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Episode #73 with Cathy Lill

31 May 2022 | 46 mins 19 secs

On this episode of the NTP Podcast we interview Cathy Lill, Head of Product Engineering at Hireup. We discuss her career to date, how Hireup approaches remote work and recommendations/resources for technology professionals. Hope you enjoy the episode!

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Show Notes

Here you can source all the things we have talked about in the podcast whether that be books, events, meet-up groups and what’s new in the newcastle tech scene.

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • (00:58)

    What is your journey from first starting in technology?

  • (04:30)

    What was your experience working outside of Newcastle?

  • (07:00)

    Experience at University.

  • (10:00)

    What are some projects you have worked on?

  • (17:00)

    How did you find your role at Hireup?

  • (25:00)

    What is the culture at Hireup?

  • (29:34)

    What is your experience working remotely within Hireup?

  • (31:20)

    How do you lead your teams?

  • (39:35)

    What do you look for when building your team?

  • (44:53)

    Where can people find you if they’d like to reach out?

Transcription:

Linda: Hi everyone welcome to the NewyTechPeople podcast. Today is a great day as I’m catching up with Cathy Lill who I haven’t caught up for for a while. Cathy is head of product engineering at Hireup and we haven’t caught up since the days of the Newcastle JS.
Cathy: That’s right.
Linda: Meet up which is really really good meet up to to go to and have in Newcastle.
Cathy: It was yes hopefully we’ll get something get something running again soon.
Linda: Yeah so it’s great to spend some time with you so i thought we would just start by talking about your career to date and how you got into tech back in the day i know that you’ve had a stint at csiro and also worked at yahoo and now at higher up so if you can take us on that journey from when you first got into tech and what made you get into tech.
Cathy: Yes I started off I did communications at uni so I didn’t do software engineering um so i actually majored in sound and radio production so yeah it’s very cool to be honest yeah be on a podcast and get to hang out with all the cool gear um yeah but while i was doing that i also just got into building websites.
Linda: So a bit of a passion for you?
Cathy: Yeah showing my age a bit it was still the late 90s.
Linda: Back in the day of flash banner ads.
Cathy: Yes you know at that time the internet was still kind of new and exciting and um and yeah i guess the thing i really liked about being in media was you know i was interested in kind of having something to say i guess and um you know and i saw kind of media is like the way to do that and when the internet came around it was it was that but so much more democratised and and I really loved that about the internet that was the thing that i thought was really cool about the internet you know any anyone can publish something on the internet, anybody can go and build a website, anyone can go and publish an article. You know it was all pretty low-fi do it yourself back then but I just really loved that idea of anybody being able to create something and get it out to everyone in the world.
Linda: So did you take on client projects during that time during your communications career?
Linda: Yeah I did I kind of did a little bit of radio, a little bit of tv but yeah also just started kind of building websites just sort of for fun and just for something to do and just to kind of put something out there and that led to doing a few kind of client projects.
Linda: So you started off more of a freelance web developer?
Cathy: Yes so I did that kind of in my last year or so of uni. A brief time in the music industry as well.
Linda: What were you doing in music?
Linda: I was in a local band but I also worked for a local booking agent. So I did that for a while, I did a few kind of random things before I ended up kind of properly sort of settling on tech.
Linda: And what was your band called?
Cathy: My band was called twin psych twin science yes hello to any former band mates out there.
Linda: And was there any particular pubs that you played at regularly?
Cathy: Oh all the old places in town yeah. We used to play all the old places in town.
Linda: What what was your position in the band?
Cathy: Keyboard player.
Linda: That’s one thing I didn’t know about you.
Cathy: Yeah and it was all kind of you know sort of AC/DC meets faith no more type style of thing.
Linda: Yeah amazing and so then when did you get your first tech job?
Cathy: I actually traveled for a bit. I did a bit of backpacking in the UK and worked in pubs you know worked stacking shelves in supermarkets and did that kind of thing.
Linda: Living the life.
Cathy: Yeah and when I came back I could see that tech was becoming a job. I think at that time media was pretty difficult to get into but it didn’t seem to have as much of a career path I was interested in the technical side of media so I wasn’t doing to camera stuff. It was the technical kind of stuff at the back so there just didn’t seem to be as much of a career in that.
Linda: Were you based in newcastle at that time?
Cathy: I came back to Sydney so I sort of traveled and I came back to Sydney.
Linda: As most of us do.
Cathy: Yeah my partner had a job in Sydney so I went there and and thought you know I’m gonna see if I can turn this kind of skill that i’ve got into into a career. So I actually started off in digital media and I was really keen to do something in that space still. I started off working for a magazine publisher, I used to do cover discs so the name of the publisher they’re not around anymore but we had some pretty high profile magazines. We did official xbox magazine official, playstation magazine and windows magazine. We also had a bunch of computer mags we did a guitar mag and my job was to do the cover cds so the cd that you got on the cover of the magazine. I kind of built a a little database system and filter thing in a macromedia director actually and flash to kind of have this cool interface for the cds and yeah in that company you know we started doing websites for all those magazines and yeah so that was kind of my first job in tech and you know media tech I guess. Yeah and from there I went to news limited so I worked on news.com.au for a couple of years as a front-end engineer and then kind of went on from there. It was kind of the second iteration of news.com.edu so the original version was there when I joined them. We kind of started building the the modernised version which is not that different to what you see now that was quite a long time ago.
Linda: Yeah good and then from news.com today you went to?
Cathy: I actually did a brief stint in newcastle at a company called Civica. Hi to all the Civica people. So I did that for about a year but then some people I knew from news had gone to Yahoo 7. So I went to yahoo 7 for a while again in the front end team did a bit more traveling worked at an agency in London some really nice people at the other media in London. When I came back to be the kind of front-end team lead at yahoo 7.
Linda: Yeah good so you’ve always combined that original interest with communications and media with your tech career?
Cathy: I did for quite a long time yeah although I think by the end of it, it got a little bit like the same problem all the time. You know you’re always kind of doing the same sorts of things there’s some really interesting projects in there around kind of embedded video and we were just starting to do on-demand tv stuff then so there was a few interesting projects like that but the majority of it was still kind of just very much the bread and butter of you know Newsline media news content website and you know dealing with display ads and dealing with carousels and all that kind of stuff. I really like doing it but I think as well kind of you know the media landscape changed a lot over that time and you know I guess became something that I was less passionate about. I think the content became less important over time and I think that was an interesting thing to watch happen as someone who was really into building stuff on the internet but also kind of into the idea of the media is like the fourth estate and then you know I think when I was young you know you sort of had these hard-hitting journalists that would go and expose corruption and do these kinds of things and I think one starting to be part of that. I think the economic model for news media is just so much different now than it was you know there’s still various models of paywalling you know which again was not really my jam and yeah you know and it’s all very kind of targeted it’s very much about targeting and targeting news that you already want to read because of your interests rather than kind of covering things because they have kind of broad social importance or whatever. I think I kind of saw that landscape change a bit and and felt like i wanted to do something a bit different and something for good.
Linda: And that’s what led you to CSIRO?
Cathy: Yeah ultimately so I did work at campaign monitor for a little while I got to do a really interesting project there that was just very kind of cutting edge tech at the time but yeah then the job came up at CSIRO.
Linda: What was the campaign monitor project that you worked on?
Cathy: That was well I say cutting edge for the time that we did it but it was working on their drag and drop email editor so yeah bringing that into the future of it which it was a really cool project but yeah I think ultimately you know we did the project and the project was awesome but you know after that it was going to be bau and you know what was kind of the next interesting kind of technical challenge and yeah so then a role came up at what was then national ict australia but that became data 61 which became part of CSIRO. I went there to work on a really interesting project that was all about webrtc so it was using webrtc to facilitate health sessions so things for speech pathologists to be able to work with kids in the outback that wouldn’t be able to make a session. Yeah things like that so it was telehealth and we also incorporated so the reason we used webrtc for that was because it had for one has um encrypted peer-to-peer communication but also because there’s a data channel with webrtc so you get video and audio but you also get a data channel so we use the data channel to do some interesting things like someone could plug in a pulse oximeter and the practitioner would be able to see in real time their results.
