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March 1, 2024 - 6 minutes

Meet the Ironhackers Powering Tech-Unicorn Reef Technology

Ironhackers are the future of tech and here’s proof.

Juliette Carreiro - Tech Writer


As a hiring partner, REEF has recruited from Miami’s talented tech community and has built a top-notch design team, packed with designers from Ironhack. Ironhack’s tech courses have helped many students transition their career and have made an impact at startups and companies all over the world:

  • REEF transforms urban spaces into dynamic neighborhood hubs that connect people to locally curated goods, services, and experiences. 

  • With an ecosystem of 4,500 locations and a team of 15,000 people, REEF is the largest operator of mobility, logistics hubs and neighborhood kitchens in the United States, Canada, and has a growing presence in Europe

  • REEF is leveraging the power of proximity™ to keep communities moving forward in a sustainable and thoughtful way. 

Sarah Nohe, a 2017 Ironhack graduate, was the first UX hire at REEF in August 2019. She was brought on as their Head of User Experience and was responsible for building up the team’s capabilities. It was important to Sarah to bring strong players with diverse perspectives to the team. Sarah has since transitioned to Head of Customer Experience Strategy.

What does REEF look for when hiring product designers? Well, the team said they look for a mix of characteristics, skills, and experience:

  • They look for spots on the team to fill, and they always want to bring in people who think differently. 

  • For example, take a look at REEF Product Designer, Ally Campbell. She previously worked at one of the largest entertainment companies in Florida, where she was part of a large, established design team. 

  • Working at REEF was Ally’s first time working for a start-up and her experience coming from a large corporation meant she could come to the table with great ideas for implementing new processes and optimizing design practices.

Remaining connected to Ironhack helped strengthen Sarah’s network of Ironhack alumni and opened the door to meet a lot of designers and understand their passions. She met Sergii Khaiba at his Ironhack graduation, and has since played a pivotal role in his career development through a mutual interest in complex design systems. When a design system manager role opened at REEF, his focus, passion, and tenacity secured his employment at REEF.

One of the first hires that Sarah brought on board was Alex Jimenez, a new Ironhack graduate. The value that Alex brought to the team was paramount and helped lay the groundwork for bringing in other junior designers. Alex quickly grew her understanding of REEF’s core business. With the design skills she gained at Ironhack, Alex became a foundational member of the team. 

When Sarah began looking for a design manager, Brenda Matos was the perfect fit! Brenda excels as a design manager based on her ability to draw enthusiasm and involvement from people. Her ability to run workshops and to mentor other designers have been pivotal to her success at REEF.

As the rest of the REEF design team became involved with interviewing their prospective peers, they were able to find value in these diverse backgrounds as well:

  • During his interview with Alex, Ruben Sameach was given a quick design challenge to the whiteboard and his answer really stood out. 

  • The prompt was to “design a financial app for swimmers,” and Ruben put a plan in place that highlighted his strengths with data visualization in designing. 

  • His idea for a smartwatch app was achieved by stepping back and thinking through what would be needed from both the user and the business as well as inviting Alex, as interviewer, to collaborate on some of the ideas.

The team’s most recent hire is Dave Ostergren. He was a notable candidate with great product experience. Though he was initially interviewed for one role, his product background aligned perfectly with a different need. He brings unique knowledge to the table and shows his strength in supporting data-driven decision making.  

Sarah has looked at hundreds of portfolios and interviewed quite a lot of people this year, and the Ironhackers have done a great job of standing out. Bootcamps such as Ironhack bring diverse perspectives and interesting backgrounds with clear talent. Sarah believes the best way for junior designers to nail an interview is the following: 

“Express design principles and concepts in your own words! To me, this is a clear indicator that you understand what you’re talking about.”

