Written by Nick McGrath, Chief Technology Officer at Evergen
Evergen is pro performance & people.
Evergen is re-architecting a better, sustainable energy future for everyone on the planet, to do this we need highly driven people from all walks of life to help. No matter your background, ethnicity, gender or education. If you are driven, sharp as a tack, and literally want to change the world we would love to have you!
Tell us a bit about your team?
We have an incredible team with a diverse range of skill sets, experience, education and technical expertise.
There are a few common traits among the team, specifically, everyone is aligned well with our company mission and everyone is both intelligent and humble. Many of us were new to the renewables space when we joined, which I think has actually helped us solve some of the biggest energy problems through a fresh perspective.
I love listening to and learning from everyone in our team, and thankfully everyone seems patient enough to spend the time helping those around them to understand more about their specific domain knowledge.
It’s a very collaborative team environment, something I absolutely want to foster in a tech team, rather than putting people into silos which is a more traditional approach with tech people. I want to hear what they have to say, bring them in group tasks, and instill a collective approach. Often tech people become very isolated in problem solving but I have never agreed with this as general practice.
We are on a mission to kill a coal fired power station in 10 countries by 2023.
Our team is an amazing mix of some of the smartest, curious and most diverse people from all over the world working together to speed up the transition of the world to renewables.
Yep, it’s a huge goal, but if we pull together with all our clients and partners around the world we will get there.
Tell us a bit about the problem/s you are solving?
We build software that enables smarter energy.
This boils down to managing and controlling Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) in a way to optimise their use and efficacy.
To do this we need to collect, process and store thousands of tiny pieces of data from thousands of distributed systems all around the globe within seconds, make decisions about what those distributed systems should do, and then distribute those commands for systems to action.
The key for us as a tech team is to ensure we’re building a responsive, resilient, elastic and message-driven platform in a secure and auditable way.
What type of team are you trying to build?
I think culturally Evergen is a wonderful place to be. I love getting up in the morning, thinking about the work we’re doing, the mission to kill coal-fired power plants, the quality of the people that work here, the work ethic, the intelligence.
Everyone that works here at Evergen is intelligent, hard-working, open-minded and humble and it’s important we keep it that way. We work with large legacy organisations like network operators and energy regulators so it’s important we have the acumen, yet innovative thinking in our team to carve new ways of doing things.
It’s great to have people who are experts in their field, but it’s important to understand we can always learn from other peoples experiences and expertise. That’s where my theory ‘hire anyone from anywhere’ comes in… I am open minded around people’s backgrounds and experience.
We have chosen staff well, and thankfully everyone in our team is open to learning, particularly from their colleagues. We absolutely won’t stand for a blame culture. We all make mistakes and I’m a big believer in fixing the problem first and foremost.
We have such a diverse set of knowledge, skills, and education in our team, there’s always someone who knows more than you about any given subject and it’s important that we foster an environment that encourages people to share their knowledge and expertise. Leave the ego at the door.
We also like to foster leadership from within.
It’s important that everyone has a voice when it comes to the platform, the processes, the tooling and the environment that we’re building, so we spend a lot of time making sure that decisions are made in a collaborative way.
Where is your team now and what will it look like in 2-5 years?
The team at the moment is in great shape, but like any team, there are always gaps and things that can be improved. Plus, people grow as they learn and we’d like to make sure we have an environment where people feel like they can excel and grow with Evergen.
We pride ourselves on keeping people engaged and happy, it’s a good indicator that we’re doing something right in the team-building process, as we have little staff turnover. Our values are core to how we operate, particularly around having fun and enjoying the ride, but equally pulling together and listening hard.
Moreover, continuity is important in a high functioning team as it helps maintain high standards as the team grows, because those high standards get naturally passed onto every new person that joins us.
So hopefully, in the future, the team will look quite similar to how it is now, only bigger as we continue to expand globally!
What do you look for in tech people?
First of all, we hire people primarily based on their cultural fit, then on their technical skills. It’s important to us that we have the sorts of people who are going to align to the values of the business, the technical side of things can usually be learnt, so long as there’s a base to work with.
The traits we typically look for are:
✔️ Intellectual curiosity
✔️ Willing to make mistakes
✔️ Willing to pitch in and share
The red flags are:
❌ Big egos
❌ Poor communication skills
❌ Knowledge hoarding
❌ The inability to accept someone else’s point of view
How do you bring the best out of a tech team?
➕ Make sure you’ve got an amazing group of individuals to start with
➕ Make sure you’re all striving for the same thing, make sure there’s a common goal
➕ Encourage people to make mistakes, make suggestions, question everything and ensure that you listen when they do
➕ Hold everyone to account and drive high standards
➕ Grow the leadership from within
➕ Have fun along the way
What are some of the cool things your tech team has done or achieved?
We’ve done some incredible things:
🏆 Reducing the running cost of a core piece of our platform (Intelligent Control) by a factor of 100!
🏆 Increased the speed for battery commands being made and delivered by a factor of 50
🏆Increased the capacity of our platform from 500 systems under management to well over 6,000
🏆 Increased the number of integrations from 2 to dozens
🏆 Rewritten and deployed everything onto a secure, scalable and robust infrastructure
🏆 Made heaps of mistakes and learnt a lot from them
🏆 We grew the tech team from 2 to over 30 within 2 years
What tech driven companies inspire you? And why?
It’s easy to look at some of the big tech trailblazing companies in Australia, like Canva and Atlassian, and be inspired. Both of those have just kept kicking goals as they’ve grown into huge Australian success stories with a global presence.
But there’s some other crackers too which are probably not as well known, specifically places like Instaclustr and Grid Cognition to name a couple. The reason I love these two in particular is because they’re tackling hard problems and they’re doing it with local talent.
Beyond that, I love some of the tools we use and the tech teams behind them like Whimsical and Asana, they’re constantly updating their tools and building new features. Love this.
Finally, some thoughts and comments on how to make a tech team sing / high performance?
At Evergen we are fortunate to have an amazing team, on an amazing mission. We have excellent leadership that values each of us as individuals and genuinely cares for our wellbeing.
Given that we’ve got such clarity and vision from the top it’s easy to build a tech team aligned with what the business is trying to achieve, and given that our mission is altruistic it becomes easier again.
From there, we concentrate on creating an environment where people feel empowered to make decisions, to grow and we remove all the roadblocks that would otherwise exist. This gives the team the best chance to be their best.