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  • Writer's pictureCANA

June 2022 Newsletter

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Today is the first official day of summer in 2022! There’s plenty to do during the longest sun-lit day of the year besides look at the computer screen - enjoy the warmth, take a walk, light the grill, and talk with family and friends. Of course, we will get some work done, but it’s nice to know there will be a few more hours in the day for some much needed vitamin D.

We’re always grateful for the ability to work virtually, and even more so when we realize the spread of our amazing team. On this summer solstice, we realize just how diverse our days can be. For our CANAer in Hawaii, sunset is 7:16 pm and the Southern Cross is visible in the night sky; in San Diego, our team will see light until at least 8:00 pm along the eastern edge of the Pacific; our Virginia team is awakened by daybreak at a very early 5:43 am, and our Northern Michigan CANAer can see out towards Canada until well after 10:00 pm. Of course, we’ve got a lot of folks in-between and across the U.S., and they all keep CANA moving through a wide variety of hours.

Not only is it wonderful summertime, but June is proving to be as productive and exciting as the months’ previous. In this newsletter, we offer onboarding insights from Tristan Rentsch, one of our newest software developers who joined us this past year right out of college; we talk about the accomplishments of the past five fantastic years of our "give back" CANA Foundation arm; and we share the highlights of our most recent in-person team offsite in Virginia. Finally, we provide a little teaser for our upcoming podcast with the CANAers who are ‘real’ Top Gun graduates. They will have lots of fun insights into the summer hit, Top Gun: Maverick. It’s exciting we have CANAers old enough to have watched the original in theaters, talented enough to have experienced it in real life, and young enough to wonder what all the hype is about!

As always, we’re thrilled to share the CANA team with you. Have a wonderful summer!



Five Years of the CANA Foundation

Our mission is simple –

We are committed to creating positive change and providing creative solutions to problems to enhance the lives of people, organizations, and the environment in our communities.

5 years. 5 ye

ars of purpose. 5 years of connecting. 5 years of giving. When Rob and Liz Cranston started CANA back in 2008, they were driven by a purpose and a vision - to create an organization that was innovative and devoted to excellence, but also supportive of an environment where generosity would flourish and together we could take on the tough challenges our world and our communities face. That desire to do good, to see a smile on someone’s face when they receive an unexpected gift or when they learn something new, is why we work so hard. Giving back is our raison d’être.

The CANA Foundation was established in 2017 on the premise that we are blessed with individual talents, financial resources, and a successful company that provides a platform for the CANA family to connect with and give back to community areas we feel passionate and care about. We believe we have an obligation to use those skills and resources to help individuals and organizations in our communities overcome the barriers they face.

This year, in 2022, we celebrate the 5 Years of CANA Foundation! These past five years have given us opportunities to give back to our communities in more ways than we could have imagined. Our team has turned their passions into purpose with over 45 completed initiatives. From helping students create their own children’s book to creating an analytics course for veterans, we have seen our team make a positive change in their communities.

For the rest of 2022, we will commemorate the 5th anniversary of the CANA Foundation by showcasing some of our initiatives, the people behind them, and the future of the CANA Foundation. Stay tuned for more of 5 Years of CANA Foundation.

To learn more about the CANA Foundation visit the Foundation webpage at


Fresh Perspectives from a New Developer

When I first joined CANA, right out of college, it was a bit overwhelming. Transitioning from attending classes and completing homework assignments to attending meetings and completing Jira tasks was a deceptively big change. Although college taught me in theory about programming and software development, I didn’t have much firsthand experience and wasn’t familiar with the technologies being used at CANA. Luckily, CANA had a training schedule ready for me to get me acquainted with the development process and the technology I would have to use.

During this training process, I learned JavaScript and TypeScript. In addition, I completed the official Appian training course from their website. Appian is a Marine Corps-approved platform-as-a-service (PaaS) that provides the capability for enterprise application development in a cloud environment. I have found this training to be especially helpful, since Appian is mainly what I work with every day, and I haven’t used TypeScript or JavaScript yet. However, I didn’t feel like I had a real grasp on the concepts until I put them into practice. I gained this experience working on real bugs and features for the Integrated Materiel Analysis Toolset (IMAT) system which is designed to replace the Marine Corps’ legacy war reserve. I started with pair programming. Two senior programmers helped work me through some small bug fixes and taught me how they usually approach these issues. There were some differences between how they approached development and what was taught in the official Appian training. In particular, they taught me how to use the hidden Appian lambda functions, which weren’t mentioned in the official training. This training and the experience of working on actual software systems, with paying clients, has been effective in making me much more confident and knowledgeable in the development of software.

