Communication and passion common theme for IT employers

Posted on August 20, 2014



Here are my notes from tonight’s seminar on IT careers. Seven speakers represented some of NZ’s leading IT companies. (these notes originally posted as facebook comments, they’re unedited other than a couple of typos).

Simon Ferrari from Datacom – what he looks for: people who are socially comfortable, well adjusted, intelligence but transcripts not important, social and emotional intelligence, creativity, curiosity. Skills: evidence of work ethic (volunteering, paid…work of any sort). Career path: find employer who will work with strengths and weaknesses – and recognised your own s&w, make sure matches passions and social direction and environment to flourish. Stick to that sweet spot. Seek a journey of fun and hard work.

Scott Cardwell from Education Perfect. Portfolio that shows you have a passion and drive. Employers might have a quick look at grades. Eric (coder) got job through Speed dating (Sexy summer jobs internship). Look for passion, willingness to learn things outside current skill set.

Ian Simpson from Logic Studio: be prepared to do everything, #1 skill: communications. Not going to get far if can’t talk with colleagues and clients. #2 passion for IT #3 ability to learn, only then skills in particular tools. Advice for getting dream job: make stuff to demonstrate passion. Surround yourself with awesome people. Don’t be afraid to give stuff a go – apply anyway.

Trent Mankelow (Optimal Experience). User experience consultancy. Do things at intersection of enjoy, paid for, good at. Read Tina Seelig

Craig George, Orion Health. Developers/testers/Ux/BA in about equal numbers. Cross functional teams. Agile development. People bit is most important. We look for fit above everything else. Need to know about working in teams, problem solving skills, self starters, passion, ability to communicate. And yes technical skills but evidence of projects more important than specific skill. Get into company that feels right and will nurture you. Expect to move into different roles – you won’t stay a coder.

Max Henderson Xero. Started as developer but now scrum master, development team lead. Look for passion, projects on side, communication. Don’t pigeonhole yourself, pick a place that will expose you to different things: testing, BA, PM, Ux. Adapt to change and love it. We don’t really care what you know, we want to know you are open to change and learn. Two major groups of Dev companies: product companies (Xero etc – will spend a long time with a product in detail) and service companies (will learn a lot if different things). 30-40 grads next year.

Dr Henk Roodt (IITP and Start Up Space): rocket science! Solve problems, translate problems, communicate them. You think the specific skills are important, but it’s those three things that you walk away from. Need to join IITP. It’s about broadening skill set. Recognize importance if what is transferable. Start up. Make use if the support offered.


Degree: proves that you can think and stick at it. But distinguish yourself by doing something – build a portfolio. Important to show that can finish project (including failed – with insights – not abandoned). Some employers will check code so don’t use dodgy code.

What is nature of shortage: people who can work in teams. But looking for best grads – but best not necessarily best grades. Yes technical skills but second to soft skills.

You won’t stay a coder for life. Enjoy the other aspects of IT, you’ll be doing them soon enough.

Entrepreneurs: No set backs, just changed direction constantly. Requires optimism bias. Passion.

Demonstrate passion for something, anything. Real win if lines up with area company works in. Companies will ask questions about their business area – this is to check you’re not a drop kick that hasn’t bothered to find out – doesn’t have the passion.

when the answer’s no, that’s when the selling starts. Role of enterprise/entrepreneurship even in big business. Release early and often, staying close to user and learning from them.

Are awesome jobs in Dunedin. But they’ll want to see commitment that you’ll want to stay here. Companies in NZ working very hard to keep you here.

Read Drive

3 elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose.