My Guidewire with Gavin
Welcome to our new "My Guidewire" series!
We talked with the teams in our Dublin office to get to know them and find out their perspectives on working at Guidewire and their overall experience.
Meet Gavin Flood, Architect in our Cloud Assurance Production Services team in Dublin.
Get to know Gavin and his perspective at Guidewire.
Tell me about you. Where are you from, how come you decided to embark on an engineering career?
I'm Gavin. I was born in Dublin, but I grew up in Westmeath. I've two younger brothers and one of them, one of which is a software developer as well. And the other one kind of went to the complete opposite direction and became an electrician.
And so yeah, in terms of how I decided to embark on this career and was kind of a fluke really, I was kind of, I was always interested in computers. I started learning Photoshop when I was a teenager and then kind of moved to website design and stuff like that just kind of learning and not doing anything productive with it, just doing it in my spare time.
When it came to the Leaving Cert, I didn't know what I wanted to do and was kind of confused a bit by all the different choices so I went with what I knew and decided I could go down the computer route and went and studied Software Design in Athlone IT.
Once I got into that course, I realized how much I enjoyed it and enjoyed learning the theory behind it and mathematics and stuff like that so yeah with each year that went on. It almost got more natural for me just because I was more and more interested in it.
I know it's the kind of course that if you're not interested in it, you can fall behind or lose motivation to do it. But yeah, it was kind of how I ended up going into this kind of career.
Tell us more about your journey with Guidewire, and what made you decide to join us?
I interviewed with quite a few companies when I was in my final year of college, just before I graduated. So probably up to about four months before I graduated, I started dealing with several different companies. Still, it was Guidewire that showed the most interest in me out of every company.
I genuinely felt like they wanted me to join and didn't just feel like I was only another number they had to add to their recruitment process.
All the people that I spoke to during the interview process were incredibly lovely. At that time, I didn't know as much as I do now. There were lots of gaps in my knowledge, but they were all incredibly nice, and it was undeniable how smart they were.
I always felt at ease when I was interviewing with them, which obviously for someone coming out of college is a big thing. Interestingly enough everybody that interviewed me like seven years ago now is still working in Guidewire in Dublin today, so that's an excellent sign, I think!
Yeah, so I think the people sold it for me. I got to the final stages of interviews with a few companies, but Guidewire had shown the most interest in me, and the people I had met were by far the nicest out of all of them. So I accepted Guidewire's offer, and once I finished college, I moved up to Dublin.
Right when I joined the team, I was sent to Guidewire's headquarters in Foster City, California, for three weeks. First time going to the States!
And Yeah, so that's kind of how my journey began in Guidewire.
What team are you currently on, and what are some of the most exciting aspects of your role?
I currently work on the Cloud Assurance Production Services team (CAPS), having moved internally from the GSC team about 18 months ago now.
The CAPS team are responsible for cloud assurance and production services for Guidewire's cloud customers.
My role as a Senior Consultant on the CAPS team involves leading cloud assurance reviews for multiple customers, developing tooling to assist with this process, and contributing to our production services by working on new features and defect fixes for our existing cloud customers.
We design and develop new features for customers who are already live with our products and as well as fixing production defects and running an assurance process to make sure anything deployed to production meets Guidewire standards.
The role is exciting. What I like the most about is the weight behind each of the decisions that we make and the responsibility that gets placed on us.
When you're on a long-term project with one big release or one big Go Live further down the line, it's very easy to cut corners. It's straightforward to put off the more complex work or put off fixing specific bugs, whereas for us we deploy and release to production every single month, for every customer.
So everything that we develop that goes into that release will be tested in the real world by a massive amount of people. We have to be sure of our designs; we have to be sure that what we've built is working and be assured of our QA processes.
And so yeah, I think that's the most interesting aspect of the role. The other element that I find interesting is our cloud assurance process and the speed at which we're trying to develop tooling, automation and standards that we can put into place to ensure we can maintain and monitor our production customers and recover from issues.
So yeah, those are kind of the most exciting aspects of my current role.
