Explain your role at CVCheck
In one word, I’d say I’m a facilitator. I oversee strategy and innovation, imagining things as they could be, and then helping the people at CVCheck deliver a better product and service to our customers.
My background before CVCheck lies in designing software and systems, so I’m constantly reviewing and critiquing the CVCheck design and systems, and working on ways to make them the best they can be.
Tell us about your life before CVCheck
I originally trained as an electronic engineer at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and then spent five years working for The Royal Australian Airforce (RAAF).
My favourite job while in the Air Force, and an indictor of where my passion and career would take me, was working as the first engineer at The Institute of Aviation of Medicine. Most of my work involved troubleshooting with a cross-discipline team. We’d look at systems and processes to understand what was needed and consult with other doctors, scientists, and engineers. For example, when trainee pilots were overheating in fighter jets, we investigated the problem to understand how and why this was happening. This was one of my favourite parts of the role – troubleshooting across multiple fields, and making things work better.
During my years in the RAAF, I gained great experience in project management, leadership and that multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving.
From there, I found my way to The Queensland University of Technology where I helped to set up Australia’s first Aerospace Avionics Engineering degree. I wasn’t in an academic role, but I spent a lot of time working with the students on their design projects, which was really rewarding.
After QUT, my projects and roles were more and more focused on software development. I began working at Leads & Northrup in Brisbane developing engineering control systems for oil, gas, and rail and then moved overseas to Hong Kong, just as the it was being handed back to China.
This was my stepping stone into the finance world. I spent a year and a half living in Hong Kong, working with an Australian company that was developing software for Jardine Fleming and Merrill Lynch to transact with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Next, I headed over to Switzerland to work at UBS, working in the development team for Global Securities Lending. I eventually found myself leading the development team for Global Securities, Borrowing and Lending at Credit Suisse First Boston. The system we developed and maintained was managing and controlling over $100 million worth of assets and, as you can imagine with a Swiss bank, security was of the utmost importance.
I moved back home to Australia in 2001 and worked in a range of software contracting roles. It was at that point Steve Carolan, founder of CVCheck called me up. Steve and I had been friends for years and he said “I’m working on this new business, can you have a look at the software for me?” I looked over it, and told him “you need to do a lot better”. So he convinced me to come on board at CVCheck to fix the software so it could go live, and he could launch the business.
As soon as we launched the first version of the software, we began to develop its replacement. We redesigned and rebuilt the platform from scratch, sitting around Steve’s kitchen table, with big A3 pieces of paper, working out what webpages would look like, how data would be stored, and everything else in between.
Describe the culture at CVCheck
What I like and cherish about the culture at CVCheck, is that we push ourselves and each other to do the very best that we possibly can. We’re a group of overachievers but it’s a really friendly company to work at. Everyone cooperates really well, with a friendly and inclusive spirit. There’s an energy and purpose to everything that we do.
How has CVCheck changed since you started at the company?
When I joined, over 10 years ago, CVCheck was a tiny start up – as in, we hadn’t made any sales. All design work was done between just Steve and I. There were only three people in the company Steve, his wife, Bev, and me.
For the first seven years, I had the sole responsibility for our tech design and support but the three of us collaborated on copy writing, admin, … everything really. It was exciting and, sometimes, a little scary! Now I rarely do anything hands on, and our current team’s capabilities far surpass my abilities – our engineering team are truly brilliant.
After we hired the IT team, I began working on the company’s marketing. I love learning things in a wide variety of fields and I’ve always loved writing and communicating. As with the IT department, I built up the marketing team with talented people who could support and surpass my capabilities.
Before, and especially since the IPO, the landscape of the company has obviously undergone a massive change. Over the last decade we’ve grown from a two room office to our current staff covering two countries and 70+ people.
Through luck or design, I hope design, our company and staff have retained a challenger personality. Every day we work to innovate and be the best that we can be for our business, and our customers. A lot of companies and people lose the drive to improve continually once a company hits a certain size, but we haven’t.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing ideas become reality. Seeing the future, and helping to create it, is what I really love about the role. That’s why I’m still here over 12 years later. It’s been a decade of having and collecting ideas, and bringing them to life to continually improve everything we do all the time.
When did you realise that you were good at your job and passionate about it?
I think right back at university. My favourite subjects were design subjects, and I spent a lot of time teaching students in the years below me. I got a lot of satisfaction seeing the light go on in people’s eyes as they began to understand engineering concepts, from conceptualisation to being built. That’s what drew me to being an engineer, the creativeness of it.
What career advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be frightened to take chances and follow an unconventional path. The things that have led me to where I am today, I couldn’t have possibly predicted or planned. Life has a tendency to unfold despite your best plans. Find work that you are passionate about.
What does innovation mean to you?
Innovation is about trying to see what doesn’t exist. It’s a lot harder to do than it sounds. As humans we are so constrained by what has gone before and what we already know. Innovation is about challenging everything that you believe to be true. Try to imagine things, not just better than they are, but as good as they could be. Try to connect the present to the future by some sort of systematic process.
Often ideas can bleed across industries or skillsets. I read widely, because you can learn so much from things that are outside your day to day experiences, role and industry.
How do you relax?
I like to play guitar, often jamming with my sons. We pull the guitars and the piano out, and we all sing and play instruments. I also unwind by playing golf, surfing, paddle boarding, and I love to read.