Linda: oh wow.
Cathy: They could do interactive games for the speech pathologists they could do interactive games with the kids that they were working with things like that so that is now a startup that did eventually spin out.
Linda: Oh wow that’s great it’s called co-view so um go check it out they’re doing really awesome things in that space yeah but I stayed with CSIRO and and worked on all different sorts of projects with cool scientists.
Linda: Yeah good and you’ve always been sort of drawn to more that sort of the front-end technologies and design.
Cathy: I wouldn’t say so much design I think I figured out early on that i’m not really a very good designer that front-end design aren’t necessarily skills to go together but I did really enjoy I think building the part that people interacted with directly you know and front end hasn’t always been the easiest space to work in. You know particularly early on you know it’s actually quite a tricky kind of technical landscape you know browsers were quite limited differences between you know different browsers and the way they work you know there’s kind of added complexity when people are using screen readers and other assistive technologies so I found that side of it really interesting I really liked working on the part that actually had to kind of directly work for someone the you know the part that they’re kind of interacting with.
Linda: I know for a while you were really interested in growing your career and leading sort of larger engineering teams and at that time this is before before Covid happened and there wasn’t a great deal of opportunities around Newcastle and you know you’ve got your young family here and then I guess the pandemic happened and then opens up all these other opportunities that you can work remotely from Newcastle which is fantastic. One thing to come out of the pandemic.
Cathy: That’s true yeah so I actually took the role at Data61 that was remote. I took that role in the condition that I could do it remotely. So I actually have been working remote for quite a long time I ended up doing a project with some people at CSIRO in newcastle so I did go into the office and hang out with them eventually they bestowed a desk upon me because I’ve been hanging around so long but yeah I was mostly remote.
Linda: Oh that’s good so you’ve been working remote for a long time then.
Cathy: Yeah and actually the teams I led. I was leading teams at CSIRO as well as the project I went there to work on initially. I went in as an engineer but once that project was done I could see some gaps in the engineering function there they didn’t have a front-end team so I kind of started a front-end team and and I led that team for a while and then again could just sort of see a gap in the way CSIRO worked specifically where they would often kind of put single engineers on a research project you know and expect an app or a product or something to kind of pop out at the end but it wasn’t working too well and as part of Data 61 engineering we had a bunch of really amazing engineers. We had Designers, Product Managers so I pitched the idea of putting together a product team that could then go and work with research projects to kind of realise you know an app of some kind of product that was sort of put there. So I led that team out of Data 61 but we were able to actually go around and work with with all different projects in CSIRO so yeah that was really cool and something a bit different but that kind of gave me my first experience working leading a cross-functional team. So I’ve led front-end a couple of times but I didn’t have any experience with managing back-end engineers or designers or you know anyone that wasn’t sort of a specific front-end function. That was a really interesting opportunity to get into managing a cross-functional team you know and having to be across how everything worked and not just how the front end worked which was super interesting for me. I’d always been very keen to understand how everything else worked as well as the part I was working on so yeah it was really cool to be able to work and especially work with you know all sorts of different research projects people just doing kind of some cool out there things and you know some of it was going to see the light of day and some of it might not but yeah getting to work in all different spaces and helping them bring that to life their dreams.
Linda: Yeah definitely.
Cathy: And you know some of those research projects you know people would work for years on those before they got to a point where they even sort of had something that was viable so yeah it was really exciting to kind of work with people that were just so committed to their project and really committed to their their research and what they were doing and yeah to be able to kind of help them kind of realise something that other people could interact with and could kind of see the benefit of what they were doing was really good.
Linda: Oh very good yeah and then the role is higher up. How did you find that role?
