Squirrel photo

Douglas Squirrel

Growing Productive Software Teams Since 2004

I grow and develop software engineering teams. This may mean hiring and training a new team from scratch, adopting productivity-boosting techniques in an existing high-performing group, or completely overhauling a team that is demoralised and isn't delivering at all. I have done all three myself repeatedly in the last sixteen years and throughout that time have also advised many business leaders on how to grow their own teams effectively.

Currently, I am VP Technology at inspirational payment-card firm Osper, which is helping kids and parents learn about money management together using a prepaid debit card and mobile app. Osper has achieved impressive conversion and referral rates leading to extraordinary growth - hundreds of signups per week with minimal marketing - thanks in no small part to a development team that deploys new features daily, participates fully in inventing solutions, and continuously improves its own tools and methods. You can read the Osper Technology blog for more news about the growth and development of the Technology group at Osper.

I started my leadership career as CTO of financial software firm TIM Group, using agile methods to build web applications for the world's largest investment banks and hedge funds and building the Technology organisation from nothing to 49 people while retaining unusually high levels of quality and resilience.

After that I was CTO at the flash sales company Secretsales, implementing and improving methods for releasing new features several times a day as well as moving to Amazon Web Services to save £250,000 per year, driving over 50% of revenue from mobile devices using responsive design, and building the first successful flash sales loyalty programme in the UK. You can read more in a recent RealBusiness article about the role of technology in achieving profitability and growth at Secretsales.

You can see the details in my curriculum vitae (CV in PDF format). I enjoy discussing all aspects of software development, so please email me to discuss further.

Mentoring Startups

I enjoy providing informal advice and help to startups of all kinds, in industries from energy trading to dog grooming. Email me if you would like to come to Clerkenwell for coffee and a brainstorm about your startup. If you are not able to meet up with me, you might be interested in these notes on startups who get advice from me and how that advice works out for them.

I have had the privilege of working more formally with emerging-markets search startup Arachnys. I began working with Arachnys during their tenure at the Springboard accelerator and helped them convert their very innovative product into a regular income stream. I have since become a small investor in the company and joined the advisory board. The company is thriving and my main role at present is to coach and assist the founders in finding, hiring, and retaining great technical talent.

More Effective Software Development

I speak and consult regularly on various software-development topics. For example, awhile ago I gave a talk at Hacker News London on "Why your startup needs tests" - watch it below if you are interested (or download and watch the video if it doesn't display below).

I am interested in the architectural style known as microservices. I write about this topic often - on Twitter, a page of short notes, and my microservices blog. I organise a regular Microservices Hackathon in London.

I use Root Cause Analysis regularly and have developed principles and methods for conducting these analyses. As an example, you may enjoy a video of me giving a root-cause analysis talk, which includes a cameo by Wallace and Gromit! You can also download the slides for the RCA talk (PDF).

Inspired by Benjamin Mitchell, I'm interested in how the management theories of Chris Argyris can be applied to the problems faced by development teams. I meet regularly with a group of others interested in these ideas and strive to apply the principles of the Model 2 theory in my daily work:

Computer Science Research

I get few opportunities to write code in my current job, so I try to keep my skills up by working on one or two programming projects in my spare time. These have included:

Mathematics Research

In the 1990s I studied mathematics as a student at Reed College and the University of California at Berkeley. During that time I:

Personal Matters

I live in the hamlet of Frogholt, near Folkestone, in a 600-year-old cottage. You can see pictures of the cottage if you are interested.

Possession of the Doyle Owl is the pinnacle of achievement for all honourable Reed College students. I have a collection of Doyle Owl photos and documents accumulated when I was part of a team of students in possession of the fabled Owl.