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Know Your Pro – Max McLennan, Senior Backend Engineer

Know Your Pro – Max McLennan, Senior Backend Engineer

Shipwell is “building the future” of freight, and that future can’t be built without the efforts of our incredibly talented engineering team.

Learn more about how Shipwell combines automated technology and customer service to deliver world-class service.

As we continue our Know Your Pro series, we wanted to expand to our engineering team to show you the scope of Shipwell’s innovation.

Today, we have Max McLennan, the Senior Backend Engineer at Shipwell. Fun fact, Max is the first official employee of Shipwell. We asked him a few questions about how the company has grown to impact the freight industry.

How long have you been working at Shipwell?

I’ve been working at Shipwell for a little over two and a half years, since about one month after the company was founded in 2016.

What does your day look like at Shipwell?

I usually get into the office after the worst of Austin’s rush-hour traffic dies down, catch up on my to-do list, then have a stand-up meeting with the rest of the engineering team where we all briefly discuss our plans for the day. After that, I review some of our other engineers’ code and help them work through tough problems that they encountered in the previous day’s work. I grab a quick lunch (usually a Subway sandwich), then dive deep into the code zone for the rest of the day.

I find that listening to 90’s techno music and audiobooks helps me focus and drowns out the hectic ups and downs of freight life. After an afternoon of good focus, I head home in the evening, once again dodging that rush hour.

What are some of the major problems you tackle in the freight industry?

I joined this company because I was amazed at how backward the freight industry has remained while the rest of transportation has become increasingly efficient. Drivers fail to provide updates on where your stuff is, logistics managers manage their freight on massive spreadsheets or software systems that haven’t changed since 1999, and due to this, shippers have no idea where their freight is or when it’s going to arrive.

Our engineering team is trying to make freight better for all parties involved. We bring drivers the ability to automatically report their location, we free up logistics managers’ time by automatically matching their freight with available drivers, and we give shippers a modern platform to visualize their entire supply chain.

What is your favorite part of the job?

I love diving into a new Shipwell feature that has never been seen before in the freight industry and knowing that the rest of my team will be there to provide advice when I inevitably hit brick walls along the way.

One example would be our automated calling system that checks in with drivers and records their location. I was able to grasp the basics of creating an automated call and retrieving a transcript, but I had to call on our data science team to figure out how to extract a physical location from an arbitrary speech response.

(Watch the video below to see Max’s work in action. This demo earned Shipwell Best In Show at MarketWaves 2018)

Where do you get your ideas for the monthly Hackathon?

I love our Hackathons, specifically because I get to jump outside my normal focus and learn what the rest of our company really wishes they could have. Sometimes, I’ll hear a request from one of our sales reps that, if implemented, would save them hours every day.

Turns out a lot of those features can be built in only a few hours, and it’s a huge win for everyone at Shipwell when the engineering team makes it happen.

What does a typical weekend look like for you?

I’m a big fan of the Austin music scene, so I usually go out late on Friday and Saturday nights to see music and enjoy the highs and lows of Austin’s historic 6th Street. Sleeping in is my favorite thing to do, so I’ll often stay in bed until 1 p.m. if possible.

If on Sunday afternoon I find myself behind on work or just curious about coding up something out of the ordinary, I’ll take my laptop over to a coffee shop and spend a few hours working at my own pace.

What character from any TV show best describes you? Why?

Spock from “Star Trek,” hands down. Logical reasoning is my most cherished virtue, which is probably why I ended up becoming a software engineer. I like to analyze personal life decisions as though they were computer science problems, which sometimes works out fantastically and other times leads people to believe that I, like Spock, experience no emotions.


Max is such a character and an integral part of Shipwell’s innovative culture. Not only is he great at coding, but he goes all in organizing and participating in the annual StartUp Games to help raise money for charity.


If you want to work with people like Max, you can! Shipwell is hiring for several positions.