Let us count the ways. TCG has free snacks, tons of games, beautiful views, relaxing spaces, and room for exercise. But most importantly, we’re a close-knit group of individuals who excel at what we do.
The Control Group Founder, Kris Kibak, became interested in the internet and programming at an early age. His father, Henrik Kibak, got him access to a home computer when he was about 10 years old and taught him HTML at 12. They used to post on the “Brisco County Jr.” TV show forums using what must have been dos--before very few people outside the academic and scientific communities were using the internet. A firm believer in the value of company culture, Kris implements a fun and relaxed work environment, which helps to fuel the creativity and innovation that defines TCG. Team members are always encouraged to share their thoughts, suggest new ideas, and work on their own professional and personal growth. Kris knows that his employees are the backbone of TCG’s success, and he never misses an opportunity to show his appreciation throughout all areas of the company. When he’s not at work, you’re almost guaranteed to find Kris reading a book, outdoors, or both— some of his favorite activities include distance running, wakeboarding, volleyball, snowboarding, fly fishing, and pretty much anything that has to do with warm weather and a river. He’s a huge advocate of maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle, and he makes a point to diffuse these values throughout the company. Catered lunches, nutritional snack and drink options, an in-house gym in the downtown office, and a full rack of company surfboards in the Pacific Beach office are just a few of the ways Kris helps the team stay healthy and happy. Kris believes in hard work, but also feels that quality is more important than quantity, and that quality work comes from happy, healthy people.
Joey Rocco, co-founder of The Control Group, grew up in Petaluma, CA and attended college at UC Santa Cruz, where he met future business partner, Kris Kibak. As Chief Operating Officer, Joey manages all the day-to-day operations of the company. He works closely with TCG’s legal team, playing an integral role in all aspects of corporate initiatives, both internal and external, and helping to drive all company inbound marketing, communications and PR efforts. Simply put, Joey is the one behind the scenes, constantly ensuring that the company runs smoothly, and the results of his efforts are self evident. The Control Group has grown rapidly and the successes have made the company an incredibly desirable place to work. Joey, a winner of San Diego’s Top 30 Under 30 award, said “I’m really proud of what Instant Checkmate and The Control Group have become. There are no limits to what we can do.” Outside of TCG, some of Joey’s favorite things to do are outdoor activities such as tennis, wakeboarding, snowboarding, surfing, running, and tabata workouts. Traveling and attending music festivals are also some of his favorite pastimes.
Company CEO Steven Gray oversees all operations of The Control Group’s public records products and leads overall growth strategy. He has over two and half decades of experience in consumer marketing and a long list of successful campaigns with high-growth companies under his belt. While still a college student, Steven got his feet wet in the marketing world by working with an ad agency that launched the Infiniti auto brand in the U.S. That experience led him to discover his passion for data analytics and the behavioral science of direct response marketing — a foundation that served him well as he moved up to sales management and, eventually, the C-suite. When he’s not accelerating sales growth, Steven likes indulging in his passion for soccer and spending time with his wife and best friend of 24 years. What inspired him to the join The Control Group? Driven leadership and a culture that values teamwork and achievement. “Kris and Joey are passionate leaders who respect their people and have a great vision for the company,” he says. “There is a hunger to always improve, be better, and win. No egos here. This is a culture that breeds success.”
Chief Technology Officer, Shiem Edelbrock, was born and raised in the city of Riverside, CA. A friend of Shiem’s was disappointed by the lack of challenges he faced in the business marketplace and decided to pursue application development. Shiem jumped on the opportunity to start in a new market and joined his friend on an entirely new path. That experience led Shiem to discover his passion for programming and technology. After working on several lucrative freelance projects, he eventually found a home here at The Control Group. While he started with us as a programmer, Shiem eventually became a Director, and has now earned the top technical role at The Control Group as CTO. Shiem oversees all of our development efforts. He architects solutions, supports stakeholders, and helps drive all technical decisions. His responsibilities include security, infrastructure, research and development, strategy, hiring, and mentoring. As an ICAgile Certified Scrum Master and Scrum Product Owner, he’s our team’s go-to guy for supercharging every tech project. Shiem says that his favorite part of working at TCG is the opportunity to work with some of the smartest and most talented individuals in the industry. The incredible intellect and limitless enthusiasm leaves him humbled each and every day.
Our fearless CFO, Rick Sutton is originally from Thousand Oaks, California, but relocated his wife and their four kids out to San Diego for the opportunity to build up TCG’s financial department. Rick has been working in finance for over 15 years in a wide range of industries. While he’s always been good at math, it was the planning and analysis of numbers that really drew him to the world of finance. His ability to organize and forecast was seriously put to the test when Rick went back to school to complete his MBA--while working full time and juggling a growing family. As our Chief Financial Officer, Rick is responsible for all areas of finance and accounting. This includes getting the bills paid, crafting financial reports for internal analysis, and financial planning. Rick enjoys TCG’s young, vibrant company culture and working with colleagues who are heavily involved and dedicated to the greater good of the company.
Vice President of Sales and Marketing Andrew Lovasz got his first taste of online marketing in law school. There, the native of Livonia, Michigan, was asked to build a website and market it. That first experience would launch an extensive career and earn him the highest honors in the online marketing world. In both 2015 and 2016, Andrew won Google’s Mobile Marketing Champion award. At The Control Group, Andrew uses his extensive experience to reach and convert new customers for the company’s suite of products. When he’s not expanding market share, Andrew spends time with his three (soon to be four) sons. What attracted him to The Control Group? He says he most values the leadership and “employee-centric culture.”
Graphic Designer, Amanda Aschenbrenner, started her journey into design as a tot. Armed with a Fisher Price camera and an early edition of Microsoft Paint, she honed her enthusiasm for all things design related from infancy all the way through college. Now she’s stoked she can transform her passion into a full-time career. She now works with the TCG front-end team to create clean and effective designs, while also providing design assistance to the split-testing department. She also loves Mac and Cheese, and of course, the playful pups that surrounded her desk at TCG. Her philosophy when it comes to design is inspired by a quote from Joe Sparano. "Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent."
As a kid, Amber Hendrick was gripped by the graphical symphony in glossy magazines. The balance of typography, design elements, and whitespace made her realize that design was the only path for her. When she landed her first design job at a firm in Northern California, she got a chance to see how the pros approach the creative process. This cemented her love of the field. At The Control Group, Amber uses her skills and entrepreneurial spirit to turn our web properties into conversion powerhouses. While she’s at work she keeps four design principles in mind: 1) Simplify 2) Organize 3) Divide and conquer 4) Don’t lose sight of the end goal. She’s also an avid traveler, and her adventures have taken her to Mexico, Canada, France, Switzerland, Italy, Scotland, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Singapore. She’s very excited by how common problems are being solved by emerging technologies like wearable devices, genome editing, self-driving cars, and brain mapping. But she maintains that most first-world problems can be solved with cheesecake. What Amber loves most about TCG is the positive and friendly environment, office location, and focus on digital design and optimization.
Art Director, Luke Vanvoorhis fell in love with design in college after landing an internship in the action sports industry. Here at TCG, Luke tackles a ton of different design projects like branding, web design, print, UI, split testing, and even some photography and live video. Luke is excited to learn more about advances in cameras and solutions for clean energy. Luke lives by this famous quote from Massimo Vignelli, “In graphic design, the grid, the typefaces, the text and headlines, the illustrations, all make up the final product. If, in the end, no one understands the result, or the meaning of all that effort, the entire work is useless.” Luke cares deeply about the human condition, and it comes as no surprise that his favorite part of working for TCG is being surrounded by smart, passionate people.
Andy landed his first job as a graphic designer in 2013, at Studio 333 (largest art gallery in the Bay Area). Two years later, Andy was building rapid-prototyping environments for Skyport Systems in Mountain View, CA. He earned a B.S. in Finance from the University of Northern Colorado in 2012 where he was named to the Big Sky All-Academic list twice for his success on, and off, the football field. At TCG, Andy is responsible for driving millions of organic users to our websites every week. When he's not working with developers to create blazing fast web designs, you can find him playing guitar, hiking with his dog Jacqui, or sitting in with a mariachi band in Tijiuana. Andy is also active in the community, he's an Advisor to the Hoover High School Academy of Information Technology Board.
Front-end web developer, Gus Alaniz, got his start in the tech industry as a motion graphics designer, and transitioned over to front-end web development when he was asked to create a website. Gus also dabbles in PHP, jQuery, and object-oriented programming languages like Actionscript. Here at TCG, Gus codes out PSDs from the design team and often helps drive designs himself with his stellar MS Paint skills. But Gus’s skill set extends far beyond the tech world. He’s also a spelling bee champion and track and field star (he’s got the participation ribbon to prove it). Gus also wants you to know that he will destroy you in a Halo 1v1. Any challengers? Gus says he enjoys the chance to “push my capabilities when trying something out, learning from the rest of the development team, and playing Magic The Gathering during lunch.” One day, Gus would like to own a dragon. . . and a hoverboard.
James Cool is a member of The Control Group’s site optimization team. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and started teaching himself programming after leaving graduate school. James is really interested in functional programming, WebAssembly, and Web Components, but as of now, he’s just trying to avoid breaking websites and the sliding glass doors in the office. When he isn’t working, James enjoys playing music, watching movies, and researching philosophy. Some of his proudest moments to date include placing third in an essay contest in elementary school and crocheting an oversized lavender sock by himself. James said our three San Diego offices and excellent benefits made picking The Control Group an easy choice.
Hailing originally from the San Francisco Bay area, Kris Barrett is one of our talented application developers. But before we could benefit from his talent, he worked as an electrical engineer at a big telecommunications company. Even when he worked on hardware, he was always a programmer at heart. When he heard about The Control Group, he reached out to our recruiter, Chris Ridge, and landed a job here as a developer. Now he works on backend development, and in his words, is “doing what I am passionate about full-time.” Kris says that his favorite thing about TCG is the agile, highly collaborative, and highly talented team. While he now works on software, he hasn’t completely left his hardware days behind. In fact, he built his own reflow oven so he can manufacture electronics at his home. His main area of excitement is Docker. He believes that software containerization will make our services more reliable and more scalable, while still being easy to develop and deploy.
Luis Rocha (that’s pronounced Loo-EES) is a San Diego native from Chula Vista. Prior to joining the Split Testing team, Luis lived in San Francisco for six years, where he found his passion for coding. He sharpened his skills by experimenting on Code Academy and committing to an intensive web development bootcamp. Before falling in love with coding and split testing, Luis worked as a festival photographer who got to attend some of the biggest music festivals on the West Coast. Luis also ran a popular tech review YouTube channel in high school, and he was invited to join one of the earliest YouTube partner programs. So, why is TCG the right fit for Luis? “I can really tell that each team member wants to push themselves and their coworkers to be the best they can be — all while being supportive of each other,” he said.
Mehmet Koc is an application developer and team lead for our Mobile products team. Mehmet, a native of Turkey, got a hands on education in development when he started working at startup companies. If you ever see him in front of a computer monitor, you can safely assume he’s programming in React JS, PHP, or Node. When he’s not transforming lines of code into incredible products, he likes to strap on his cleats for a game of soccer. Though he loves all cutting-edge technology, right now he’s especially excited about big data efficiency. He was drawn to TCG in order to “work on launching new products in an awesome environment."
QA Engineer, Robert Karstein comes to us from the bay area, and graduated from SDSU with a BS in Computer Science. He’s proficient in Ruby, and provides QA support for the split test team here at TCG. And they’re in good hands, Robert has an Advanced Performance Testing certification from Silk. There’s much more to Robert than his technical prowess: he’s also a teacher and an artist! Robert likes the people he works with, and is excited about automated testing.
Our Director of Human Resources, Alice Seivertson, was born in Tokyo, Japan and came to the US when she was a baby. Alice has over 20 years experience as an HR professional and has worked in a variety of business, but working for tech companies like TCG is her favorite! Alice loves HR because it lets her help people and businesses be more successful, and the work is interesting and diverse: there’s never a dull moment in HR! Here at TCG, Alice helps shape our awesome benefits program, handles employee relations, juggles organizational development, facilitates onboarding, keeps employee morale high and so much more. She also administers payroll, health insurance and our 401k plan. Alice is a member of the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) and has her Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) certification. Her favorite part of working here at TCG? Our culture. She says, “We have such a great group of fun, talented, creative people and our culture supports and cultivates it all – fun, creativity and exceptional talent.”
Our Director of Office Administration, Britt Taverner has mastered the art of organization through her years of administrative experience as an assistant, department head, and director in various industries. Britt oversees administrative services for all TCG offices, providing support for executives, management, and employees. She also handles contracts, properties, facilities, travel, meeting coordination, equipment, supplies, kitchen and food stock, promotional materials, email, parking and building security, and coordinates company wide events. She’s basically superwoman. What’s her secret to staying on top of everything? Email management. An unorganized inbox is her archenemy, so she makes sure that every email is filed into the appropriate folder and maintains archives of all responses, dates, times, and completion orders. Britt’s expertise goes far beyond traditional office management. She’s a jack of all trades and is part handywoman, mechanic, chef, seamstress, electrician, and at home beer brewer. Britt has a Master’s degree in Political Science, and her thesis was published in 2013. According to Britt, the best part of working at TCG is her bosses. She says, “I honestly couldn’t imagine working for anyone else.”
