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Relativity

"The Unique Path to e-Discovery: One Engineer's True Story"

Below is an article originally written by Kristy Esparza at PowerToFly Partner Relativity, and published on July 1, 2020. Go to Relativity's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

Raise your hand if you ended up in e-discovery by happenstance.

The truth is, most of us didn't go to school with big plans to join this incredibly niche industry—especially those in the supporting branches of e-discovery, like marketers, HR folks, and software developers. A lot of us just sort of … fell into it.

Faizan Rahman, a software engineer at Relativity, knows this story all too well. As Relativity's very first apprentice, Faizan went from accountant to front-end developer in a single year. His total career transformation was quick—and anything but easy.

Faizan is one of the many faces behind our software, so we thought we'd try something new today and give him the spotlight on the blog. Read on to learn more about his career swap—and why the challenging journey was worth the reward.

Finding His Passion

In 2013, Faizan graduated from the University of Illinois-Chicago with a bachelor's in accounting. After taking a few years to travel and work abroad, he came back home in 2017 ready to start his career. But accounting just didn't have that ooh-la-la allure anymore.

"I knew some friends who were in accounting work, but they were not happy with it," he says. "So, I decided to do something else. If it's for my entire career, I have to do something I enjoy."

So, Faizan did what anyone looking for a job does. He Googled.

He dived into the depths of the internet looking for a new career that he could feel passionate about and commit to long term. In his searches, the same two words kept popping up: web developer.

"Every website showed the trend that web development is the future and in high demand," says Faizan. "But I didn't know if I'd be able to do it because I didn't have a computer science or web development background."

Faizan isn't the first to want to break into software development from a non-traditional background. In fact, the industry is absolutely booming, and there are a ton of online resources to help prospective programmers gain exposure to the field. Faizan enrolled in some basic online courses, including self-led sites like Udacity, Udemy, and freeCodeCamp, and discovered that coding gave him that rush of excitement he had hoped for.

It was definitely something he wanted to pursue, but he knew he'd need some help.

"In order to do this professionally, I knew I would need a structured program where I could actually learn and create projects. That's when I decided to go to a [coding] boot camp."

The boot camp in question was called Coding Dojo, an immersive, full-time program that promises to teach students full-stack engineering in just 14 weeks.

Faizan was up for the challenge—and in for quite the ride.

Entering the Dojo

Faizan's time at boot camp was intense, to say the least. Technically, Coding Dojo's 14-week program is in session Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Realistically, the days can be much longer, with some spanning into the late evening hours.

For Faizan's part, he'd consistently put in 12-hour days, then follow that up with weekend work to finish assignments and polish the skills he had learned the week prior.

"I knew that it would be very difficult, but I was mentally prepared before I went to the boot camp," he says. "[Coding Dojo] openly and clearly says to everyone who's a potential student that this is not a joke. It's going to be the most difficult thing you've ever been through, and it's not for everyone. It's only for people who are willing to put themselves into it and accept the challenge."

At the end of the 14 weeks, he and eight of his colleagues graduated and, after a two-week break for winter holidays, they entered a week of career readiness training—including an open house with Relativity about a brand-new apprenticeship program.

That's where it all came together for Faizan. He applied for the gig and in June 2019, started as Relativity's first-ever apprentice.

Learning & Doing All at Once

Life as an apprentice was a little calmer than life at Coding Dojo, but it wasn't any less challenging, says Faizan. He learned quickly that being an apprentice doesn't mean you're handed throwaway tasks or busy work. He was in the thick of it almost immediately.

"[The role] was challenging for me because I was new, but also because the work I was doing at the time—conversion of static objects using JavaScript—was not done by anyone else on my team or in my department. It was challenging, but I learned a lot," he says. "I had to learn and do the job at the same time, and if I made any mistakes along the way, my teammates were there to help me."

One of his teammates, a senior staff engineer in the core UI team named Adam Sorna, pulled double duty as Faizan's official mentor.

"The mentorship program was one of the coolest things that ever happened in my life because I was not very experienced, and I was nervous because I had never worked at a software company and never designed software for production. Having a mentor was very good for me," Faizan says. "It was something I had hoped for, and I was really happy because any time I had a question, I had someone to ask that question to. My mentor is very senior and knows about the product deeply and is just a very good guy and wanted to teach me a lot. I was fortunate to have him."

