Life@Squiz Q&A with Murray Fox, Systems Architect

Murray Fox, of Squiz’s Wellington, New Zealand office, celebrates his 10-year anniversary at the company, describes how the office has changed over the years, and lets us in on the book series that’s his current addiction.

Squiz: What does a senior systems architect do?

Murray: We have only a small team in Wellington, so my role is quite varied. I design and implement technical solutions for clients using the full Squiz product offering. I also work closely with the production team to deliver web and search projects, particularly those with complex integrations.

What do you enjoy most about your job, and what’s the biggest challenge you face?

I enjoy problem-solving, which lends itself to the kind of work I do. I love the range of technologies I work with on a daily basis and the freedom I’m given to create the best solution possible for every situation.

The biggest challenge in my role is having to manage the large amount of work we receive – there are just not enough hours in the day. But on the flip side, we get so many projects from a wide variety of clients with different problems, so I also really enjoy that.

How long have you been at Squiz, and what attracted you to the company?

This month it will be 10 years!

The main thing that attracted me to Squiz was the technology stack. Also, because Squiz New Zealand was in its infancy back then, I essentially assumed more of a senior technical role, which came with a lot more responsibility than I’d had in previous jobs. I really enjoyed that opportunity.

How has Squiz changed since you started working here?

You can’t really compare Squiz 10 years ago with where it is today – it’s night and day. For one thing, our operation in New Zealand is about four times bigger than it was. We’re on a totally different level from where we were then.

Globally, Squiz has had a massive cultural shift in that time. In New Zealand, we’re more connected to the rest of Squiz than we used to be. Although I work with mostly New Zealand clients, many of them have international reach, and I can collaborate with many Squiz staff from all over the world.

How are you celebrating your 10-year anniversary?

You’ll have to ask my team! I might have to start sowing the seeds, but I’m sure they’re planning something.

This week, however, I’m travelling to Hobart to hang out with system administrators from Squiz offices all over the world. Everyone is bringing discussion points, and it’ll be a great opportunity to strengthen our connections and unify our thinking and approaches. I’m really looking forward to it; I’ve been once before with work and had a great time.

What is it about Squiz that’s made you stick around this long?

I’m at my best and most engaged when I’m learning, and at Squiz, I’ve never stopped learning. There are always fresh challenges, and, because the technology landscape is always evolving, I get to work on a variety of projects.

There are also a lot of opportunities these days to connect and collaborate with Squiz staff all over the world, so I’m constantly learning from those experiences, too.

Do you remember your first day on the job?

I don’t know if I really remember my very first day. I do remember that we had quite a small team, as Squiz New Zealand was only a couple of months old at that point.

As a result, we were often thrown into the deep end with projects, but that’s always a good challenge. Everyone was pretty new and was constantly learning. There was this air of excitement, like being a pioneer at the beginning of something great. I think everyone felt that they had an opportunity to shape Squiz New Zealand from both a technical and a cultural standpoint. It was inspiring.

What’s the best part about working in the Wellington office?

The best things about working here are the people and the atmosphere. Everyone is always looking out for each other, and we all have similar interests, which means we’re always having a bit of a laugh.

We’re in an ideal location in Wellington, within striking distance of some great cafes and restaurants. We have a well-established morning coffee ritual: Half of the office runs across the road each morning to our local coffee spot. The people there know all of us by name and all of our orders. It’s great!

We also have a Nintendo in the office and plenty of gamers, so we play pretty regularly. Plus, we’re always doing team lunches and Friday after-work drinks.

What do you do in your spare time?

When I’m not working, I’m with my family; I have a 2 year old, so spare time doesn’t really exist!

When I do get personal time, I love reading. I’m reading The Witcher books at the moment; they’re dark fantasy novels written by a Polish author, Andrzej Sapkowski. I first got onto them through the video games that were based on them. I’ve just been smashing through them; I’m already up to the fourth book. They’re so good!

Murray will be tweeting his week at work at @lifeatsquiz from 13 to 17 March. Follow along to see what he gets up to on a daily basis during his trip to Hobart.

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