Last time, you met Wes Greaves, and this time, we have yet another outstanding human needing introduction: Ben Shepard.
Ben has been with us for over a decade now, long before Tafi even existed! He’s much more used to referring to Tafi’s sister company, Daz 3D, since it has been around longer, so you’ll see him use both names throughout the interview. Ben is always hard at work behind the scenes, and we’re glad to bring him out and into the spotlight!
Ben, congrats on recently celebrating 10 years! What do you do here at Tafi?
I fill a role that is best summarized as "The Data Guy," but I believe my technical title is "Manager of Business and Consumer Intelligence". The long and short of it is that I use data to help others at the company do their jobs better and more intelligently.
What do you like most about working at Tafi?
I'd say the culture. Utah is a pretty conservative place, and I enjoy that I can be myself here — be it with my casual attire and tattoos or my predilections for a craft beer at lunch.
We definitely are proud of our inclusive culture. What has your experience been like working at Tafi?
I feel very unique in that I've had such a long career here and that this is my first "real" job. I started here as an intern and have worked my way up to where I am now. I get the impression that that is rare, and I have been fortunate that management here recognized my potential and helped lift me up.
That really is a unique experience. What are some of your favorite memories at Tafi?
Definitely the holiday parties. We let loose and it's a time where those of us that don't get to work together directly very often get to know each other. Also, we have a pretty cool space where we can demonstrate our technology to guests. I have fond memories of bringing friends and family in to experience VR for their first time.
What is your proudest moment/accomplishment at Tafi?
My proudest accomplishment would have to be my career itself. I've worked my way from being an intern to having responsibilities across the companies and reporting directly to the President of Daz/Tafi.
Before working at Tafi, what was the most unusual or interesting job you've ever had?
I worked for several years doing data entry for USPS. I learned a lot about how the mail works on a technical level while there and still can associate zip code prefixes with most states by memory.
What's the best career advice you've ever been given?
"Don't hug a stove," by Steve Spencer, the former CRO at Daz/Tafi. Steve explained it to me as, "You won't get along with everyone you work with, but that doesn't mean they don't provide value. If your test for value is getting along, you'll miss out on some people that are good for your situation."
That’s profound! Now, let’s get a bit more personal. Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
My typical answer to a question like this is that I am a high school dropout with three college degrees. I think we all navigate our own paths in life, and what's good for some isn't appropriate for all.
Well said. Outside of Tafi, what do you like to do in your free time?
The older I get, the less I seem to get done outside of work. I'd list my hobbies as travel, craft beer, video games, and BMX. The former two often occur at the same time. ;)
That’s a great combination! What's your favorite and least favorite food?
I'm quite partial to burritos but LOATHE cilantro. These often overlap, and it makes me sad.
And if you could only drink one beer for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That's a tough question as I'm partial to various types. I'd say the Pineapple Berliner Weisse at TF Brewing here in Salt Lake City.
What is your favorite travel destination?
Tokyo. I'd move there if I could afford it. I could walk down a different street every day and still never see all of that city. It's impossibly large.
What is your motto or personal mantra?
Never say never, and never say always. Life is too fluid for absolutisms.
Anything else you'd like to share with us?
Haha awesome. Thanks so much for the interview, Ben! We can attest that many of us here at Tafi have benefited from your work, and we’re glad to have you.
We’re humbled by the number of phenomenal people we get to work with and can’t wait to introduce you to more of them!