This month we had our second interview in our Made Tech team interview series with our Market Principal Tom Taylor to better understand his role and to feature the great work he has been doing.
Our Market Principal roles work to build and grow a sustainable business within their region.
If you would like to watch the full interview, it is available here.
Q: How did you become interested in working in tech?
A: I was at university and had a few small businesses with a friend just to sort of pay our way through university. We had this idea of starting a company that sold tickets and drinks online, and it was back when those deal-a-day kind of Groupon things were getting big.
So we started this website that sold tickets and drinks and we ended up getting some festivals on board and the some people gave us some money to keep building it and suddenly I was in the tech industry. I was studying law at the time, so it was quite a big change. But I guess it was at the time when some big tech companies were taking off and it was really obvious to me that if I wanted to be in business that technology was where I wanted to be.
Q: Outside of tech, what other hobbies do you have?
A: I’m from New Zealand and I grew up near the beach so I’m into water sports. So sailing, windsurfing, surfing, free diving. That’s kind of where I spend most of my time.
Q: Before you joined Made Tech, had you ever worked in the public sector before?
A: No. Actually, the first project I did when I joined Made Tech was at the Government Digital Service working on Gov Wifi. I realise now how lucky I was to work at GDS, who are doing some really world-leading things for public sector technology.
Now, after a few years working for Made Tech, I actually can’t picture myself working in private sector stuff anymore. The public sector stuff we’re working on just has loads of meaning and really delivers value to so many people.
Q: How long have you been at Made Tech?
A: A little over two years.
Q: How did you find out about the company?
A: I actually found out about the company about six or seven years ago. I think it was through a London Ruby group because I was a Ruby engineer at the time. I got in touch with Chris Blackburn, who is one of the Directors, and I didn’t actually join the company then because I was in the process of moving to Amsterdam.
Then when I was back in London I got in touch with them and ended up joining then.
Q: What was the interview process like?
A: It was two years ago, it was pretty similar to as now. It was easy. It didn’t really feel like an interview. I had a really good experience. I remember doing some pair programming and some TDD. It was overall a really good experience and fast. I think I remember doing it all within a week.
Q: What does your role here involve?
A: So I’m the Market Principal for Bristol, which basically means I’m in charge of the Bristol business. It’s a bit of a mix of technology, looking after clients, some delivery, some project management, and also some sales. I wear quite a few different hats. The core of it is making sure we’ve got a good sustainable business that’s growing in Bristol.
Q: What do you like most about being a Market Principal?
A: I guess the variety. Each day’s problems are quite different so it’s having to put on those different hats and solve lots of different problems. It’s quite enjoyable.
Q: What are some of the most challenging things about this role?
A: I guess focusing my time on the right things. There’s never enough time in the day so just prioritising things. Making sure I’m doing the best things for my team and for the company. Just trying to get the most out of the time that I do have.
Q: What has been one of your favourite projects you have worked on?
A: I’d say Gov Wifi. The first one I worked on. I was working at GDS a few days a week and at Made Tech a few days a week. So we were co-located and it really just taught me so much about the sort of new way of doing technology in the UK and I’ve taken everything I learned there and applied it to all the other projects I’ve worked on like Ministry of Justice and HMRC. It’s been really helpful.
It’s cool too because a lot of the public sector organisations in the UK use Gov Wifi. I sort of say I worked on Gov Wifi and everyone’s a bit of a fan.
Q: What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face since lockdown started in this position and how did you overcome it?
A: We’ve managed to swap so many of our processes online, like hiring. We’ve hired so many people remotely and some team members I haven’t even met in person yet. Yeah, I know them and I’ve worked with them for months now.
I think the hardest thing is supporting engineers and teammates who might have had a a bad day or bad week and you can’t go for a coffee with them or walk around the block or go for a beer with them. I think that’s the hard thing. Supporting people remotely and I guess I’m still figuring out how to overcome it. I’m doing my best.
Q: What do you like most about working at Made Tech?
A: I really like the culture of learning we’ve got. We take Friday afternoons off to do Learn Tech where we all get together as a company to learn and that kind of permeates into the rest of the week. It means that people are really eager to pick up new skills and to learn something.
There’s this attitude of if you don’t know it you just go away and learn it and you’ve got the time to learn it. I think that makes everyone really good at what they do and really passionate about it and picking up new things. It kind of creates this really cool environment of learning and excellence. I’m trying to convey that feeling that I feel being at work here but I think that is probably it. It’s good for everyone. It’s this really nice win-win that we all do on a Friday afternoon.
Q: Do you have any books or resources you would recommend for someone interested in this position?
A: There’s so many. I started this role in January this year (2020) and I was on a holiday in New Zealand and before I started I read the book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things. It’s by Ben Horowitz I think. It’s quite a well-known business book but it really kind of dives into the detail of wearing many hats and the hard problems that you encounter when you’re filling a role like Market Principal. I’m actually planning on re-reading it as soon as I’ve got time.
If you have any more questions for Tom about his role here, you can get in touch by reaching out on Twitter. Additionally, if you are interested in joining our team, you can view our current open positions here.
Be sure to stay tuned for our next Made Tech Team Interview coming next month with our Delivery Manager Heather Venter.