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?

YMMV
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.

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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 exdocs.com; 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 specializedbid.com and their old exdocs.com 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?

YMMV
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.

UPDATES
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.


Canada Protection Plan: Software Developer

September 9, 2011

Canada Protection Plan is looking for a software developer.

They’re a client of mine, and I wrote good chunks of the posting, so I’m not unbiased about it. Accordingly, I won’t give it a full review treatment, but I will say a few things.

They’re a good client; I’ve been happy doing work for them, and I think that if we do a good job finding the right person for this job, they’ll be pretty happy too. It’s a small technical team with some fairly senior people, and we’d like to find some people with good skills and limited experience who can grow with the team, but are unafraid to take on new responsibilities. Of course, we’re not going to turn you down if you have deep experience, but we might not be able to afford you.

I know everyone you’d be working with closely, and I can say they’re basically all good people who are going to be working together with you to try and make things happen. The company’s also doing fairly well, growing and expanding as I’ve been working with them. The projects have good technical challenges, and you’d get to work directly with the users. There’s more work than anyone can possibly handle, so you won’t get bored.

Of course, these are insurance software products, so the domain isn’t probably going to be thrilling for most of you, but the work itself is interesting anyway. The location, at DVP & Eglinton, would probably work really well for some of you (as it does for me) but if you’re in the west end and travelling on TTC or you live downtown and you’re used to working downtown, it might not be a perfect fit.

What can I say? It’s a good gig, and I’d be happy to talk to some of you about it, or answer questions posted here if that works.


Sun Life: Practice Manager, Development

April 19, 2010

Sun Life is looking for a Practice Manager, Development:

The Practice Manager, Development reports to the VP, eBusiness and Call Centre and provides leadership in people development and talent management along with technical excellence and innovation to Java, Microsoft and Vignette practice. This manager has a demonstrated track record of working effectively within a shared services environment (matrix model) and is a strong people manager.  The successful candidate will work closely with Delivery Managers & Director PMO & BSA to allocate developers across projects.

The Good
It’s a senior role for a well-known, large company with an $18B market capitalization.  They seem to be doing well enough financially.

The Bad
I’m personally slightly biased against Vignette, having had some awkward experiences in the past.  I’m vaguely surprised they’re still around, although perhaps they’ve made progress since I last used their technology.  That said, it’s not like they’re hiring you to be a vignette programmer.

What’s Missing?
How big are the team(s) you’ll be managing?  What’s the corporate structure — who are you reporting to, working with, and who’s reporting to you?  How exactly are you working with the PMO, Delivery Managers and BSA?  What’s the technology mix really like?  Is it mostly Vignette, heavy on the Microsoft, or a 25% mix of each plus a smattering of others?  What are the challenges facing sun-life and the role you’d be filling?  What’s the compensation for a practice manager at sunlife?  Where’s the office located?

YMMV
This role looks like it’s all management, no tech.  If you’ve got the technical background they’re looking for, this will either be interesting or horrifying on that basis alone.  Some of you might be looking for a less hands-on, more upper-management role, others of you really like to get your hands dirty and you’re not going to get the opportunity to do so in this role, I don’t imagine. Your mileage may vary when it comes to working in insurance.  On the other hand, if you want to be a manager in a big company, you’re somewhat less likely to be cuddling kittens, saving the world, or working on cool technology, so some of you are well-prepared for this already.

The Location

The only office that I know Sun Life does development work in is at Yonge and Front, which is a pretty solid location, easy to access by go train and subway, reasonable selection of food and shopping around, including the St. Lawrence Market and Esplanade.  That said, the position doesn’t specify a location.

In Summary
Seems like managerial role for someone with a background in tech but without the need to be very hands-on.


TD Bank: VP Engineering

March 21, 2009

Toronto Dominion Bank is looking for a Vice President, Engineering:

Vice Presidents (VP) at TD Bank Financial Group are strategic, responsible and accountable members of the Bank’s leadership team. Collectively, these roles contribute significantly to the overall reputation of TD as an excellent investment, a highly customer focused organization, a top employer and an exemplary corporate citizen. Executives set the ethical, organizational and performance standard for the teams they lead and exemplify how an effective performance and development culture functions day to day. A VP is expected to guide his/her team, collaborating as appropriate with TD partners, to deliver superior results in both the short and long term.

Reporting to the SVP of Infrastructure the VP, Engineering is accountable for the design, build test, and implementation of the banks data center based technology infrastructure. The position is responsible for the development and implementation of technical business strategies in cooperation and alignment with our business partners. The position holds overall responsibility to ensure robust infrastructure solutions are in place to ensure optimal service and security for all customers and partners. The department is made up of over 500 IT professionals.

Lead the overall Engineering team across various functional areas which include: Servers, Mainframe, Operating Systems, Storage, Database, Security Technologies, Directories, Middleware, Email/Collaboration Infrastructure, IT Tools Engineering as well as Infrastructure Project Management, Dev/Test Environment Support and Production Acceptance Testing.
Contribute to the creation of a North America organization ensuring talent workforce and succession management is in place to support TD’s NA growth goals and to win in the war for talent within the technology industry.
Effectively manage an operating budget in excess of $ 215mm as well as a pipeline of projects focused on quality, time to market and cost effectiveness.
As a member of the Infrastructure Senior Executive Team, continuously optimize the technology capability of the bank, guide infrastructure priorities, improve our organizational capability and manage the risk profile of the bank’s IT infrastructure.

The Good
It’s a very, very senior role at a very $35B market cap bank.  An operating budget of $215M.  A lot of responsibility.

The Bad
Well, for starters, I’m guessing that many of you couldn’t get this job if they really, really wanted it.  I’m pretty sure I couldn’t.

What’s Missing?
A ton of things.  But, to be honest, for a leadership position this senior at such a big company, that’s to be expected.  If you’re interested in the position and have the experience to stand a chance, then you’ll want to have detailed conversations with TD about the challenges, the team, the role, and so forth.

YMMV
Although banks haven’t been doing that well in the last year, Canadian banks seem to be relatively healthy still.  It’s probably still a challenging time, but challenge can also mean opportunity.

The Location
A senior position at TD Bank probably means Bay street, financial district, the TD Tower.  I’m just guessing.

In Summary
Probably most of you don’t qualify for the position.  I’m guessing TD Bank is really only going to seriously consider people in VP/Director positions at relatively large companies already, and it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a connection at TD Bank.


Call Genie: VP Product/Software Development

March 19, 2009

Call Genie is looking for a VP of Product/Software Development:

Call Genie (www.​callgenie.​com) is looking for a client-facing/​business-focused/​hands-on Product Development Executive to inspire and lead a global development team through the object-oriented design and development phases of creating, enhancing and delivering Call Genie’s CG Suite of current and future generation of solutions that utilizes enterprise level Java, web, speech recognition, SMS, mobile, advertising and database technologies.

  • Take sole ownership to ensure successful development of all Call Genie’s products/​solutions with our customers as per the expected profit margins.
  • Sit on the Steering Committee on all solution delivery engagements.
  • Act as a single point of contact for Call Genie’s Development Teams, and other stakeholders such as CILs, the sales organization and clients by establishing a close relationship with both technical and business primes with all parties.
  • Champion and actively promote the use of development best practices, methodologies and standards throughout the global development organization.
  • Ensure and lead as required, collaboration between the development leaders, Product Managers, Infrastructure Architects, Data Architects, QA Architects and Customer Implementation Leaders to gain understanding of customer requirements and features.
  • When appropriate (or if required) be prepared to lead the global development team(s) through product development challenges for vital accounts.​  This would include hands on work, coaching, mentoring and/​or actions to:
    • Assist with the analysis and architectural design of Call Genie’s commercial applications and translate them into proven Java based solutions.
    • Provide strong technical, hands-on leadership and oversight to developers working on development and implementation projects.
    • Lead the planning of development activities and work with the team to create and maintain estimates of efforts required to meet development and implementation objectives.
  • Develop and maintain a broad theoretical understanding of current hardware and software technologies.
  • Develop a high performance culture with pillars of professionalism, respect, performance, team work, quality and client satisfaction.

The Good
It’s a very senior role, as vice president in charge of product development / software development.  They’re purportedly an agile shop.  The technology stack seems reasonable from what I can tell, and the voice-recognition side lends some interesting technical challenges.

The Bad
CallGenie looks like they’re facing some hard times, financially.  They’re down to a $0.07 stock price from $2.50 around mid 2007, or $0.67 a year ago.  That’s a pretty steep decline, even in the current market.

What’s Missing
What’s happening with CallGenie’s finances and stock price?  How are they reacting to the current market situation?  What does the software and product development team look like (size, composition, breakdown), and how will you fit into it?  What are the immediate and the long-term challenges facing someone in this position?

YMMV
Your mileage may vary when it comes to joining a company that’s having such a tough time when the economy seems like it might still have some bumps in it.  Then again, challenges are opportunities, and this might be an opportunity to make a real difference in Call Genie’s trajectory, and in so doing, your own career trajectory.

Your mileage might also vary when it comes to filling both the product development and software development side of the role.  These can have some pretty orthogonal concerns.  I’d want to know that there is at least one senior person who can take the lead in each of these areas on your team, since I’m not sure that one person can do a great job of championing both at once.

Finally, you may or may not be excited by their product line.

The Location
CallGenie is located northeast of Scarborough town centre. It’s basically out of the question for someone not already in the east end and, most likely, driving.  If you were in Scarborough, Markham, or points east, this location might not be terrible, but many candidates will discard this opportunity on that basis alone.

In Summary
If you’re looking for a role this senior, you’ve got a background in product and development, and you’re willing to work out by Scarborough Town Centre, this might be your opportunity.


Comverse: Director – Development

March 11, 2009

Comverse is looking for a Director – Development:

Responsible for the development of products and applications including design and implementation guidance for web based products.​ Provides prototypes of key functional implementations and oversees and provides leadership for all technical approaches.​ Provides technical leadership and mentoring to the Front End development team on technical implementations including web server and portal based multi-tier applications.

  • Work closely with the Product Architecture and the FE Design team to define technical architecture.
  • Responsible for design, development, and testing of applications and products
  • Provide decision making for software engineering and development, sensitive to the constraints and needs of the business.
  • Monitor technology trends such as emerging standards for new technology opportunities
  • Work within software engineering plans/​schedules, providing technical designs and guidance.
  • Ensure adherence to technical architecture standards and practices to ensure reproducible development and high quality.
  • Engage in hands-on, in-depth analysis, review, design and implementation of applications
  • Provide employee coaching and mentoring.

The Good
Sounds like a pretty senior position at a telecom company with a 1B market capitalization.

The Bad
Ultimately, the fact that Comverse is down very significantly in stock price year over year is a bit of a concern.  The markets haven’t been kind to anyone, but Comverse looks harder hit than many.  The financial results restatement may have had something to do with that, based on a quick scan.  You might want to do a more detailed probe into their financial health and ask some probing questions of your potential employer.

They’re looking for someone with good Java and C++ experience; this is a fairly rare combination these days, although certainly there are some of you out there with both.  That said, given that it’s a director-level position, they’re probably looking for someone with enough experience to lead well, rather than someone they expect will be writing C++ and Java code.  And, far as I’ve seen, Java ‘portal’ technology is a bit of a dead end, so I’m surprised it still comes up.

What’s Missing?
Is this position located at University and Dundas, which is the only location I’ve found for Comverse in Toronto?  What’s the technology mix like?  What are the sizes and composition of the teams that you’d be directing, and what products and solutions does Comverse build in Toronto?

YMMV
Although I’d say that most senior tech positions require decent negotiation skills, the fact that this opportunity calls it out so directly implies that you might have a struggle ahead in terms of conflicting priorities.  I’ve worked in environments where the biggest challenges were getting a set of product priorities in place, and it can really distract from the effort of building the product.  Your mileage may vary as to whether or not this is something you want to take on.

The Location
Comverse seems to be located at University and Dundas, which isn’t a bad little neighbourhood.  There are a pile of Chinese restaurants to the west, a fair number of restaurants on both University and Dundas, and it’s not far to Queen.  There’s not a ton of shopping right there, but the Eaton Centre’s not far, and likewise Queen street.  The subway’s right there, although it’s a bit of a walk from Union if you’re taking the Go, and it’s not a great area for parking.

In Summary
If you’re interested in being a director of development and you’ve got a background in telecom, this might be the opportunity for you.