free time in nature, climbing, surfing, camping, or building out an Astro Van with her partner as #weekendwarriors.

We asked Celine to share more about her experience at Apeel: 

First, how do you describe your job at Apeel? 

Celine: I am a Software Engineer and the Scrum Master and Technical Lead for the Apeel Core project, a data collection platform used across the globe that enables us to gain insights on product performance and improve our operational efficiency. I work closely with the Software Product Managers to ensure that we’re prioritizing against company objectives and meeting the requirements of our stakeholders. As the Scrum Master, I also spend a lot of time thinking about how we can continue to multiply the impact of our team and keep our team members engaged.

Tell us about working on the software team. What’s that been like for you? 

Celine: I work on an awesome team of software engineers and data scientists that I look forward to coming to work with every day. I think the software team does a great job of finding the perfect harmony between teamwork and ownership. Since we follow scrum, we get together at the end of a sprint and think of which priority items we have to get done as a team in the next sprint to meet our quarterly goals. Our tasks are written out into user stories to ensure that we are keeping the customer at the front of the work. Once a team member has assigned herself to a story, she is responsible for owning that story and bringing it to completion. However, she does not do it alone. As the owner of the story, you are the closest to the work, so it is your job to design a solution for how the issue will be resolved or the feature developed. Then, we come together as a team to review each other's designs before starting implementation so that we can all code with one voice and ensure that the best design wins. After implementing, we come together as a team again to code review each other's code to ensure that everything looks to our team’s standards, and if not, provide opportunities for improvement. In this way, everybody gets to take ownership of how a solution is designed, and we're bringing the decision-making to the folks who are closest to the work. But we're doing it in a way that the team has your back every step of the way, and we can rally around goals and priorities together. And most importantly, we find ways to celebrate our wins and camaraderie together as a team to keep team morale high.

What is your favorite thing about working at Apeel?

Celine: Our ability as a company to live and breathe our values every day – teamwork, humility, leadership, ingenuity. On top of that, the ownership and humor are unparalleled across any organization, and it’s especially impressive that we’ve been able to maintain this ownership over our values through our growth to over 500+ employees. I’ve never met a group of people so passionate about making a difference in this world and so engaged and ready to work together to make it happen on such a large scale. I have to say, the talent team does an exceptional job of hiring exceptional talent! 

Since you are one of our original software team members, how would you describe the experience of being on a small team that is currently growing? 

Celine: Being a part of a team that has grown from 2 to 16 has been tremendously valuable. I’ve had the opportunity to work really closely with an industry expert (the best manager ever, Dave G.!) building an enterprise-scale software product from the ground up. We started as more of a support function to the rest of the organization, and primarily for R&D support, but as Apeel started to grow, the software team has also grown in its importance in meeting company objectives. We now build and manage the software that is used in our facilities across the globe, and we’re even working on a software solution that will be used by external customers in addition to the internal customers that we’ve been servicing so far. It’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience so far and I only see the opportunities for Software @ Apeel growing!

Finally, what’s the best advice you’ve ever received? 

Celine: I’ve received a lot of great advice over the years: Choose progress over perfection, be open to change, and think about how you can multiply the value of your team and not diminish it. To stay more current with our today, I’ll share one piece of advice that I’ve absorbed and begun to incorporate into my own life recently.

I love Brené Brown. I am always listening to her Unlocking Us podcast, and if you have not seen it yet, I highly recommend watching her TED Talk on the power of vulnerability. It’s one of the most viewed TED Talks in the world. Because many of our meetings have gone virtual in this pandemic era, there’s a lack of ability for us to check in on our teammates or read body language to see how they’re doing. Brené’s advice is to start team meetings with a quick two-word feeling check-in. The impact of this is two-fold: First, it gives permission for people to quickly name their feelings without judgment. Second, it acknowledges that we can often feel many things at once – excited and overwhelmed, exhausted and hopeful. This short exercise doesn’t take long to get through the whole team and allows us to lead with empathy and incorporate vulnerability into our professional spaces. 

Thanks Celine! 

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