Kristle has spent the last 10+ years as an Internet marketing strategist with expertise in leading web teams and creative departments. Holding a BS in Corporate Communications from Michigan State University (GO SPARTANS!!), Kristle has enjoyed a career leading marketing initiatives for Fortune 500s and local digital marketing agencies. With a specialty in SEO and Content marketing, she has a passion for driving successful campaigns and leading project teams. Kristle manages the Inbound Marketing strategy for all the brands TCG supports, leading our team of talented content writers, social media experts and developers. In her free time, Kristle enjoys spending time with her family, going to happy hour with friends, camping, going to the beach, practicing yoga and exploring all of what San Diego has to offer.
General Counsel Rachel Waters keeps us all in line by making sure everything The Control Group does strictly adheres to local, state, and federal laws. Nothing happens until Rachel gives the legal thumbs up. After graduating from Wake Forest University School of Law, this North Carolina native completed a prestigious clerkship with United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle. Before working here, she spent some time doing advertising compliance review at a big law firm. She calls this experience a “perfect segue” for her work at TCG. She loves that she can bring her rescue dog, Carver, to the office every day. That way, he can play with his doggie friends instead of staying home all day. Her secret to staying organized? A combination of high tech tools and old school techniques. She’s a master of the note taking app Evernote, but she appreciates the power of a good handwritten note. “When I was studying for the bar exam, my walls were literally papered with post-it notes,” she says.
Marketing Analyst Kevin Girgis is originally from Columbus, Ohio, but his career has taken him around the world. Kevin began his career interning for an ad agency in Singapore, and now he works on marketing analytics and strategy for NextGen Leads. “I love having the opportunity to be creative and to strategize to help the company grow,” he said. A Division 1 track and field athlete, Kevin graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 2016. He has also visited more than 20 countries on five continents. What makes TCG such a great place to work? “I joined TCG because of the focus on creating great work/life balance in such a friendly environment,” he said.
Our Senior Manager of Digital Marketing, Luke became fascinated with the world of digital marketing in college, through promoting his own music online. Now, Luke is a Google Adwords Certified USD graduate. He’s stayed in the industry ever since because he loves the endless possibilities for creativity and the challenge of working in a constantly evolving industry. Here at TCG, Luke collaborates with our affiliate marketing partners to scale their campaigns and increase sales. He also manages our affiliate marketing program. When he’s not jamming out to the Eagles at his standup desk, Luke is battling our developers in their neverending nerf gun war.
IT Engineer, Kyle Kuemmerle, was born and raised in sunny San Diego, so it’s no surprise that he loves working beachside at our PB office. Kyle’s brothers started working in DevOps before him, and when he became interested in what they were doing, he too set out join the industry. He also credits several of his close friends who helped him find work and connected him with important contacts along the way. Here at TCG, Kyle’s team wears many hats and has several key responsibilities including server maintenance, configuration management, monitoring, and rapid responses to issues affecting the site. This wide spectrum of daily tasks is what Kyle loves most about DevOps. “I get exposure to a lot of different areas in IT that interest me, and I get to work in operations, development, networking, monitoring and infrastructure,” he said. Kyle’s favorite part of working for TCG is working side-by-side with people who are passionate about what they do. Oh, and the yummy food on Mondays!
Jr. Executive Assistant, Natalie Scott, is a native San Diegan whose social and organizational skills make her a force to be reckoned with on TCG’s administrative team. Natalie makes sure that our PB office is always fully stocked with Red Bull, beef jerky, and anything else that helps fuel the minds of our awesome application developers. Natalie also helps plan office events, organizes our catered Monday lunches, and keeps team morale high with her eye for detail and desire to support her team. Natalie can usually be found stocking the office kitchen in PB with everyone’s favorite snacks, greeting visitors in the reception area, and running errands all over San Diego with her favorite canine companion, Miley. Her favorite part of working for TCG is the positive, friendly people here.
Courtney is a native of upstate New York. She has a degree in Art and Psychology, as well as Graphic and Interactive Design. She’s practiced Contextual Design Inquires & Methodologies in the US, as well as internationally. So it’s no surprise that Courtney’s work is driven by two things: a passion for uncomplicated design, and a curiosity for uncovering why people do what they do. At TCG, Courtney acts as the voice of the customer. She conducts extensive studies, usability tests, and customer confirmations in order to uncover customers’ underlying motivations. In a nutshell, she wants to figure out how to make TCG’s products more valuable and easier for customers to use. In Courtney’s spare time, she is a stand up paddle yoga Instructor and a beach explorer. At TCG, she loves having an IPA at drafternoons, bringing her “skeptical little dog” Buster to work, taking yoga breaks, and working in an open-minded environment that encourages innovation and creativity.
