Geosoft: Software Development Manager

May 18, 2012

Geosoft is looking for a Software Development Manager:

  • Day to day management of the Software Development and Project Management teams (both in Canada and the US.)  This includes accountability for team performance, goals, metrics and best practices.
  • Anticipate, change, implement, and continually evolve industry leading software development processes to meet future business, technology and customer needs.  The successful candidate will be responsible for Geosoft’s transformation into agile (including change management).
  • Contribute as a senior R&D team member to define and achieve on group goals, metrics and plans to support business priorities.
  • Accountable for the planning and successful completion of all software development projects to ensure timely and successful product releases, working closely with the Product Management team and customer facing personnel to ensure that standards and processes are continuously aligned with customer requirements.

It looks like Geosoft has been around for a while. They seem to be privately held, so I don’t know much about the company’s financial situation.

The Good
It’s a relatively clear and posting. It’s not vague, there are lots of honest details there that some companies would have obscured because they think job postings shouldn’t have those kinds of details. Those people are wrong. That’s what makes this job posting interesting.

It’s also a reasonably senior position.  There’s some travel opportunity, but not so much as to be irritating.  You can get a look at their software products from their website.  They were apparently “recognized in 2009 as one of the 10 Best Workplaces in Canada by the Great Place to Work® Institute”.

They’re interested in moving towards agile development.

The Bad
They may not already be doing any agile development. This isn’t the nineties anymore, or the aughts for that matter. What’s their current process like?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to the team size. Some people looking for a managerial position are going to feel like they’ll be under-utilized managing eight direct reports. Others will probably prefer the sound of a small team, as long as the team members are sharp. I probably lean towards the latter, but the devil’s in the details.

I get the sense that their business is more in the desktop software side than the web side, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Then again, I could just as easily write the reverse.

What Should You Ask?
You’re going to want to get a good read on the team. After all, you’re supposed to manage them, and the difference between managing a small crack team and a small team of code monkeys is vast.

What’s their process like? Are the team members pushing for agile or being pushed into it? What’s their knowledge of agile and what’s the executive support for it? They’re saying they want to move, but what’s the drive here, and how important is it to them?

Where are the two remote team members? Why do they have remote team members, and is it working well?

How’s the company doing? Why do they need to hire a software development manager now? What’s the compensation like?

What’s their mix of software and technology like? Is it mostly desktop, is there a lot of web / integration work? It’s hard to get a sense of that from their website and posting.  Is it all C/C++, or .NET, or something else entirely?

The Location
GeoSoft seems to be located in Queen’s Quay Terminal. It’s a nice place, picturesque, not tremendously far from Union station, so reasonably accessible by TTC, not hard to drive to (although parking options aren’t great). There’s a few nice restaurants and shops in the area, although it’s not overflowing with either. If you live on the waterfront or near the gardiner/lakeshore, this is probably an appealing location. For the rest of you, it’s probably neither fantastic nor terrible.  If you do take the job, I recommend visiting the Harbourfront Pearl for dim sum regularly to get both a decent view and a decent meal. And while you’re at it, invite me, because I like that restaurant.

In Summary
It’s a reasonably senior position with a moderate team size, so it’s probably a good fit for someone who’s got just enough experience for the role, or for someone who really likes the smaller teams rather than a veteran used to and expecting something larger.


Garner: Sr. Software Developer

May 9, 2012

Garner (websitelinkedin) is looking for a Sr. Software Developer:

You are proficient in at least Java, JavaScript and SQL. You have several years of experience developing server side business logic and web-based GUI components. You are familiar with Agile planning and XP engineering practices, especially TDD, refactoring, mock objects, pair programming and continuous integration. You have a mastery of design principles and the object-oriented paradigm of software development. You know the basics of shell scripting, jQuery, AJAX, HTML, CSS and HTTP.

You are curious and always striving to get better at your profession. You know that you will work in a totally different way 10 years from now and you are not scared by it. You like to experiment with new languages, tools, and libraries, applying your new knowledge to your everyday work.