What have you learned from your time in the Dublin office and is it worth being a part of it and why?
Well, I'm here seven years now, so I think that will tell you I believe it's worth it!
One thing I always tell people, even when I'm doing interviews, and a candidate asks this question. I think people make the company worth being a part of. And I believe in the Dublin office that holds just as much or more than everywhere else I've been.
When I joined Guidewire, there were only about 90 people in the office, which at the time was much smaller than the one we're in now. We didn't have an upstairs, and we didn't have a second unit or anything else.
Today we have grown as a company by almost four times that number, yet I think the culture remains the same. We have people in the Dublin office from so many different countries and cultures, and it makes the place vibrant and all the conversations interesting. You're continually getting different people's point of view on things which can be helpful.
As well as that we have the Social Committee who organize loads of significant events that people can attend throughout the year. We have a Sports Club as well so we can play basketball or football, we've running clubs as well.
In the office itself, we have things like games rooms, breakaway areas and we've loads of free drinks and snacks that are readily available for everyone. It is a very nice office to work in. Whenever I describe it to my friends, they're always quite jealous of what they call 'our playground'.
How would you describe our people and our culture, what is most important from your perspective?
I think the most crucial aspect for me anyway is the way everybody is always willing to help each other out.
I don't know one person in the office with a self-serving personality trait. Everybody always wants to help everybody. The people do live up to our values.
There is a lot of collaboration in the office too, which I think is excellent. It's great to see. Everyone just wants to do their part and help each other as well as the company as a whole.
If you're walking around the office, you often find people sitting around solving problems together, even if they're not on the same team or the same project. You can find people discussing technical designs over a coffee in the kitchen, and people just collaborating with others in an open and friendly way.
That's one of the things I miss the most with the current situation, just the random chit chat you can have with different people while you're making a cup of tea in the kitchen.
I think collegiality is the most essential aspect that kind of collaboration and willingness to help everybody. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that anywhere else. I don't think I've ever seen a company focused on making sure that stays with a company. It is part of the recruitment process and part of the training process too.
What are you most excited about our goals as an organization?
I'm most excited about our drive to the cloud. I know it's a bit of a buzzword within the industry at the moment. But for us, we're genuinely transforming a lot of our product and changing the way we sell our product to customers and what we sell to them.
It's a significant change for us and quite a risky move because you're shifting from the model that's proven to work to something that we need to make sure works.
I think the fact that we've managed to develop a cloud offering for customers in almost no time at all, relatively speaking, that is a big testament to the people working on it.
The fact that we're looking at the plans for where we're going in that cloud journey is fascinating, we're adopting whole new technologies, building new teams and new services and putting ourselves in a position to remain the leader in this industry. I think that makes it a very exciting time to be in Guidewire. It is rapidly changing, and we are quickly changing.
What are three lessons or three pieces of advice that you can share with someone looking to begin their journey with Guidewire?
One of the biggest lessons I've learned that I can pass on to someone is if you know you have a gap in your knowledge or you're unsure of some particular topic or some specific area, and you know it would be useful to know. You should look to fill that gap as soon as you can.
If you are not familiar with a simple concept or something that you've learned once and forgotten about it, it might only take 10 minutes to fill in that gap, but it will be beneficial.
Whether you're interviewing or whether you're actually in the role itself, I think it's good to continually look to build upon your current knowledge and fill any gaps that need to be filled.
One important thing for everybody to learn is to not be afraid to voice your own opinion on something. If you have a thought that's different to what someone else is thinking, don't be scared to express it.
You don't want to end up in a situation where we make mistakes, or we build things that could have been built in a better way just because somebody was too afraid to speak up or say what they were thinking at the time.
The last one is just to get involved in different areas that you're interested in or that you'd like to help with. In our Dublin office alone, we have a whole bunch of different teams, a whole bunch of various efforts and side projects and I think a lot of the time, people wait to be asked to get involved in these things, whereas it's much quicker and easier to find the people that are involved and asking them yourself if you can help out or take part.
Being the driver of that yourself will help you advance quite quickly in Guidewire.