Autodesk: Java Architect – Enterprise Cloud

June 1, 2011

Autodesk is looking for a Java Architect – Enterprise Cloud Software:

We are currently looking to hire software development rock stars to help us move the processes of our design customers to the cloud.

 Will design, architect and implement an enterprise grade cloud application
– Development of multiple web-based applications
– Active member of a highly skilled and motivated agile development team
– Work closely with product design and product management to collaboratively define and build elegant user interfaces
– Collaborate with other developers and colleagues to validate your designs
– Drive adoption of standards and common UI components across multiple teams

If you don’t have enough experience to position yourself as an architect, you could try for their Sr. Java Developer or Java Developer positions, also for their Enterprise Cloud.

The Good
Autodesk is an established player with a big client base. If you build something good for them, it will probably get used by lots of people. It sounds like a reasonably senior position. They’re willing to make lip service to agile at least — although there’s no detail on that point.  Cloud technologies can be interesting, although they don’t talk much about what Cloud means to them.

They certainly believe their compensation package is a good one:

Autodesk provides one of the most exceptional compensation and benefit packages, including stock options and employee stock purchase plan for all regular employees, RRSP matching program, generous vacation policy, ongoing employee training and development, flexible work hours and more!

The Bad
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I find the ‘elite’ metaphors for technology positions to be annoying. They’re not looking for a rock star, they’re looking a Java architect. If you’re looking for a really great one, make that clear, and make it clear that you’re willing to pay accordingly, otherwise you’re just “fluffing.”

What’s Missing
More detail on almost all fronts. Where’s the Autodesk Office? What does Autodesk pay a Java Architect, and what’s the net effect of all their compensation programs? What does cloud mean to them — AWS? Rackspace Cloud? Or just “a client-server system we can sell to our clients as ‘the cloud'”? What’s the software they’re trying to build? What does agile mean to them? Why do they want both GWT and Struts/Tiles?

The Location
Although Autodesk doesn’t mention the location, their primary Toronto office seems to be near King and Sherbourne. It’s not a terrible area, moderately central, walkable (although far) from Union Station, accessible via the King Streetcar and not terrible to get to via the highway. If you’re in the Beach or Leslieville (hi!), it’s probably a pretty great location, but if you’re north or west, it’s probably just ok. There are good shops and restaurants around the St. Lawrence Market, and over to Yonge, although it’s not as close to the shopping core as many central offices.

In Summary
If ‘Java Architect’ sounds like something you’d want to be, then a Java Architect for Autodesk’s Cloud is probably appealing. And if you’re not sure that you can pull off Architect, it sounds like they’re hiring for the rest of the team too.


Canada Protection Plan: Software Developer

February 16, 2011

I wrote up a posting for Canada Protection Plan, a client, who’s looking to start building an in-house software development team.

I won’t give it the full review treatment because I can’t be unbiased about a posting I wrote.  I will comment a little on the pros and cons, but you should read the posting for yourself and form your own opinion.

The Good
CPP’s been a client of mine for more than a year now, and they’re a great client.  I can’t swear that the experience of being an employee will be exactly the same, but I’m inclined to believe it’s close enough that this will be a pretty decent place to work.

They’re building new products and using decent technology to do so.  As the first permanent technical employee, you might have the chance to really shape the technology practice here.

I’m a part of the current team, and I can vouch for the two others you’ll be working with initially.  It’s a good team, and that’s something you won’t find everywhere.

What’s Missing
We’re considering people with a wide range of experiences, so I can’t be too specific about compensation — that’ll probably depend on you. I’ve tried to talk about the company, the projects, the challenge and opportunity involved, and the team, but there’s only so much I can write without making it a massive posting. If you apply to the job, I encourage you to think about the things I might not have already talked about, and ask, and I’ll be as candid as I can.

The Bad
It’s going to be a pretty quiet team at first.  There’s already three of us working on software for CPP, but we’re consultants, we’re not onsite every day, and so you won’t be immediately surrounded by tons of other software developers.  Some people would have trouble with that.  I’m expecting that the team will grow, and that the first employee will be a key member in recruiting the rest of the team, but for the first little while you’ll probably need to be comfortable with having days where you’re the only software developer onsite.

The location is pretty good for me, since I live in the east end of Toronto and I can drive there quickly. Another consultant I’m working with lives on the waterfront and can get there in ten minutes by car.  If you’re mid-town near the Yonge line, I imagine the shuttlebus makes the trip palatable, although I haven’t tried that myself.  On the other hand, if you’re coming from the west end, or fighting through a ton of traffic to get to the CPP office, it might not be your cup of tea.

There’s three restaurants in or very near the building, as well as a GoodLife fitness.  There’s free parking.  If you’re willing to walk a little, there’s a grocery store, a few more restaurants and the Science Centre (if you have children and a stay-at-home partner, that might be appealing, as it is for me).  On the other hand, there aren’t a pile of restaurants around or very very close, so you’ll probably end up bringing lunch and eating in the cafe.  Depending on your perspective, that might be a good thing or a bad one.

The goal here is to get someone who can really own these applications and the practice of software development for CPP.  Someone who’s in it for the long haul, at least by comparison to the consultants already building software for CPP.  We don’t expect you to make any guarantees, of course, but if you’re not interested in being that person, then it’s probably not going to work.

In Conclusion
CPP needs to build an in-house software development team.  If you’re interested in being the first member of that team and taking increasing ownership of software at a growing insurance company, this might be a good fit for you.

I wrote the job posting.  CPP is a client of mine.  If you were to be hired in this position, you’d be working with me.  As a result, assume that I’m somewhat biased about the role, and be sure that you do your due diligence.  Of course, you should do that with every position.

Thomson Carswell: Technical Lead

October 22, 2008

Thomson Carswell is looking for a Technical Lead with a background in Java:

As Technical Lead you will participate in the analysis, specification, development, extension and integration of an Enterprise Content Acquisition, Management and Publishing System.

 Your duties will include:

 ·         analyzing and sizing development/construction activities;

·         assessing team member abilities and allocate tasks accordingly (in concert with Sr. Architect and Project Co-coordinator);

·         monitoring development activities;

·         regularly reporting the status and progress of development activities;

·         identifying development issues and resolve/escalate in concert with team members;

·         producing and reviewing UML artifacts;

·         producing or leading Technology Assessments;

·         producing code / scripts / configurations as required and leading code reviews;

·         ensuring development team follows proscribed processes;

·         planning and managing code versioning and code builds/branching, producing deployment plans and instructions;

·         developing support and maintenance management plans of production systems;

·         supporting System Integration and User Acceptance Testing;

·         managing defect resolution; and

·         supporting, training and mentoring developers.


The Good
Thomson Carswell has ~700 employees, and is part of Thomson Reuters, a company with a 25B Market Cap.  It seems like this should be a company with resources.  They’ve also won awards for ‘Top Employer’ and ‘Best Workplace’, although details about why are scant.  Unfortunately for Carswell, they didn’t take the opportunity to sell the good points of working at Carswell in this posting.  This is a moderately senior role.

The Bad
They’re up at Kennedy/401.  If you’re not already in northeast toronto, it’s a bit of a trek; many people will disqualify them on this basis alone.  

The team and process here feels very hieararchical, in terms of how roles are described.  References such as “proscribed processes”, task allocation, UML are hints that it’ll be a defined-process environment rather than a “get the job done” environment.  That said, they’re just hints — you’ll have to talk to Carswell to get a better feel.

And then the usual gaps in information.  What exactly is the process?  What’s will Carswell be doing with this content management and acquisition application?  What’s the team you’d be leading — what kind of team members and how many?  Who would you report to, and what would your goals be?  What’s the process?  What’s the compensation?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to the aforementioned location.

Not everyone wants to work for a big company.  Big companies tend to have resources, but come with policies and politics that isn’t everyone’s choice.

In Summary
If you’ve got a background in content management and you’re highway-commuting from the north or east, this could be interesting.  Talk to Carswell, get a feel for them, and try and learn why they’ve won awards as an employer and workplace.

Trapeze: Python/Django Developer

September 12, 2008

Trapeze Media is looking for a Python/Django Developer:

As far as I know, they’re still looking for a Director of Application Development as well, so if the company and work sounds interesting but you’re looking for a more senior role, then perhaps that’ll fit the bill.

The Good
Django just went 1.0, and has a pretty good reputation for people who like dynamic languages and are willing to look beyond Ruby on Rails.   There aren’t a lot of Python or Django jobs in Toronto, so if you’re excited by this, your choices are limited.

The Bad
There’s so little information here that it’s impossible to get much of an idea of why you might want this job, unless, in fact you’re anxious to work on Python/Django.   I can’t possibly recommend it on any other basis, but I know there are Python fans out there who’d be at least curious to learn more, so … here we are.

Trapeze is an agency, and not everyone likes the agency environment.  Their location is a little off the beaten path, at Esplanade and Sherbourne, which won’t work for everyone. 

In Summary
If you’re looking for Python/Django work in Toronto your options are pretty limited and you probably want to talk to Trapeze, but you’re going to need to ask them a lot of questions.

Canoe: Director of Development

July 29, 2008

CANOE is looking for a Director of Development for Toronto:

The Director of development will be in a position to ensure that development work in Toronto is properly analyzed, documented, executed and rolled-out into production. This person will have strong analysis capabilities that align with one (ZEND) or more development frameworks and lots of experience with hands on development. They will be comfortable working inside of a standards based development team and will ensure that best practices are followed all the time. This person will be able to provide strong integration with the development team in Montreal and Chicoutimi to ensure that development tasks across the company are not overlapping but complementary.

This person will also ensure that the Develop Team understands that they are going to be measured on *doing the right thing, in the right way, the first time*. A culture of steady progress that makes few errors will need to be instilled from day one to achieve the best results possible.

The Good
CANOE is part of Quebecor media, which is a publically traded company (Google Finance), so it’s easy to see that while they’re off from their highest share price, they’re not doing horribly financially either ($428M first-quarter profit).   Basically, senior role in a big company.

Also, CANOE is pretty visible, so you’ll be working on things that your friends can see much of the time, and they have enough different properties that there might be a fair amount of variety.

The Bad
The role seems to emphasize for managing, assigning, measuring, verifying skills.   These are all probably relevant skills for most managerial roles, but I guess I prefer companies that emphasize the role of a manager in making sure that the work gets done, that customers and employees are happy with the results, team growth and mentorship, and so forth.

I’m also a little suspicious of a company that can use RUP, CMMI and Agile all in one sentence without feeling like they need to explain a little.  RUP can be light-weight if implemented a certain way, and CMMI can be used to ensure that a team is using mature practices, but both are often used to bludgeon projects and project teams into limp submission with reams of paperwork.

So, it’s not clear how much I should read into these elements about the work environment, but it might be hierarchical, and heavy-process, it’s hard to say.

It’s not clear what the compensation might be.

Quebecor is a pretty large company, with a 1.6B market cap and 52,000 employees.  Even though this is a relatively senior position with CANOE, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that you may still end up being a bit of a cog in the overall machine.  Some people are looking for a place where they can really stand out, make changes.  In my experience, in a company this big, it’s rarely possible to stir more than the local waters.

CANOE seems to be a mostly PHP company.  In this role, it seems unlikely that you’ll actually be writing much code, but sometimes it can be helpful to know the code that the developers with which you’re working will write, so that may be a factor for some of you.

The location is a bit off the beaten path at King/Parliament.  There isn’t a lot in the area, so if you’re not already somewhat east of the downtown or coming in by car, this location might be a bit of a downside for you.  On the other hand, if you’d like to walk up to Vistek to look at camera lenses at lunch, you’re well-placed for that, or to stop off and visit the Dominion pub.

In Summary
Managerial role for a pretty big and visible company taking charge of PHP developers for Toronto and keeping in contact with development teams in Quebec, on the east end of the city core.  Could be interesting.