Growing up on the west coast of Scotland and only having English as a language (barely, some have noted), I sampled parts of the USA after graduating before settling in Australia where I have stayed since 2009 (Sydney 2014—).
Master of none
Professionally I am fond of the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”. I suppose I feel it either reflects my staunch attempts to stay relevant as an individual contributor or my pursuit of being ever more “M” shaped in my discipline (literally speaking however, I am very much beanpole shaped). As a compound sentence, though, I prefer the second clause because its connotation is less presumptuous about me knowing the answer to something.
Career-wise I am a (recovering) enterprise Java person of many years currently enjoying a prolonged excursion in the still nascent field of platform engineering.
As it has transpired, the upshot of spending my earlier career with a CRM consultancy spruiking some fairly esoteric tech is that I have always built and run my own stuff. Constructing production stacks on client sites from scratch and subsequently owning the code deployed to them has always been a thing for me; dedicated Ops teams a foreign concept.
I started as a product engineer but soon shifted to being across multiple teams in a technical capacity either as a floating tech lead or architect (this title having been prefixed with “solutions”, “systems”, and “software” depending on the gig).
Around 2015 and on the back of what I jokingly refer to as the great Australian
“DevOps enterprise transformation movement”, I had the opportunity to lead
different kind of team. We were tasked with building out a self-servicable
hybrid cloud platform for other product engineers to consume—billed as an
internal Heroku at the time. ThoughtWorks would later call these teams platform
product engineering teams which I think is apt because if you are not treating
these things like internal products you
will may have a bad time.
Anyway, my last two contracts have been at the helm of such teams building these internal platforms from the ground up. Both times the task has been to enable modern (micro-)SOAs atop secure and reliable cloud platform foundations that have been tailored for easy self-service, continuous delivery and runtime observability. The goal is always enabling product engineers to have acute focus on business logic by having the platform handle as many non-differentiating, cross-cutting concerns as is technically feasible.
So this is the sort of role I find myself in for the time being and there are lots of organisations that need the help in this space. Nevertheless, at some point I would like to return to true full-stack product engineering roles where my customers are the organisation’s customers.
It might be helpful at this juncture to know that I do actually maintain the industry-requisite LinkedIn profile and keep the dot points somewhat aligned to my movements.
Otherwise, I am also on Twitter/Mastodon but, fair warning, predominately as a consumer and re-tweet/toot-er. If you are expecting smoking hot takes on why I think your microservices are the wrong size or why you need Kubernetes and Istio you will probably be disappointed. With that said, I do enjoy shooting the breeze about tech and my DMs are open, as they say. I can be reached by other means too (see: footer).
The main purpose of this site is to surface what I have opted to call Fieldnotes.
Because I switch my own system themes depending on the time of day, this site likewise has a dark and light theme. It is automatically chosen based on your system preference but you can override with the wee icon at the top right.
Notwithstanding the slightly brutalist design, I’ll strive to keep this site otherwise as accessible as possible, and respecting of your privacy. If you think I am dropping the ball on this please let me know.