Question time with Dave McKerral

Amy Newton recently spent some time discussing a host of topical questions with Dave McKerral, CTO at Evestor, based out of Manchester.  Take a read below to find out more about his thoughts on the industry and what makes it tick from his point of view…

Question time with Dave McKerral


Can you tell us a bit about Evestor and what you provide?

Our objective is to provide financial advice in the broadest sense to as many people as possible with as few barriers as possible. We focus on leveraging technology to make that happen. The first product we launched was to deliver automated regulated advice and investment products to implement that advice. From that we’ve expanded into the more informal side of advice, where we are guiding people using account aggregation tools to best understand how they are spending their money and set goals around how to control that.


What are the challenges you’ve faced going from a couple of you in a room to having a team of 40 in the city centre?

Mainly around hiring, especially while we were out in Wilmslow. My main motivation to move to the city centre was to improve our proposition to potential employees. The broader point has been to try and maintain the closeness, attitude and culture of the team as we’ve grown from 1 – 15 of us in the technical team.


What’s the hardest challenge you face in terms of recruiting teams?

The biggest issues we’ve had are the specifics of what we look for in people. To an extent, driven by technical skills. with good, permanent tech hires being incredibly rare. Secondly, working on getting people operating with the right attitude; people who are really going to bring something to a start-up environment.


Can you recommend any podcasts, webinars, Twitters, books or other resources that you’ve found helpful?

The best resources we’ve used have been fairly tech specific because we’ve been using new Microsoft technology. I think there are very few people using. So .Net Rocks and The Microsoft Cloud Show, and various Twitter accounts mostly from the PMs at the Service Fabric project. We’ve found generally being engaged on social media and trying to identify the low level influencers, the people who are working across meet-ups, particularly the introductory meet up such as Code Up and Coder Dojo, specifically some of the more formal initiative such as North Coders and keeping in touch with the people who are going through those, as well as the people engaged in delivering those. It’s been really useful to be as plugged in as possible with the key active organisers in the tech community.


What are the three most important skills a Software Developer should have?

Firstly, a sense of ownership and having a stake in and caring about the quality of the code that they deliver. For me that is above and beyond, the most important attribute a developer should have.

Secondly, is the interest and engagement in what you are doing – genuinely caring and understanding why you are doing things, rather than doing something because you are told to.

Finally, flexibility and an ability to consider solutions outside of your capabilities and comfort zone is key. Whether that is a different technology or just a different approach, the fundamental is to have an open-minded response to the contributions from the team.


What achievement are you most proud of from your time with Evestor?

Taking two products from post-its on a wall to live deployed products with 10,000 users in two years.


What would you like to see more of in the industry?

Greater levels of trust in the technical teams that sit under Management. The fundamental idea that underpins the concepts of flexible working and remote working is that the only way you are able to offer those is if you have trust in the developers and what they are going to deliver. I’ve found that the more you are able to give, the more you are able to get back. It all hinges on trust – I think most developers are in the boat I think they could be trusted. I think some companies around the city really shy away from that because they are scared that the trust will be abused, but I think you lose out on so much by not taking that chance.


How important do you think Meet-Ups, Events, Conferences are for tech professionals to attend?

I think they are really important and have the potential to bring real value. I also think you can over expect of people – I think the most engaged people, the most technically gifted and biggest cultural fit, have lives as well. They’re great in the sense that you can send some people from your team and they in turn come back and can share that  knowledge. However, I think It is a fine line to tread in terms of balancing the benefit. While I think it is fair to expect people to have that interest they also need to have the balance. You don’t want to end up being prejudiced against someone because it is not going to fit in with them if they have to look after the kids etc. As a tech company if we accept and acknowledge the benefit of these meet ups, we have the responsibility ensure that our team is allowed to take time out of their working day to attend them instead of expecting them to have that in the evening or at weekends.


Can you recommend any Meet-Ups?

Dot Net North consistently put on a great schedule of stuff, and Microservices Manchester was really interesting in a niche space. I’ve also enjoyed various thought-leader type of talks and dinner-debate type of events.


And finally, if you weren’t doing this role, what would you be doing?

I would be a lot less stressed! Joking aside, I’d probably be doing something to do with sound engineering.


Thanks to Dave McKerral and Amy Newton.