Gareth: “Welcome to the 3rd edition of WebTalksNI. The first couple of editions where more focused-on Software Developers. This time we thought we would take a slightly different approach and talk to a client Corvus have been working with for some time.
This Is Cormac Kernan, he has been with Flint Studios for, What is it?”
Cormac: “6 and Half Years”
Gareth: “and he is the Head of Innovation. Corvus has been working with Flint Studios for 5 years. We’ve placed multiple clients from software developers to assistant admin, to front .Net Developers to front end. The whole range there. We will start off with your story Cormac. How did you move into development and get to the position you’re in now?”
Cormac: “Ok, well believe it or not, I started out as a civil engineer graduate from Queen’s University. I soon realised that engineering wasn’t for me. It wasn’t that interesting knowing the consistency of tarmac. So, I did a master’s degree in Computer Science. That is what got me on the road, that was in the late 90’s. It was the very early days of e-commerce and all the rest of it. I started with a company called ‘Tibus’ in Hollywood and soon realised I luckily found my calling.
Development was very much what I really enjoyed doing. I stayed there for about 5/6 years before I went into fantasy gaming. I went to a gaming company still doing web development. I was there for a few years before moving to a sister company. They were still doing fantasy gaming, it didn’t really work out, but it was very hard to get sponsorship at the time.
I went into more mainstream development and from there I went on to set up my own company with a few guys called ‘Flint Studios’. That was at the end of 2011, we started with 6 people in the same building here as Corvus, in the Scottish Provident Building. Before we bought our own offices on the Ravenhill Road in 2014. We’ve built the team from 6 people to about 30 people.
Gareth: “You’ve just set up an office in Warrington, as of last year”
Cormac: “That’s right, we bought a small company in a place called ‘Daresbury’ which is near Warrington. Where we’re primarily focusing on e-commerce development.”
Gareth: “Obviously, we have been working with you during that time to build up the team, there has been multiple skill sets you have been looking for over the years from PHP to .Net. What skills have you found particularly difficult to find?”
Cormac: “Well, I mentioned the e-commerce development there, we’re focusing on Magento, certainly here in Northern Ireland market, Magento Developers have been very hard to find, at least experienced Magento Developers. It seems, in the last few years, more and more people have been focusing on Magento. But what we have been doing, in partnership with yourself, we have been trying to find people with a good bit of experience in Magento.
Magento has only been around since 2008 and based on PHP programming language. There is a reasonable number of PHP developers in the Northern Ireland market, but once you try to drill down into a specific skill set it becomes a little more challenging.
Gareth: “Obviously you’re an employer, if a developer was coming to you to attend an interview, what would be your top tips?”
Cormac: “Show real interest in the position, do your research about the company you’re being interviewed by and look at your website. If they are a web agency like ourselves, their website should be good. Try to find the information about the company. Northern Ireland is a small place, if you’re involved in the industry already, ask around and see what you can find out about the company that is interviewing you.
We look for very rounded individuals, we’re not just looking for people who are technically capable. We are looking for people that we want to work with and we know will enjoy working with us. Show a good range of interests outside of programming. It’s not just about having the technical skills, obviously that is very important. We do really want to see rounded individuals working for us.”
Gareth: “How much emphasis would you put on qualifications like a degree or would you prefer to see a strong portfolio of work?”
Cormac: “For us, it’s really more about experience, a strong portfolio, as we’re a small company and just the way we’ve grown organically. We’ve ended up hiring people with a reasonable amount of experience. That means we’re not really looking at qualifications in terms of University or whatever. We’re looking to see what they have done in their career to date.
Obviously, professional qualifications help, but we’re more interested in finding out the solutions you have been working on in the last number of years. Maybe hearing the story of how you’ve come to develop a very good solution for a client. So, not so much about the qualifications.
Gareth: “Hopefully, you have found that helpful we’ll see you next time.”
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