Content Strategist Logan Strain is from Bonsall, a small town in north San Diego county. At The Control Group, Logan researches the latest in solutions that help protect personal information for TruthFinder. When he’s not learning about the dark web or the latest digital security technology, he can be found mastering the art of juggling. When asked why he enjoys working at The Control Group, he said, “We are very much a learning organization. The company encourages and heavily invests in professional development.”
Alina was born and raised in Rostov-on-Don, a city in the southwest of Russia. After moving to Boston to get her MSA from Bentley University, Alina was ready to explore the west coast (and some warmer weather). So she moved to San Diego in 2008, and she loves it! Alina is a Controller at TCG, responsible for financial and managerial accounting functions. She’s also a Certified Public Accountant. She started in the investment management industry, and later worked in various accounting roles in real estate and advertising. Alina has always enjoyed interpreting numbers from financial statements, because financial statements tell the story of any business. She’s especially into “analyzing financial trends and performance metrics to identify successful business tactics.” At TCG, Alina loves the professional drive, enthusiasm, and positive attitude of the TCG team—and her daily shot (or two) of espresso.
Jena is a Staff Accountant, a vintage treasure hunter, and a true lover of the great outdoors. She graduated from the University of San Diego, where she obtained both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting. While completing her CPA license, she stayed true to her San Diego roots by working as an auditor for a public accounting firm that specializes in breweries and fitness companies. At The Control Group, Jena assists the Controller with accounting tasks. Outside of work, she enjoys watching sci-fi movies, flying drones with her husband, and adding to her personal “boop list” of animals she has touched—including tigers and monkeys! What inspired Jena to join The Control Group? She said, “I was drawn to the office location, friendly environment, and, of course, the dogs!”
Melissa is TCG's Senior Accountant. Since she's from Ottawa, Canada, Melissa is proud to be a "typical French Canadian" (she loves hockey and ends every sentence with "eh"). Melissa has always been good with numbers, so she majored in accounting at the University of Ottawa. She began her career as a customer service agent for an airline. (The job perks made it easy for her to fulfill her dream of traveling around the world.) However, when an accounting position opened up at the airline, Melissa took the job and obtained her CPA designation — officially making her a certified public accountant. Then she moved to San Diego in 2014. Melissa has spent the last five years of her career working in the corporate world, so she appreciates TCG's ambitious, yet laidback and energetic environment. She also loves bringing Mr. Tacos, her French Bulldog, to work!
Michelle grew up in Orange County. After graduating high school, she studied at USD and hasn’t left San Diego since! Michelle started college majoring in Economics, but she quickly switched her focus after her first accounting class. Michelle prefers accounting to economics because it focuses on how money is actually spent, rather than the opportunity costs of spending money. Michelle says she’s always been good with numbers. On the job, she manages TCG’s Account Payables to make sure all vendors get paid in a timely manner. She’s also responsible for reconciling over 20 different bank accounts and credit cards each month. Beyond her usual financial responsibilities, Michelle’s job changes day to day. She’s always eager to take care of any accounting and finance projects that come up. Michelle had this to say about TCG’s amazing work environment: “It’s all because of the wonderful people who work here!"
Born in Orange County, Janet Moreno grew up in Lake Elsinore before attending Cal State San Marcos. She graduated in 2016 with a B.S. degree in Business Administration. Prior to joining the TCG team, Janet worked in veterinary management for 10 years. As a Human Resources Generalist and Payroll Supervisor, Janet makes sure that the TCG team can fully enjoy the numerous perks of working for one of San Diego’s best companies! Janet’s favorite thing about TCG is the company’s investment in its employees. “Companies who put this much effort forward really care about their employees. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a culture where innovation is encouraged? Having fun while doing it is part of the culture!"
Sr. Communications Manager, Kacey Sakurai is a Certified ScrumMaster, and Certified Product Owner from a small beach town just outside of Santa Barbara, so naturally she fits right in at TCG’s PB office. Fortunately for Kacey, her professional life has never taken her very far from California’s sandy shores. She got her start in Project Management at a tech startup in La Jolla, and now she’s part of TCG’s Communications department. Being part of the Communications team means working with many different projects on a daily basis. Kacey’s primary focus is aiding communication throughout the company, including our member care team. Her other duties include reputation management, customer relations, team building, and corporate social responsibility event planning. Kacey loves basketball and lunchtime naps on the beach and says that her favorite part of working for TCG is the awesome people.
