Shield Spotlight: Ward Shelley
A conversation with Ward Shelley, Senior Engineer - IT Operations.
Tell us about your journey to Shield AI.
I first heard about Shield AI from a previous coworker who reached out to me and said, "Do you know anything about this company? I just joined and it seems like it might be a good fit for you."
The technology was really cool, but what most attracted me to the company was its values-based foundation. I've been involved with the Scouting program for over 40 years. I participated in the Boy Scouts as a youth and progressed to an Eagle Scout. When my son was old enough to join, I was a leader for his Tiger Cubs group and followed him through the program as a Scout Leader. The Scout Law is to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. It is very much who I am and what I've been doing forever. So when I discovered Shield AI’s values aligned with the values of the Scouts, I knew I’d found a good fit here.
Were values a big part of other organizations that you have worked at?
I've worked at small startups and very big companies during the course of my career. All companies seek to establish corporate values, but the reality is that pressure to meet schedules and budgets can take precedence over those values.
Shield AI is diametrically opposed to that. If something doesn't sound right, if it doesn't feel right, we just don't do it. And it's very easy to figure out if something is appropriate to be working on or not. You look at the values and it's black and white. There's no gray-area here, which is very cool.
Why do you think company values have been successfully executed at Shield AI?
Values here are a founding principle of the company and are supported by the mission and vice versa. Every day here I see, both in words and action, people living the values of the company. And to me, that's huge. It makes me excited to get up and come to work every day.
How do you see Shield AI adhering to its values as it grows?
It's not going to be difficult to maintain this atmosphere as we grow. The culture of values and the centrality of the mission is so foundational that if that's not what you think and believe and act upon, you won’t succeed here.
Our founders have a personal connection to this mission and to our customers. You can hear it in their voices when they talk about the company’s history and the company’s future. They are really passionate about what we do and it’s contagious.
Do you have a favorite moment from the time that you've been here?
Meeting the people here and knowing that I've made new lifelong friends is probably one of the biggest takeaways. I've worked in a lot of different jobs -- this is somewhere north of 18. And I've got some friends from previous jobs, but nothing like what it is here. There are people here with whom I will be friends forever. That speaks volumes.