A post about nothing

Our Development Manager Roneel gives us an insight into the world of IT.

This is my first (and hopefully not last) post on the official RedBalloon blog.  “Great,” I thought, “It should be a breeze.” I mean, how hard is it to find an interesting topic to write about?

Amazing isn’t it – if I’m in a conversation with others, ideas and topics just simply flow (some may refer to my conversation style as “verbal diarrhoea”). But when it comes to putting my thoughts down on paper, I encounter writer’s block. And I’m not even talking about the content – I’m having trouble thinking of a title for this post!

But let’s get started, shall we….

It’s a cold Sunday morning. The second day of winter and believe me, you can tell that winter’s here.  Rain is smashing against the window as I look out to observe the plants on my balcony. I should probably add that they’re looking flimsy at best thanks to a strong gale. Damn…. I’ve just noticed the lily plant my wife bought yesterday lying on its side. One of the branches has snapped in the wind. She had specifically asked me to put it in a bigger pot, which would have saved its life; so I’m in big trouble if she finds out. Maybe she won’t notice. Anyway, moving on…

I stare at the blank screen willing words to appear.  The monitor stubbornly refuses to give in, clearly winning the staring contest. I can almost hear Yoda saying, “The force is not strong with this one“. I need my daily hit of coffee to get the creative juices flowing. The aroma of freshly-ground coffee fills the kitchen. The milk is frothed just right, with a silky consistency. Ahh, one of life’s little pleasures. Damn the first sip is always so good! Now then, let’s get started.

Ooh I just found a topic!

I start reflecting on my time here at RedBalloon and the years gone by. I’m currently in my sixth year with the company, starting off my career with the team as a programmer*. I joined a development team of four and now I’m managing the development team, which boasts seven developers and one tester.

The team has grown exponentially and this is reflected in the way we interview future programmers. A typical first round interview for programmers involves interrogating the candidate on various technical aspects of the desired programming language, coding styles, development methodologies and choice of technology stack. At RedBalloon we don’t do this…

Our first interview is designed to measure whether the candidate is a cultural fit for the team. Why? We have learnt that the best way to build an engaged and motivated team is to hire engaged and motivated people. It’s as simple as that. Skills you can teach; the right attitude you cannot.

One of our values here at RedBalloon is “Leadership” and I can honestly say that everyone we hire at RedBalloon demonstrates this quality. People who are inspired, motivated and have a zest for life are more productive, have the energy that is necessary to fuel engagement and can tackle any obstacle.

The Era of Awesome Programmers

In my opinion, our programmers are not stereotypical programmers. We’re not nerds with oiled hair, trousers pulled up over our belly buttons, bad social skills and thick glasses (well, I have thick glasses but my wife tells me they make me look really cool and sexy).  Our programmers are professionals who make working in IT look cool.

That's Roneel on the right.

One of our programmers was a bodybuilder who won his division – he even met Arnold Schwarzenegger! Another paints and sculpts, rides a motorbike, goes surfing and kicks everyone’s butt at rock climbing, which isn’t bad considering he’s been alive for half a century.

Another one of our developers goes surfing every morning, plays guitar in a band, has tasted 166 different types of beer (at time of print) and has raisin toast with vegemite for breakfast. Yeah you heard me… raisin toast with vegemite. It’s hardcore stuff.

Another developer goes track racing and is extremely good at Thai boxing. Believe me, I should know. I think the only reason he let me kick his butt during our training session was because his annual review with me was coming up. Or maybe I am really getting good. Either way the bottom line is that I won.

The point I am trying to make here is that we’re ruthless at ensuring that we hire people who not only have the right programming skills, but who also fit within the culture of our team. It’s also crucial that they have a life outside of work.

Awesome Conclusion

I lift the cup to my lips and realise, to my dismay, that there is no more coffee left. The life enhancing beverage is now a fond memory. As I start proofreading this article a realisation dawns upon me – we also have, amidst our development team, a talented, albeit budding, writer.

*p ro·gram·mer (n) An organism capable of converting caffeine into code.

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One Comment

  1. Wendy Small
    Posted June 7, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Hi Roneel,
    Love your blog..I have pinned it to my board ..hope you don’t mind. See below:

    http://pinterest.com/wendysmallpin/the-online-revolution/

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