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Episode #25: With Robert Lang

24 July, 2019 | 57 mins 34 secs

In our latest episode of the newy tech people podcast I interview Robert Lang, Newcastle Alumni. Robert has worked from small software companies, building them right up to exits and been involved in companies as large as the Nasdaq. Robert has worked internationally from the U.S to Hawaii and back to Australia. Interesting to hear Robert’s journey to this stage in his career.

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  • Transcription:

    Welcome to NewyTechPeople with Robert Lang CTO and Newcastle own and welcome Robert thanks all right I take it there’d be a fair amount of than you cast a community that wouldn’t actually know who you are I know I hear it’s been a little while between drinks in Newcastle what Scott I give give the people give the list as a quick overview if you are are you’ve been doing yeah sure thing so that and so I’ve got my PhD Newcastle got my bachelor’s as well but my PhD in computer engineering at University of Newcastle in 1996 and then Heather overseas to work in Silicon Valley for 10 years for a number of starts which we can talk about and it must be close to work but also including big names like I worked at Silicon Graphics for a couple years when they were big and then as they sort of started to fall out of the consumer market I work for Nvidia for a bit again doing computer graphics so my PhD is in computer hardware so I started my career as a chief designer and when I moved back to Australia there’s less of a hardware scene here so I moved over to managing software yeah and probably my most successful role in my career is with an Australian company called smarts that was a startup that developed software for analyzing market capital markets of trading on stock markets and identifying bad behaviors identifying people who were trying to manipulate the market who with doing illegal things on the market so we were the world leader in that space and Nasdaq the u.s. Stock Exchange bought us in 2010 and then I stayed on for another five years working for Nasdaq in the in the Sydney office and continuing to run smarts from that perspective yeah so yes a broad range of startups and big companies all in the technology space all standing out as technology developer moving into technology many more recently CTO roles Wow it’s a feral Jenny yeah for Wanda all the way back how’d you get in technology to PMS I think it’s a fun story so so when I was in primary school in year six our country school in South Australia so I grew up in South straight country school and the you know I was a academically smart kid and I used to finish my work early and then the teachers would have to find things for me to do and they got shipped what’s called a vic-20 which is one of the early personal computers and that was shipped to the school but the teachers hadn’t received any training yeah so in one of my classes the teacher just said go to the staff room unpack the box and figure out what this thing is so I didn’t know what a computer wasn’t the teachers didn’t really know either and so short short version of the story is I convinced them to let me take her home because was too complex for me to figure out in a couple of classes at school so took it home and spent all my nights and weekends figuring out what it was and then eventually before either the primary school ended up teaching the teachers what it wasn’t how to use it and you know just all from reading the manuals for figuring out stuff so I was kind of 11 years old I was cooked when I went to high school similar story but with Apple twos they got they got shipped something like 15 Apple twos and I asked the computer teacher who didn’t know about computers but ask the computer teacher whether I could set up the computer and so I spent maybe being a friend spent the weekend setting up all the computers and they let me take one home so that I could play with it as well and I just sort of build from there just just the general interest in computers when I was preparing for university we did a tour of one of the universities and I saw people in in those white suits behind glass doors working on circuits and when we were told that those people were actually building computers I just thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever heard of because I could spent you know by then five years or so programming computers but I was like how do you order computer yeah and so I headed off to do a computer engineering degree at the Union house yeah and then out of a fire that’s kind of the university’s great how was I University Green you Castle how do you find that you know I thought it was good it had everything I mean I was I was lucky enough to get a scholarship from bhp in my first year that paid not only for mine for my tuition but also every summer I had a guaranteed job working at the HP and I was lucky enough to be kind of ahead of the curve because I was I was sat down with experienced programmers who were teaching me to program industrially before I was learning the subjects in university so that was really helpful and a really good start I think you know to a career being a cook in the industry early perfect and may not under topic because I think that some I guess it something’s having a little bit more commonly now and it’s probably that it sounds like a lot of people’s opinion that is the future as that mix of young pure education or formal education and practical experience you obviously sound like you had a positive experience doing that yeah yeah definitely I mean early on I learned how important it was to be industry relevant and to be linty industry you know when we jump to where did I go after my PhD it really headed me back in the industry because I felt like it was more interesting to be doing real things where your software your software hardware or whatever you’re building is actually being used yeah somewhere versus written not that I’m speaking bad about research but for me personally research was always let’s think I’m a crazy idea and it may or may not have some relevance it might be very you know technically smart and and it might be very hard for some people to comprehend but at most I might have no practical use of the universe so I was more torn – Wow I’m doing you know you know talking about my smarts days when I walked into a room in a stock exchange in India and there was 30 terminals all running smart software with people actively sitting there surveilling the market that was cool yeah that was like what our software really doing yeah we’re not just building this stuff – you know in a way to where real stuff happening oh I’m a are completely granthi come and probably accelerate your learning as well writing how you what you’re building and how’s it actually working in the real world yeah yeah is that if you had if I’d asked your thoughts on the future education then would you think you’ve obviously down year you on your PhD as well thoughts on future