I'll revisit this towards the end of 2023 and see how my availability is looking. If you want to put something on my radar before then, you can contact me here.
What I Do
I'm available for work as a:
- Fractional / Interim Chief Product Officer (CPO)
- Fractional / Interim Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
- Advisor, Consultant or Non-Executive Director
- Technical Architect
Although I largely work remotely, I have some availability for on-site work (~1 - 1.5 days/week) in central London.
I primarily work on a day rate, but am happy to discuss project rates for longer engagements.
I am a serial entrepreneur, having started three companies and launched a number of successful products. I create visionary products backed by strong commercial awareness. I have gained wide-ranging experience leading product/technical teams and undertaking strategic M&A projects, including due diligence for private equity backed organisations.
I am adept at transforming and managing high-performing teams (both on-site and remote), to deliver projects in an Agile manner throughout the software development life cycle. I have established team leadership credentials gained through hands-on technical knowledge, and am experienced in working at Board level.
Most recently, I have been a Chief Product Officer and Chief Technology Officer in PE-backed educational technology businesses.
Fifteen years of experience in building products and teams, as well as taking my own products to market, has given me an opinionated view on what works and what doesn't. There are always exceptions, but I believe that a technically well-built product with no revenue or users is a waste.
When I work with any organisation, this is the primary thing I try and avoid - by bringing products quickly to market whilst focusing on the long-term goals of a platform, and preventing the need to do a "v2 rewrite" by making the right decisions initially. I do this by my design-data-code philosophy:
Design-led: The best applications are design led and rely on an intuitive, simple user-interface - users will likely not understand why something "just works", but they should enjoy using it. All stakeholders can understand a visual, and increasing the importance and skill of design teams in a project has never backfired on me.
The data is key: A deep understanding of the data model, business logic and edge cases is key to developing any system. Every decision that is made relating to the data structure needs to be thought out by the cleverest people you have available. These conversations can be hard, but are incredibly important and need to happen at the right time.
Code fills in the gaps: Of each of these elements, the code is the easiest to rewrite and refactor. A well-tested codebase can be refactored and developed and optimised, but this should never be the starting point for a project - or the first thing to look at when rescuing a project in trouble.
My primary skills are in the following areas:
- Board Communication: I create effective presentations and have been responsible for securing over £10m of "build" (as part of a wider "buy and build" strategy) investment from private equity investors, normally following acquisitions of businesses or as part of new leadership teams in difficult circumstances. I am experienced in presenting at Board level and working 1:1 with non-technical investors to increase their understanding of technical concepts and the commercial rationale for decisions.
- Product & Technology Due Diligence: Having taken my own startups through acquisition, I have been "sell-side" and bring this experience to my due diligence approach. I have worked in partnership with financial, legal and commercial due diligence specialists and provided internal product and technology due diligence reports for investors prior to acquisitions, both standalone and to work alongside external advisors. As well as the standard long-term recommendations, my due diligence reporting focuses on both "red flags" as well as 30/60/90 day post-acquisition goals.
I also have been a part of exit preparations for follow-on investments in PE-backed organisations.
- Team Recruitment, Build & Transformation: I excel at recruiting teams at scale, and have worked with external recruiters and in-house talent acquisition partners. I am experienced in shortlisting and interviewing all candidates from junior positions through to C-Suite peers, and working with companies to meet recruitment targets (both for UK and near-shore/off-shore teams). Recently, it has become more important to focus on the non-financial aspects of roles, such as company culture and other benefits, as salaries in the technology space have increased.
I have executed a number of transformations of product and engineering teams (normally, whilst going through post-acquisition structural changes or changes in technology stack), including large redundancy rounds. This is difficult work, but I am adept in undertaking it only when required to meet the needs of the business, and working with HR teams to ensure the process is as smooth as possible, whilst ensuring the business is protected from risk.
- Team Management: I have over a decade's experience in day-to-day team management (to ~100 staff members), including the introduction of processes where required. My own interest in building inclusive teams means that I am particularly interested in getting the best out of a diverse workforce, which is becoming increasingly common in technology and product teams. I aim to build open, transparent and loyal teams who can do the best work of their careers.
- Information Security & Legal: A large part of my career was spent in building software relating to child protection and safeguarding data across the UK and US. I have a deep understanding of the GDPR, HIPAA (and related US legislation) and the nuances of processing sensitive personally identifiable information cross-border. I have led a number of companies through the ISO27001 accreditation process.
I hold an undergraduate law degree, and have regularly undertaken internal drafting/re-drafting of contracts alongside external solicitors and Counsel, and have worked on contentious employment and information security disputes.
Product Management & Ownership
- Design-Led Product Management: I am experienced in preparing short-term and long-term roadmaps working in both a waterfall fashion (normally when a management term or Board require a 12-24 month view of a project) and an agile fashion (for product and engineering teams, or other internal stakeholders). Commonly, I will undertake this using tools ranging from PowerPoint/Keynote through to dedicated systems such as ProductBoard, Airfocus or AHA!
- Product Ownership: As a developer who has also worked to ideate products, I have a deep understanding of how to turn requirements into something that a developer can build easily. I have regularly trained and prepared templates for product owners (including those who are new to a role or transferring from being a subject matter expert). I've set up and put processes in place across organisations for systems including JIRA, Github, Shortcut, Trello and Pivotal Tracker for work management, and how they interface between product, engineering and operations teams.
I have very little visual skill, but am adept at creating user interface wireframes using sketches or tools such as Balsamiq, and training others how to do the same! I've got an eye for when design feels "right" or "wrong", and I really enjoy helping design teams push out of their comfort zone where needed.
- Database Design & Technical Architecture: I enjoy database design, and have a natural affinity for understanding complex data models and designing databases which are both well-abstracted and scalable. My primary experience is in building complex systems using relational database management systems (MySQL/MariaDB, PostgreSQL, MSSQL), and in using NoSQL databases where required.
I am a proponent of technical architectures being based on a modular monolith approach: unless you have a clear view of what scaling will be required and when, this can lead to more problems than it solves. Monolithic applications can be broken down into modules later, then microservices, when this is required and the size of the team merits it. I believe this is rarely on the first day of a build.
- Open Source Infrastructure & Cost Rationalisation: I have worked extensively with infrastructure/DevOps teams to rationalise costs and explore more efficient methods of hosting platforms. I have extensive experience working with Microsoft Azure, and some recent experience with AWS and Google Cloud platform, both directly and through resellers/MSPs. I have worked with a number of smaller hosting providers (such as DigitalOcean, Linode, OVH and Rackspace) across cloud-native services, virtual machines and dedicated servers.
In the past I have worked on application development in .NET Framework (VB/C#) and Java, although my knowledge of these is now dated, but have recently managed teams across these stacks as well as those working in Swift/Objective-C, C++, Kotlin and NodeJS. I continue to code regularly in my personal time, and am working primarily in Ruby on Rails with Tailwind CSS.
You can find out more about me.
Want a more traditional CV? Connect with me on LinkedIn: