In anticipation of the exciting new things Junari are currently working on, what better time is there to get to know the team? For the second in our series of monthly interviews, I spoke with Russell Briggs, chief technical officer at Junari.

What do you believe is essential in managing a team successfully?

I think one of the most important things is focusing on enabling the team to do their best work. So, helping them by defining our goals clearly, and making sure people who’ve got the appropriate skills are able to work on tasks that best suit them. Also, making sure people know they’re able to ask questions – there are no silly questions.

What do you see the tech industry looking like 5 years from now?

Obviously, the most recent change is the switch to working from home due to the pandemic. There’s already been a massive improvement in remote working tools; things like video chat software being more integrated in business applications. I think work will never be the same. People are realising how convenient it is to work from home, and I think in five years time most business applications will be set up so you can work from wherever you are in the world. There’s also artificial intelligence and machine learning- all the buzzwords- that are being used more and more, and we’ve been looking to make the most of these technologies at Junari for the benefit of our customers.

Outside of work, you’re somewhat of an adventurer, tell me how and why you became a paraglider pilot: 

As a kid, I always liked the idea of flying. Having had that dream, at some point I decided to have a look at options for actually getting in the air. There’s a flying club in Norfolk that just so happened to have a school that taught paragliding. You do a couple of weeks training and after that you can solo pilot and fly at any paragliding club in the world. 

It’s all just powered by the wind, I think that’s what I like about it. Once you’re up in the sky you’re searching around for thermals, you can go for many kilometers just using hot air. I feel incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to basically fly like a bird, and have had opportunities to fly in Turkey and Spain.

I know you’re really into music and playing live- what do you enjoy about playing gigs?

It’s fun! Music’s a satisfying thing to be able to play, and you get a buzz from it. It’s always fun to get the audience up and enjoying themselves. As quite a technical and detail-oriented person it’s satisfying to take the time to learn a piece of music. So, currently I’m in a cover band singing and playing electric guitar, and I have played Drums in other bands in the past. 

How did you come to join Junari?

I joined Junari in 2009 after being head-hunted from another company. Effectively, what Junari wanted to do was to build their own CRM product which I was responsible for building – this was Junari’s primary product from 2009 to 2019.

In 2016 I went on an extended sabbatical to New Zealand for four years, during which I worked at Xero and Land Information New Zealand, and when I came back Dom had just taken over the running of Junari and he was after a technical lead to drive the next evolution of the company. It was the ideal partnership, and since then we’ve made giant advancements: we’ve upgraded our platform to run on the latest version of Odoo and made some really great operational and technical advancements.

How have you applied what you learnt during your extended sabbatical to your role in Junari?

I was there for four years and for two of those years I was working for Xero, a well known accounting software provider. I joined one of their web development teams and learned an awful lot about working with Amazon Web services. The second year I was there, I became development team lead which taught me a lot about managing teams and mentoring others. From that, I’ve been heading Junari’s move to Amazon Web services. I also learned Agile project management, which I brought over to Junari after my return, and have worked with our project managers to make that switch –  it’s made a big difference in terms of product delivery.

What are the benefits in working with such a close knit team?

Everyone has the opportunity to put forward ideas that could influence the direction of the company and make a difference. We’re also learning from each other all the time as everyone has different skills; you get to work with someone completely different and actually learn what they’re doing. Everyone also gets on with each other well, so it’s just a really nice working environment.

Thanks for chatting Russ. Next interview: Rachel Butler!

Interview by Alana Samuel, digital marketer at Junari

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