Cathy: Yes so actually that was through someone I knew who was working there they had passed my name on and I hadn’t been interested at the time but then they were sort of following up on a few people that had earlier conversations with and as much as I was enjoying working at CSIRO I think the landscape of the types of projects we were working on was starting to change and was not so aligned with what I was wanting to do but I really wanted to. I was thinking about where to go next and I really didn’t want to let go of the social impact that I was able to have working at CSIRO. I had a lot of scope to work on the projects that I wanted to work on you know my team and I would look at projects together and we had a lot of latitude to pick projects that we genuinely believed had social benefit or environmental benefit or you know something that wasn’t just kind of work for the sake of work or for the sake of profits. So I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that looking for a job elsewhere and then higher up gave me a call and said oh you know just wondering if you’re looking at the moment and I knew a couple of people who had worked there and so she kind of told me about the profit for purpose mission of higher up and what they were doing and it just sounded like a really great way to kind of get back into product engineering you know but still be able to work on something that has genuine social impact and that it is for profit but also for purpose. A company where that’s important still so can you tell the audience what higher-ups submission is in their model and how it all works.
Linda: Yeah so higher up is a platform where NDIS participants can connect with a support worker and book their own shifts with their support worker so specific types of care that they offer or is it across a broad spectrum of people living with disabilities or aged care?
Cathy: Okay so we don’t do aged care but the way the platform works is that we employ the support workers but we do have kind of an open intake of support workers so long as they pass all our checks they then can be onboarded onto the platform we employ them as a casual worker to start with at least and then it’s up to them to use the platform to connect with clients but a big part of it is that it provides choice and control for clients so you know the the original mission behind Hireup the founders had a brother who had a disability and the thing that they had found was that it was very difficult for them to make choice make their own choices and for their brother to make his own choices about which workers he worked with.
Linda: Yeah you know he would spend so much time with them they need to have some kind of connection with them.
Linda: exactly yeah and they i think they also found that when they were working with support providers that often they wouldn’t necessarily send the same person so it was hard to kind of build up a relationship with specific workers and you didn’t get much choice in the worker so the original idea behind of Hireup was to provide a platform where the clients and the workers can find each other and basically build a relationship that is going to work for them and that they have that choice and control.
Linda: Yeah very good and what was the scope of your role when you were first hired by them because I know you’ve just got a promotion yesterday. So what was the scope of your role and what problems did you have to solve when you first joined?
Cathy: So I came in as an engineering manager to build a new team. This was about a year and a half ago, they’ve done a lot of work on the client and worker facing aspects of the platform but another thing that’s fairly unique I think about Hireup compared to other sort of online platforms is that they have a really strong customer service team so if we have clients or workers that are having difficulty using the platform or you know have some limitations that mean they can’t necessarily use the platform independently we have a a very strong customer service team that’s there to help them and and help them be successful in finding the right workers to find the right clients and to help sort of create those relationships and help them do what they need to do on the platform and when I came into Hireup they’d done a lot of work on the client of worker facing stuff that there wasn’t so much in the way of admin facing functionality so all our customer service people or all our admin people that were doing doing all this kind of work in the background to make make sure that people were able to get the support they needed they were having to do a lot of manual work you know they were still kind of using spreadsheets and things like that for some of the aspects of their role so I came in to start a new team that was going to be dedicated to building out those admin functions and making sure that our customer service people were able to do everything they needed to do seamlessly and quickly be able to help people as efficiently as possible so I came in to build a new team to do that which I did. So then yeah on to the next step I guess.
Linda: Yeah and so you just received a promotion to head of product engineering. Congratulations.
Cathy: Thank you.
Linda: it’s very exciting and what’s the scope of this new role for you tell us about what you’re tasked to do?
Cathy: So yeah it’s a really exciting step for me I’m going to be managing the product engineering team so we have eight product engineering teams so those are all cross-functional teams made up of engineers, designers, product managers our reporting lines are separate so the engineers report into engineering managers and there’s eight teams.