From Apprentice to Employee

Faizan made it through 10 weeks as an apprentice before being offered a full-time position on the team—an offer he accepted with open arms, in part because of the challenging work. But mostly, because of the team and culture.

"I feel I'm accepted very well at Relativity. The culture of our team, as well as Relativity in general, is extremely nice. People are accepting of the fact that we make mistakes, and everyone is accepting of feedback and ready to make changes based on feedback," he says. "The culture was the most important point for me in choosing my offer after the apprenticeship."

Today, Faizan is working on one of our most important initiatives: the new Aero UI. It wasn't something he envisioned when he started, but he's happy to roll with the punches.

"My [initial] intention was to find a job as a backend developer, but because of Aero, we needed more people working on UI/UX side of things. It's not what I was planning, but I feel really lucky to work on it."

When he looks back at his life before the apprenticeship program and his life today, Faizan says he has no regrets.

"Relativity had the chance to look at me for 10 weeks as an apprentice and I had a chance to look at Relativity. And I think it worked out pretty well for both of us."

Kristy Esparza is a member of the marketing team at Relativity, specializing in content creation.

Savrut Pandya, left, working for the talent acquisition team at Relativity, leads a group of students on an Aug. 2, 2018 tour of the software company's Chicago office. Relativity, which has about 900 workers in its Chicago headquarters, has announced it plans to hire another 200 in 2020. (Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune)
Relativity

"This Chicago tech company hired its 1,000th employee earlier this year. Now, Relativity is set to hire 200 more in 2020."

Below is a Chicago Tribune article originally written by Ally Marotti, a Business Reporter at the Tribune, and published on November 18, 2019. This article is about PowerToFly Partner Relativity. Go to Relativity's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

Relativity, a Chicago-based software company that has hired about 200 people this year, plans to bring roughly 200 more employees on board in 2020, many of them software engineers.

More than half of the company's 1,100 employees are tech workers and part of Relativity's product and engineering group, CEO Mike Gamson said. The company has about 900 workers in its Chicago headquarters.

"Sometimes you find there are folks who believe you can't find all the engineers you want in Chicago," he said. "We've had really good luck with Chicago being our largest engineering office."

Relativity makes software that legal professionals use to organize data. Gamson said the company's growth is coming as the legal tech industry expands. Relativity also released its first cloud product about two years ago, which allows the company to do more for more customers, he said. Additional employees will help with that transition.

Besides tech employees, Relativity also is looking to hire people for sales, marketing and customer support teams, among others, Gamson said.

Gamson, formerly a senior vice president at LinkedIn, is one of the new employees that joined Relativity this year, taking the helm of the 15-year-old company from founder Andrew Sieja.

Gamson announced the growth plans Monday at the company's Loop headquarters. Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined him and announced that more than 2,000 jobs will be added at Chicago tech companies collectively in 2019 and 2020.

"I want Chicago's tech community to hear me on this issue: We see you as vital and essential partners in Chicago's future," Lightfoot said. "We are eager, ready, willing and able to work with our tech community to be successful."

Relativity's count of 400 new positions in those two years is the highest among the 15 tech companies that participated in Monday's announcement. Others include Cameo, which lets users buy personalized video shoutouts from celebrities, parking platform SpotHero and cannabis marketing platform Fyllo.

Relativity

"The vision powering Relativity’s product and UX teams"

Below is an article originally written by Alton Zenon III at Built In Chicago, and published on June 3, 2019. This article is about PowerToFly Partner Relativity. Go to Relativity's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

Without the combined efforts of its product and user experience teams, products would be inefficient, unusable or both. And in the legal world, no one can afford to have a product fail or be overly cumbersome. Relativity understands this idea well, and the teams behind the e-discovery platform it's developing are striving to evolve the company's product, how customers interact with it, and how they advance their own professional skills.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS MURPHY


PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS MURPHY


PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS MURPHY

Relativity

FOUNDED: 2001

EMPLOYEES: 925, around 775 locally

WHAT THEY DO: Relativity provides and maintains a cloud-based solution for storing and analyzing the large volumes of data generated during the discovery processes of litigation, internal investigations and compliance projects.

