Scott Dowell became part of WiseTech through an acquisition business over 10 years ago, originally joining as a Product Manager in our Melbourne office. Today, Scott is a Software Operations Leader and plays a pivotal role in building and scaling our unique rotation program.
We sat down with Scott to find out about his career journey with WiseTech, how the rotation program empowers our people to shape their careers, learn from diverse experiences, and contribute meaningfully to our vision, and why now is an exciting time to join WiseTech.
Can you share a bit about your journey with WiseTech?
When I first started out as a developer, I was at a really small family-run software business, so it was all about meeting the needs of the individual customer and never really thinking about the big picture. So the big change for me coming to WiseTech was working at a product-focused company that tries to solve the needs of the industry. Having come from a small company and moving into a much larger company that has a larger scope of work and more interesting problems to solve was really exciting to me then, and still is to this day.
When I first started at WiseTech, I was given the task of building a team from nothing, which was an amazing experience. To build that team, I worked with the rotations manager at the time, and I got to know him really well. He was a mentor of mine, so I got to understand the philosophy of this system that he had built.
It was just an amazing opportunity to be able to take on the role of building the team. I managed to grow it from about 50 people in rotations to 200 people in the program right now. We now have a rotation program in Australia, the U.S, Europe, Nanjing and Bangalore, but it’s only the beginning, which is awesome.
Can you share a bit about what the rotation program is and how it works?
When you join WiseTech, you spend two months in three different teams across your first six months in the company. Within each team, you're assigned a mentor, so you have someone there who buddies up with you and helps you day-to-day. We don't give you busy work, we give you real work that adds value.
The purpose of the rotation program is to first of all, onboard people so that they understand what it is to be at WiseTech. We give new starters an opportunity to meet lots of different teams, and lots of different people to build their network. But more than anything, it's about fitting people to teams and teams to people. The philosophy is if you get the right person in the right team, then
they'll do more creative, better work, because they love the people that they work with, and they love the work that they're doing. So that's a classic win-win.
The rotation manager's job is to guide you on that journey. So across that six-month period, you'll have opportunities to change direction, and you’ll have really deep conversations about what makes you tick, and what success looks like for you, and then we'll align those with the needs of the company.
Why do you think the rotations program is so unique?
Generally when you join an organization, you’re given your desk and your team, and if you don't like the role, you're a little bit stuck. You've got no choice but to go somewhere else. But at WiseTech, what we're doing is helping you shape your career from the day you join the company. So in that first six months, you've got a chance to start that journey of shaping your career, which I think is a really unique and unusual way to approach onboarding.
For example, if you're a front end developer, and that's all that you've ever done, the rotation program gives you a safe way of trying something different. You might find that in actual fact, you don't want to be a front end developer anymore, but you’ve never been given the opportunity to try something different. So the program actually gives you that opportunity to do something different in a safe way.
The feedback that we get from our people in India, for example, is that they've just never seen anything like this. So it's wonderful to be able to manage a program that makes that point of difference in the market for WiseTech. That's a real privilege.
How do new starters choose which teams they’ll rotate through?
One of the misconceptions about the rotation program is that it's a bit of a free for all and that you can just pick and choose where you want to be, but it’s more about finding the right fit for the individual and the business. The reason that we have rotation managers is because they understand the needs of the business, and their job is to match the needs of the business to the needs of the individual. So we really want to get that win-win, or no deal outcome through the rotation process.
The way that we manage that is by deeply engaging with the rotators. We talk to them on a monthly basis, we talk to their mentors, we talk to the people that have led them on a day-to-day basis, and we understand where they want to get to, and we help them get there. We work with them to help them make really strong, informed decisions about where they're going to end up.
What sort of people do we look for at WiseTech?
The sort of people that we look for are problem solvers and deep thinkers. So when I interview developers, we always talk about the problem statements that we solve, how the problems we work on are actual physical things happening in the real world. Developers and product people who get excited about that are a great fit for WiseTech.
From my experience, the thing that brings people the most job satisfaction from a development perspective is when they see the thing that they've built go out to customers. I really think that is the most satisfying thing about being a developer, because you're building something from scratch and you're creating something that wasn't there before. Seeing it out there and being used by people, and making a difference to me is the most satisfying part of the role.
Why do you think now is an exciting time for someone to join WiseTech?
Now is a really exciting time, because we've gotten to this point where the company is big enough to be helping the largest organizations in the world. If you think about our customer base, we've now expanded into these really large global rollouts, which means as a developer or a product person, you're working on more complex and interesting challenges. So we've got problems of scaling because our customers are bigger. They've got more complex problems that they're trying to solve, so we get to work with them on those issues.
You get this opportunity to connect really deeply with the real world, which I think is fantastic as a developer. We have this endless runway of really, interesting complex work to do, so we need as many talented developers and product people as we can find to deliver on that vision.