5 minutes with Matt Kellock, ACS certified member

8 November 2021
  • Matt's career journey from a developer, to a senior developer, to a tech lead, eventually became a CTO at a start-up.
  • ACS Membership experience: Identified strengths and opportunities for career development through mySFIA, continues his education through the excellent ACS Learning Accelerator on Demand platform.

Q: Tell us about your career journey and your greatest achievement to date?

I started out in the wild-west days of the first dot-com boom, doing mainly consultancy work for small start-ups and small businesses. It was a lot of fun; the internet was evolving quickly and the tech along with it. Once I became a bit older, I started requiring a steadier income and moved into development roles for various businesses, one of which was bought by Iress, Australia’s largest FinTech where I have spent a good portion of my career. Over the years, I went a from developer, to a senior dev, to a tech lead, eventually leaving Iress to become a CTO at a start-up.

I really enjoy making technology accessible. It is a fascinating industry that can be extremely empowering and should be more widely available. Seeing the differences my teams and I have on people’s lives, is not a single achievement but a series of continuing and sustained wins, especially when our clients get as excited about the possibilities of technologies as we do, and deep partnerships evolve between businesses.

Q: What are the most common types of mistakes or challenges you see the tech industry facing?

As the world becomes increasingly digitised, the industry’s rough edges are becoming progressively prevalent and impactful. Recent data breaches, unethical behaviour and fraud committed through software, highlight how the industry needs to take better responsibility for its actions, avoid blame shifting to management or organisational pressures and hold ourselves to higher standards. Ignorance or good intentions is simply no longer sufficient in protecting the public who put their trust in our software.

One excellent step in the right direction is the ACS Code of Ethics. I feel that the first point of the code: “The primacy of public interest” is paramount and enacted by the codes other five points. Of course, most of us do not hold a C-suite position and can direct a company’s standards, however, we can hold these standards in our own patches of dirt. Are you approving PRs that need a conversation? Do you speak up in planning sessions when you or your team are about to cut a corner? Do you keep your ego in check when taking responsibility for the efficacy of your work?

Q: Why did you become an ACS member and how has ACS membership supported your career journey?

To be honest, I did not know what to expect becoming an ACS member, I had never belonged to an industry group or understood the benefits deeply. I joined more on a whim than any substantive reason. I have since regretted not doing it much sooner in my career. It is an invaluable organisation that helps keep your skills and employability on track, to learn from industry leaders and to be part of an engaged and professional IT community.

As a big promoter of continual learning, I have found the talks by industry leaders fascinating, I have identified my strengths and found holes in my skillsets through mySFIA, and have been able to continue my education through the excellent ACS Learning Accelerator on Demand platform.

The ACS CT/CP certification programme is different from most other certifications, in that it is a validation of not only your skills but of your industry experience. As a recent ACS-CP, I have found it personally gratifying to be recognised by my peers through certification and have found that it gives potential employers confidence that they are hiring someone who can be trusted to take the industry and their work seriously.

Q: What advice would you offer Graduates regarding career learning?

When I was first teaching myself web development, I would spend countless hours taking apart webpages, building my own sites, and muddling through code and frustration until I understood what I was doing. I doubt this is vastly different than most engineers lived experiences, and as a result, it conditions us to solve problems in solidarity through personal heroics and hard work.

In the enterprise, IT is a team sport. Effective modern teams are cross functional and are purposely composed of varying disciplines that all rely on each other to produce a product. This can be daunting for a graduate as you can often find yourself trying to keep pace with more senior team members and sometimes suffering from impostor syndrome.

One of the hardest lessons to learn for anyone in IT, seasoned or not, is how to leave your ego at the door. The best way to learn is to ask for help; pair-program with others that have more experience, ask engineers to walk you through their solutions and ask lots of questions. Do not be afraid to rely on more senior engineers to coach and mentor you, we were all grads at one point and it’s our dues to pay it forward.

Always be doing some sort of training, whether it be though the ACS Learning Accelerator on Demand platform or many other online course vendors. If you have more than a passing interest in a field and want to pursue a career in it, consider certification. Certification is a fantastic way to not only prove to employers that you have the skills to perform your work professionally, but to prove to yourself that you have synthesised a topic.