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.


Ministry of Education: Senior Enterprise Project Lead

November 6, 2008

The Ministry of Education is looking for a Senior Enterprise Project Lead:

In this challenging role, you will: plan, co-ordinate and control multiple concurrent projects and enterprise initiatives that address major business needs of client ministries and agency program areas; provide leadership and technical expertise in identifying solutions and deliverables, implementation of common approaches, technologies and standards; manage the development of comprehensive, integrated and detailed master project plans; monitor and track detailed technical aspects of projects and providing project management expertise, advice and guidance to clients; monitor deliverables for contract compliance; prepare Request for Services, Request for Proposals, and Request for Quotations, (RFSs, RFPs and RFQs), and evaluate proposals.

The Good
A senior role in the public sector in a visible organization — the Ontario Government.  A stable employer going into a downturn of unknown length and severity.  Working in the public sector gives you the opportunity to focus on helping your fellow citizens rather than maximizing profit.

The Bad
It sounds like you’re going to spend more time working with proposals than working with technology. 

What’s Missing
What projects would you be leading?  Are you going to be doing actual implementation work, or just making sure that it gets done?  Are you working with an in-house development team, or just working with vendors?  What’s the local organizational structure in which you’d find yourself?  What are your near-term goals?  If you’re working with local teams, what are their sizes and compositions?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to working in the public sector, and even though this sounds more  hands-on than the Manager, Applications and Business Services Office at the Ministry of Transportation, it still doesn’t sound like a really hands-on technical role. 

In Summary
If a senior role working for the Ontario government sounds appealing, then perhaps this is your gig.

Ministry of Transportation: Manager, Applications and Business Solutions Office

November 6, 2008

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation is looking for a Manager, Applications and Business Solutions Office:

You will: lead the analysis of Ministry business systems and define client requirements; lead and manage multiple, long range systems for development and maintenance projects; direct project planning, develop Request For Proposals (RFPs) and develop performance measures; provide regular updates to program management and clients; coordinate projects within the division, ministry and across ministries and/or with industry; direct the development, review and approval of systems design for projects involving the application and implementation of new and innovative technologies and methods; coordinate market research to identify and evaluate innovative technology trends, productivity tools and methods; develop partnerships with clients, other ministries and jurisdictions and inter-disciplinary colleagues.

The Good
It’s a senior role in a visible organization — the Ontario government.  Although I don’t know the specifics, it’s likely that the pay is below average for a particular role but that the compensation is made up for in other ways, like what might be a good pension plan, and a stable employer.  That said, the pay range suggested for this particular role doesn’t seem horribly substandard, and the government is a good employer during a downturn. 

The Bad
It sounds to me like the Ministry of Transportation outsources a lot of the development work.  In my experience, this tends to lead to adverserial relationships and problems, but perhaps the Ministry of Transportation is better at it than organizations with which I’ve previously worked, or perhaps the outsourcing side is over-emphasized.   It’s something to think about and talk about.  It’s also true sometimes that the desire for transparent, repeatable, arguable processes results in governments being somewhat slow-moving.

What’s Missing?
What are the projects you’d be managing?  Who do you report to, and who are you managing?  What’s the mix of internal development resources and external consultants?  What kind of relationship have they built up with their vendors?  What would be your near-term goals?  What technologies are being employed on these projects?

Not everyone wants to work in the public sector.  Not everyone wants a role that isn’t very hands-on.   If you’d rather something more hands on, perhaps you want to look into the Senior Enterprise Project Lead position which follows.

In Summary
If you’d like a senior, visible role in the public sector, a reasonably well-paid managerial role in the Ontario Ministry of Transportation seems like it could be a good fit.

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority: VP/CTO

April 18, 2008

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) is looking for a vice-president/cto.  Although they have a workopolis posting, that’s just a teaser leading to the website, where you have to dig about to find the actual job posting.  This is not a good start.

Very senior position in a public (government) and public (visible) organization.  It may be true that the equivalent private-sector job would be more highly paid, the public-sector version is still nothing to complain about, with $160k-$190k salary.

It is, however, in Ottawa, so I won’t go into more detail; those of you who are interested can follow the links above.