Do You Know These New Team Members?

Chances are you either know or know of Mitch Canter, Director of Engineering, and Matt Ryan, Backend Engineer—two of the newest team members at WebDevStudios (WDS). Both have been a part of the WordPress ecosystem for many years, bringing great talent and expertise to our group of technologists. We’re excited to introduce everyone to Mitch and Matt. Please take some time to get to know them right now.

Mitch Canter, Director of Engineering

Mitch Canter, Director of Engineering

Mitch was originally hired to fulfill an engineering manager role (which we now have an opening for), but it didn’t take long to see he had the potential for a larger leadership position. Within a few months, the WDS leadership team asked him to take over as Director of Engineering.

“Honestly, it wasn’t something that I was actively looking for, but it was a natural progression when it happened,” Mitch says. “When I stepped into the engineering manager role, I told my teams that I had one real mission: make sure that all of the engineers and leaders under me had the resources and information they needed to ‘write poetry’ in WordPress. As needs popped up, I did my best to address them. Sometimes it came in the form of updating documentation or processes. Other times, it was more visionary and on a larger scale. But the transition happened naturally when we all realized this work could be done across the company. Not to make bad things good, but to help the already amazing talent we have here to really shine.”

Now, as Director of Engineering, Mitch had to rethink his goals. He says his daily focus is on ensuring the engineering team has what it needs to succeed, and that includes continuing education.

“I’m constantly working with team leaders and engineers to determine opportunities for learning, growth, and career movement. Even as the director, I try to have one-on-ones with all of the engineers to see how they feel about work and how we do business,” Mitch explains.

He also says, however, that he takes it upon himself to keep an eye on the WordPress ecosystem and ensure that WDS meets all best practices and coding methods.

“I want to strike a fine balance between being on the bleeding edge of what’s out there while still giving our clients the best WordPress experience we can give them,” Mitch relays, adding, “And it’s not an easy task, but it’s one that I know all of our engineers and leads are up for tackling!”

Before joining WDS, Mitch already had a connection here as COO Lisa Sabin-Wilson’s technical editor on her WordPress for Dummies books. As her technical editor, he reviews her included code and ensures it works correctly and is formatted well for the book. Joining the team at WebDevStudios gave him the chance to “get down and dirty with WordPress.”

“I knew that my true passions lay with working with developers and helping to manage the relationship between developer teams and the businesses and clients they work with,” Mitch explains.

Mitch is a great addition to our team and is currently keeping busy with job interviews. We’re hiring! If you’re hoping to join the WDS team, here is some advice from Mitch.

  • “I would rather hire someone with less experience and knowledge that is more willing to learn and grow. Technical knowledge, and even softer skills like leadership, are things that can be taught and molded. But if someone’s unwilling to put in the time and effort to be a long-time learner, they’ll quickly be left behind in a place like WebDevStudios.”
  • “Show us what you know, but also show us what you don’t know and are working on learning. That’s not to say we aren’t pushing the boundaries of WordPress here, but it means that there are opportunities for mentorship and learning in the midst of ‘getting things done.'”

Matt Ryan, Backend Engineer

This is a selfie-style portrait photo of Matt Ryan, Backend Engineer at WebDevStudios.
Matt Ryan, Backend Engineer

Matt has been working with WordPress for 10 years now, remaining active in meetups and WordCamps in his area. He had been operating his own agency since 2013, but he felt as though he needed to level up his skills and desired interaction with other professionals like himself. Luckily, he attended a talk at a local WordPress meetup given by WDS Principal Engineer Sal Ferrarello, who mentioned we were hiring. That’s when Matt submitted his application.

“WebDevStudios has been so supportive of me during my onboarding process as I ramped up to working in a collaborative team environment,” Matt says. “Coming from a solopreneur environment, it was quite a change. Even though we are a completely remote workforce of over 50 people, the company offers many ways for us all to interact.”

One of Matt’s favorite activities is the monthly WDS-sponsored Five for the Future (5FTF) Friday. During his first three 5FTF days, Matt worked to publish a plugin in the WordPress repository. And he was successful! Matt’s plugin is called Simple URLs Legacy.

“That was a huge proverbial feather in my cap. I was so excited to go through the process, learning how to build, refactor and deliver well-documented code that others can use. It was a successful mission, totally encouraged by WDS,” Matt reports.

Matt says the biggest challenge of the process was getting the code to be fully compliant as far as WordPress coding standards are concerned. Matt has this recommendation for anyone interested in developing their first plugin: start with the Plugin Developer Handbook.

“It has all the information you will need, full of examples and additional resources to help you through the process,” Matt explains. “I just started working on my second plugin this past month. Thank you, WebDevStudios, for giving me this opportunity.”


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