education you think it’ll continue to go you know more of that mix between industry and pure learning or hey what’s your thoughts on what you think it’d be beneficial it’s a bit of a two-pronged thought process I think because I think that you know if you’re just talking about the future of Education we I think we can all see that self learning you know is it’s becoming more and more prevalent pretty amazing ya know you could think of any topic going on and you know there’s master classes this you know that there’s there’s literally a site called master class which I’ve subscribed to where you have things like you know Gordon Ramsay teaching coffee yeah it’s like a whole courses yeah access to access the informations becoming you know just so prevalent and the the actual best people in the oil teaching this information yeah the proper experts like the real thing that Steven Spielberg teaching had to be directly so that sister so I think the future of learning is is that sort of self-guided but still expert learning but that said I still personally and that may well be my experience of my age just seeing the link to industry to be just so beneficial turn to anyone’s education the more that you can apply to the real world the more that you can be applying it in an industrial you know more commercial application I think that that as we said before that accelerate your learning it certainly seats your learning that it makes you understand how I’m not just learning numbers and equations I’m actually learning what therefore I’m actually applying yeah and it sounds like the practical experience served you better going back into the education as well so those the two pronged I guess benefits right yeah yes you mentioned before career-wise is taking me to the US I know you’re costing University queers growing into the US and then and then back my I’m really interested to hear that really interested sort of hear people’s create journeys and and how that come about you finish your degree and you work with PHP as I went forward was the next move after that for you so although I had a good job you know the programming at bhp the thing that frustrated me when I finished my undergraduate which is equally my kind of mistake I guess in some sense is that I felt like I knew a fair bit about software but I still kind of didn’t really know hardware and then remember that story that I’d mentioned about the guys in the white suit room so I’ve done a lot of software I’d learned the theory of hardware but I hadn’t kind of applied it and there was a professor who I knew at the University who wanted me to do a PhD and I very really sleepily said to him I don’t think I want to do research as such prefer to do industry and just through chatting I had mentioned to him that you know I was really wanted to do more hardware and so he said look if you come into a PhD we’ll let you design the chips that you are whatever you’re researching and figure it out so I jumped back into doing a PhD because I still had this this desire to build some hardware and do some research so my research was about parallel computing but I had an element of it where I was allowed to at least design up the circuits and simulate them in software I didn’t get to produce them because their costs kind of hundreds of thousands of dollars and but uh but yeah that that was the direction I took really was this is just me on a path to hardware yes do yes nice and I think um I probably puts you in a in a unique and unique Feridun I think a lot of people do just like hardware or software these days right as I said not in Australia yeah it’s not a big industry in Australia but obviously you know in Silicon Valley and in the US on this this tool we still need hardware to run our software on so there’s still significant areas yeah nice so then you finish your page deep yeah three New Castle it was next four year at so I had met a researcher during my PhD at an American research who was teaching it Flinders University in South Australia we had met a couple times because our research areas were in the same area he was fine accomplished ahead of me he was already a teacher a lecturer and so I was looking for what to do in terms of a role and I was just looking for jobs online and I saw that there was a teaching position at Flinders University so I emailed him saying I’m going to apply for this position put in a good word for me or whatever you like and he responded back saying that that’s actually my position that they’re advertising I’m now working back in the US and I ran that you come to the US so so he was working for a company they’re called Schlumberger and he got me into the process I interviewed at Schlumberger and ultimately got hired over in Tucson the day but there was also in that still crossroads point where do I go an academic do I know I had a job offer from University of Melbourne yeah from a professor who used to be at Newcastle and had moved to Melbourne yeah and he offered me a teaching position and then I had the office for the job in Silicon Valley and I was literally I didn’t know which one yeah and so I went to him and said I don’t want to do you’re offering me a position but I was had this position in the US and he effectively said I’ll take my offer off the table if you go to the US learn something and then bring it back to Australia I said that was good so it was kind of his attitude towards that so I said that sounds like a deal yeah and so I went off to the u.s. yeah that’s great for me it’s perspective I’m sure pretty key point in doing career really differently because somebody was quite selfless and actually learn better from that perspective yeah nice so that was the ad that was the theme in the u.s. so that yeah so then I was found myself in the place that anyone with the technology interest wants to be Silicon Valley yeah and I was designing chips for test systems that test chips there’s a bit of a mirror thinking concept here because if so we were we were designing the machine that tested the production of the Pentium which was a Hot Chip the hot Intel chief at that time all right and so the chip size that I was designing were in the system that tested their after Pentium and again got to see fully practical users got to go to a chip production site in Oregon see them making the chip see our systems testing the chips understand how they use it how they work and I was working on sort of fridge sized computers there were liquid cause it was pretty it was very high-tech very very high in tech that no that hardly anyone knows about all right members of the public don’t think of these systems of producing chips how do you how do you make a chip all right and how long you do that for so I was there for two years yeah and then I got the job offer to Silicon Graphics to go and work on the next generation graphics machines and and part of my PhD had been focused around computer graphics and image processing so it was kind of back more in the direction of my PhD so there was a it was yet another good opportunity because Silicon