Glenn Crossley, Hermes
TECHNOLOGIST IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Personal Factfile: Glenn Crossley
Name of current organisation: Hermes www.hermesworld.com
Job Title: Development Manager
In post since: June 2012
Reports to: Head of Change
Office location: Leeds
Linked in profile: www.linkedin.com/pub/glenn-crossley/22/389/45a
What does your current role involve?
I head up the Development factory at Hermes, which encapsulates Development and Testing. The team has grown significantly from around 10 to 42 Engineers recently with continuous growth scheduled; therefore a tremendous amount of effort goes into People, Process, Technology and Innovation.
What was the first Technology job you had
I took a sandwich year out of my Degree to work at the Department of Health. It was my first job as a .Net Developer and it gave me the opportunity to gain some commercial experience and work with some really good people.
Why did you first get into Technology?
My first job in IT was a total coincidence. I left the Royal Marines and started looking for a new career. At the time my uncle was a CIO for a major telecommunications company based in London. He was also an entrepreneur and had a few mini start-ups on the go. He asked me to attend a few meetings acting as a Developer and a show of force. Although I never really answered any questions, I sort of got the IT bug! In return my uncle gave me an Apple Macintosh Power PC, which I networked with a Windows 3.1 and small Solaris box in my bedroom, which I thought was cool at the time.
What has been your biggest career achievement to date?
There have been some good noticeable projects in my past; however more recently at Hermes we have made a significant shift in the Development team by adopting Agile. Although we are still on the journey of implementation, the whole adoption process has been a captivating journey.
I am a big fan of team collaboration and information radiators and if you visit our offices you will certainly see what I mean. There is a key emphasis to give the business units the autonomy to prioritise high business value items and the delivery teams the empowerment they need to deliver these successfully. We have a fantastic team at Hermes and are always on the lookout for people who can add value to the organisation.
** Glenn has written a blog which he is keen to share, titled 'Building blocks to develop a high performing "Development Factory"' which can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/GlennCrossley/building-blocks-to-develop-a-high-performing-development-factory
In your opinion what is Hermes most significant technological advance of the last 5yrs?
There has been a significant requirement for customers to access real time data over recent years. The first challenge was to build a system that could demonstrate the stability and reliability required to support a growing business the size of Hermes. We have invested heavily in JBoss Fuse recently, which is an open source Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) based upon Apache ServiceMix. JBoss Fuse has supporting case studies to support delivery of over 1.4 billion transactions a day (peak of over 32,000 a second) and since implementation over 6 months ago has been solid as a rock. The support model that RedHat offer is also fantastic. We have regular dialogue to ensure designs for new projects are reviewed by RedHat architects and implementation cover is readily available if required.
In your opinion what do you see Hermes biggest technology area of growth in the next 5yrs?
There are numerous concurrent work streams, which are all gathering pace to keep up with the business growth at Hermes. The demand for more and more MI (management information) from both our internal business units and our customers is really noticeable. There will undoubtedly be more real time tracking using GPS technology. This is paramount to ensuring that our customers receive the best experience around the delivery of their parcel.
What does Hermes Technology Innovation strategy look like?
There is a huge focus on growth for both parcels and customers and how the IT strategy underpins this. Continuing to develop a SOA (service orientated architecture) to allow us to provide re-usable services, which in the long run will improve time to market and bring improvements to process efficiency.
Who has been the most influential Technology person in your career to date?
My uncle was a real role model in my early days and a good sounding board for any questions I needed answering. He told me to go to University and get a good degree, so I did and went to Leeds and studied Software Engineering. I worked extremely hard and was awarded a First Class degree with Honours, which is something I am particularly proud of.
What technology company do you most admire, and why?
I totally admire the model that Spotify have introduced. If anyone who is thinking of implementing Agile into their organisation, the Spotify model is a must read. The key emphasis is about creating a Development team centric environment that is totally scalable on demand. In addition they promote learning and innovation and job satisfaction. I would work at Spotify for free if they moved to Leeds!
In your opinion, what is the most significant technological advance of the last 5yrs?
Although I love my Ipad, I am going to go for Broadband Internet. I can recall the days of dial up internet (the sound of the dial up 56k modem) and the frustrations with lengthy download speed. Some ISP's are now offering up to 152MB superfast broadband, which is truly amazing.
What do you see being the biggest technology area of growth in the next 5yrs?
It totally depends what you read these days. What is apparent is a shift in speech and voice recognition technology and optical eye tracking. The Google glass is something I am keeping an eye on and would love a pair. The ability to tell the glasses to record a movie or take a photo snap and read and sync email. Imagine with this capability, a courier delivering you a parcel and watching you sign for a parcel or leave with a neighbour. The whole sequence of events could be recorded and sent to the customer as a video clip as proof of delivery.
Where do you put the UK in terms of Technology Innovation compared to other countries?
It's difficult to say. What is evident is that there is some tremendous growth in Asia. I was fortunate to visit Vietnam in 2013 to view the Harvey Nash OffShore Software Development offices - NashTech (www.nashtechglobal.com), which are part of Harvey Nash Group. On that trip I was fortunate to meet two chaps from Manchester called Doug Ward and Shaun Gibson of TechHub. TechHub are based in Manchester and are leading the way in supporting new technology start-ups and have just recently doubled in size. TechHub are now home to around 70% of the tech meet-ups in Manchester, more hackathons than anywhere outside of London and home to 55 tech start-ups, this place has quickly become the 'go to' place for tech start-ups to thrive and the 'go to' place for press, investors, talent & companies like Google when they come to the city.
Which start-up does most to impress you at the moment?
The start-up that most impresses me at the moment is Nifty Drives -http://eu.theniftyminidrive.com/ They raised £420,000 on Kickstarter which was the most at it's time in the UK and are now selling in Apple stores and are considered by several tech publications as one of the hottest tech hardware start-ups in Europe.
What's the latest personal Technology gadget you have bought?
I converted my garage into a cinema room recently and bought a projector. It actually cost £200 for a HD / 3D projector and £120 for a HDMI sound bar, which is cheaper than a 42 inch TV. With a white painted gloss wall it's a total boys room and generally has footy or cartoons showing at 150Inch... we love it!
What's the best App you have ever downloaded?
Foscam Pro is a CCTV app that allows you to stream live video and control cameras remotely. I generally buy a gadget over Christmas to play with and the wireless IP camera was that good, I now have 2 at my house and 4 at my relatives, which means I can always tell when they're in for a visit.
What is on your iPod/MP3 right now?
Although I am not a music head and would rather watch sport on TV, there are a few tracks on the Ipad such as Stereophonics and Madness to the Black Eyed Peas.
What do you do in your spare time?
My family are at the centre of my world outside of work. I find the whole parenting role fascinating watching my 7 year old son grow up and am cherishing every day we spend together. I do try and sneak in a game of golf now and again but they are few and far between these days.
Interviewed by Steve Rake,