How a ‘Side Hustle’ Turned Into a Full-Time Gig for One Software Engineer at Glidewell Dental

Featuring Galit Gontar


As an English literature major at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Galit Gontar never expected she’d make a change in her postgraduation plans. She loved her studies and felt she would continue pursuing the career trajectory she’d set up for herself at the beginning of college. That all changed after her first freelance job as a website developer.

To supplement her income, she took a job at a local grocery store. While checking out at the register one day, a frequent visitor asked Galit if she knew how to make a website. In all honesty, she didn’t know how to help the woman, but the $500 check inspired her to learn. She accepted the offer and, with a little help from the Google search button, she developed her first website.

“It was a really scary two weeks. If you broke the money I made down by the hours, I didn’t make much,” she laughs.

After she successfully created her first site, she began taking on more freelance work, realizing that she truly enjoyed helping people develop their own online presence. Pretty soon, her “side hustle” seemed more promising than her other career options. Upon graduation, Galit went back to college to study software engineering, so she could better explore her newfound passion.

Getting Started at Glidewell

Galit first joined Glidewell Dental as a consultant in 2015. Initially, she didn’t expect to remain with the company after her contract ended, but she eventually changed her mind. About six months later, she took a full-time position as a software engineer, and she has now been with the company for almost three years.

Working at Glidewell

“Coming from the tech industry, I will admit it took a few weeks to adjust. From the start, though, I knew that Robert Edwards, the director of software development, was a phenomenal leader and someone I really wanted to work beside. During my time as a consultant, I saw how he really motivated the team and helped guide us, but also gave everyone a large amount of autonomy,” she recalls.

Galit says she was impressed by the types of projects she was assigned to work on during her first month at Glidewell Dental.

“As an outsider coming in, I couldn’t believe the CEO and the COO were allowing a dental lab to explore technologies like machine learning and automation. It made me realize that Glidewell was much more than just your average dental lab. The company seemed truly determined to lead the future of dental technology,” she says.

Exploring Opportunities

The engineering department works in small, collaborative teams, which Galit says is a great environment for people looking to flourish and explore the latest developments in the tech industry. Since joining the team at Glidewell Dental, Galit has become well-versed in using Neo4j, a graph database platform that is known for its impressive ability to natively manage, store and analyze data, which helps provide a workflow engine for the business’s manufacturing processes.

Galit says it’s refreshing to work for a company that isn’t intimidated by new technologies. These kinds of opportunities have allowed her to grow in her development as a software engineer, and she has even spoken at several large conferences in front of entities like NASA and Marriott. She is also featured in several videos on Neo4j’s website.

Working with the Engineering Team

Galit works on the platforms team with two other colleagues. Together, they perform a lot of work on space level architecture, system level application programming interface (API), authentication stacks on user accounts, log-in management for email systems, and lab management applications.

The team also works in an agile environment, which means they do two-week sprints, followed by a review with the stakeholder of the project at the end of each brief term. This ensures the stakeholder gets to view what the team has been working on and see what progress has been made since the last sprint.

Teamwork

Galit is a dedicated team leader and describes that everyone works well together by practicing open communication, while also exhibiting trust between each other. Members also have to be willing to learn from each other.

“In my experience, the most valuable mentorship that I’ve received is from my peers,” Galit says, when discussing the bond between her and her team.

Preparing for the Future

Expanding the use of technology in the lab serves many purposes. It plays a huge role in providing affordable care that is both consistent and efficient, collects and tracks data that gives the company insights, and helps provide a more customer-friendly experience. Web features like My Account allow dentists to manage their relationship with Glidewell Dental online. The team has also worked on technology that routes each person to the same account managers each time they interact with Glidewell Dental via phone call, email, text and chat. All of these developments provide further clarity to the company’s vision and help strengthen the relationship between Glidewell Dental and its valued customers.

“The future is always on our minds, and we are reaching for and meeting goals that people have told us were unattainable in the past,” Galit explains.

Ultimately, with people like Galit on the Glidewell Dental team, the company can be even better equipped to work toward technological advancements that cater to a better customer experience and improved quality of affordable, accessible dentistry.

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