Graphics was kind of still at its height it started to fall after that as a company in terms of a leader but it was still the hot place to be to do computer graphics Wow and so we were working on unfortunate system that never saw the light of day but we’re working on kind of the next generation graphic system that became the got sold to Nvidia and became technology than Nvidia 13 Nvidia systems today so if you have an Nvidia graphics card that’s all sort of came from what the guys in Silicon Graphics were doing no no yeah I was there what was the experience like being second belly at that point technology wise and you know context was just amazing the network I mean you really I was there when Google was forming you know like it was just it was as cliche as people say that you know you could meet someone in a in a in a coffee shop that was a venture capitalist who was looking to invest you know in companies you know it’s just such a at that time such a network hotspot yeah conversely the lifestyle was a bit 2 months like that as well you know people were where I mean we were young I was 25 26 right and you would just work you absolutely were just you know your friends were in the office so you would have dinner in the office and work and and that cause I’ve got have been older that that start to get a bit tiring that you know we’re sort of always working yeah but that’s choices you know because the California is a beautiful place and it’s great beaches and outdoor wildlife it’s us and so you know you can choose to go out my next gig actually took me out of California and told me to Hawaii where where I spend the next four years and that was much more work-life balance you know much more sort of put in the hours put in a lot of hours but spending weekend and ask touch back on Silicon Valley for a sec you obviously how many years you do there and I was six years in Silicon Valley and then another for working for a Silicon Valley company but basically yeah now’s the time they’re obviously minute you mentioned networking you mentioned the ability you know bump into people very key lessons II you would give other people either moving to a technology hotbed or or trying to network or build relationships with other people tips is hard to say but I mean in general it’s just really important to to folk were con the networks yeah you know think about that and in a positive way are not in an artificial way when you’re meeting people you know what’s the relationship going to be what do they currently do you share what you’re currently doing you know figure out you know what’s what’s common between you and and how is that going to work work forward you know yeah I’ve been out of the valley for 14 15 years now you know included not including Hawaii even but I still have contacts that I think that I talk to and you know can regularly talk to a cop can call up for advice and so on in the end of that like so I think yeah maintaining those networks I think is a really important part of what that provides yeah yeah yeah I could clearly great I think um especially earlier on right especially earlier on building as now execute ups opportunity I gave in there even your opportunity get to the US came through a network right exactly yeah that’s just you know building relationships with with no no hand goal in mind but just building genuine relationships and you never know you know where things are and oh yeah I had when I was after Nasdaq it bought us and then I was working at Nasdaq one of my top software engineers with very young guy came to me I said you know I’ve got this dilemma I’ve been offered a job at Amazon Seattle and you know he’s in his mid-20s yeah and one of my best software developers you know disrespect you or hurt the team or anything like that but I had to say that him similar to the professor you know I decided it I decided me to be hypocritical for me to say no no no stick around in Australia when you’ve got an opportunity to go to Seattle and work for one of the biggest fastest growing companies you know I think you’ve got a try at that oh okay yeah so no I definitely think it’s a it’s a good opportunities yeah nice you mentioned in you went to a whi nice lifestyle why yes yeah so I mean backing up I had worked for a start-up in California actually for the same guy who was the professor in C and E in Flinders and that company had sort of run out of money as startups quite often doing but I guess the technology part we had delivered well and I was the head of technology so the investor in that company that you know again going back to networks thought I was a positive member of its network and he had another company that he had invested in that was california-based but founded by a Hawaiian and the Hawaiian founder head for whatever personal reasons or whatever just said I’ve got to go back to Hawaii he happens to be a very technical like hands-on guy and by his own admission not a manager but one of the smartest tech guys I’ve ever met absolutely great hardware designer yeah and the investor was worried how do we have him sitting in Hawaii without a team and if we put a team there he doesn’t want to manage a team how do we manage a team in Hawaii when when we’re headquartered in California mm-hmm and so that investors theory was if I was interested I could run that team so we’ve been in California for six years when my wife and I had sort of said it was going to be to extent and she was starting to ask when are we going home Hawaii was halfway home so that seemed to work pretty well having in the right direction yeah so a very different environment to Silicon Valley even I was flying back and forth to California regularly start still connected Silicon Valley Hawaii you know much more down earth much more laid-back there’s not a strong technology industry there we were one of the few and the few companies that are technology-based they’re pretty much all military yeah so a foreigner like made up can’t get access to any context there really so yeah so yeah was just a change of pace but still designing chips are women so we were designing the first 10 gig Ethernet tube so to the you know today 10 G’s main stream and plug it in where you go at that time 1 gigahertz was amazing and expensive you know we were designing the 10 gigahertz range uh-huh and ultimately got bought by Nvidia again so a different division but we we go we got acquired by Nvidia then the whole team got consumed into Nvidia right I know guess once again on relationships I would have been similar similar ations best time to delivered for us in the past this teams build something we can trust in the past that’s key and I route again so two experiences one was you know they had a kind of a interview process as part of the acquisition where they sat down with every staff member and interviewed them and the manager who was interviewing me was my former manager SGI silver graphics yeah so it there wasn’t much of an interview he was just like well I know who you are so I think interview over yeah and then the second experience