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  • Bio: James Moore began working in the IT industry as a Software Engineer and took on challenges and responsibility at an early stage. He tells us about the impact his role has on the business and the things he most enjoys about his work.
  • Role: Software Engineer

James Moore

I got my first computer, an Acorn A3010, aged 10. After playing with the windowed interface I eventually hit the F12 key by accident and couldn’t figure out why the mouse arrow disappeared and stopped working. I rebooted the computer and knocked the F12 key again, but this time I noticed a small white line had appeared at the bottom of the screen and I could type into it. Little did I know that white line would lead me into the wonderfully creative world of writing software. Throughout my teenage years I taught myself BASIC then PHP and finally C while working on the PHP engine.

I ended up studying Computer Science at university in Cambridge. I wanted to understand how I could get these machines to bend to my will; be that drawing Bezier curves on the screen or communicating with people on the other side of the planet. The mixture of having a limited set of tools which behaved in totally predictable ways, and the challenge of using those tools to solve real problems which could make a difference to people’s lives, was intoxicating.

Having graduated from university I decided to join Red Gate Software, a small local company, as a graduate Software Engineer. Over the past five years my role has grown from Software Engineer to Divisional Manager, running several different multi-million dollar business units. The opportunities and experiences I have had are well beyond even my wildest dreams.

My first role was working as a Software Engineer, but I was always looking for ways to improve the business as a whole, be that setting up an external developer blog site or an internal wiki. One of the great things about being in a small company is that you could get the OK to do this very quickly. My interest in solving business problems was noticed and I was offered a role running the company’s first independent business unit.

As the head of the .NET Developer Tools Division I found myself running a team of eight people with a turnover of over $1.2 million. I was responsible for sales, marketing and product development and getting all of the people working together. I made many missteps in these early years, but was given the space to learn from them. Over the 18 months or so I was running the .NET Division, we put into place a strategy which delivered growth in excess of 400%.

There were several key points during my time in the .NET Division. It is here that I made my first (but certainly not the last!) million dollar mistake. Being hasty I set my development team off on a poorly researched and poorly defined project and expected to make a large return on the investment. We released the product over budget and late, to much excitement and fan fair. Unfortunately the market didn’t have our level of enthusiasm for the tool and to date we have sold $20,000 worth of it.

The next decision we had to make was whether we should risk our entire revenue stream (and potentially bankrupt the division) by throwing away what we had and starting again from scratch. This decision was not taken lightly and required the buy in from the whole team but has paid off many times over. We did our market research well and added a dollop of technical innovation and moved from being third in a competitive market to being the clear market leader in just under eight months.

I also did my first acquisition of another company while heading up the division. Looking back now the decision to purchase the technology we bought was fairly straight forward but it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time!

Given the success of the .NET Division and the growth of Red Gate, the decision was taken to break the company into smaller groups of people who would focus on our different product groups. I was asked to run the part of the company we felt had a huge potential to become the largest by revenue. I took over a larger team who would become the DBA Tools Division.

My role began to change significantly. I was suddenly running a much bigger team and rather than being at the centre of every decision, or even being able to take a direct interest in most of what was going on, I had to learn to delegate more. I tried to do my best to ensure that others were making the right decisions while giving them ownership of the decision process. I also had to give the people who worked for me, many of whom have much more experience than I did, the space to make mistakes and learn from them, just as our joint-CEOs had done for me.

Today I am running Red Gate’s largest division, spending my time trying to coach and encourage people to make the right decisions for the business. Most of my time now is spent influencing decisions which are taken without me ever knowing about them.

It’s an incredibly rewarding job and a lot of fun. Over the past five years I have travelled the globe, made multi-million dollar mistakes, made a few more millions of dollars of profit, changed the way that thousands of our customers work and had great fun working with some of the most amazing people I have ever met!

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