Besides the training, another challenge was working from home. However, this wasn’t actually a big change for me. In college, I had to work from home during my last semester due to COVID restrictions. In addition, I had experience working from home from my internship with the startup, Northland Creative Wonders. However, with the startup, I occasionally met with my boss in person. At CANA I never meet anyone in person, as a result, I must rely more on Zoom meetings and chats to keep in contact with coworkers. I think the biggest challenge of working from home is keeping a schedule. If I was working in an office, the manager would tell everyone when it was time to attend a meeting or do other activities, but when you work remotely, you need to keep track of these things yourself, and it can be easy to get engrossed in a task and not notice what time it is. I have dealt with this challenge by setting up alarms that notify me when it is time to start a new task or join a meeting.

I’ve enjoyed working at CANA so far and think this is a great start to my professional career. My favorite things so far have been the friendly company culture, the kind people, and the ability to work from home. My fellow programmers have been very nice and helpful to me during my time working at CANA. They have given me helpful tips and feedback on how to do the best work I can and have assisted me when I was struggling with hard tasks. Although I didn’t get to go last year, I look forward to meeting everyone in person at the next offsite.

My advice to a new developer joining the company is this: make sure to manage your time well, try your best to become very familiar with the new technologies we use, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are stuck.


Together Again - Virginia Offsite

Our Project and Program Management (PPM) and Business Operations (BusOps) teams recently met in person for a team-focused offsite in Haymarket, VA. We focused on information sharing and collaboration, leading to a greater understanding of our teams and their particular talents and challenges.

On the first evening, our BusOps team met at a fantastic outdoor brewery for a thought-provoking discussion about their DiSC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness) Assessment profiles - a pro tool that CANA uses to dig into personal work styles and effective relationship building. This has been particularly important given our remote and virtual operating model.

During our Day One Collaboratory, both teams spent the morning breaking the ice and using a campfire approach to get to know each other. After that, Senior Project Manager Hannah Wallace, Principal Program Manager Will Berry, and Principal AI Analyst Chris Cichy tag-teamed for an exciting deep dive into NextStrategy, our ongoing project in support of the Miramar, California - based NavalX SoCal Tech Bridge. We’re particularly excited for this upcoming year as we work with the Tech Bridge to bring innovative 5G services, autonomous and electric vehicles, and AI capabilities to the modern warfighter.

We are seeking to continually improve our CANA business development and proposal process, so Senior Operations Manager Kenny McRostie next provided a refresher on the opportunity development process and management of the CANA tracking system. Hannah Wallace explained the work and effort a project lead must put into planning a project and understanding it from the top-down and bottom-up - it’s no easy task, but always easier when we share best practices. Our Digital Media Coordinator, Kassie McRostie, followed with a presentation on the CANA Foundation, its history, and a summary of the impact this give-back arm of CANA has had in the past five years. When Chris Cichy took the podium, he shared his CANA independent research and development project (IRAD) to use virtual gaming as a tool for product research, development, and marketing. It generated excellent questions and excitement (some of us need to invest in virtual real estate…now). Lead Graphic Artist Koa Beam then demonstrated the capabilities of our new Social Media hardware kit - a full complement of digital audiovisual equipment - that we anticipate will travel as widely as our CANA team!

Day Two, we jumped into the CANA Deliverable Tracking System collaboration session, led by Senior Project Manager, Stephanie Allison. This was so timely - getting both teams' input, understanding, and buy-in to drive better solutions. With upcoming proposal efforts, we used our last hours to get the proposal team together for some outstanding, face-to-face, cowork. It was a great time collaborating and sharing. While the BusOps team had to say goodbye, the PPM team gathered for a little friendly competition and battled it out through ax-throwing and go-carts (but not at the same time!) before saying goodbye. Can’t wait for the next offsite!


To learn more about CANA visit our website at

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