was that once they had selected us all and we had an induction process at Nvidia like the whole graphics team that I work with that sort of in graphics pretty much by then had moved to Nvidia so I walked into a room full of colleagues that I’ve worked with before you know I get emphasizing just house from the name works out they’re nice that’s right I can play okay I think I from a career perspective from startup perspective and you know relationships that relationships in networker still undervalued I think people recognize the importance of them but they’re still undervalued I think yeah people’s careers can be you know the journey and opportunities present themselves through true relationships and networks are significantly easier than you know if you’re looking for seekers yeah that’s the opportunity to you know look be new new job or something like that yeah literally I mean my whole career every position I’ve worked in ceases completing my PhD has come from a network CD da hai we eventually made it back to Australia yeah we were so yeah and Vinny required us they kept us open for a while but eventually they wanted to move everyone back to California understandably then so then that was my opportunity to come home and I started work for another company which not many people would know called India and at the time there’s a US company but had a office in Sydney that was designing the first 3G chipset so again we go back in what seems like his treatments only not that many years ago 3G was not yet a thing or was becoming a thing and we were developing chips the world were they going into Samsung finest and we’re doing three nations that’s sounds good what are those exotic is the graphics computer graphics is you know more visual and easier to explain to your relatives explaining that you’re doing a chip in the phone that talks to 3G is a little less exciting but it was still high tech just complex and it was being done in Australia and us the same study a lot of that built around the hardware side of things and then you have moved into software most recently how did you get back from that sort of that power I know you had a background in both so I’ll Freddy to start with and then the hardware out and then back the software and whether the next journey go so somewhere in that transition hardware design at the level that I was doing which is which is what I would call is purely digital and so sort of hard to explain you know there’s a lot of analog there’s a lot of electronics going on but at the at some level the electronics is sorted out by engineers who are better at electronics than me and what I’m what I’m doing is just dividing designing digital logic on top and what happened is all of the tools and processes converged so it actually became so a lot of the soft but a lot of the hardware developers at Silicon Graphics when I joined were software developers who were just making the switch you have to think a little bit differently because you have to think hardware but the tools had really converged you were writing in a language that was you know similar to current software languages you’re using compilers and you’re using tools that were very similar so sort of by the time I get back to Australia you know the actual process of developing a digital logic chip is not that different to software now the production is very different but the actual tools and processes so moving over to software as a manager you know as a developer it’ll take a bit of work but it’s also not that hard but as a manager it’s really easy as a manager you just have to produce components and functions and organize how they get produced so so it was a good benefit of the just the way the industry developed I think that was able to sort of make me able to move between hardware and software and then you’re just rolling with us yeah well was I what was the opportunity back in Australia do you move back to so I’m going back to a gear first yeah spend a couple years there then they shut down the Australian office there it’s actually shut down the whole company but the first Australia and I had that I had this longtime friend who I met in university subject and it works again so a good friend of mine who are many of University Andres fish and he was running his company called smarts and he needed a CTO and he didn’t constantly been harassing me to come join the company and it was something that I didn’t understand because I wasn’t a food tech guy I wasn’t a financial guy it was software and I was still a little bit religious about I’m a hardware guy and I really want to be a software but you know he and a couple of other colleagues convinced me that actually this company is going somewhere and that’s an interesting problem that needs to be solved you know how do you have you fine and you know deal with these bad actors on financial markets so through whatever process he convinced me to come on a CTO and start running that and it was actually so smarts itself had was it was a company that had proven itself with exchanges so stock exchanges but um dress had the idea to market the same software to market participants so like brokers and banks and so on so they could do their own internal compliance before the watchdog utensil with fines yes all right and also they can show to the watchdogs look we’re doing everything we can to hang the right thing so so the idea was repurpose the software and sell it somehow to the brokers and the market participants so I took on the role of suit of of that spin-off company but very quickly Andres and the fat one of the founders of smarts Mike Aitken you know they realized that it didn’t need to be a spin-off this who could go together so I was moved over to BCT old first both entities and then the entities merged and then the overall entity and in ultimately that’s what we ended up selling to Nasdaq Wow yeah what was the experience I say I have nothing interesting around a start-up saying obviously this growth the end goal for a lot of staffs isn’t an exit what was he’d been through a couple now or was the process like selling the Nasdaq lots of diligence lots of due diligence so so my part of the process was being locked in a room with with some of their smart tech people and and just answering whatever they could think of you know so starting with drawing diagrams of the system and bring in the the key developers the real experts who knew the code and the different pieces and then whatever they wanted to ask to basically validate that what we had was real and that was kind of my key part so well while a lot of the business stuff was being worked out finances being examined and all that sort of stuff we were just basically describing everything we could about the technology and as you say I’ve been through a few of those and some I’ve even been through some that have failed and can’t talk about but it’s always that process of you know someone has to somebody’s going to have to put their hand on their heart and say yes I believe this is real yeah so they’re going to integrate