Meet REEF’s Ironhack Alumni

Sarah Nohe, Head of Customer Experience Strategy at REEF Technology 

  • Ironhack UX/UI Bootcamp, 2017

  • Career transition from Archaeology

“Don’t hide your background, highlight it! Make a list of your experiences, even hobbies or interests to start to make connections to what skills relate to UX. Share your unique story. “

Check out FluxYeah, a design community built by Sarah. The goal with FluxYeah and FluxHours is to make room for all of these new voices coming in, and provide support from people who have been in leadership roles. There are all of these people who not only want to push as individuals, but as a whole community which is really special.

Alex Jimenez, Design & Strategy at REEF (promoted from Product Designer)

  • Ironhack UX/UI Bootcamp, 2019

  • Career transition from Marketing 

“Ironhack is what you make of it. You have to set goals and motivate yourself. It’s not even just about learning, but about applying for jobs and networking. Make your presence known by using slack channels, and posting content on Dribbble or Medium. Know what to put in your portfolio. Get feedback from other designers at Meetups, like #yourportfoliosux.”

Check out #yourportfoliosux, a design meetup, and UX Corner on Youtube, both run by Alex. These are great opportunities for learning, getting feedback, and networking. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Youtube, and @yourportfoliosux on Instagram

Sergii Khaiba, Design System Manager at REEF

  • Ironhack UX/UI Bootcamp, 2018

  • Career transition from Cable Technician 

“You think the diploma is the end step, but the next steps and challenges are finding a job and applying that knowledge. I found some good mentors that helped me learn to sell myself. My advice is to get out of the box, and go to meetups, no excuses. You’ll start to get more comfortable and get to know people.”

Connect with me on Linkedin, Ironhack and FluxYeah Slack @Serg

Brenda Matos, Product Design Manager at REEF

  • Ironhack UX/UI Bootcamp, 2018

  • Career transition from Elementary Educator

 “I am thankful for my past design experiences that have prepared me for REEF.  At REEF, I was able to hit the ground running and incorporate what I learned in my first years as a designer with my team.  It's not about who has what experience, it's about what we each bring to a table.  My main goal is to facilitate a way for us all to learn from each other all the time.”

Check out We Rise by Design, a non-profit organization, created to facilitate and nurture a UX community that is inclusive and diverse. Follow us on instagram @werisebydesign

Connect with me on Linkedin, FluxYeah, and Ironhack Slack @brendamatos  

Ruben Sameach, Product Designer at REEF

  • Ironhack UX/UI Bootcamp, 2019

  • Career transition from Industrial Engineer 

“Go to meetups, talk with industry experts, and reach out to people on Linkedin and other social media platforms. Be creative in your approach and make yourself stand out amongst other candidates. Use the strong network of Ironhack, it works!”

Connect with me on Linkedin or Ironhack Slack @Reuben

Dave Ostergren, Product Designer at REEF

  • Ironhack UX/UI Bootcamp, 2020

  • Career transition from Product Analyst

“Great products are the result of great teamwork.  Focus on collaboration and adding value everywhere you go, listen more than you speak, and ask a lot of questions.”

Connect with me on LinkedIn or Ironhack Slack @Dave O

Oleh Kolinko, Software Engineer at REEF

  • Ironhack Web Development Bootcamp, 2017

  • Career transition from Cable Technician 

“The bootcamp is not the end, it is for sure just a starting point.  Be passionate, show your character.  When we hire here at REEF, we are not only looking for really good technical people, but also people with great social skills.  Even if you don’t know the technology stack, but you are willing to learn, that's what a lot of companies are looking for. “

With REEF’s growth, Ironhack grads have flexed onto teams beyond design alone. The engineering team hired Ironhack Web Development grad Oleh Kolinko and Francesca Gianoli as a regional distribution manager. 

If you are looking to learn a new digital skill, Ironhack has bootcamps in Web Development and UX/UI Design that can support your transition into tech. Have questions? Schedule 15 minutes with our admissions manager to see if Ironhack is the right fit for you! 

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