Advertising Attorney Nicole Smith is the newest addition to The Control Group’s legal team! Nicole is a San Diego native and graduate of USD law school. In her third year, she was editor in chief of the biannual San Diego International Law Journal. She managed a team of more than 50 members while she was a full-time student and working part time. She says the position helped develop her time management skills, which play a key role in staying organized. After passing the California bar exam, she worked as Assistant General Counsel at Bofl Federal Bank in La Jolla. As Advertising Attorney, Nicole reviews content, proposed advertisements, and marketing materials to ensure legal compliance. She also supports Rachel Waters, TCG’s General Counsel, with any other tasks in the legal realm. Company culture was a big part of her decision to TCG: “I love that the company fosters an innovative and collaborative work environment where personal growth is encouraged. And you can’t really beat being greeted by dogs when you come into the office in the morning!” Nicole is also a seasoned distance runner — she completed the Nike women’s marathon in San Francisco, and she’s looking forward to participating in TCG’s many company-sponsored 5Ks!
Nick Neal has lived in San Diego since he was seven years old, but he stays true to his hometown roots by rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers. When he started his career out of college, he noticed a growing demand for people who knew how to make the most out of data, and he worked to expand his skills in data analysis. He’s enjoyed a career in the field ever since. At The Control Group, he leverages data to help us make better business decisions. When he’s not making sense of numbers, Nick likes to spend his time outdoors, seeking new food experiences, and learning new things. Why the Control Group? Nick says that he's drawn to the potential of the business, its success so far, and the agility of an organization owned by co-founders.
Office Assistant Ashley Kammo is originally from New Jersey — specifically, the Jersey Shore! Over on the West Coast, Ashley takes care of administrative tasks around our downtown office, whether that means replenishing inventory or baking delicious chocolate chip banana bread. She’s a checklist queen, and uses an always-updated calendar to stay organized! Ashley believes in the power of a positive attitude at work, which is part of what drew her to TCG. “I heard so many great things from teammates that have been working here several years, from the dog-friendly atmosphere to the positive work environment,” she said. “As soon as I visited the office, I knew it was someplace I would like to be every day.”
Amica Graber is originally from London in the UK, but has lived in San Diego since she moved to the United States in 2013. After graduating from Kingston University with a First Class Degree in Digital Media, Amica has been driven by two passions: writing and on-page SEO optimization! Luckily at TCG, she gets to do both! When she's not cranking out content with her team, Amica can be found in the ocean, or re-watching Game of Thrones. On why TCG is her favorite place to work, Amica says, "Everybody is here is extremely talented, so you're always learning new ways to implement your ideas. The company isn't just creative, it also really takes care of its employees. I wake up every day excited to be coming into work!"
When Motaz Hussein was 15, he was obsessed with becoming a “real musician.” To show off his musical skills to the world, he taught himself video production, website development , album art, and photography. Those skills landed him roles at 3D printing tech startups, a mobile ticketing company, and eventually, The Control Group. As a Marketing Designer, Motaz does everything from creating ads to designing infographics and producing videos. When Motaz isn’t brightening up the world with his design skills, he’s making music. His music has been recognized by the mayor of his hometown, Portland, Oregon, and it has even been played at the arena of the Portland Trail Blazers. Motaz first heard about The Control Group in 2014, and was immediately drawn to the work and culture. He applied every year since then, and eventually earned a job when a “perfectly crafted position” opened up. “Now I live in the city working where I always intended to work,” he says. “Full circle at its finest!”
Melissa Bigknife is a California native and SDSU graduate with years of social media expertise. Her marketing origin story began in an unlikely place … under the sea! Obsessed with all things H20, Melissa was certified as a scuba diver at age 11. She followed her passion until it eventually lead her to a social media position for one of the world’s leading dive brands. After getting bitten by the social media marketing bug, Melissa joined The Control Group as the Social Media Manager for all of our products. In addition to being TCG’s social media rockstar, Melissa is also a certified rescue diver and full-time dog mom to Mika, an adorable adolescent Doberman.
As TCG’s Director of Digital Media, Montana primarily manages all of TCG’s paid media campaigns with her focus on Google search, display, and video channels. With an early interest in cinema, Montana initially thought she wanted to create film trailers until a quick course steered her in a different direction. It wasn’t long before Montana found herself naturally aligning with advertising and digital — and she never looked back! Born in Laguna Beach, Montana moved to Northern California and then Arizona before heading to San Diego to join TCG. With a BA in Advertising and an MBA in International Marketing, Montana is a dog-loving powerhouse with a passion for marketing. “Online marketing provides variety, change, and technological innovation. You get the opportunity to grow, learn, and engage with users in new and effective ways,” she says.
