Connector Spotlight: Kel Stopper

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

You’ll catch Kel Stopper, Director of Engineering, Practice, not just gardening in the mud, but also running in it. An avid sports fan, he’ll cheer for any team as long as they’re flying a Toronto banner, and while he may like things spicy, he’ll always melt for his 4-year-old. When he’s not hard at work, this self-described kind, honest, and energetic fellow believes in four things: sun, sand, surf, and smart homes. The first three he’s got covered on his annual family vacation in Mexico, but the other one has to do with his favourite product(s) – can you guess what it is?

Tell us a bit about the projects you’re working on?

As Director of Engineering, Practice, I appreciate being able to make impactful contributions to our partner’s projects and also to the practices of the Engineering Guild by improving teaching and learning opportunities.

My latest work was for Project Saffron, which was an effort to release a pilot food ordering and delivery product that enables corporate landlords to offer their tenants and the tenant’s employees a convenient option to purchase culinary services and products (on-demand meals, groceries and meal kits) from restaurants and operator partners.

Currently, to improve our teaching and learning initiatives in the Engineering Guild, I am meeting with our team/tech leads to understand the formula for success in leading and managing their projects and am hoping to convey that information appropriately to prepare future leads for these roles.

What’s the most interesting challenge about your project and role?

For Project Saffron, it was interesting to use technology that was not particularly designed for external world purposes. It allowed us to be incredibly imaginative as there were so many firsts and never befores. 

On the whole, there were a lot of challenges that resulted in the shift from in-person to remote work. Take Kata’s for example; traditionally a time where Connectors in the Engineering Guild would gather in a meeting room and practice our craft. However, after going remote-first, the challenge has been to maintain the same feeling of collaboration behind a laptop screen on Zoom. We continue to invite feedback from Connectors and make improvements to duplicate the experience virtually as much as possible.

Where did you work before Connected?

Before I joined Connected, I was a Senior Software Engineer at Adparlor and helped develop software dedicated to advertising on social platforms. Before that, I was a Lead Developer at Mosaic Sales Solutions, building software for experiential marketing.

What achievement are you most proud of in your career to date?

Throughout my career, I was heavily utilizing Ruby/Rails and that became my comfort zone. However, once I joined Connected, I had to adapt to the constantly changing languages and frameworks, and I am proud of being able to leave my comfort zone to grow in a technical manner.

Do you have a mantra you live by?

Rather than a mantra, a set of values and beliefs drives me and my decisions. My spouse, Lauren, says “kindness” is a significant one, and I agree entirely with her, but I would also include inclusiveness and opportunity. I want to see everyone around me succeed.

What do you love to do outside of work?

Outside work, I usually spend time with my family and friends, follow various sports teams, garden and execute DIY projects around the house, and travel! 

I absolutely love spending time with my family and friends, from participating in a fun mud run for the Niagara Health Foundation with my 4-year-old daughter to spending time at the lake.

I am an avid sports fan and no matter the sport, you’ll always find me rooting for teams that are in based Toronto including the Toronto FC, Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, and the Raptors. After moving to the Niagara region, I recently became a season ticket holder to the Buffalo Bulls and have become an avid golfer!

Regarding my gardening activities, I have been growing hot peppers these past few years and making my own hot sauce. While I don’t like to compliment myself, I have been told by family and friends that it’s the best hot sauce they have had!

My family has an annual vacation to Mexico, where we spend a few weeks soaking in the sunlight and warm temperatures.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what album, movie, and book would you take with you?

Movie – I don’t really have a favourite, although I do tend to lean heavily on historical dramas. Braveheart is a movie I can keep going back to time and time again. Similarly, movies like Gladiator are typically at the top of my list.

Book – The Gunslinger by Stephen King is a book that I can read over and over again because it also kickstarts the Dark Tower series.

Album – My favourite album is constantly changing, but it would be a compilation of lighter rock/pop, and there would definitely be some Pearl Jam and Chris Cornell in there. “Hey Google, what’s an album with Pearl Jam and Chris Cornell on it?”

Describe yourself in three words. 

Kind, honest, and energetic.

And finally, what’s your favourite product and why? 

I have a suite of products that I love because they make my home a smart home, including the Nest Audio Smart Speakers, Nest Doorbell, and Google Assistant. The integration capabilities of these products is mind-blowing – we can quickly change the music playing throughout the home to just the kitchen when we are preparing a meal by a simple voice command. With the Nest Doorbell, l I am alerted to pick up a delivery or can ask a neighbour to grab it for me if no one is going to be home for a while. Obviously, the Nest Doorbell is most handy for notifying me that my Connected swag has arrived, I need to be the first one open every swag box!

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