Updating Results

Xero Australia

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Mark Janssen-Vooles

Our CEO recently gave a talk where he said the phrase “I don’t want a team of know-it-alls, I want a team of learn-it-alls”, which I think sums up what being a developer is all about.

What's your job about?

Xero is a cloud accounting software aimed at small businesses in multiple countries - they employ software developers to keep the product running and add new features. As a graduate developer I’ve been rotating through various product teams throughout the company. We have four rotations in our grad year to enable us to gain a broad understanding of the many business domains, software stacks and team structures. An example day for me (during lockdown) currently consists of; a half hour morning walk at 8am, chipping away at whatever tutorial currently aligns with my PDP, and checking in with my mentor followed by a team stand up where we review the kanban board and identify any blockers. Most of the rest of the day is pair programming with some meetings here and there.

What's your background?

I grew up in Perth, Western Australia and went to university there. After highschool I actually studied Architecture (the building kind, not the software kind) which I enjoyed studying, loving the creative side that was offered through the projects given to us. After graduating I worked in the industry for a few years but didn’t end up enjoying this time - at least in Perth I found the industry very competitive and unfortunately with very little creativity available in the jobs for architects just starting out.

After an intermediary part-time job it was time for a change, so I moved to Melbourne and set to figuring out what kind of career I was going to have if not in Architecture - one look on job hunting websites and it became apparent how in-demand software developer jobs were. This led me to try a cheap programming course online, and after I enjoyed that I signed up for a six month bootcamp and the rest is history.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Given that I was a career switcher and studied a completely unrelated course at university - of course! When doing the cheap online programming course before deciding if I wanted to more seriously pursue software development, it was an experience with highs and lows. It often felt like my brain was rewiring and developing neural pathways in areas that hadn’t had to exist before. When the bootcamp started, the first thing we were told about is “fixed mindset vs growth mindset” - a phrase I wasn’t only going to hear once in this line of work! The fixed mindset is “I can’t do this - I will never be able to” and the growth mindset says “I can’t do this yet, but I will learn how to”. The one skill needed for software development is the ability to problem solve - everything we do is just solving a problem in one way or another, and that's a skill that we can all grow.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I love how much value is given to learning and growing at Xero. For me, given all the complexities involved in being a dev, when a problem is overcome and finally "It Just Works” - that is my favourite moment! Especially when it involved learning something new and implementing that something.

What are the limitations of your job?

If you’re not someone who enjoys continual learning, perhaps being a software developer isn’t for you. Between the variance between teams, the rate of change of new technology stacks, and just the sheer amount of different aspects involved, you’ll never find yourself knowing it all.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • If I was to give myself advice in university it would be to focus not so much on “do I enjoy the course?”, but instead “what is the experience day-to-day? what is the culture in this industry?”.
  • Our CEO recently gave a talk where he said the phrase “I don’t want a team of know-it-alls, I want a team of learn-it-alls”, which I think sums up what being a developer is all about.
  • Some advice perhaps not for a student, because universities and bootcamps tend to do this anyway, but for starting out with self-learning is that the process of learning is iterative. At first it can all seem overwhelming, but when it’s broken it down into smaller chunks it becomes very manageable.