Inside MongoDB: The Story of a Sailor and a Minister

Andrea Dooley


A minister and a sailor walk into the MongoDB office…

No, this isn’t a bar joke gone rogue. A sailor and a minister both really walk into MongoDB offices every day as MongoDB Technical Services Engineers (TSEs).

Charles Merrill is a TSE on the Applications and Integrations Team at MongoDB, although software engineering was not his first career path. For over 15 years Charles sailed around the world – delivering, racing, and working on boats for a living.

Charles has over 80,000 documented sea miles, 8 pacific crossings, 3 Panama Canal transits and “too many West Coast and Mexico trips to count.” His first race was in 1979, and during his tenure, he was a part of the winning crew for multiple National Championships in several different fleets in both the US and Mexico.

“Sailing is a very hard way to make a living. It’s risky and dangerous and takes commitment and sacrifices. I wanted to see what was next onshore for me. The MongoDB TSE team brings together a diverse set of skills and backgrounds. Everyone pitches in, works hard and takes care of each other, both on-deck and off-shift, towards a common goal.”

Today Charles sits in our Palo Alto office, helping our customers utilize MongoDB tooling to be successful in their jobs – not entirely dissimilar to his tenure at sea, when he was working with emerging navigation and instrumentation systems. He first became interested in MongoDB as a Senior Systems Engineer at a startup while researching NoSQL databases for an analytics backend to their BI reporting tool deployment.

“I chose MongoDB because I liked the technology and the people that I met. The interviews were thoughtful and stimulating with great discussions about technology and process. I particularly liked that the interviewers didn’t beat me over the head showing off some niche expertise but rather probed the depths of my experience and areas of expertise gauging how I could be of benefit to the team. It’s a great place to be if you like learning and growing.”

The minister is Andrew Young, a TSE on the MongoDB Support Team. He was recently awarded a Master’s of Arts in Theological Studies from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and will be fully ordained at the end of this year.

On average, Andrew dedicates 10-13 hours per week to his role as an assistant minister. “I’m currently what they call a ‘bi-vocational’ minister. This means that I have two vocations: ministry and something else. There is a surprising amount of crossover between helping customers who are in crisis and being a minister.”

Andrew sits in our Austin office helping our customers work through any technical issues they may run into with their MongoDB installation.

“My work at MongoDB requires soft skills that aren’t generally taught during a CS or engineering degree program. At first I wasn’t sure about working technical support, but the work done by technical services at MongoDB is of a completely different calibre than most of the technical support positions I’ve been introduced to in the past. I love that MongoDB is an open source company that has found a sustainable way to be make money without breaking its commitment to the open source community.

The Technical Services team is one of the best teams I’ve ever worked on. It’s the most close knit, and management works hard to assure that we have the support we need to get our jobs done without becoming burned out.”

The MongoDB TSE Team is composed of 100 engineers and spans the globe, with members in the US, Canada, Australia, India, Israel, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. The team collectively has a wide range of experience, from new college graduates to software engineers and system administrators with decades of experience under their belts. The issues they deal with are usually highly complex and require a deeper technical understanding than most support positions.

The Sailor and a Minister

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