to interrogate you as much as they need to to get to that but you know what we had was real so that to us it was a couple of techies you know having a beer right like we’re just telling you how cool our technology is nothing to hide right or nothing I’d yeah just just here it is he’s how cooling this here’s why it works yeah and here’s why house is better than the rest so yeah nice I think that some an interesting process and I obviously like you’ve got a good at sounds like a pretty good experience especially through some of those success ones but yeah it is that ain’t gone I guess it’s not too many people get to experience that successful exit yeah so one of the things I haven’t mentioned I didn’t mention about my background as well or currently is so I was involved in a cooperative research center he’s familiar with CRC’s no see I said so I’ll probably be really bad at explaining it but it’s a government funded government and industry funded research center and this this I’d say it’s alright you know it’s like look it’s a separate program so cooperative research centers CRC’s yeah basically there’s an opportunity of a certain time for you to pitch your idea as a CIC which has to come with all the business planning and all that sort of thing and if you can get industry to put money in the government matters at dollar-for-dollar yeah right so professor Mike Regan who founded smarts also founded the arrow and the solar CICS on all different topics health mining Antarctica’s right so my hey confounded the capital market CRC which was to fund research into financial markets we’ve been running for three years I’ve been on the board of that for the past three or four years yeah recently left when CMC arsing merged with another organization called circa and became the Rossetti Institute and then they formed a new board and I’m off the board of the CRC but I’m still on the board of what’s called capital markets technology and we have a small investment fund to invest in early stage startups and now so we’ve invested in four or five companies today over the past three four years yeah and the reason for bringing that up is as we’re talking about this diligence process is this is me on the other side is sitting on the other side of the fence exactly yeah so we have a filtering process so really smart guys who do the first contact and yeah and bring the board the interesting opportunities but then there’s the opportunity for us to do that process and and I can understand the technology and we can all understand the business model in the future and all that sort of stuff so it’s been really fun to the past four years to be on that side of the fence as well now they’re investing in there for the three or four they invested in Australian companies yes yeah perfect yeah oh I am sure that’s exciting as well yes I’m getting hips and new ideas and new companies and the opportunities are there yeah yeah and you know this group I mean the other people on the border far more experienced people than me which is also good to just be in the room of them you know like people like David Scallon who’s the inventor of Wi-Fi yeah it’s pretty fun to hang out with him it’s just good to watch their processes because this particular group of people in my experience that they’re very open to coaching so a bad proposal comes across our desk and you’re not just kicked to the curb you know that there’s there’s feedback you know that they’re basically you have someone who’s very experienced that building businesses in Australia around the world and I’ll tell you you know this is what’s missing this is why we’re not taking the next step with you but this is what you need to work on next that’s phenomenal yeah and I think that that’s really unique about seem to you know the way they work you get that kind of good feedback I’ve certainly seen pictures at startup conventions or or even to be I’ve been involved in some to VC’s where you just get told no things yeah don’t know what you did wrong whether they were just not interested you don’t get any feedback yeah it’s great it’s kinda you know people that sort of scene yell I bought prepared to take the time to to put that you know put that back in yeah oh that’s great Wow just takes me out to Chloe different tangents I think I there’s a great wealth people especially in tech world that I would love to be sitting on a board investing in other tech companies how do I come back you obviously mentioned Network again somebody you know and had success without saying that same group of people so that’s how I can values it’s just the same network of people and you know Mike Aitken Andres fish yeah Davis get on these guys you know that I’ve just sort of part of their network and so when something pops up that they think suits me that they talk to me that like perfect right same time we run lat those pretty bad most great summer old CTA in around a finite space again obviously a you’re you’re successful eggs in that space worked and Nasdaq for a bit after that was a five years ago and then left left Nasdaq me I imagined I was sort of a part of that buyout period put it you would you had to stay around for a while there’s nothing formal but it was just time for me to you know move on yeah and I wanted to get back into play around with startups again yeah you know Nasdaq is while it’s very successful in a great place to work it’s still big corporate and so back to little startups I actually spent a couple of years working for an augmented reality yeah startup and that unit that’s just a cool emerging technology that it’s really starting to appear everywhere every corner you look around and have this small vintage really happening so I spend a couple years there but couldn’t quite crack the nut as to how do we take it beyond being a gimmick yeah you know the technology is cool but I for one couldn’t figure out it’s been since he has finally had a market it had it had it make something big it will happen but I couldn’t make happen that one so so then they ended up back you know in FinTech yeah again through a network I was contacted actually originally for a board position but when I spoke to them they had them some serious technical challenges that they were facing over the over the 12 months yeah period and so I jumped in to help them get through what was a big transition from one platform vendor to whole different platform vendor without slowing down their business growth without impacting the business so it was a big technical challenge yeah but it was a sort of a fixed time period you know get this done that’s it sounds like big chunky right something get your hands you said you’re looking to get your hands you know back in the the technical side yeah project as well you know you’ve got an end day there so it’s something you know I can get get in get it’s done and you’ve got an endo so you know it takes your boxes it sounds like for what your control it was also quite a different experience from a personal management perspective because I’d always worked with you know a direct team and also and most recently at Nasdaq a big team yeah 140 stuff I think but but at open markets all the tech is out sourced so during that time I’m not managing people but I’m managing vendors no vendor in India vendor in Vietnam Brisbane vendor in Sydney and so I’m managing those vendors but I’m not having to deal with personnel you know hiring and firing and HR and all that stuff so it was it just an opportunity to do it take a different look at how to build slide tangents you’ve worked at startups obviously very small from the ground up you’ve worked in you know really big companies like Nasdaq I mentioned you know managing in the hundreds of people’s wares from a team management perspective obviously vary in size by every if you had to provide some advices the key learnings in around how to manage teams I get it most attitude that teams in technology orientated companies any advice yeah I think the key thing is having a clear direction and making sure everyone you know knows the direction and and is heading in that direction mm-hm and it sounds kind of blunt but you have to deal with you know anyone who’s not pushing in the right direction as quickly as possible that somebody necessarily fire them but it means you know get them pushing in the right direction because that’s the only way for small teams that’s the only way to get you know the positive results you need which is so critical for a start-up and but for big teams it’s such a source of distraction you know because it starts to hit people on different levels some you know staff members who are pushing in the same direction start to be saying okay he gets to swing off in the wrong direction like what who’s doing you know so starts to affect them so I think you know what I heard recently one presenter annex some Amazon executives saying was you know the North Star you know make sure everyone knows what the North Star is and make sure we’re all right and what’s that and I think that’s probably the key thing and so even when you’re hiring you know the hiring process not only should test people technically and test their fit for joining the team I feel like it should you should test a little bit how do they respond to directions of which where we go yeah I think I think yeah aligning motivated Sarah I think that’s important it’s the technical skills really like I think technologies can be learned especially really good tech professionals hey they have to learn new technologies upon past what they do right but aligning their motivators to whatever the company’s doing if they’re if there’s a good match there you can oversee you know it’s more technical you know learnings or gaps there yeah I think I think that’s actually one of the key key points to recruit men or to building a team right he’s trying to get a smile I’m in there making sure that everyone’s got a common goal or hand in the right direction it’s very easy to get sidetracked a person if that’s not clear yeah it’s a different experience working in a start-up versus a big corporate listen I guess there’s different team dynamics and different in you know I’ll completely different you gotta weigh multiple hats more than more than likely um if do you think it’s been a good experience for you going to Celeste say – no second working and big teams they’re having that sort of that startup experience do you think it’s been a good learning experience yeah no definitely I mean you write this there’s differences and and you know I personally feel like an operate in either sort of area but there’s also an extra element of what I’ve been doing a lot in my career which is being the remote center so you know when I moved to Hawaii suddenly we were the team in Hawaii when everyone else was in California and and that changes communication dynamics and that changes how you work together which actually served me well when I came back to Australia and now with the Australian design Center working for a US company and we’re just the guys in Australia yeah and yeah the communication dynamics change you have to formalize you know a lot of what is typically informal I think is I feel like people go from corporate to startup yeah or an experience in astana successful or not and then going to corporate I mean look there’s a lot to be learned in a start just having you know different dynamics potentially Avenue a multiple Hamden it’s sometimes run a bit quicker a little bit more the opportunity because you are a bit more nimble to be able to get stuff done a bit quicker yeah I mean I see a lot of combo you know helped out with some friends companies and seen a lot of big commercial companies who as you say they’re trying to do what the startups the big difference if you had asked me five plus years ago is I would have always said you know if I’m in a big corporate there’s a bunch of bureaucracy I have to do before I start doing something whereas if I’m in a startup I have a role and I’m off and running as long as I’m in sync with the CEO you and in a start-up you’re chatting every day more time today you’re not avoiding each other you’re just often running you’re not thinking of do I have permission to do this – I obviously thinking do I have budget and what’s it’s gonna mean for the business and so on but it’s it’s sort of much more direct and what you see now the past five plus years is you know the big companies bringing in the the consulting companies to say can you create an innovation hub for me and they’re just being told you know autonomy right like you know giving people the right I mean the whole agile development movement is really about putting in processes when you’re saying there aren’t that many processes but you’re putting in processes that people autonomy to people you know again they know what their North Star is and they also know what their piece of it is and they just get to go do it without too much bureaucracy yeah I completely agree in all different directions I got down there start now it’s obviously sweet quite a bit we’re having chat you in tech people obviously you cast University you’re keen on you know seeing the new Carson tech community grow and what’s your from sort of I guess from an outsider’s perspective you know having a look at what’s what’s happening in Newcastle since the time you and at University any thoughts on what you’ve seen going on here unfortunately you know I haven’t seen a lot so I probably should have done more research I don’t know a lot about what’s happening now yeah certainly back you know late 90s there must have been something going on right then we weren’t really thinking about it because my sort of alumni group you know were all overseas or either were or are still overseas and a whole chunk of us is still close contacts and and everyone’s doing something you know big around the world so I think there was definitely a copy at that point and the can only assume that continued I haven’t really followed yeah so yeah so sorry as I said I’m just I need to get connected back into the University and I do want to yeah I just haven’t had time no I think I think you’re right I think on there’s definitely been a trend for you know people that graduate and to go also for opportunity right yeah a lot of those opportunities for its in technology we’re internationally that’s that’s across Australia or even not even just new console-specific but I think in Australia at the moment is more in opportunities you know in successful startups as well or successful companies tech companies or just normal companies within tech teams you know in Australia so people don’t have to go internationally yeah and on a smaller scale again that’s happening in Newcastle more opportunity for local people graduating to have opportunity here which they might not have otherwise had so I think yeah new concern is you know smaller scale to what’s happening in you know the capital cities in Australia which is good it’s good from a growth perspective I think the challenge is being close to Sydney you know it is that you know you’ve got to figure out what the draw card is yeah out of Sydney and personally I think the answer is going to be lifestyle you know like like you know less crowded beaches and less less rat race and then it but I think what probably has to happen is for some being caught to to put their money where their mouth is to put an A Center here if you think about the us examples yeah you know you’ve got Oregon which is called the like the Silicon Forest which is one half hours north of Silicon Valley they succeeded I think just because Intel decided this is a place to put a factory yeah and then all the support had to be had to build up around them and suddenly you know I don’t know how many employees until having Oregon was probably more 10,000 yeah but they just made that decision to just go out up in Valley to get the space that can offer the lifestyle but can offer them reduced salaries you know because it’s not in the big city so we probably need to find to figure out some way to have someone do that in Newcastle to make that draw I agree okay I think that’s there’s only two ways since either you know top-down and bottom-up it’s either you know having a start-up here grow and go to it you know a significant engineering team I’m really build from within or the big companies coming and setting up either even if it’s not there firstly the secondary you know a secondary office in Australia you know the major office in Sydney Melbourne Brisbane or something like that where they’re secondary office here and our engineering team of 100 plus people and building on the back of that because as you said it’s not only that team there but it’s you know the support for that as well I think they’re the two the two avenues yeah equally difficult but their lifestyles that the selling point right I think housing affordability and lifestyle a lot of this sort of more seen in talent that we’re drawing back to Newcastle is those people that are either recently married are about to have four family looking for a backyard maybe maybe wanna you know have a pet so they can run around your backyard or they’re having a second child or moving out of the apartment in Sydney something like that looking for sort of a lifestyle yeah I can buy somewhere over there and with a backyard and a little bit bigger place yeah that’s definitely the selling point if I you’ve had a lot of success obviously you created from a day-to-day productivity standpoint how do you how do you run your day how do you you know when you’re in a ctrl managing significant amount of technology as well as people what’s what’s the best tips you found from a Productivity standpoint okay so one of the questions you sent it through was what is your one productivity tool and and I thought if I could only have one it has to be the G suite now because I’ve got Gmail I’ve got Google Docs I’ve got yeah Google sheets all got everything I need there it’s not very sexy in terms of one tool that is the tool I spend the most time in probably yeah I try to manage my day through a fairly well known by an hour preschool which is called GTD he was just getting things done yeah and linked to boxes your yeah so I have my gmail configured so that I can organize my emails get my inbox to zero organize my emails into a GTD kind of a process I quite often fall off the wagon and then have to clean things up but that’s how I try to manage my time so I use various tools I use a tool called to-do list at the moment yeah for my to-do lists one tool that I have been experimenting with it the last couple of roles which works quite well is virtual assistant yeah which they’ll use one called Xai its URL yeah and you get given so when you sign up you pay something like ten bucks a month yeah and you get assigned an AI assistant who manages your calendar and is linked into the calendar so you literally just copy so you can either have a me or Andrew depending on the preference so I have a me and if someone says to me hey Rob can we catch up next week for a bit of a chat just need an hour of your time I can reply and say it’s your thing Amy copy hey me into the thing and it’s Amy can you find a time for us to meet and what’s cool about it is the AI assistant interacts with the person until a time is resolved so they can propose you know rob has Thursday afternoon available that person can respond back saying no I’m busy but I can do Friday then they could say had that Friday 2 p.m. that person say sounds good and they said the calendar invites perfect so I handle all that sort of stuff and I was a bit skeptical but I definitely wanted to play with it when I first heard about it era and I’ve had a few hiccups you know like 99% of the time I just get sorted and organized and I’ve even had friends joke back you know Amy is super efficient yeah you know and for going with it’s AI yeah so that’s one cool thing that I’ve been playing this and that’s it’s amazing how much time that sales and and I never had so far I’ve been using it for two years I’ve never had anyone have any negative response to it I had people when I first proposed it actually theorized that it was kind of Navy isn’t that a bit impersonal you’re handing off to an AI assistant or but when I’ve worked at big corporations I’ve had a personal assistant yeah and he or she would organize my counter so this is just a no I don’t yet yeah but I was expecting some people to say it’s a bit were you hoping the Oscar winner I’d yeah but as I said I haven’t had anyone Lesley’s verbally tell me yeah extra layer that’s really good I’m a massive delivering outsourcing that things like that I I think I’m building my team right my first hire was a PA to to take some of that away from me because it’s just not a good use of time on a daily basis to be trying to you know bookie countered and things like that happen if you can hand that off phenomenal right and something like that pretend awesome Arthur oh yeah even if it’s a little bit more expensive than that it’s really accessible for everyone right and if you’ve got two bots talk you know each other they should we have to saw