This Meet the Trulian features Louis Bennett, senior director of web development at Trulia. Louis joined the company in 2008 and says his goal for his team is to “make hard work enjoyable and rewarding by combining experience, innovation, and research with a sense of humor and pragmatism.” Read on to learn more about Louis.
What’s your role at Trulia?
I lead the engineering teams that build Trulia’s Web applications, platform, and map layers (fun fact: we currently have 34 different map layers that help paint a picture of what a neighborhood looks like). My everyday consists of coordinating teams, designing and reviewing systems, and ensuring that everyone at Trulia has what they need to get @#$! done. I’ve been here long enough to say that whatever you encounter on Trulia is somehow my fault.
What inspired you to get into your role?
I’ve always liked coding. I like learning and building new things, and we always have a lot of new opportunities here at Trulia. As for working in management versus coding on a day-to-day basis, I love management. I enjoy reading books and articles about how to manage for happiness, foster creativity in the workplace, and build smart and diverse teams. Turning the ideas from those books into reality is the fun part. (I joke that my manager Jeff saw the code I’ve written and had to figure out a way to make me stop. In truth, he saw that I was passionate about making the workplace great, and has helped me channel my energy into that.)
What was your dream job growing up and why?
I wanted to be a professional musician. I was that kid who went to band camp, lived in the band room at school, and practiced ad nauseum. I continue to love music, but after enrolling in a double degree program with New England Conservatory while I was at Tufts (classical saxophone performance and computer science), I quickly figured out that I wasn’t as good at music as I needed to be to make a living with it.
I’ve been developing websites since I was probably 12 (shout out to the AOL CDs we all used to get in the mail), and have been doing it professionally since I was in college. Given I was already enjoying what I was doing, I decided to pursue that path… and here I am today.
If you could have drinks with one tech luminary – dead or alive – whom would it be and why? And, what would your first question be?
Perhaps not a stereotypical tech luminary, but I would love to meet Arianna Huffington. My background is in media and I’m fascinated by the companies she has built – she really has changed how things are done in the media world. I also think she’s an interesting character, which would make for an entertaining conversation.
What’s the one gadget or personal tech item you cannot live without and why?
I’d be fine for weeks just about anywhere on Earth without my laptop, Apple Watch, Garmin, etc., but I feel absolutely helpless without my iPhone. It’s my primary device for work, home, everything. (In fact, I’m even writing this on my phone.) We have the whole world in our pocket with our phones, what more could you need?
As for apps, I love Quip and Strava. Quip works seamlessly across all of my devices (in Web or native apps), a huge boon for how I work. Strava does what it does well, and reminds me to exercise without really game-ifying the experience.
What was the last movie you saw or book you read and what – if anything – would you change about the ending?
I’m currently reading Unfinished Business, by Anne-Marie Slaughter. I suppose I’d “change its ending” by having our cultural norm be for parents to share responsibility raising children, and for the U.S. to have something resembling sanity when it comes to reasonable systems and leave for caregiving.
What’s your proudest accomplishment and why?
In terms of my professional accomplishments, I’m quite proud of all of my work here at Trulia, most especially having served as spearhead for the creation of a competitive maternity and paternity benefit package, along with a few other colleagues. I learned a ton about using data to drive action, working with senior leadership, and seeing change for something that’s “not my job.” What makes me proudest is that so many of my colleagues have been able to use the benefit.
If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?
I’ve seriously started feeling the pain of commuting since moving to Berkeley from SF, so I wish I could fly quickly and safely (i.e.: without a plane). I would save hundreds of hours a year commuting, get to see folks far away more easily, and finally have a superpower.
Alternative superpower: Knowing what my dog is thinking. A long-time Trulian as well, Theo is one of the oddest (lovably neurotic) creatures I’ve ever met.
If you could time travel, would you go into the future or past and why?
The past, to change some things. Nobody seems to listen to anyone who says she knows what will happen in the future (e.g.: the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change), so I figure I have a better chance of making an impact on the world if I meddle with history.