“I’m very careful to listen to people’s viewpoint, demonstrate that I have my team’s best interests at heart and that’s aligned with corporate strategy”
Question 1: What did you want to be growing up?
I don’t have a good answer to that question. I was not a career-minded individual and maybe I’m still not super career minded to be honest.
Question 2: Why did you get into tech?
The honest truth is it’s the only thing I knew how to do. Because I didn’t go to university or anything like that, I learned everything myself. When I was 7 or 8 I started with Commodore 64, which is going to age me a lot but I just tried to write games. I didn’t really take a lot of time to understand things, I just copied them out of magazines, as you did in those days. Then I just carried on endlessly tinkering with programming languages and pieces of computers and messing around and seeing what it took to break them and fix them and eventually I read some books and learned about it.
Question 3: Describe your lockdown experience in one sentence.
Surreal and sort of like an artificial concoction of what it is to live life. It’s a strange way of living one’s life for a long period. I mean it’s a statement of fact but I can’t really frame it in another way it’s hard to describe.
Question 4: What’s your biggest challenge during lockdown?
It depends on what dimension, so work is a challenge now, I think it’s more of a challenge than it used to be because of the competing demands and I just joined a brand new team, virtually, during lockdown so I’ve not met my manager or any of my teammates, we chatted online obviously with videos and stuff. But you know usually you make the extra effort when you join a new team or organisation, to get face time and spend time working closely with your colleagues and peers because you need that to support you and understand what’s going on. So work is challenging for those sort of reasons and then home life is also challenging but it’s manageable except you know kids are demanding when they’re under 10.
Question 5: What are you learning about yourself?
I’m learning that you can get a lot done remotely, I mean I’ve always worked remotely with my teams, now and then but it’s never been like a full time arrangement and I’m aware of the fact that it’s very possible to do it now. I think it’s going to lead to some significant changes in how we work ultimately. I think I’ve also learned that I don’t like working from home.
Question 6: What are the key attributes of senior tech leaders?
I guess for me, what’s made me successful with my teams is the best way I can relate this. I’m very careful to listen to people’s viewpoints, very careful to make sure that I’m working with all the different team members at the different levels of engagement that they require and that I’m demonstrating through my actions that I have their best interests at heart while I do my best to marry their interests with the interests of the business. And if I do those 3 things, as well as I can, in relation to how I work with my team, that makes me a successful leader from the point of view of my team. Then from the point of view of my leaders it’s really just about transparency and visibility as well as accuracy and detail.
Question 7: How do you influence the people around you?
What we’re encouraged to do and what I find works is, you know it isn’t just that famous saying “Don’t bring problems, bring solutions” but it kind of comes down to that really. I look at my team and I say “You’re advising me, I know we have problems, so how are we going to solve it?” They table s