I have been working for 16 years in the Software industry, both as an Engineer and a Manager at companies such as Yes Television, Move Networks, Specific Media and Sorenson Media. We have been at the cutting edge of Digital Video, VOD, IPTV,second screen experiences and innovative Smart TV in-advert targeted overlays and microsites, part of the Smart TV Alliance.
I am passionate about Agile and Lean processes, and have helped four diverse companies in transitioning to, and starting out with, Agile and modern best practice approaches. Depending on the company it can take as little as a number of weeks, but equally I have spent many years slowly adjusting entrenched attitudes and getting whole company buy-in that is necessary for modern product development and deployment. No matter the time and effort involved, the end result is always worth the effort, both for the teams and for the value delivered to the company.
I describe the roles below, but one factor that has helped me more than any other is exposure to the full software lifecycle from the moment I started my first role in '99. Having interviewed hundreds of candidates over the years it became very apparent that my experience was atypical and I was in no way restricted to a silo or kept in the dark about the full scope of any given project. I was also lucky to be able to work with first class Java engineers during the first six years at Yes Television, and at the same time be selected to be a team leader, and eventually the head of Engineering and Product for the UK at a young age. This taught me responsibility, and brought me into contact with many third parties from the far east, and also got me used to managing staff who were more experienced in years without the typically feeling of fraud that can go with situations like this. My next step was to be the first Software Engineer to be employed by Sir Terry Matthews' Inuk Networks, which I'll detail in the appropriate section below.
- Transitioned successfully and permanently an entrenched, long-term pseudo-waterfall team to best practice Agile, in possibly the hardest scenario to make a successful transformation:
- Long term institutionalised micro-managed behaviour of all roles, from Product roles to QA, Development and Operations roles.
- Teams aligned around delivering software components not products, which they have little knowledge of what they will be used for, and little reason to have pride in their work
- Little to no communication between QA, product, Development and Operations staff, and a distrust engendered by management (for example Product Managers were no allowed to speak to developers at all, and shouting matches were a daily occurrence.
- Critically, not a single piece of software was delivered on time in 10 years, to spec, to an acceptable level of quality, scalability or ease of deployment and monitoring.
- Mini-empires were rife and hostile to change.
- At Sorenson Media I experienced the opposite - zero employees, and 18 months to build three full teams and three working products, with complete hiring responsibility for the entire UK company. For more details please see below.
- I have also helped define and mentor the Product Owners, including the SVP of Product, in adapting to Agile, and hence recommended all his Product Owners, always with rational reasoning and the firm understanding that he, as with all staff, would adapt quickly (I appreciate that some of the points may appear arrogant on page - I would again happily discuss in more detail to provide a wider background or clarify my management style, which is the opposite of command and control, micromanagement, I believe this is key to successful agile adoption.
My current role is helping Sorenson Foundry in it's Agile adoption. During that time I have also volunteered for the Alacrity Foundation/Cardiff University teaching students - please see volunteering experience.
- I have had 0% employee churn during any period I have been a senior manager or VP.
What I look for in a role
- A Challenging role that provides me with scope to help the company become more successful:
I have a lot of experience in helping companies adapt and handle 'change' in a positive fashion at a macro level, if they are looking to do so. I also look for smaller opportunities to provide advice if I think it could have a positive impact - always backed up with solid experience and reasoning.
- A role that allows me to learn from the company and the individuals within:
I delight in learning new practices, solutions and technologies, as it allows me to grow and I actively seek out these opportunities. I am also just as happy in realising that I am incorrect in an approach, as this gives me an opportunity to learn. Whilst I hold strong beliefs, I am never a fundamentalist who can't be brought around by reasoned argument; something I look for in those I work with as well.