I’m inspired by working with modern technology and love to combine a hands-on role with championing technologies and techniques to others.
I’m the Engineering Lead and domain specialist for the Digital Platform for a large UK retailer, and love solving complex problems using cutting edge tech that has broad application across many services and engineers.
As an engineer, I love:
- Docker & Kubernetes - it was the platform I wish I’d had sooner; finding a perfect sweet spot between software agility and operational control.
- Cloud Platforms - I’m most familiar with Google Cloud, and I think it is awesome.
- Automation & Continuous Delivery. Technologies that struggle with this are not something I like.
For my sins, I’ve been an SME for Middleware & Integration platforms such as IBM WebSphere & WebMethods. They served my employer well at the time, but the world has moved on and I am glad to be working with much more modern technologies these days.
Platform Engineering Lead - John Lewis Partnership, 2019-present
Towards the end of 2019 I decided to make the switch for Architecture to Engineering full-time, and was promoted to an Engineering Lead. Within this role my time is divided between leading two responsible for the johnlewis.com Digital Platform, as well as a Lead within the Engineering Profession within the John Lewis Partnership.
The former extends my responsibilities described in the role below in defining and shaping the work that goes on within the team from a technical perspective. This involves a lot of experimentation with new technologies and products, breaking down large initiatives into smaller pieces of work that are set up for success, and also when the need arises getting my hands on the keyboard either writing the software to deliver the product, or repairing it when it goes wrong.
The latter sees me involved in the broad engineering decisions that affect the 500+ software engineers employed by JLP. This includes things like shaping our engineering principles and endorsed technologies, driving initiatives like Continuous Delivery and Operability, and setting up and running some of the engineering governance groups where they’re needed too.
Platform Engineer - johnlewis.com Cloud Platform, 2017-2019
One of the founding members of the team that has built the first large-scale cloud platform in John Lewis. Nominally an Architecture role, in reality this is a cross-functional team and I was able to get my hands dirty early on and through to implementation, including being on call for the launch.
The work involved migrating the frontend of johnlewis.com to Google Cloud (Docker/Kubernetes with all the trimmings). It now serves as the foundational platform for an emerging new microservice architecture that underpins the whole JL Digital portfolio.
Through hands-on engineering I got to experience modern cloud and automation techniques such as CI/CD, infrastructure as code, Docker and Kubernetes, as well as the PaaS capabilities within Google Cloud.
It is fantastic to be able to work with cutting edge technology - sometimes directly with Google themselves - in a leading area of our business.
Technical Lead, New E-Commerce Platform, John Lewis IT, 2016-2017
In parallel to an Architecture role, acted as Technical Lead for the migration of the johnlewis.com e-Commerce platform to a new on-premise private cloud infrastructure. This work was abandoned for financial reasons - a blessing in disguise as it accelerated our adoption of cloud (the role above!).
Whilst in this post I was involved in constructing a detailed design for the new solution, as well as overseeing its technical implementation - including engineering disciplines that were new to this part of the organisation - such as continuous delivery of infrastructure to support faster change, as well as improved reliability for operations through automation.
Technical Lead for Integration & Messaging, John Lewis Partnership, 2011-2015
In this role I was responsible for the design and implementation of systems involving Integration platforms - many of which are core technologies underpinning the John Lewis Partnership’s critical systems.
- Held responsibility for their strategic direction, including owning the roadmap and establishing best practice for the design, build and support.
- Led high-level and detailed design for these technologies, including deployment.
- Responsible for oversight of one permanent employee and several contractors – specifying work, carrying out training and developing talent.
Principal Programmer, Computer Services (Middleware), John Lewis Partnership, 2004-2011
- Part of the team responsible for administering the company’s Middleware infrastructure - which included WebSphere Application Server, MQ, Apache, & IIS.
- Deep knowledge of administrative scripting for Middleware, with associated process automation. Developed the team’s Developer/Operations Self-Service Portal (a little too successfully - unfortunately it is still used today in place of more modern approaches to automation!).
- Experienced in platform and application performance tuning and monitoring.
- It was here that I developed my comfort working on Unix and Windows. Experienced in dynamic scripting languages, with a background in web development.