Engineering and Product
Duncan Rumbold, IT Team Lead at Tax Traders
For a kid more interested in dismantling things and rewiring them rather than playing with toys, it is not a huge surprise that Duncan Rumbold, IT Team Lead at Tax Traders has ended up working in software development.
We caught up with Duncan to learn more about his journey into working in tech. We delved into some of the common misconceptions about working in the space from his perspective and his advice to others who might be interested in following a similar path.
Thanks for sharing your story, Duncan.
Firstly, how would you explain to a five-year-old what it is you do?
People like to use their computers to do things with money. I build the stuff on the computer that lets them do that.
And for the adults, what does that translate to in regards to your day-to-day?
I lead a team of software developers in maintaining and improving an online software product that empowers accountants to provide flexible provisional tax payment options to their clients.
Sometimes that means working on new products and features, sometimes, it means fixing issues in our existing products, and all the time it means thinking about how we keep our systems scalable, maintainable, and reliable both now and into the future.
What are some of the common misconceptions about working in tech?
The tendency to lump all IT-related roles together, seeing them as always interchangeable, and missing the distinction between skill sets, preferences, and mindsets across the different disciplines within IT.
Another misconception relates to the difficulty in knowing how complex something is – it is often assumed that something conceptually simple is also simple to implement and, conversely, sometimes what is a trivial piece of development can be hailed as an amazing piece of technology.
"Figuring out how computers really worked was always more engaging than playing sports..."
Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?
It wasn’t really a dream. Rather, I was already “doing” tech for as long as I can remember. Wiring things up or dismantling things was always more fun than playing with toys.
Figuring out how computers really worked was always more engaging than playing sports, and I was privileged enough to have access to the resources and materials that supported that natural curiosity.
I learned to program at an early age, but funnily enough, software development was always that fun thing that I did in my spare time rather than something to be considered a real job.
"It was clear to me that the future of software products was the web and I wanted in."
**Tell us a little bit more about your career journey, and ultimately, how you ended up working at Tax Traders? **
My career has essentially been one long learning journey. I graduated with an electrical engineering degree and turned my internship at a prominent healthcare company into a full-time product engineering role.
At that stage, I was doing a mixture of electronics and software development. It didn’t take too long for me to realise that I could be a much better software developer than electrical engineer, and so I left the world of thermodynamics control systems behind and took the opportunity to pursue what at that time was my dream role – an indie game developer.
Writing and producing games and marketing them online was a valuable lesson in getting things finished, but also made me realise that there’s so much more to a successful product than the product development itself, and that I wasn’t necessarily interested in sales calls or marketing.
From there, I became an employee again and worked on a large software team writing in-car GPS navigation software. In 2007, I jumped at the opportunity to work for a start-up developing an online accommodation product that integrated with the in-car device I had previously been developing.
It was clear to me that the future of software products was the web and I wanted in. After a turbulent, exciting, yet completely draining 10 years of leading development teams writing online products for start-ups, combined with a 3-year stint at a design agency, I discovered Tax Traders.
When I applied for the role at Tax Traders, I already had an intuitive sense that it would be a perfect fit, with respect to the kind of complex product that I enjoy working with, the size of the company, where the company was at in its product development journey, and the core values that define who the company is and how it operates.
"Work can be play. Figure out what really motivates you"
**What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received? **
Work can be play. Figure out what really motivates you; it may take many years and many different experiences before it really clicks, and it might not be what you originally expected.
What do you love about working at Tax Traders?
That people are truly valued and seen holistically as unique and complex beings. There’s an amazing combination of challenging ourselves to work smarter in order to do things that haven’t been done before, yet also nurturing our strengths and looking after ourselves so we can all grow with each other in a supported and sustainable way.
** Lastly, Tax Traders continues to grow and evolve, what are the key traits and characteristics of people that will be well placed to work there?**
- A preference for pulling the work rather than having work pushed on them.
- A desire to lean into challenges and pursue solutions rather than having someone else spell things out.
- An appreciation for working with people in different disciplines and skill sets than their own.
- An affinity for connecting with people, being generous with their time, and having a laugh with others.
- A desire to be open and honest with their thinking coupled with a willingness to accept and evaluate feedback from others.