Linda: Yes so you’ll have eight direct reports which are engineering managers eventually?
Cathy: Yeah so basically the engineering managers for those teams were reporting to me and then I reported to the director of engineering.
Linda:very good congratulations.
Cathy: Thank you.
Linda: Exciting so higher up have been around for about six years you said so they’re in more sort of scale-up phase at the moment.
Cathy: Yeah so we’re looking to rapidly scale up at the moment we’ve recently had an investment of 40 million dollars from seek ventures which we’re really excited about and is enabling us to hire some more awesome people um and you know and just be able to do so much more for our clients and workers. We’re looking to hire across all roles in engineering so do get in touch.
Linda: Awesome yeah and we’re very active in the disability community as well we have a really strong content team who are building out a really great content website they do news articles they get out in the community you know we commission articles so we’ve commissioned some articles recently you know around I guess current events and you know things going on in the disability sector so yeah there’s a lot going on as well as kind of making sure that there is a really great service for our clients we really care about making it a great experience for our workers making sure that our workers have career opportunities you know making sure that they’ve got all the tools they need I guess to make sure that our clients get the support they need yeah as well as getting out in the community so there’s a lot going on.
Linda: Yeah good and how would you describe the culture within the broader business and your team particularly?
Cathy: So as the broader business Hireup’s motto is a good life for everyone and that is that is very genuinely held belief in Hireup. Alongside having all our kind of business success metrics we also have social success metrics so we look at our overall impact we survey our clients and workers on their overall experience of life. Is their life better this year than it was last year? Is their life better now that they’re using Hireup? We take those metrics really seriously we have an impact team that is constantly looking at those metrics and looking at what we’re doing across the whole business to make sure that motto holds true, that what we’re doing isn’t just for economic success it’s also first it’s a slogan on the company website it’s actually something you’re living and breathing. I think that it does permeate in a really nice way throughout the business and I think all the teams take it very seriously you know our software engineering teams take that responsibility really seriously we operate in a bit of a different way to a lot of companies in that we have that dual goal and and the goal of our our clients and our workers having a good life is genuinely seen as equally important as you know hitting our kind of okrs and our success metrics and all those things so it means that you know if you can see something happening in the software that you think has a negative effect on people it’s really openly kind of welcomed to bring that up and raise it you know bring that into our kind of product strategy and our road mapping so so there’s a lot of influence that the technology team has around those kind of social benefits and around the safety of our users online making sure that we’re taking care of their personal information appropriately all those things are really important to us and just as important as profit so I think from the point of view of an engineer it’s a really empowering place to be because you know you’re not kind of under that pressure of trying to balance those two things you know I think particularly coming from a front-end background sometimes you have this push and pull between like you’ve got to get a feature out the feature has to work for advertisers but I want to make sure it works for people using screen readers. I want to make sure it works for people using assistive technology but that you know those things might be at odds in another company but at higher up those things aren’t at odds at higher up those two things are equally important and given the same space.
Linda: Yeah it’s amazing I didn’t think of it in that sense that you would have to be adapting your technology for people that have you know low vision or other disabilities.
Cathy: Yeah and there’s quite a lot of different ways that people will access the internet you know screen readers I think are the ones that people think of a lot but that’s not the only assistive technology people use you know there’s all sorts of different assistive technology that means that people experience your website or service in a different way so we try and kind of be holistic in our approach to that too.
Linda: Very great yeah so what is the great things about working for Hireup and what are some of the benefits that the organisation offers/ what are some of the tech that you’re working with? I know you’ve been particularly interested in functional programming language in the past is there anything like that coming up that would be interesting to potential employees and developers?
