Shaun Morris is an innovative senior software development manager at Octo offering nearly two decades of experience in the full software development lifecycle. Not only is he an expert in agile software development methodologies, tools, and processes and known for his excellent troubleshooting/testing skills, Shaun is equally passionate about giving back to the community.
We caught up with Shaun to talk about his Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee involvement and volunteerism, and where that passion comes from.
How long have you been with Octo?
I’ve been with Connexta for four years and Octo for three years, for a total of seven years.
How would you describe your career?
My career has been a continuous learning adventure. I started as a junior software engineer at Lockheed Martin working various programs, including small to large Agile and Waterfall programs in all their glory. Eventually, I became a software lead and learned how to lead a small team and deliver value. As a scrum master, I discovered servant leadership for larger, multiple teams. Ultimately, I successfully led multiple programs to deliver value within scope, cost, and schedule requirements while maintaining high team member morale. I enjoyed learning how to grow a startup as a director at Connexta. It was a tremendous ride from defining software engineering processes, interviewing and hiring new employees, and contributing and announcing policies like training and company donation matching.
As a volunteer coordinator, I organized the inaugural Connexta St. Mary’s Food Bank and Climb to Conquer Cancer events. Octo University has been the latest stage of this journey with the opportunity to teach and continue to learn from others within the company. I’m now back to sharpening my technical skills as a software engineer on a program I started working on 15 years ago.
In what capacity do you volunteer and for what organization(s)?
Volunteering is all about seizing the opportunities when they come. I try to jump in when I can. Making volunteering a family event helps create the opportunity to maximize time across the board, including quality time with the family. My two sons have been active in creating STEM videos the last two years. We did the Climb to Conquer Cancer event as a family. Fortunately, it was a much shorter climb last year. I participated in the backpack drive at the Arizona office. I’ve also played a role in helping the HOPE Project DC by presenting a day in a life of a developer, providing office hours for Cloud Academy support, and discussing the benefits of using Cloud Academy for career growth and improving skills.
I partner with my church to serve the community. Recently, we visited an elementary school and revitalized the garden and surrounding plant area. We also partnered with a local homeless youth organization to sort hundreds of donations from large companies.
What led you to volunteer/serve in the ways you do now?
Participating in the backpack drive has allowed me to understand the needs of children in the system and how there can never be enough resources or help, especially since I am a parent who has adopted a child out of the foster care system.
As somebody who went from knowing nothing about cloud technologies to now having six cloud certifications, I understand the journey, effort, and time it takes for people to learn it. I enjoyed helping others grow their skills through HOPE Project DC.
During the pandemic, our kids were at home looking for things to do. As a family, helping with the STEM effort was a great opportunity to work together to produce something that benefits others. We can never have too many of those opportunities.
How has Octo encouraged your volunteer/giving-back efforts?
Making available multiple, diverse opportunities for colleagues helps give everybody an opportunity to participate. Financially, matching campaigns provides an extra incentive to give and makes a bigger impact on organizations. Providing multiple opportunities throughout the year to serve and volunteer with other employees makes it an even richer experience. Also, the emphasis on education is underrated. Learning about organizations and people who we can help in the most effective ways is very encouraging.
What inspires you to keep volunteering even when the going gets tough?
My faith is by far my biggest inspiration. I look to Jesus as the ultimate servant leader, and that inspires me to serve others even when things get tough.
I recall past volunteer trips to places like Haiti, Dominican Republic, Louisiana (hurricane relief), and Oklahoma (tornado relief) where lives were impacted due to weather, economic conditions, and/or health. Seeing people rebound from the toughest life situations greatly inspires me and puts things into perspective that I consider tough. I try to stay humble, and I am grateful for what I have, which also inspires me to keep giving back to those who are the most in need.
What advice or insight would you provide to anyone at Octo interested in volunteer work?
Cannonball in and get involved! Follow the opportunities on WeSpire. If there is something you are passionate about, feel free to reach out and make suggestions, because I’m sure our colleagues have good ideas. We’ve been given time, talent, and treasure. Discover your gifts and apply them to volunteer and make a difference in people’s lives.
About Octo’s CSR Program
Octo’s CSR program exists to serve vulnerable communities and advance food security, technology education, and health outcomes. Through meaningful engagement, Octo employees align their passion to purposeful opportunities that create community solutions. Whether it’s providing technology training to children and young adults, volunteering to support transitioning service members, serving meals to the hungry, or something else, we operate with a service-first mentality.