Front End Developer Natalie Loman got her start in web development by creating band fan pages on Geocities in the early days of the internet. Her post-grad career led her to work in scientific publishing and biotech public relations. Her work gave her the opportunity to live nomadically: she’s called New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Istanbul, and Lisbon home. After settling back in her hometown of San Diego, she did an intensive full-stack web development bootcamp at UCSD. At work, she brainstorms split testing ideas and uses her coding skills to turn them into reality. At home, she takes ice cream very seriously. Why did she choose The Control Group? “The office dogs and kombucha on tap are great perks,” Natalie says. “But the people here are unmatched.”
Gemma is TCG’s Payroll and HR Assistant. Born in Holland, Gemma grew up in Alabama and Florida before attending the University of Tampa, where she joined the swim team as a freestyle and breaststroke sprinter. Her love of team building, combined with a passion for number crunching, eventually lead her into a career in Human Resources and payroll. Prior to TCG, Gemma worked in the hospitality industry, and she was excited to make the transition into tech. Aside from making sure that TCG employees are well cared for, Gemma loves a good pun! She also loves biking to work and spending time with her Newfie puppy.
Senior Site Reliability Engineer Mark Keller was raised in the suburbs of Chicago, but he came to San Diego by way of Austin. At The Control Group, Mark ensures our infrastructure runs smoothly and provides tools to make everyone’s job easier. He makes that happen with his comprehensive knowledge of Python and Bash. The technologies he’s most excited about are Terraform, an infrastructure as code software, and Kubernetes, an application deployment system. What attracted him to The Control Group? He loved the dog-friendly policy, cool offices, and friendly folks.
A native of the Pacific Northwest, Krista Vestman grew up in Poulsbo, Washington, before moving to California to study Communications at Westmont College in Montecito. After catching the marketing bug during a mass communications class, Krista worked for a media planning and buying agency. Eventually, she made her way down to San Diego, where she joined The Control Group as a Digital Media Buyer. When she’s not creating, managing, and optimizing paid media campaigns, Krista enjoys hanging out with her big doggo, Bailey, hiking, and fly-fishing.
Carver is a Renaissance dog. A connoisseur of duck jerky and old socks, he is also an avid traveler. Carver has swam in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. He’s even dipped a paw in the Gulf of Mexico. When Carver was adopted from the New Orlean’s SPCA as a pup, his birth certificate said he was a mutt. But we think Carver might be a magical golden wolf. Although he’s one of the bigger TCG dogs, Carver is the gentle giant of the office. He usually sleeps through squabbles over chew toys. Carver has only one nemesis, the cunning squirrel. Luckily, no one at TCG has claimed a pet squirrel just yet.
Dolly is the sweet, Spaniel pup you’ll find relaxing at the downtown office with her human, Adam Rich. Front end developer Adam adopted Dolly from Baja Rescue in Mexico, and although he isn’t sure what Dolly is mixed with, he knows that she’s one brave pup! Dolly is a cancer survivor and now that she’s healthy she spends 90% of her days lazing around and relaxing. When she’s ready to play, don’t bother with the fancy dog toys. Adam says that Dolly prefers to play with an assortment of socks. (Hopefully they’re clean!)
Jacqui was rescued by the SFSPCA as a young pup, after foraging around the wilderness and challenging bears to wrestling matches. Since finding her perfect human, Andy, Jacqui has taken the time to develop her hobbies. She’s quite the vocalist, and enjoys singing along to an acoustic guitar or a harmonica. Fame is the game for this talented pooch - Jacqui even landed a Mercedes-Benz commercial! When she’s not perfecting her vocal range, she enjoys eating a healthy doggy diet and snuggling with her co-workers.
Jax is a two-year-old Chihuahua who joins his human and App Developer, Eric Greene, at the PB office every day. For some strange reason, Jax is a coffee fiend. Leave any cup unattended, and he'll find a way to drink it. Jax is super affectionate and loves licking faces, especially if they have coffee on them! Just be careful not to get too close, or he'll also try to sample the insides of your nostrils. Just like his owner, Jax is one determined dude. His special talent (besides face licking and coffee tasting) is that he can sit on his hind legs for very long periods of time. What Jax lacks in size he makes up for with a huge personality and love for his TCG team.
Josie is the lovable, all-American Golden Retriever that accompanies our application developer, Andrew Johnson to work in our PB office. She has been his partner in crime since she was 8 weeks old, has always been a soft, fluffy ball of energy. Josie is curious about anything and everything that moves, makes noise, or even sits. Josie loves to be in the water, and has recently picked up the art of doggy surfing. But watch out! She hates shadows. Josie is a high-energy pup, but when she finally settles down, she's an absolute sweetheart who thinks she's still a lap dog. As cute as she is, she can jump into our laps anyday!
