10 Questions with Nick Sempere, VP of Engineering at Ash
We sat down with Nick Sempere, VP of Engineering and co-founder at Ash Wellness, to ask 10 questions about work, music, travel, and tea.
Coffee or tea?
I prefer coffee 92% of the time. The other 8% is plain black tea or Jasmine tea. Sage and lemon tea when I’m sick.
What is your career background?
I studied computer science as an undergraduate at Tufts, and then worked as a software engineer at a fintech startup for 18 months. The company was building a research tool for banks and financial institutions. I learned a lot, but the product wasn’t serving the people I wanted to serve. I decided to go to Cornell Tech in Manhattan to get an ME in computer science and pivot to health tech, which is how I met the other Ash founders.
What type of music do you listen to while you work?
I use work as an opportunity to listen to a lot of different types of music. Today was Led Zeppelin. Sometimes I listen to jazz or an electronic album.
What is an opinion you feel strongly about?
I believe in secular governments. My parents are French and some of my thinking stems from French political philosophy, though it can have its own complications. I think it is unreasonable for one group of people to force their religious beliefs on another through their government.
What is something you have changed your mind about?
The types of art I like most. I used to really love things that skewed more avant-garde. I watched experimental movies and read modern literature. Vonnegut and Orwell are some of my favorites. Now I see more value in traditional art and literature than I once did. I have been reading the Fitzgerald translation of The Aeneid.
What is your favorite place to travel?
I visit France often. It feels like a second home. Otherwise, I appreciate going to new places.
Who do you admire?
Paul Farmer, who was an American medical anthropologist and physician. He spent his career working on global tuberculosis care in resource-poor settings. There is a great book about him by Tracy Kidder called Mountains Beyond Mountains. Not sure if he is a realistic model to strive toward, but a hero who utterly devoted himself to improving the quality of life for some very sick and poor people. In reading about him, I learned how community health care is related to individual health outcomes.
What does a good day at work look like for you?
A good day is a Tuesday or a Thursday when I get to go into the office. It starts with me picking up a bagel and munching on it while I do standups at Ash HQ, solving problems that might have occurred overnight. I probably have a design session with Engineering Manager Toni Antonova or Tech Lead Michelle Rather. Maybe I meet with CPO Kyle Waters to square those engineering ideas with ‘the next great thing’ we need to build product-wise. I close it down with heads down time to plan for the coming months.
What project at Ash are you most proud of?
The event re-architecture, just because of its scale. Engineers at every level had opportunities to weigh in on design. We all thought extremely carefully about what we plan to build for five years down the line.
Who else at Ash do you want to shout out?
Each of my co-founders: David Stein, Kyle Waters, and Mio Akasako. We’ve been building Ash for four years with blood, sweat, and tears. Also, all the engineers who work with me. Both the onshore team and the offshore engineers we utilize through Remedy Product Studio. They are all essential, they are amazing, and I love working with them.
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