WHERE THEY DO IT: Chicago

PHILANTHROPIC ARM: Relativity Gives is devoted to giving back to the Chicago community. It donates tens of thousands of dollars to schools each year and offers staff many opportunities to volunteer.

CULTURE IS KEY: From a number of highly varied community resource groups and a dedication to philanthropy to providing opportunities for staff to have some fun, Relativity is adamant about organically strengthening and widening its cultural arms.


Chris Brown, Chief Product Officer

Chris is responsible for charting the company's overall product vision, strategy and roadmap. He also leads the product and user experience teams, in coordination with the tech division, as they work to reach those future-state destinations.

NO BACKPEDALING: Chris is an outdoor athlete and enjoys snowboarding and biking. He plans to stage his own Tour De Iowa and bike across the state over the summer.

How does Relativity's product fit into the ever-changing tech landscape of today?

Relativity sits at the nexus of the major technology transformations of our time: AI, mobility, IoT, security and the public cloud. As every organization goes through their own transformations in these areas, we are working to build a cloud platform to support them. That amounts to a few key areas for us: improving our user experience, providing the most comprehensive end-to-end e-discovery solution, and increasing our platform extensibility to solve other unstructured data challenges beyond e-discovery.

We use key results across each of our areas that align up to our product strategy and company goals.

How do you facilitate cross-team collaboration to help different teams work towards shared goals?

It starts with building the DNA of great sprint teams, complete with a strong, embedded triad of product, engineering and UX leaders working together. We use key results across each of our areas that align up to our product strategy and company goals and have a mix of ceremonies to keep folks informed and involved in debates around shifting priorities.


Brian Hunt, Director of User Experience

In his role, Brian is always thinking of the user and is in charge of leading the vision and strategy behind optimizing their experiences in using Relativity's products.

A TRAVELING ARTIST: Brian has been writing, recording and performing music with a group of his friends since he was in the 5th grade. He has gone on many U.S. and European tours with a band, and traveling with bandmates taught him a lot about facing challenges and celebrating wins as part of a team.

What are some of the challenges your team is presently working to solve?

We're working to reduce redundant code and unnecessary variations and inconsistencies in the UI. We're employing a design system to provide an easy way to build features utilizing reusable components. Once adopted, our user experience will have a uniform, consistent and improved look and feel.

What's a major project you will be working on in the coming months?

Defining the next generation interface for Relativity. We are looking to bring fast, meaningful improvements to the platform while also mapping out an entirely new user experience for our customers.


Cherry Mangat, Senior Product Manager

Cherry is the product lead for the company's case strategy product line, for which she gives customers tools that allow them to organize important details about their cases.

STORY TIME: Cherry loves storytelling and has practiced it in many ways: via blogging, authoring a book and performing stand-up comedy. She said the idea of combining numerous elements to make a compelling narrative translates to managing a product.

How do you work to keep yourself sharp and in-the-know regarding tech and industry trends?

One of the easiest ways is the internal weekly digest that highlights what's happening in our industry. I joined Women In Product, which is great for networking and learning more about product management and tech. I recently took a training workshop on how Google runs its design sprints, which was insightful and fun.

What tools does your team currently use, and how do they enable your team to work efficiently and successfully?

We use JIRA for tracking development work, Aha! for roadmaps, Salesforce for customer feedback, Tableau for metrics, Asana for task management, Slack for chat and many other tools. It can be a little overwhelming initially to use so many tools, but over time I've come to value the integrations between many of them. They help us collaborate and prioritize the most important work, then align it to our top-level business goals and track the outcomes.


Alex Moy, Director of Product Management

Alex works with product managers, designers and engineers to help give life to Relativity's products, with RelativityOne being the center of attention these days.

CARVING OUT LEADERS: Weather permitting, Alex loves to hit the slopes on his snowboard. The sport demands concentration under pressure, courage and becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable — traits he has taken to his role as a leader and ones he encourages his team members to employ in their own work.

What are some non-technical skills you look for in new hires?

I look for candidates that are naturally user- and value-centric in their thinking. I search for candidates that have T-shape skills when it comes to business, design and technical acumen, as well as individuals with outstanding communication and influence skills. I look for values that I believe are key to the best product managers: courageous with a growth mindset, perseverant attitude in the face of challenges, and putting the team first. And I look for candidates who lead with a servant-leader approach.

