Liam came in last Thursday to guest-speak on tech strategies of the mid-sized company, BigRentz, and also offered his own personal experiences with software engineering and the industry as a whole.
About Liam Stannard
Liam currently works as CTO for BigRentz and is a seasoned executive with more than 20 years of experience delivering solutions to a wide variety of technology verticals including mobile, social, online advertising, security, lead generation, and hospitality.
He has proven expertise leading teams designing, building, and operating carrier-grade SaaS platforms supporting many tens of millions of users.
He’s been writing code for 32 years, 24 of those professionally. He started out with BASIC, C, Assembler, C++, then Java, then HTML/JS/CSS, and most recently utilizes the .NET platform.
Irvine-based BigRentz’ core business is heavy equipment rental: boom lifts, scissor lifts, backhoes, excavators, bulldozers, et al.
The current tech team consists of three software engineers, two IT admins, and one network engineer with Liam as Chief Technology Officer. Liam wants 20+ tech staff in the next 6 months: consisting of software engineers, DevOps, quality assurance engineers, project managers, and more. He compares the challenge of staffing up and building technology for a rapidly growing business to “building the plane while in flight.”
Back-end developers possess experience writing in C#, SQL, and ReST API design and implementation.
DevOps are comfortable in Linux, have development experience, and they are familiar with automation and Cl tools such as Puppet, Chef, Salt, and Jenkins. They also have experience deploying and managing an SOA architecture.
Liam’s Lessons Learned (After 30+ Years In)
- It’s art – not science
- The real art is building and shipping product on-time and on-budget.
- Never stop learning on your own
- Expect to have to relearn everything every 4-6 years to stay current.
- Try front-end, back-end, and different languages and tools.
- Having a good job won’t keep you current!
- Engineering jobs rock on a résumé (even for non-engineering roles)
- Whether it’s Product Management, QA, Project Management, or Management, engineering backgrounds are appreciated. And, keep in mind, there’s no harm in jumping into another functional area from engineering.
- Your résumé matters
- 1 page – no objective and “no cutesy formatting”
- Per job: 3-4 sentences on responsibility, then bullet point list of achievements
- It’s all about relationships
- You can get good at people skills, with practice.
- People skills will make or break your career.
- Your network, your peers, and your boss are all crucial relationships for your current (and next) job.
- If you can get good working with people, you’re golden – even if you’re not the best developer in the room.
More Tidbits From Liam
I’m a big believer in open-source technology. Most of the stack we use at BigRentz is all free, all open-source stuff. We believe in giving back to the community, whether it’s patches, fixes, or enhancements – or just pizza, beer, and space for a meetup.
One tool I wish I had twenty years ago is www.manager-tools.com. If I had that, I’m certain I’d be even further ahead of where I am now. Some other resources that good developers should take advantage of is Hacker News, highscalability.com, and Stack Overflow.
We thank Liam for his valuable time and hope to hear from him again for our next cohort!