HandyMetrics: Technical Lead

May 20, 2012

HandyMetrics is looking for a Technical Lead:

  • The Technical Lead has primary responsibility for overseeing all development activities related to the products and will provide guidance for members of the development team. In addition, this individual needs to be a talented developer who can take initiative and spearhead challenging projects. Working with the other members on the development team, this individual will help to ensure all software deployed meets a high standard, delivering on business and reliability requirements. Ultimately we are looking for someone who is passionate about making a difference with the skills and experience to contribute to the company’s development, while growing professionally themselves.
  • Our systems are currently implemented using Rails 2.3, with plans to move to Rails 3+. Using Sencha Touch 1 mobile application framework with plans to move to Sencha 2+.

The Good
The technology mix sounds reasonable to me: Ruby on Rails, Sencha Touch, AWS. They claim to use agile methods. Their product seems to be meeting with some acceptance: “Our products are already in over 100 hospital sites and we are expanding internationally.”

They have apparently been nominated as “Startup of the Year” for 2012 by York Technology Alliance. That doesn’t mean a lot to me, but it’s probably better than no-one noticing you.

You can dig into the background of some of the people already involved.

Your mileage may vary when it comes to being part of a startup within the University Health Network (UHN), it might  feel like a startup with a big brother to lean on, or it might feel like a cash-strapped enterprise. It seems like they’re looking for a jack of all trades — unix server administration, development, leadership, information visualization, front-end HTML5/CSS work

It sounds like they’re a very small group — that could either be a great opportunity or be something you’re not into.

The Location
It’s hard to say, but it looks like they’re on hospital row, which means there isn’t a ton of stuff right there at your fingertips, but you’re also not very far from Dundas, where you can go east to lots of restaurants and shopping, or west to Chinatown, Baldwin and Kensington.  There’s lots around if you’re willing to go a little farther afield. They’re easy to reach by TTC, but would be a pain by car and require a subway trip from Union.

What Should You Ask?
What’s it like to be part of a small group within the University Health Network (UHN). Does it feel like a startup, or part of a large organization?

What’s the compensation like — and given that this is a startup, what’s the salary/equity formula?

In Summary
If you’re looking for a lead role on a Rails project, or you’re  looking for an organization where you value the work, this seems like it might be an interesting opportunity for you.


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.

University Health Network: Java Programmer/Analyst

February 5, 2009

The Unversity Health Network (UHN) is looking for two Java Programmer/Analysts:

The Systems Engineering team at SIMS makes software to serve the health care community. We work directly for a large partnership of Toronto area hospitals, community and long term care organizations, understanding the needs of front line caregivers and tools to make them more effective.

This is an entry level position, appropriate for new graduates through roughly three years of industry experience. You will get broad exposure to enterprise systems development in the health care environment, and the satisfaction that your work is directly improving peoples’ lives.

Candidates must be able to program in Java, with J2EE and/or web application development experience a plus.

The Good
It’s health-related, which I know interests some people; UHN is a joint effort of several hospitals of pretty high reknown.  They’re in the top employer list for the 6th year in a row.

Health, and particularly e-Health, is expected by many to be a growth field, particularly as the baby boomer population ages.

The technology list also seems relatively sane, and possibly even interesting, although there’s not really much there to latch on to.

They’re also looking for more than one candidate, which helps to increase your odds.

The Bad
They’re not looking for much in the way of experience — they’re willing to take new grads, and the upper end of their experience range is three years.  That’ll knock a lot of you potentially out of contention.  Then again, if you’re new to the field, this might be an interesting position.  Rumor has it that UHN isn’t a terribly well-paid gig, although that’s third-hand, so I imagine that if this is of interest to you, you should talk to them and get a better sense for the pay yourself, if that’s a potential concern.  But then, if you don’t have much experience, then pay might not be the immediate concern.

What’s Missing?
All sorts of things.  What would you be working on?  What’s the compensation like?  Are you going to be on a team, and if so, what’s the size and composition of the team?  How does the technology list break down; is it mostly Java, or is there a fair amount of the mentioned dynamic languages as well?

They’re not looking for much experience.  Your mileage may vary by the experience you have — if you’ve got a lot, this might not be the right fit. 

The Location
Looks like it’s basically behind Toronto General, on Elizabeth, by  University and Gerrard (or College, if that’s easier).  It’s not a bad location, pretty central, pretty easy to get to by transit.  It’s not ideal if you’re driving or taking the GO. 

It’s not a total wasteland, but it’s also not a hotbed of great restaurants and food.  Then again, it’s not too far to walk to Baldwin, Chinatown, and the Eaton Centre could be reached without too much of a walk, so it’s not totally out of range either.

In Summary
This is probably most interesting if you’ve got a Java background, not a ton of experience, and you’re interested in doing something related to health.

Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion: Chief Information Officer

April 21, 2008

The Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (OAHPP) is looking for a Chief Information Officer via Knightsbridge:

The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is an essential position within the Ontario Agency for Health Protection & Promotion with a significant information technology mandate. It is responsible for leading the creation and maintenance of the physical information-systems architecture to support the Agency’s operations.

The CIO has an expert understanding of information technology and systems and their multi-site configuration for medium-large sized high-reliability organizations (HROs), industry-specific knowledge in public health and laboratory-information systems, managing information projects from conception to execution to support organizations’ performance-reporting and operating information needs, and advancing organizations’ information systems capabilities.

If you’re willing to read through the not-so-subtle marketing, the agency is:

[A] cornerstone of the Ontario government’s intricate and bold plan for public health renewal in Ontario. Established by special legislation with an independent Board of Directors, it has a mandate to protect and promote the health of all Ontarians.

The Agency will serve as a hub, linking researchers, practitioners and front-line health care workers to the best scientific intelligence from around the world. Putting science into practice, it has a broad mandate that includes infectious disease prevention and control, health promotion, chronic disease and injury prevention, and occupational and environmental health. The Agency will conduct original research, and with a highly effective transfer of knowledge, will ensure timely advice and best practices as well as on-going professional development.

The Good
Public-sector work for health, seems worthwhile.  It’s a new government agency, so it hasn’t had a chance to get all screwed up by successive governments monkeying around with it for years.  It’s a pretty senior role, and probably a formative one due to the newness of the agency.

The Bad
It’s public-sector, so that typically means the salary’s lower than a comparative private-sector job, although the compensation as a whole often makes up in other ways.

There isn’t a ton of information.  What’s the location, the compensation, the work?

In Summary
If you’ve got the background, the interest and the skill-set to be CIO for OAHPP, this might not be an opportunity that comes around every day.

Bridgepoint Health: Director IS & CTO

April 10, 2008

Ray Berndtson is helping Bridgepoint Health look for a Director of IS and CTO:

The primary responsibility of the Director Information Services and CTO will be to lead the Technical Services, Applications Specialists and Helpdesk team. In addition, the Director Information Services and CTO will be responsible for advising the VP Information Services and CIO and the Information Services Steering Committee on initiatives that have strategic and operational impact to Bridgepoint Health with respect to information technology, process improvement, and adherence to IT standards and best practices. The Director Information Services and CTO will be required to participate on the Steering Council, attend external stakeholder committees and represent the organization.

Bridgepoint describes themselves this way:

Bridgepoint Health is a University of Toronto community affiliated teaching organization committed to being Canada’s Leader for the treatment of Complex Chronic Disease. This bold vision is particularly important today, with 16 million Canadians living with chronic conditions.

The Good
Well, it’s a Director/CTO role, so it’s obviously quite senior. And it’s for health-care, which some people have a soft spot for, at least in comparison to marketing companies, financial companies, and so forth.

The Bad
Well, to be honest, the role sounds a little dull, but that’s probably just a sign that I’m not ready to be a director and/or a CTO at this point, at least not for a company like Bridgepoint. You could play buzzword bingo with: stakeholders, adherence, best practices, process improvements, steering council. Sounds like the usual large-system dysfunction (systemantics), although there’s nothing strictly wrong with the concepts therein.

Also, there’s very little sense about what the work would be, just the role — what projects are underway, is this mostly about managing desktops and networks, or building software, or both, that sort of thing.

Basically: manage people (guide, leadership, conduct review), chair meetings, attend meetings and report up the chain. Again, nothing strictly wrong with this list, it just doesn’t leap off the page, and has a slightly dilbert-eseque feel, rather than focusing on specific, concrete goals of the organization. Process for process sake.

More information about the compensation is probably important for such a senior position. More information about Bridgepoint and the work they do, and the work in which you’d be involved would be nice, although there is some of that information in the posting.

Bridgepoint is by the old Don Jail — Gerrard and Broadview. That’s a pretty great location for me, for people in the east end and probably even those who drive, but for someone uptown or west-end, could be awkward.  They describe their location this way:

Bridgepoint’s location offers the best of both worlds. Situated on east  Toronto’s picturesque Riverdale Park (at Broadview Ave. and Gerrard St.), the healthcare facility is easily accessible by public transit, and is minutes away from downtown. The surrounding neighbourhood, encompassing Greektown and  Chinatown East, boasts excellent shopping and dining destinations. An exciting redevelopment project will see our site fully transformed, including a brand new state-of-the-art hospital.

Basically, if you think you’re in, or looking for, technical upper management, this might be interesting, particularly if you’re in the east end of Toronto.

Update: Some minor edits this morning to clarify concerns; nothing dramatic, so I didn’t bother with strikeout.