Q&A with HealthEngineer Jarryd Tillbrook – Full Stack Developer

Give us a short summary of your career to date:

I started as a part-time intern at HealthEngine in February 2016 as I was finishing my last semester of Mechatronic Engineering. In August, after I graduated I went full-time and have been since then. We were much smaller back then, I think I was one of about eight engineers at the time. Now there are about 30 devs across Perth and Sydney. I started with full-stack working mostly on maintenance but got to touch the HealthEngine Recalls product towards the end of 2016 before transitioning mostly to SRE to maintain our infrastructure in AWS. That’s where I am currently.

How did you find out about HealthEngine?

I actually was just looking through Seek for software related jobs since I was coming to the end of my degree.

What was it that attracted you to HealthEngine? Please explain

I liked that it was small and I got to meet the CEO. I’m not one for bureaucracy so that was important to me. Improving the very old health system is also a good cause that interested me.

What one word summarises your experience with HealthEngine?

Start-up, radical candour, flat structure.

I really think the flatness of the hierarchy is one of the biggest advantages.

What are you responsible for day to day?

2017  has been a little different. I have pretty much been outsourced to different teams on rotation to help out with their products/deadlines. I think that’s probably because I’m one of the more senior developers at HealthEngine by measure of time spent here. However, my main role is SRE – maintaining the infrastructure that runs the website and supporting applications.

What do you like most about the work you are doing?

I like that I get rotated through different teams to see different parts and contribute to different projects. I have strong opinions about how code should be designed and written so getting to apply that across our code base is important and valuable to me and the company in my opinion. I really like squashing potential legacy issues or writing code to ease developers workload.

What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve done in your time at HealthEngine?

Probably getting to create a whole new app with Laravel (a PHP framework). It designated; Project Soundwave. It’s our central point for all patient communications, no matter what medium (or at least that’s the plan). It currently sends SMS and push notifications to patients and existing code is being ported over to use this service instead of third parties directly.

What has your career path been like at HealthEngine?

I’m really happy with what I’ve achieved so far and I think people don’t realise I only graduated last August so that makes me feel good. I have always been interested in the foundation of how things work, that’s why I elected to work in the SRE team. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to get bored quickly and as a result, I feel I have achieved all that I want to in relation to servers/networking/architecture/SRE at this point in my career and will be looking to move to another team when the opportunity arises.

Is there a particular person who has helped you at HealthEngine? How have they helped?

It’s hard to single any one person out. The senior devs that I started with were really helpful getting me up to speed and giving reading notes and discussions about code etc. Adam (Technical Co-Founder) is also very good at inspirational speeches.

How has your work been recognised at HealthEngine?

This is quite a contentious point for me. I don’t really like being singled out for something. It’s always a team effort (or it should be). There’s a reason companies are run by multiple people because no one person can do it all. It’s something that really angers me and from my observations, it’s something almost all developers do; using I too much. It saddens me everytime I hear a developer talking about their code instead of our code. I don’t think it fosters the right values to treat things like they are yours.

Conversely, when I was working on Project Soundwave, I actually was the only developer for most of the time and I was really unhappy with the situation. It’s a surprise to me that there haven’t been any major issues with it yet. You always need another person to discuss with or help contribute ideas and even code. It leads to more robust and efficient outcomes.

Why would you recommend HealthEngine to someone else?

Easy! The culture; the freedom to work your own hours (at least as developers) – I work from home some days as well, and I can just tell my supervisor on the day. It’s also encouraged to challenge people – I remember when I first started, I had some quite heated discussions about code or design and was concerned that it was too much but was later told that it is desired. It’s also a cool project/product/cause – the health system is so old it’s verging on negligent, so bringing it into the 21st century is good. Also, the ability to choose your equipment. When I started I got to decide on my OS and keyboard and mouse, which ties into the last part, autonomy; it’s a really powerful thing giving employees autonomy and control over their work because they become more invested in it.