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?

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.

Foresters: IT Architect, Applications

January 5, 2009

Foresters is looking for an IT Architect, Applications:


Foresters is at an important juncture in its history.  Product and membership growth requires substantial changes in the scope, flexibility, robustness and leadership capabilities of its IT services.  In a progressively outsourced environment, a new service delivery model has been designed, and is in the process of being executed.  This requires the addition of talent in new roles, three of which are IT Architects.”


Generally, the role of the IT Architect is responsible for envisioning and designing the technology environment required to meet the organization’s business objectives and therefore realize its strategic vision.


While grounded in the present, the role of the IT Architect is essentially future facing – ensuring that the technology environment has the necessary capability, capacity and flexibility to fulfill the current and future requirements of the business.  In order to achieve this, the IT Architect must be able to function skillfully in both the business world and the technical world and move back and forth between these two domains with ease.  By building a comprehensive enterprise architecture, and by demonstrating the ability to devise technology solutions that meet or exceed the needs of the business, the IT Architect provides the foundation to focus on building and running the business.


If this role doesn’t sound like you, you could try the IT Architect, Data or the IT Architect, Infrastructure they mention but that doesn’t yet seem to be posted, at least not on Workopolis.

The Good
Sounds like a pretty senior role in a relatively well-known organization.  
If Foresters is indeed at a critical juncture, then this could be a great time to get involved.  And, since work is only part of your life, the fact that they invest time and money into causes might be of some interest to some of you.

The Bad
Although Foresters is technically insurance-focused rather than, say, investment banking, it’s not a fabulous time to be in insurance either, from what I understand.  That said, they have a 1.4B surplus, which presumably means they can afford to weather some bad times.

What’s Missing?
Where’s the location, the corporate headquarters or somewhere else?  What’s the compensation like for an IT Architect at Foresters?  What does “progressively outsourced” mean for Foresters?  How many applications does Foresters build and maintain?  What are the challenges facing the current architecture, and what kind of goals do they have for the forward-looking architecture?  What is the other architectural role not yet posted, and how will the three of you work together?  What’s the working relationship likely to be with the implementation team(s)?  What is the size, composition and number of the implementation teams?  What would the organizational structure look like in IT management, and how do you fit into that?  Why is this time so critical for Foresters? 

Your Mileage May Vary
Your mileage may vary when it comes to working for a ‘progressively outsourced’ organization that uses phrases like, “technical architecture compliance.”  You’d have to talk to them to understand in greater detail what this means for them.

Although they don’t mention a location, the corporate headquarters seems to be on Don Mills, south of Eglinton, right around the Science Centre.  That location’s not terribly well-serviced by transit.  It’s pretty convenient by car, either by city streets if you’re in the east/northeast or by the highway if the DVP is more your speed.  It’s not a fabulous location for other reasons, although there are a fair number of random shops and restaurants around, particularly if you’re likely to have a car with you.  Let’s just say that I doubt you’d be picking this for the location.

And finally, your mileage may vary when it comes to a fraternal benefit society, which has reasonably laudable goals but comes with the trappings of lodges and other such oddities that might not be to everyone’s taste.

In Summary
Basically, this sounds like a “love it or hate it” posting for many — which is great, because it means that you can read it and probably get a good sense of where you fall without having to waste everyones time with a phone screen and interview before getting to that point.  If you’d like to be one of three architects helping to shape the future of progressively outsourced IT at relatively well-known fraternal benefit society focused on insurance, then get to it.