Every team member has $3,000 to invest in their professional development each year.

What types of professional or career development resources are available at your company?

Full-time team members have $3,000 to invest in their professional development each year. Last year, we coordinated to level up our product management skills as a team. We all bought copies of Marty Cagan's "INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love" and had a weekly book club to discuss our learnings, thoughts, and actions together. Then, the team capped off that learning by going to one of Marty Cagan's workshops together. It was a great experience to learn with and from each other.

Relativity

"How e-discovery requirements are changing: 5 questions with Relativity CTO Keith Carlson"

Below is an article originally written by Joyce Wells, editor-in-chief of KMWorld magazine, and published on April 29, 2019. This article is about PowerToFly Partner Relativity. Go to Relativity's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

Earlier this year, Relativity, a Chicago-based provider of legal software, announced plans to hire 300 people. As part of the expansion, the company named Keith Carlson as its new CTO.

Carlson was most recently general manager of payments and fraud at Amazon Web Services in Seattle, and is now responsible for technology and architecture strategy and oversees engineering delivery, engineering operations, and production engineering functions at Relativity—formerly known as kCura.

In his new role, the company says, he will be integral to maturing Relativity's SaaS delivery model with RelativityOne and expanding Relativity's reach into the unstructured data realm.

Carlson recently shared his views on the value of unstructured data, changing requirements for data privacy, and how the e-discovery space is evolving.

What are some of the approaches or technologies that you hope to plan to implement in your new role at Relativity?

Keith Carlson: As more customers adopt RelativityOne, we will continue to implement more cloud-native services to augment this growth. Thanks to the elastic scaling and storage already built in to our SaaS product, we can really focus on making the whole customer experience the best it can be.

At Amazon Web Services, you developed one of the first cloud fraud prevention and detection organizations and grew it to where it was evaluating 10 trillion pieces of data a day. How does the expertise and skills from that role transfer to the new responsibilities at Relativity?

KC: Building the Fraud Prevention team at AWS taught me the value of unstructured data. During my time there we developed sophisticated real-time analysis models that processed thousands of variables. Over the next decade, I believe that leveraging unstructured data will be a key part of the move to machine learning models, artificial intelligence and deep learning, and I believe that these technologies will impact just about every part of our lives. With the experience Relativity already has in the unstructured data space, I feel like I have been given a front row seat for what's coming. I can't wait to see where it goes and where we will take things.

Why is it important to extend Relativity's reach into the unstructured data realm?

KC: Customers love the extensibility of our platform because it allows them to address the unique needs of their business and clients in e-discovery and beyond. More and more we're beginning to see customers harness the power of our platform to build unique applications to previously-unsolved problems in the unstructured data realm. A great example of this is Deloitte's new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) application which is built on top of Relativity. The application is used by government agencies to help them manage disclosure requests for government records using automation, analytics and scalable data compliance functionality. Internally, we're also committed to building out unique extensions of Relativity that help grow our business and promote new revenue streams. One area we're really excited about is proactive compliance and how our new Relativity Trace application works with businesses in regulated industries to stop bad behavior like fraud and insider trading before it happens.

How are changing views on data privacy affecting e-discovery solutions?

KC: Data privacy has made its way into regulation around the world and it has impacted how organizations manage data and e-discovery matters across borders. Now more than ever, it is important that users look for a single e-discovery solution with a global footprint, like RelativityOne, that can handle increasingly complex e-discovery matters in a secure and compliant manner.

What are the biggest challenges you see in the e-discovery?

KC: One area that is always top of mind for customers and continues to be a high priority for Relativity is data security, especially in the public cloud. Our goal is to lead the industry to SaaS through RelativityOne and one of the biggest hurdles we've identified is users being unsure around data security in the public cloud. We're confident that we can continue to quell any concerns around this topic by delivering a truly best-in-class security posture developed and implemented by our Calder7 security team and built into every avenue and process of the code that our engineering team develops. I'm looking forward to expanding engineering's partnership with our Calder7 team to ensure that our security remains a best-in-class pillar for our company and for RelativityOne.

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