Louie is one of TCG’s big dogs — literally. He possibly has some Great Dane DNA, but he’s mostly a Labrador Retriever. Standing tall and weighing over 100 pounds, Louie is always on the sniff for food that you might not want. Even if you think you wanted it, Louie says that it would have tasted bad, and he’s actually doing you a favor. He will take his reward in carrots, cheese, doggy treats, and choruses of “Who’s a good boy?” When he’s not busy saving you from a mediocre snack, Louie enjoys swimming (a true Californian, he thinks the beach is best) and cuddling with his human, Full Stack Developer Lauren Settle. The two met when Louie was only 8 weeks old, and they have been inseparable ever since. Louie tells his toys that he loves them all equally, but secretly, his favorite one is the tennis ball. If you see Louie around the office, be sure to say hi!
Mr. Tacos found his human, Melissa, on Taco Tuesday, which is pretty much the origin story of his adorable name. Although this little French Bulldog looks like an angel, Mr. Tacos is quite the sneaky bandito, and he has quite the reputation for stealing balls at the dog beach. He’s also shown great bravery in Nerf battles. When the office is under siege from Nerf darts, Mr. Tacos will be on the front lines, selflessly eating as many darts as he can in order to protect his mom! When he’s not busy stealing balls and eating darts, he prefers to be asleep.
Paul (full name Paul Ruffere) is the tiny, yet feisty sidekick to TCG's front end developer, Joe Furfaro. As a Boston Terrier puppy, Paul enjoys napping, doing tricks for treats, chasing lasers, and Chopped the TV show. He loves city life and is quite the metropolitan puppy. He's already mastered riding the trolley, walking on a leash through the busy streets of downtown, and hanging out at Quartyard while his dad drinks beer. He's also got his own Instagram account. Follow Paul to stay up-to-date on his latest adventures.
Two great things happened when Arnav Aggarwal started working at TCG: he joined a talented team, and he adopted Ronald! When Arnav learned that TCG is a dog-friendly office, he took it as the sign that it was time to adopt a dog. Now Arnav is the proud pup-parent of Ronald, a 7-year-old Italian Greyhound and Chihuahua mix. Ronald had been shuffling between foster homes for the last year, and now, he couldn’t be happier in his forever home! Ronald is the ultimate down-for-anything dog and enjoys hiking as much as he loves a good nap. His small size doesn’t slow him down — he almost beat his human to the top of Cowles Mountain! Pretty impressive for such a small pup! He loves to run, jump, nap, snuggle, and sniff anything he can get his paws on. Ronald loves to make friends, and you can assure your place in his pack by sharing some peanut butter or soy ice cream!
Uller is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever from Montana. Commonly referred to as a Toller (he feels embarrassed saying his full breed name), Uller was quick to learn that there are really only two things in life that truly matter: playing fetch and popping bubbles in swimming pools, lakes, and rivers. When he’s not spending two to four hours straight violently biting bubbles (only to create new targets from the splashes), he’s relentlessly bringing throwable items to anyone who has not yet earned their Uller-induced-tendinitis. Oh, and he’s not ashamed of the dreadlocks he sprouts every week or two; that has no impact on his bubble popping.
Zoey joined her human, Amanda Hoskins, from the San Diego Spaniel Rescue. Half Cocker, half Springer, and all fun, Zoey is a ball of fuzzy energy that is committed to her main job: getting treats. For the small price of one treat, Zoey will quickly show you every trick in the book. Sit, lie down, shake paws — she’s a mini master of quid paw quo. Outside of her primary role, Zoey enjoys hiding behind the toilet (or any small space, really) and playing fetch or hide and seek.
Bailey is 105 lbs. of pure, sleepy love. This gentle giant is a Lab/Rottweiler mix who has been with his hooman, Krista Vestman, since he was 3 months old. Despite his size, Bailey has earned the nickname “Bails” because of his aversion to anything scary. If someone drops a cup in the TCG office, Bails is outta there! He’s also known as “Big Booty Judy” because he loves a good old butt scratch. When Bailey isn’t hanging out at work, you can find him swimming in the sea and looking for food. His favorite snacks are corn on the cob and watermelon, which he enjoys eating with his front teeth. Strange but true. Try sneaking him some and see! Just don’t give Bailey a grape or an ice cube. He’s a bit scared of both and might “Bail” out!