Linda: Yeah definitely so I think as far as what it’s like to work there has a really incredible culture. Hireup has a very unique culture I think and you know we spoke about that a little bit already but I think if you’re looking for somewhere where you really care about your work having a positive impact on real people then Hireup is a great place to work because you can see that every day. I think that’s a really nice thing to have but more broadly it does have a really kind of fun friendly culture as well and these are people mainly working remotely. Most people are working remotely now at the office in Sydney yeah so we have an office in North Sydney we have options for people to work in the office hybrid or fully remote. If you’re full remote and you’re outside Sydney then you also get four trips to Sydney per year all expenses paid so we pay for your travel pay for your hotels and so you get to get together with the team for social events. We try to organise that around quarterly planning so for every kind of quarterly planning and kickoff that we do we invite all the remote people to come to Sydney. I’ll get together and do some social things as well as having some time to work together but we also have for people that are sort of close enough to Sydney or or in greater sydney you know there’s also kind of the hybrid option. If you prefer to be in the office a couple of days a week not really many people in product are working full-time in the office anymore most of us are remote. I’m remote working from Newcastle and we have remote team members all over Australia so we have quite a few people in Melbourne I have people in Brisbane, people in Perth.
Linda: It’s great how many people are in your team currently?
Cathy: In the whole engineering team around 50 and we’re growing that in all departments as well. We’re hiring software engineers, we’re hiring sre people, tech ops data science, data engineering across all roles where we’re really trying to build out all of those functions at the moment so yeah we’ve got something for everyone.
Linda: Oh exciting and how do as you as a leader how do you like to lead your teams and how do your teams work um or remotely and what i guess what productivity tools and communication tools do you do you use as a team?
Cathy: Yeah so we kind of use all the standard stuff. We use Jira for kind of tracking our projects, we use slack a lot. I think that’s an interesting thing about working for a company that’s very social is that when all those people are not in the office anymore then slack becomes very a very kind of central part of your day but I think that the way people use those tools is really kind of productive and very positive you know we don’t seem to see too many issues with you know I guess the way people are using those tools. People seem to be using them you know to have positive interactions with each other we have a lot of social channels we have channels for parents and channels for people that are into music and so there’s a lot of kind of useless channels that people get into everyone. The way we work so in a fairly typical agile setup I would say. We do two week sprints, we do retros, we do sprint planning, we do demos of our work. We don’t do that every two weeks, we found that was getting it was a lot of pressure on the teams to kind of you know have something new to show the whole company every two weeks so we’ve scaled that back quite a bit but we have a showcase where we show off what we’ve done to the wider company when we’ve got something kind of big to show so that’s always really nice to have people from from around the company and other departments kind of come and check out what products we’re working on and what about some of the newer projects that are coming up that these teams might get to work on and initiatives that the company is releasing. Yeah so two big things that we’re doing at the moment is where higher up is trying to move a little bit more into the complex support space so traditionally we’ve serviced more of the kind of social support space which is um you know the kind of support work where people can go and say um help someone go out for dinner or help them attend a day program or some something like that where they help them to enjoy their lives exactly yeah today yeah but there’s also a large part of the market um that is complex supports where people need more you know more complex types of care that maybe might require more specific skills from workers so a lot of the work that our team is doing at the moment is to facilitate that so to make sure that we can support workers that are doing more complex types of support work and also support clients that need need those more complex supports and a big part of that is something called team builder so people that need complex supports tend to need those supports um more often um and on a more regular basis so you know their needs will tend to be more something they need done daily you know or maybe weekly or x number of times or a week um so they really need a support worker to be available and it’s not it’s more of a big deal if a worker can’t make it at the last minute yeah um so a really exciting thing that we’re doing in the um in the engineering team is uh our data team is starting to build out some really cool data science tools um to help uh both clients and our team builder