A version of this article originally appeared in Stack Overflow on July 13, 2017
Liam McAndrew has been with Currencycloud since our inception, playing a key role in building the technology that is currently transacting over $10 billion a year. Rachel Ferrigno at Stack Overflow recently chatted with Liam to see what his typical day looks like (surprise: it’s not-so-typical), what advice he gives to tech recruiters, and more.
When and how did you get started programming?
As a curious 12-year-old, I started playing around with HTML & CSS trying to discover how web pages are rendered. Once I had grasped this, I set up my first LAMP stack and started to slowly learn about the complexities of a backend system. It was several years later, at University, that I decided I wanted to pursue a career in software development when I was introduced to object-oriented programming (Java & Ruby) and functional programming (in Haskell).
Tell us a little bit about your current role. What does a typical day look like for you?
I have a varied role at Currencycloud, which is centered around leading & building our software development teams. Given that, there isn’t really such a thing as a typical day. For example, later today I will be attending a session with our Payment Operations team to discuss how we can increase productivity when working together on product development. Last week I was working closely with our Technical Delivery team to solve some concurrency issues with our implementation of RabbitMQ. And at the beginning of the month, I was visiting our nearshore development team in Ukraine to discuss how we continue to grow the team and improve communication between our different office locations.
What has been your experience applying to jobs, interviewing, and working with recruiters?
I think tech companies are now more aware that the best engineers may not necessarily be comfortable in a traditional interview environment. There’s much more value assessing them for the role they will be taking (such as spending a couple of hours pairing with another developer in the team, instead of asking them to write the answers to tricky Computer Science questions on a whiteboard). An interview is an opportunity for the candidate to assess the company as well.
There are a couple of recruiters who I have a great relationship with – they are transparent, follow the industry closely, and understand the type of engineers we are looking for. However, given how difficult it is to find good engineers it can often be tempting to follow-up when you get that seemingly relevant CV land in your inbox. In my experience, this can lead to engagements with recruiters who clearly don’t understand tech but have lucked out by playing a numbers game – applying buzzword bingo to a large amount of CVs. This is certainly a short-term strategy – soon enough you will get overrun by noise and will need to have that tricky conversation with the recruiter.
“If you hire good developers and empower them to make their own decisions, they will give 100%.”
What’s something you wish employers knew about developers?
That if you hire good developers and empower them to make their own decisions, more often than not they will give 100%. Introducing deadlines to increase urgency will generally only result in reduced quality, which can have a significant impact on the long-term development of your product. To be fair, I think the majority of successful tech organisations are now aware of this, which has played a large part towards their success.
What’s your favorite part of being a developer?
The opportunity to always work on something new, with an understanding that there are usually many different ways to solve the same problem.
Where do you see the world of technology in 10 years?
The exciting thing is that it’s so hard to predict. The emergence of so many innovative FinTech start-ups is something that has happened within the last 10 years. Few would have predicted the impact of Bitcoin prior to its introduction in 2008, though I would still be doubtful cryptocurrency will replace what we currently think of as money within the next 10 years due to the huge banking infrastructure that is currently in place.
Then there’s the IoT revolution and AI. Though it may not have been hard to imagine you could speak to a device which switches on your living room light, the concept has become relatively mainstream in a short amount of time due to the ease of setup.