This week, we caught up with Jake Gardiner, our Global Infrastructure Manager.
Squiz: In which office are you based?
Gardiner: Sydney HQ, Australia
How long have you been working for Squiz?
About 6 and a half years now. I started in 2010, back when we were based in Leichhardt - it was an office we referred to as ‘The Church’ (it’s an old converted church hall).
What led you to where you are now?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a harrier jump-jet pilot - until I met reality. Then I was a photographer, then for a few years I was into music & DJ-ing, then sales, and now technology… I guess I took the really long way.
What's helped you to get here?
It’s hard to pick any one thing that isn’t coffee.
Earlier in my career I did sales, one of my first jobs was actually as a door-to-door salesman selling telecommunications. I was on no salary (commission only) pounding the pavement and knocking on doors: “Hi, How much money would you like to save on your home phone?” There would be some nights where you wouldn’t make many, or sometimes any sales. Those days have given me a fair amount of tenacity, which I rely on a lot today.
What does your typical day look like?
First thing I usually do in the morning is hit the snooze button, I do this a couple of times before sliding downstairs to have a coffee and gaze out of my living room window.
When I'm ready, I jump on the motorbike - I live in Sydney’s inner-west, so it’s a mostly pleasant 13 minutes where I try to stay alive by keeping out of the way of buses and taxis.
A couple of the guys in my team work an early shift, so by the time I’ve gotten into the office they’ve usually cleaned up any alerts in our monitoring systems (thanks guys). Once I’ve got my second coffee, I normally try and squash any urgent tasks or emails that have come up whilst I was sleeping (the sun never sets at Squiz).
Usually we’ve got about 2-3 projects running in the team at any given moment, so I try to take stock of where we’re at and if there’s any major blockers that need attention. Quite regularly, I'm brought into other projects to consult and wear an enterprise architect hat, so it’s really a juggle of project work and managing any business-as-usual tasks that come up from here on.
At lunchtime there’s usually a few of us in the office who spin the wheel and try to pick a lunch destination, one of the benefits of working in Sydney’s CBD is the amount of options there are. When NFL season is on, a few of us will head to any one of the local pubs and grab a pub lunch whilst trying to watch Thursday night Football in the US.
Early evening (Sydney time) is actually one of the rare times that we can get both Australian & European staff online simultaneously, so there’s a chance of an online meeting or two between 4pm-9pm.
Assuming no late meetings, you can usually find me climbing a wall at my local climbing gym, doing laps in the pool or alternatively having a few cheeky beers at a local pub with friends.
One ‘typical’ day at Squiz we had a fish tank from the tenants upstairs come through our ceiling and into our server room, taking out internal office infrastructure. Never thought I’d be pouring water out of servers, but it happened.
Is there any advice that you’d give anyone who wanted to follow a similar path?
Unless you have a very specific something that’s sparking your interest, try to keep an open mind with what you want to focus on and try to learn as much as possible about a wide variety of technology.
My team works with something like 180-200 different technologies at Squiz. One minute we could be trying to synchronise data from our on-premise systems to a cloud service, the next moment we’re investigating VOIP call jitter between Seattle and Sydney - you really need to learn quick and having a broad understanding of technology really helps.
What’s your favourite part about working at Squiz?
Probably the huge variety of things that are going on at any given moment. I feel like there’s never a normal day.
What was your dream job when you were young?
That’s a really tough question. There was the dream I mentioned earlier about flying jets, I think I gave up on that when I found out you had to commit to 20+ years of military service to get flying.
Photography was a passion for a while, but when I actually started working as a Photographer I quickly learned it’s not as glamorous as I imagined.
Who inspires you now?
I think watching Elon Musk pushing boundaries with his ventures is pretty inspiring. The guy has such a big, crazy vision of what humanity should be doing and he has little to no respect for the status quo.
Another is a guy called Alex ‘no big deal’ Honnold. He’s what you call a ‘free solo’ climber, which roughly translates to ‘batshit crazy’. Free soloing is where you climb without ropes or anything to save your life if you fall, and this guy does some of the most difficult climbs in the world and treats it like it’s ‘no big deal’ - check him out on Youtube.
When you’re not engrossed in the world of Squiz, where would you most like to be?
Riding my bike along a coastal road or rock climbing.
Have you ever visited any other Squiz offices?
Yep, I’ve been to our Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra, Hobart, London and Szczecin offices. This week I’ll be heading to Europe to visit London and Szczecin.
What’s new and exciting right now in the world of IT?
The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is a buzzword you might hear a lot of lately, embedded devices will become more and more popular in your everyday ‘things’, and probably not just your fridge or microwave.
Where I think things might get interesting is in the security for IoT, a lot of manufacturers are trying to get devices to market quickly, where I think they’ll start to lack in providing security updates, probably leaving most of your things vulnerable. Are you really going to regularly upgrade the software that controls your garage door?
Finally, why Squiz?
It’s a tough challenge and I don’t like complacency.
JP (Squiz CEO John-Paul Syriatowicz) is steering us in a really exciting (but very challenging) direction - it’s going to be a very interesting next few years :).
Jake will be tweeting his week at @lifeatsquiz from 10-15 October - follow along to see what he gets up to during the week.