our internal team builder team to help people build a team of workers so using data science to find suitable workers quicker because we have a lot of workers they don’t all necessarily have the right skills for a job but there’s a lot of other factors that might make them more or less suitable to work with a client as well and so um so we’re really trying to leverage our data science capability to to surface um you know the workers that are most suitable for a client that are most suitable for the type of work they want for the schedule they want the location they are so there’s some really exciting stuff going on there um we’ve also got um some interesting work going on just in the uh around the way we communicate with workers so traditionally we’ve leaned very heavily uh on email and on personal phone calls um to communicate with workers um but we’re we’re looking to kind of finesse that you know um use sms more heavily uh you know use direct communications um more heavily direct messaging and things like that to kind of tailor the experience much better to um you know to what individual workers and clients want and need so so that they can interact with the platform in a way that works for them and we also have some really nice um i think just sort of technical um advancements going on um more generally we’re we’re really in a phase where we’re consolidating our tech stack at the moment and we’re sort of moving from having experimented with sort of various different technologies and and different stacks for different things where we’ve really kind of zeroed in on our node stack. We’re basically in a phase of kind of bringing all our tools up to standard with that code base so there’s some work going on at the moment that is um i i guess not necessarily glamorous but um but developing some of those yeah but i think it has um you know i find as an engineer it’s always nice to be able to spend some of your time making sure that you know you’re using best-in-class tools that you’re doing things you know in the most appropriate way that you’re following best practices and sometimes it’s easy I think when you’re kind of trying to get things out really quickly it’s easy to kind of leave those things behind so we’re really in kind of a consolidation and building phase now where you know where we’re spending time making sure that our tooling is right we’re spending time making sure that our tech stack you know is up to date across the board that um you know that we don’t have kind of old dependencies and things dragging us down on certain scale and yeah exactly yeah so so we’re we’re really we’re really our building up to to scale at the moment um which i think is always the nice thing to be able to do is to spend a bit of time just getting it right you know there’s kind of it’s great to get features out but it’s also nice to just get the engineering right and we’re working hard on that as well.
Linda: Yeah good and so how would you describe your leadership style so it’s always an interesting question?
Cathy: Yes it’s very hard to analyze yourself but i think my style is very collaborative um i really like working with people um and i think it’s really important to i think that the whole team is kind of passionate about what you’re doing um and that everybody kind of has that motivation you know and i think it’s up to the leader to make sure that that is in place you know because people aren’t going to feel motivated if what you’re doing in the business doesn’t align with their values or if the way that you’re building things doesn’t align with the way they feel is the best way to build something so i guess i hope at least getting that consensus so with different people in the team and yeah i think it’s not always about consensus i i think i think sometimes looking for consensus means that everyone will will just be constantly arguing um so i i think it’s yeah i think i have in my approach a little bit more of an idea of there’s a time for discussion and then there’s a time for decision making and sometimes there is a person for decision making as well um so i think it’s just really good to be clear about about who is a decision maker are we all deciding together um you know is there one person who is who is um who is the most uh knowledgeable about this topic in our team and they should make this decision now is it a management decision i think um i think sometimes a thing that people find difficult about management is being the decision maker sometimes so i think it’s nice to have consensus but it’s also i think it helps your team when when you can stand up and make a decision and stand behind it um yeah and not expect the team to constantly make all your decisions for you you know i like to try and find that balance as much as i can you know sometimes it’s not always easy in the moment but um but but i think that’s that’s kind of what i strive for is to get people behind an idea um and and to make sure people feel that they have blind and they feel like they have a say um but also be prepared to take a decision and stand behind it.
Linda: Yeah when it’s needed so you’re obviously looking for when you hire and bring new people into the team you’re looking for that that collaboration piece in those engineers as well is really key and really important for your company you know as a brand and as a business.
