Meet the Team: Anthony Garritano

From American Underground's "Undergrounder of the Year" to Senior Dev at CrossComm

Anthony Garritano is a Senior Software Engineer at CrossComm. He has spent almost a decade in the software industry as an engineer. What motivates him now, even more than the technology itself, is helping others around him to grow. What I found fascinating in my discussion with Anthony is that his answers to nearly every question—from his favorite places to eat in Durham, to why he chose to work at CrossComm, to the types of projects he enjoys working on—were rooted in an intense desire to have meaningful connections with others.

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How did you get into software development?

My background is originally in video production, theater lighting, and then later graphic design. It was through graphic design that I discovered wanting to create things people wanted to use. I wanted to create interesting interfaces. I wanted to understand how people interact with computers in order to use the Web in a way that was meaningful to people. And it was from there that I worked at a company that had a need for engineering, but didn't have the funds to hire another person. They were willing to give a lot of flexibility around what my role was, and that's when I really was able to start delving deeper into the engineering thing. I just kind of dove in and never looked back.

Do you have a favorite place to eat in Durham?

Loaf is one of my favorite places in Durham. It's an excellent bakeshop. They produce wonderful pastries. The staff is super fun too; several employees are now my personal friends. The owner, Ron, is a super nice guy. He and his wife really care about what they do, this isn’t just a business, it is a craft for them.

If I’m choosing a sit-down restaurant, I think Rose’s is my favorite place in Durham. It’s just incredible ramen—impeccable level of detail. They care super deeply about the food that they're producing. They try to honor the culture that it comes from. They really take care of their staff. There's just a lot of caring. I want to support local people that care about the space they're in, that care about the people they work with, and they care about their craft.

Speaking of “caring about the space you’re in,” you were voted Undergrounder of the Year at American Underground last year. How did it feel to be considered the all-around best community member at American Underground?

When I first learned that I was in the running, it gave me chills. It was very humbling. It made me really proud that people thought so much of me. I'm very much a person that operates in the background so it was really nice to be acknowledged by this community I care so much about.

What's your philosophy around meeting people and building relationships?

I really want to get to know people. I'm not interested in just whizzing through and interaction. I actually want to try to understand what you're about, what are you excited about, what interests you. I want to know those things about people. But I also want to reinforce them as people. I want to support them. I think, as humans, we don't even compliment each other enough. We don’t talk about the things that we're excited about. We don't reinforce those things with one another. So I want to try to bring those into the interactions I have with people.

How does that philosophy work in interfacing with clients?

One of the core tenants behind the way that I function with people is something that I learned working at Apple, actually. There is a principle they have: “assume positive intent.” In every interaction that you have with someone, assume that they are operating out of noble means and are trying to do good. If you, by default, extend positivity and trust to people, they're more willing to extend that back. It allows people to feel supported. It puts them in an environment where they can be at ease and are more willing to be transparent. And that always allows us to accomplish our goals. With clients, it creates trust. It allows them to evaluate the company from the perspective of, “Will you do what you say you will do? Can you do what you claim to be able to? Are you the experts that you say you are?”

You’ve volunteered at four different coding schools over the past 5 years. Why is teaching and mentoring so important to you?

I'm really passionate about education. I'm passionate about taking the skills and things that I've learned and allowing other people to have access to that. Specifically, it's important to me that women and people of color begin to have access to this industry as well. If you want the industry to change and be different, you have to educate people. So, quite frankly, I have a lot of privilege. If I want that change to happen, I have to extend my privilege to other people.

Do you get to share this love for mentoring in your work at CrossComm?

Yes, that's largely what brought me to CrossComm. In fact, that was THE THING that sealed the deal for me—understanding that I would have junior engineers that I would be directly responsible for mentoring. It's in my job role, and I love that it's a metric that I'm assigned to; the growth of other people is something that I'm directly responsible for. I've realized in my career that helping people grow and helping build teams is something that's really important to me, specifically in the scope of technology.

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What else do you enjoy about working at CrossComm?

I’ve been impressed with the consistent quality that comes out of people here. There is a true commitment to making sure that we’re delivering the things that we promise. People here are doing it not because they have to but because they legitimately care about the end result and the people that this will actually impact. That’s not something you see in a lot of work environments and it makes me really proud to work here.

What types of projects do you enjoy working on?

I enjoy projects where almost all of the team is working on it. I really enjoy things that are very collaborative. I love brainstorming sessions. I like the process of using discussion as a tool to whittle down and get to a single answer, solution, or response. It’s like cogs in a clock; I enjoy being a part of a small section or group, but seeing how it affects other sections and watching progress move on all fronts as it gets closer to completion.

I get joy out of seeing the client feel the momentum and get excited for their own product, their own marketing, their own internal process, and understanding that this is all in the movement and support of that. I also like anything that allows me to be very technical and specific and use skill sets that you don't get to use every day. I like things that allow me to feel clever.

What about CrossComm’s future are you excited about?

I’m excited about our growth. I’m really excited to see how the company develops and the kind of changes we make in our industry. We’ve always been leaders and at the forefront of what we do, and I’m excited to see how that continues to progress, especially as our size increases. I’m excited to see what it looks like to continue to do those things with a larger footprint.