Good morning and welcome to Digital Leaders; the first of our regular Q&A slots with some of the leading senior executives in the global digital space.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your back ground and how you came to be where you are today.
What is your specialist skill set?
That’s a hard question, but doing what I do here at LendInvest reflects what perhaps I do best. It’s about making sure engineering reflects the business’ needs and delivers value. Usually this means working in an agile way, and ideally with a focus on product engineering.
What kind of problems do you fix?
I’m experienced at growing engineering teams that understand their place in the big scheme of things, and care about delivering real change to the wider business.
What’s in your toolbox?
Self-deprecation, a thousand war stories, an ability to drink beer while lending a sympathetic ear, and a severe and incurable lack of ego.
What’s your style of leadership?
The best thing a leader or manager can do for their team is to try and get the obstacles out of the way, so that people can do the best possible job.
How do you ensure you get the job done?
I make sure that anyone involved in a project understands what the job to be done really means. I’m never precious about technology, but as a team, we should always make sure that any corners that are cut to achieve results are marked and returned to for fixing later.
Tell us about your personal life
I live in the countryside, walk a lot (often with a dog in tow), and like music festivals (but am too old and cranky to camp anymore). I also have two amazing daughters who are growing up too fast.
What are your favourite life hacks?
Arlo for checking out what’s happening at home and in our cul-de-sac wherever I am (weird I know); Human for making myself feel like I’m at least vaguely active; and a devotion to making any point with a well chosen animated gif.
Where do you see your sector heading in the next five years?
I see LendInvest taking the sharp edges off nasty processes (mortgage applications are painful and time-consuming but proper attention and application of technology can make them better); using accumulations of personal and socio-economic data to better support accessibility of appropriate products for people and businesses; improving the visibility of complex processes; taking some of the drudgery and pain out of the business’ compliance and administrational responsibilities.
How do you keep up to date with what’s going on in your industry?
Meet-ups, a network of ex-colleagues, idle web browsing.
Do you belong to any trade bodies or membership organisations?
No, which is probably not very professional of me. I was a certified scrum master but I let it lapse.
What are the biggest risks that companies in your sector face today – and how do you mitigate against them?
Security is a big cause of anxiety and there’s no perfect fix. It’s up to us to keep revisiting what we are doing, being proactive about testing our platforms and code, and being deliberately pessimistic by planning for the worst-case scenario every time.
What are the best and the hardest jobs or projects you’ve dealt with to date (you don’t have to name names) and why?
Most of the biggest challenges I’ve faced have been about culture and shared understanding. Building well-architected applications tends to be much, much easier once everyone properly understands why you are doing what you are doing. In any job, you must find ways to allow open and collaborative communication.
Where to next? (Tell us about your ambitions for the future).
Were my ship ever to come in, I’ll be packing up my worldly possessions and heading down to the Eastern Algarve to live on an old Quinta, grow olives, make cheese and fall off horses.
Thanks to Mike for his answers today.
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