Garner makes a platform called exdocs, and they used to direct people to; you’ll still find links pointing there. The new Garner website is still relatively young, I gather, so it’s a little lean on content, but it’s not hard to find out more about their product and company with a web search. You’ll even turn up ancilliary sites like and their old site (which redirects now to the Garner site).

The Good
First and foremost, this is a posting written by (or at least heavily influenced by) someone who understands technology and what developers care about. It’s written with care, and this makes it stand out over the vast majority of job postings.

As a result of that, you can get a much stronger vibe for their development culture than you can for most postings on areas like software quality and agility. The passion for software comes through. I like that the posting mentions technologies but isn’t pedantic about them.

This posting was given to me directly, rather than something I found on my own, by someone who I’ve known for a while. He’s looking for strong candidates and I hope that my posting this will help him find them. If we’re lucky, he’ll be able to respond to some of my points here to help clarify anything.

Garner’s industry focus on Oil, Gas, Mining and Pipelines mean that their market is an important one in Canada and one that has been doing pretty well over the last few years. Some of their older pages talk more generally about logistics, freight, land management and other sectors, so I suspect these growth sectors are becoming (or have become) their primary focus.

I’ve been curious about Continuous Delivery techniques for a while, but haven’t had much experience with them. I don’t get a strong sense from the posting of what they’re doing with continuous delivery, but the fact that it  gets mentioned at all is appealing to me.

The Location
Their Toronto office is near Queen and Spadina. It’s a nice area, and not terribly difficult to get to by TTC, GO or road vehicles. Lots of tech companies there, so many of their potential candidates will already be working in the area — if that’s you, then getting yourself into their office for an interview should be pretty easy.

Basically, this is one of the more common areas for tech work, and you probably already know the tradeoffs of this area well enough that I needn’t bother speculating on your behalf.

What’s Missing
Garner is privately held, so I don’t know much about how the business is doing, growth, finances.

The redirection of the website and refocusing on growth industries seem like normal business changes, but it’s hard to really assess those kinds of changes from the outside — you’d have to be really immersed in the company to understand the impact. Is this a recent and significant change or just gradual business evolution. Are people inside the company happy with these changes?

What’s the size and composition of the team? What would you be working on? What’s the compensation like?

What are they doing with continuous delivery?

How do they manage the mix of user experience design and agile approaches?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to working on a platform for capital projects in the oil, gas, mining and pipelines sectors. It won’t be everyone’s perfect job. If you’re looking for a consumer-focused startup, this isn’t it.

I know people who’d never take another Java job at this point. Even for many dedicated Java developers, the bloom is off the rose. The technologies they talk about sound like solid ones, but you might not be hyper-excited about the technologies themselves.

In Summary
If you’re experienced with Java and the Web and you’re looking for a new position, I’d guess this is likely to be interesting.

I’ve made some minor edits based on minor changes since I started writing, or things that I learned after posting. I don’t think they affect the content in a way that’s worth describing in detail.

Centre for Global eHealth Innovation: Hacker, Software Generalist, Researcher

May 27, 2011

The Personal Health and Information Technology department at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation is looking for a Hacker / Software Generalist / Researcher:

Every member of our tightly knit development team has full input into every stage of project architecture, design and implementation. We own our projects and get shit done that has real, meaningful and measurable impact on sick people’s lives.

  • Have enough experience in Java to be sick of it
  • Have experience with the JBOSS stack
  • Have professional experience with a dynamic language such as Ruby or Python or Javascript
  • Be a UNIX weenie
  • Have open source contributions they can show us
  • Have mobile app development experience, on any combination of the iPhone, Android and Blackberry platforms, or on Titanium, PhoneGap, or other cross platform tools
  • Be comfortable working in a Scrum process
  • Be fanatical about testing

Grant McInnes, who sent in the posting, adds:

we do everything from hardware development, up the stack through software development, to UX evaluation and finally randomized controlled trials on the built products

The Good
It sounds like a great cause:

We have good results. In a randomized controlled trial, our applications have been shown to significantly improve heart failure outcomes, in patients with Congestive Heart Failure. In another we’ve demonstrated a 10 point drop in blood pressure for hypertensive patients

How often do you get to look at a software job where you can contribute to saving lives?

It also sounds like they use a fair number of technologies and have pretty sound processes. There’s not a ton of detail there, but what’s there sounds good.

Who is the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, to which the Personal Health and Innovation department belongs, anyway?

The Centre for Global eHealth Innovation is “a joint effort of UHN and the University of Toronto and was built with funds from the Canadian government, through the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Ontario Innovation Trust”. Phew. And then of course the UHN is itself a bunch of different entities working together. The Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Innovation Trust are both government organizations created to foster innovation at the Federal and Provincial levels. So, basically, take a university, several hospitals, two branches of government and assorted others and put them together and you have the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation.

It sounds like the possibilities for endless meetings, paperwork and mayhem abound without even talking about how Conway’s Law fits into this. Of course, universities, governments and hospitals can be fulfilling places to work, so maybe your mileage may very a little, and you’ll find the combination appealing. It sounds a little scary to me.  The posting talks about some of the upside of this arrangement:

Being in a research environment, we are able to concentrate on this goal without being distracted by short term profit motives, or keeping investors happy.

The Location
Sounds like they’re in the Toronto General Hospital, over by MaRS, Hospital Row, etc. There are restaurants and shops around, although it’s not overflowing with great eats and hip places from my limited experience in the area. It’s very transit-accessible, but it’s not ideal for go train (you’d want to take the subway, at least in winter) or driving. The location is probably neither off-putting nor exciting for most of you. On the upside, you could take in events at MaRS pretty easily.

What’s Missing
What’s the compensation like for a Researcher at the Centre for eHealth Innovation? What’s the size and composition of the team? How would you fit into it? What’s that crazy organizational structure like in practice — does it get in the way or is it something that you’re barely aware of?

Is there a particular project that you’d be starting on? What are the technologies and platforms you’d likely be working with right away and what is the mix going to be like over the long haul?

What are their development practices like? There’s a mention of Scrum, but in practice companies vary quite a bit. It’s hard to get too deep into specifics without knowing more about the technological mix but: do they do pairing? Do they use digital issue tracking or card boards (kanban, etc)? Is there a build? Continuous integration? How often are deployments/releases made? What’s the workspace like?

Maybe Grant can answer some of these here, but these are the kinds of questions you might consider asking them yourself.

In Summary
If you’re looking for a good cause with decent technology and practices, this sounds like it’s worth further investigation.

RBC: Lead Architect

October 29, 2008

The Royal Bank of Canada is looking for a Lead Architect:

Assist the Lead Architect in developing the strategy, vision and architectural direction for Information Security.
Provides direct support to the Lead Architect and may be called upon to perform the duties of the Lead Architect as events warrant.

This position will contribute to the development and refinement of Enterprise Security Architecture and communicate Enterprise Security Architecture Strategy to business and technical project stakeholders. Project level security architecture consulting will ensure enterprise security architecture strategy is delivered consistently and is in line with current and future enterprise security architecture strategy.

The Good
It’s a pretty senior role in a pretty big company with a 60B market cap.  If you’re even slightly interested in security, this seems like a role where you could really dig in and learn/apply security concepts, which could be an interesting technical challenge.

The location’s very central – as is true for many of the bank jobs in Toronto.  It’s not a bad area to work in, and it’s moderately convenient for just about everyone.

The Bad
The title is Lead Architect, and yet it reads like Assistant to the Lead Architect or Architect would be more fitting, since the job description makes regular reference to assisting the lead architect.  It’s not clear how you’re supposed to read into that. 

What’s Missing
Well, a link to the job posting would be a good start — it’s not hard to follow another RBC posting to the source and then put in the reference number to get the actual posting, but that requires a lot more work than simply clicking on the link that should be in the posting.

What’s the compensation like?  What would be the localized organization structure in which you’d be working: who would you be reporting to, working with; would anyone be reporting to you?  Would there be much need to travel?  What kind of mix would there be between the various things you’d be working on?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to working in finance right now, even though the Canadian retail banking sector seems to be weathering the storm for the most part. 

It’s not clear how hands-on this role would be; some might find that problematic.

In Summary
This is probably most interesting to people already in some kind of architectural role with either a background in security of an interest in it.

Decisioning Solutions: Development Manager

October 22, 2008

Decisioning Solutions is looking for a Java / J2EE Development Manager:

As a key team member, the Java / J2EE Development Manager is responsible for managing and facilitating day-to-day operations within the Development team as well as the interactions of the Development team with other areas.  The individual must exhibit extremely broad knowledge of relevant software, hardware, and processes and demonstrate outstanding problem-solving abilities.  The candidate must also have proven experience in an equivalent position with lauded organizational and managerial abilities. Exceptional communication and interpersonal relation skills are a must.


  • Managing the Java Developer team
  • Overlooking the System Administration team
  • Assistance in IT Hiring and Resource Review / Development
  • Reviewing and approving major designs of the Solution Architect
  • Monitoring IT resource allocation to the projects and PMO
  • Representing the technology within the Sales process
  • Providing technical advice and answers to the senior management
  • Managing the Research (SRED) tax claims
  • Escalation point for all things technical (design, systems, support, etc)
  • Continuously improving and policing processes (intra and inter team)
  • Managing and monitoring security policies and practices
  • Managing and monitoring SLA adherence

The Good
The location’s a good one; the 21st and 22nd floors of the HBC tower at Yonge and Bloor is both central and appealing, with good shops and restaurants nearby.  An ‘industry-leading compensation package’ sounds good, although you’d have to talk to them to find out if you agree with their characterization.  It sounds like the work itself could be challenging.

The Bad
Some companies are good at distilling what they do in a very accessible way.  Decisioning Solutions’ site reminds me a little of Exchange Solutions’, in that while they provide a lot of detail about what they do, it doesn’t seem very accessible to the uninitiated. 

What’s Missing
What’s the industry-leading nature of the compensation package.  What process do they employ?  What’s the size and composition of the team(s) you’d be managing.  What goals would you have?  What’s the organizational structure look like, and where do you fit?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to spending your days ‘maximizing customer value’, ‘maximizing customer acquisition efficiency’ or the other things that Decisioning Solutions does.  Some people are looking for something more like a consumer web 2.0 product or a health-care solution that could help save lives.  Then again, Decisioning Solutions seems to be a growing company in a market that might do well even in a downturn, so for some, this may be just what you’re looking for.

In Summary
If you’ve got experience as a development manager and you’d like to maximize customer value at Yonge and Bloor for industry-leading compensation, you might consider talking to Decisioning Solutions to see if it’s a good fit.

Oxford Properties Group: Manager, Application Development

May 7, 2008

Oxford Properties Group is looking for a Manager, Application Development:

The posting is too short to cover in much detail.  There’s a bit about the role here, but the posting doesn’t talk about the company itself, although the website does:

  • “global real estate platform that participates in the market as an investor, owner, asset manager, developer and real estate manager”
  • “employs more than 1,400 individuals”

So, they’re obviously into real estate, but I don’t really have any sense what applications they might be developing, how many, size of the team being managed, whether or not this role is about lots of new greenfield work or legacy maintenance and support, the technologies employed herein, what the compensation is like, and so on.  So, basically, if you’d like to be an AppDev manager in real estate, you could try and pry more information out of the Oxford Properties Group and see what happens.

Mostly, this is interesting because it’s a senior role in a less-common industry vertical, and probably centrally-located.

Little Bites: ‘Teach’ Lead, Sapient, Rails, Police

April 22, 2008

Agilon puts a lot of effort into their job postings.  For instance, they’re looking for a Teach Lead in TorontoUS, ON, CA which is apparently another way to say ‘Detroit, MI’.

Sapient is always looking for people in Toronto, it seems.  They’re still looking for a Solutions Architect and a Manager, Technology, both of whom should apparently be open to frequent overnight travel.

Someone is looking for Rails developers with PHP experience in Toronto.  If I had to guess, I’d say this sounds like Avid Life Media still.

Being a senior developer for the Toronto Police sounds like an odd but possibly interesting experience in its own way.  Unfortunately, it’s public-sector, so senior developer means $70-$80k here.