that a relatively quickly yeah and it’s easy for everyone it’s now accessible no the thing I think in the past either they weren’t smart enough to be able to do that or you know you’d have over overlapping things are I mean Sydney for this one I’m here for this one I can’t get between the two by sending my quiet widest I had you can’t actually go back to back on that because you got trouble time and things like that so now it’s successful and smart enough that there’s no reason why it nearly anyone shouldn’t be able to use those right ya know the first you know early on in using it one of my colleagues you know he got the discussion and then he emailed me said a separate thread saying what the heck is this a is is that and I said in back the Lincoln said look for yourself and his first experiment was to get it talking to herself right so he signed up and then responded to my request saying well Andrew can help find a calendar and then and then you don’t even see the email traffic anymore you just see the meeting invitation appear on the other hand and you can even know you can change the settings but even at the end of the week Amy will send me a thing saying here’s what I did this week I set up these meetings and you’ve got these meetings next week and you know and this is still pending this person hasn’t responded yeah do you want me to chase them or leave it or you know it’s literally that’s kind it’s the right entry point for after FAA are for me yeah perfect can you say hi being have greater use to you in the future in other forms yes I mean I’m a huge fan like I’m definitely not the kind of person who’s you know thinking that it’s all going to be Terminator in the world I think we need to be careful and thoughtful better at the point I was you know I’d love to be actively involved in that as an area of interest in line but I can just see things like this you know when Dougal did their demonstration of the voice based assistant booking a haircut for someone and all sorts of people were appalled I was like yes yeah I mean yeah I think you know any opportunity where it can be doing something positive and taking new things off our hands yeah okay man okay from an educational perspective non-formal education is there anything you do you read podcasts you listen to either other blogs blogs you visit frequently that you used to stay up today with latest technologies or life education business technology wise I tend to sort of dig around Gizmodo and just follow the sort of top stories there I do a lot of podcasts listen to a lot of podcasts but they’re a bit there overlapping in some kind of a Venn diagram but they’re a bit out of my direct work area more into my hobby type stuff so one podcast I listen to you every week is called the skeptics guide to the universe yeah I highly recommend it it’s it’s basically it’s a it’s a podcast that looks at science and critical thinking and so quite often that goes into technology quite often they’ll be talking about a new technology and the implications of new technology but they’ve also got a you know a side of the skepticism side is kind of the side of addressing quack medicine and you know anti vaccinations and you know negative things for which if you just if people would just talk to think critically more that there’d be a lot less of these problems so that’s kind of a big hobby of mine so I like studying that really books about that and listening to podcasts about that yeah quite often getting into heated late night Friday debates on certain things but yes okay issue is one and so I listen to that sort of science base oh I get more of my my hobby is more science kind of baseball my job is boy ricotta-based yeah yeah that’s if you had to tell your younger version of yourself ake a piece of advice I don’t think anyone K piece of advice you you’d wheel back I’m gonna go to two again because one we’ve talked about heavily so the one isn’t it working so yeah so you know I think I figured that out early on but there was probably a period we’re being told to actively work it would have helped I think for me personally and I don’t know how much that extends to others just because of personalities is is extending your emotional tools for interacting with people with how that makes any sense so in my younger years and I’m still fair bit this way but in my younger years I was very direct very sort of logic based very you know I’ll tell it like it is and if you don’t like it sorry as I got older obviously and more mature that comes times when you don’t have to be so direct and there’s other emotional tools there’s other ways to communicate you know that sort of thing so I think exploring that earlier at a younger age probably must have been a positive motivator but it’s hard like it’s hard to formally learn that right it’s not yes sometimes it is experiences and learning through mistakes yeah especially you know when you come to understand your personality you know like like I am very still a very engineering so very much again so things this would be something that leads to a conclusion but when you’re throwing emotions and you know anxiety and other issues or things with people then it’s not logical and I don’t always work well in those kind of environments but I’ve worked hard to develop that as I’ve gotten older yeah it’s something needs to be developed around that so that’s that’s just another that’s another skill right it’s a logical that says it’s hard or harder than a lot of other skills and it’s something that you need to work a bomb because it just doesn’t come naturally right to nearly anyone even the best people thank you that’s something people work for yeah I mean you know going back to skepticism I’ve had mutual friends sort of realized that me and another friend very much disagree on some aspect and I feel strongly that science is on my side and this third party will say you seem to be friends how can you be friends when you have this huge disagreement and you know I’ve said many times if if I only chose to associate with people who agree with me I don’t think I have that so I think you okay okay Maya thank you for sharing his story today I think it’s been a it’s been very interesting from my perspective hearing about people that I go on a journey especially in around that startup scene it excites me I love hearing those stories and that hopefully some people got a little bit of a little bit of benefit or learnings out of it if people want to sort of find out a little bit more about you or get in touch with you what’s the easiest way probably the easiest way is LinkedIn my LinkedIn profile is if you go to linkedin.com /au I think it’s Roebling au yeah so linking calm slash in sorry slash Roebling aur OB le effect alright hopefully I you know if somebody’s got some interesting you know either the FinTech well what’s most recent experience betting any technology and they’re interested in having a chat they’ll reach out sounds good thank the attire look forward to Thanks Cheers.

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