Meet the Team: Ian Outterside - Technical Director
In the latest of our Meet the Team interviews, we’re catching up with one of the longest-standing members of the KOMODO team.
Ian Outterside heads up our team of software engineers and has been with us for well over 5 years. With over 10 years of experience as a senior systems architect, systems analyst, software engineer and development team leader, focusing on web and mobile, Ian has been involved in the creation of bespoke software solutions for a wide range of our clients.
We caught up with him to discover more about his role and what (remote-working) life at KOMODO is like.
What does your role entail?
As the technical director, I oversee all development activities within KOMODO and am responsible for managing our team of web and mobile software engineers.
I mentor team members and aim to be a sounding board/support system for any technical issues they need help with. Fundamentally, it's my job to ensure that the development team is working in the best possible way and succeeding, for KOMODO and for our clients.
Within that scope, I have a number of key responsibilities, such as helping to steer the technical direction and provide guidance on projects and working closely with each project team lead to ensure projects are being delivered in the best possible way for the customer. This can involve consulting on technical designs, discussing project approaches, suggesting appropriate technologies for use or even, on occasion, getting involved and writing some code to help out.
I’m responsible for interviewing candidate applications for new roles at KOMODO, from having introductory chats and first stage vetting, all the way through to final recommendations on who to hire and why. I work directly with the rest of the management and sales team to help bring work to the agency, providing technical consultation on prospective projects, to quoting and estimating on new work.
I also regularly attend Client Discovery workshops to provide insight on what can be achieved on a project.
Describe a typical day…
I like to get started a little earlier than most of the team on a morning - usually around 7:30 - 8:00. I pop a coffee on straight away then start by reviewing what I did the previous day and making a plan for all the things I want to achieve that day on Trello.
I follow up on any open email conversations that need replies, and action anything leftover from the previous day that’s important. I review any open pull requests from developers that require my attention and make sure anyone waiting on anything from me gets an update on what they need.
By 9:00 most of the team are ‘at work’ (or logged on to Slack - it’s 2020 after all!). I usually have my second coffee of the morning (are you seeing a pattern here?) then begin work on whatever has my attention that day.
We will usually do morning stand-ups to discuss progress on projects with the team. Following that may be a sprint planning meeting, or be helping out with technical direction on a project - there really are no two days the same for me!
Before the 2020 apocalypse every lunchtime I'd take Shadow (my lurcher and one of the KOMODO office dogs) out for a walk - usually accompanied by Scott. After that, we'd nip to a local shop to grab something to eat before returning to our desk for lunch. Since the apocalypse, much is the same except I get to walk around my local housing estate and lunch is usually a ham and cheese sandwich. Exciting, eh?
After lunch, it's usually back on with supporting the team. Most client meetings tend to take place in the afternoon and the day tends to go by pretty rapidly. Before I know it, it’s 5:00 pm. Mixed in with client meetings will be catching up with the team, talking to management, reviewing interview candidates or doing technical strategy planning, documentation and sometimes even some coding.
What do you love most about working at KOMODO?
It's funny, my answer to this has changed a lot over the years. When I first started, it was getting the chance to work on exciting projects using new technology. As my time at KOMODO has grown and my role has evolved, I'd say there are a few things that really set it apart for me.
Firstly, my voice (and everyone else's) is always considered and respected. Management at the company always listen to feedback provided by every member of the team and consider it sensibly before making business decisions. You aren't a cog in the chain, but a valued member of the team.
Secondly, the company continues to strive to be better and always moving forward; working hard to improve everything from how we work, to what we work on, to what experiences the team have, to overall ambitions and goals.
Thirdly, we continue to work on new, challenging and interesting projects across sectors and domains with fantastic clients. KOMODO fully embraces the "right tool for the job" mantra - not just accepting an easy option if there is a more appropriate alternative. This makes my job great when working with clients as we're not afraid to talk about what’s best for them! Also, our clients are amazing - always open to a conversation and valuing our input and feedback. It makes working on the job feel great to know you're valued, both internally in the agency and by clients.
Fourthly, I get to work with a very talented team every single day. Everyone at KOMODO is hardworking and driven to succeed and they carry you along for the ride. Our CCO regularly uses the quote "you are the sum of the people around you" and I couldn't agree more. KOMODO's team continually push me to be better.
What attracted you to KOMODO and were your instincts accurate?
My original role at KOMODO was as a senior developer. I spotted the job advert on the website when I was looking for available roles at agencies in and around the region. I was already aware of KOMODO, an agency with a good reputation based in the centre of Newcastle, and the job advert gave the impression of a professionally and technically forward-thinking company, and it had some interesting perks (including free Friday team lunch which I really miss now we’re all working remotely!).
I applied for the role and had my interview with the CTO and Development Team Lead at the time. I remember the whole conversation being one big geek out - talking about all the tools and tech we were passionate about. We talked about the team and how I might fit into the role, and I remember walking away just being impressed and aware of how I felt like the position would be a good step forward in my career at the time.
Indeed, my instincts were proved accurate. The whole business was driven and determined to grow and move forward, and over the years has continued to keep up to date with modern technology and development practices. It was also a great step forward for me in my career, within 2 years I was promoted to my current role.
Any advice for someone thinking of applying for a role with us?
the best advice I could give is to think about what being a KOMODO developer means to you and try to articulate that during the interview process. If you imagine it as just a "code-monkey" type role, we may not be the best fit.
If you're looking to get involved in all aspects of agency life - from working with customers to designing technical solutions, to learning from a great team, to mentoring new team members, to sending gifs constantly using Slack - then we might just be the right place for you.
Enthusiasm for the role and a hunger to learn, grow, develop and provide the best possible solutions to customers (and the desire to help us to do that, too) is key.
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