Linda: Yes I think particularly the type of business that higher up is the type of culture that we have at Hireup is is very much geared towards people working collaboratively we tend to work quite a lot across teams as well um you know my one of my teams um has been working really closely with the customer service um and people and culture teams um on on initiatives we’re working on um you know other teams are working really closely with the team builder team our money team works really closely with finance so um it’s really important to be able to collaborate across departments as well as just being able to collaborate with the people in your team and um and we do find that um some of the people that are really successful engineers at higher up are really good at that they’re really good at being able to kind of talk directly to the other people in the business we’re working with as well as well as being good at collaborating in the team but but with that said i think the thing that i look for most is just people that are passionate about what they do and i think it’s okay for that to be in different spheres you know some people are really passionate about the tech they’re really passionate about doing things the right way you know doing doing things in a way that you know it’s built to last it’s built to be used um you know it’s not it’s not going to fall over um but for some people that passion is really about what we’re doing for users you know um yeah which is fine as well exactly the quality yeah yeah so i think um i think it doesn’t always have to be in the same vein but i think i always look for people that really care about what they do in you know and have some part of it that they they really care about and they’re gonna bring that to this and they’re curious and want to understand how things work and you know what might benefit your customers and and clients.
Linda: Yeah definitely good and so so that’s about your sort of your team and what you’re looking for what about you personally what do you like to do in your spare time I know you’ve got a young family yes well I have two small kids so spare time is kind of a distant memory although I’m a little bit into cycling I’m kind of into mountain biking when I can which is not very often these days but I do also love kind of working on I still try and take my son through there.
Linda: Oh nice.
Cathy: Yeah while he still wants to go with me. My girls are quite little so they’re they’re just they’re a little bit too young but not for long. I really love working on their bikes it’s like i get to fiddle with bikes and do some tinkering and mechanising with the kids bikes so i spent half my weekend working on their bikes and the neighbour kids bikes and getting them all right it’s nice when you’re kind of staring at a screen all day to yeah you know and do something with your hands build something.
Linda: Nice and do you listen to any podcasts yourself?
Cathy: I’m actually not a big podcast person. I know controversially I suppose maybe a career on a podcast. Yeah it’s interesting I think I’m a big music person.
Linda: What’s your favourite music?
Linda: I don’t really have a favourite band. I’m really into gang of youths at the moment. I can answer all your tech questions but your favourite music questions… I mean I listen to a bunch of stuff but you know kind of like heavy metal I kind of listen to Iron Maiden but then i also love Janelle Monae like she’s awesome, Azelia Banks. I’m a bit of a kind of eclectic music person I like country kind of I think just anything that kind of speaks to you and and kind of i i love music when it feels like art oh you know when it’s someone’s art and and it’s not just a product.
Linda: Yeah I think any kind of music that I think is made for the sake of art is is something that i like which could be anything just don’t get too big at the moment because of the kids.
Cathy: Yeah well and the pandemic.
Linda: Yeah really miss going and seeing bands cambridge is not gonna be like they’re obviously turning into a hotel so there won’t be gigs there.
Linda: Yeah I think the music scene in Newcastle has seen a sad decline over the last kind of 10-15 years.
Linda: Yeah there used to be bands everywhere and now not so much. Well where can people find you if you know they’re a software engineer listening or a data engineer listening and they want to have a chat to you about working at Hireup where can they find you? I know you’re pretty responsive on LinkedIn if someone wants to reach out to you.
Cathy: Yes definitely. I’m on Linkedin for Newcastle people I’m in the Newwwie slack. I’m kind of a low participant on twitter. I am technically still on Twitter if you send me a message on twitter I will get it. I don’t tweet too much anymore Twitter turned out to be kind of a stressful place to be i think once there’s a lot of stuff start happening in the world.
Linda: Well thank you so much it was always good to catch up with you.
Cathy: Thank you for hanging out at the JS meetup.
Linda: Yeah it’s so great good to see how your career has grown and I’m really excited for your promotion congratulations again and I know there’ll be some great people that want to come and work with you.
Cathy: I would love that thank you very much it’s been great fun.
Linda: No worries at all.