Last year I experimented with the market as I was feeling rather undervalued and not appreciated at work, more so looking for positions that offered more senior roles that wasn't being made available to me at the time. One of the companies I applied to was the BBC. BBC is considered the grandfather of broadcasting not only in the UK, but quite possibly world-wide. They have quite an intense application process with setting up an online profile, online testing with scenario videos, psychometric tests and the lot. Should you pass all the screening, you will then be offered an interview - I'm happy to say I made it to the last stages, competing with 3 out of an original batch of 30 applicants - however, we all know how that ended :-) Not successful, bottom-line, BBC thought I was carrying too much process baggage and not agile enough; as well as I didn't have prior line management experience which is what they were seeking for the technical team leader role.
Anyway, my interview was a surreal event because I wasn't applying for one role. They laid out the following possibilities to me: Technical Team Leader, Project Manager, Programme Manager, Scrum Master. So I was subjected to a varying degree of questions. In retrospect, I think I came off a bit too confident, strong, and determined to change the world.
I will now share with you my responses to the questions that opened the path for the face-to-face interview:
Q1 - We’re looking for strong technical leaders: excellent at designing & delivering complex solutions while at the same time motivating & inspiring a team. Please give an example of an IPTV/On-Demand/Interactive TV project you lead from concept to deployment (2000 character limit).
[BSkyB Anytime+ HD On-Demand/Interactive TV (1943 characters) 2008-2010]
A highly visible project to secure NDS’s position in the Middleware market for the foreseeable future, involved seamlessly replacing an existing Middleware (OpenTV) on multiple STB platforms (deployed 2 million+ homes), with no noticeable difference to the user, plus the addition “Anytime+ Progressive Download”. A new Middleware & device driver model, consisting of 80 components with a 200-person development team geographically dispersed: 2 UK sites, France, India & Israel; as well as working with suppliers worldwide: Broadcom, Amstrad, Samsung, Thomson, Wipro, Red Embedded & S3Group. The project is often described as “not only changing all four tyres on a car whilst you’re driving, but also giving the engine an overhaul & the body work a re-spray at the same time!”
I had global accountability as Middleware Dev. Owner, overall project management responsibility for delivering feature completeness within the set timescales; managing a team of senior architects (design authority), 200-person development/integration team to deliver a backlog of 200+ work packages.
My engineering background allowed me to build rapport with development teams, gaining project-wide respect, as highlighted:
- Quickly gained architectural design knowledge, allowing me to hold technical discussions with the customer without needing to include senior architects.
- Participated in customer defect review meetings in negotiating issue severities, assigning ownership & allocation to component teams (usually the job of chief architect)
- Conducted impact assessments of change requests, before passing on to architects for review (Software Migration, Download, IPv6)
- Mentored Hit Squad teams consisting of senior engineers, in resolving critical issues (steering performance improvements, providing tools to find memory leaks), sometimes spending late hours with engineers going through code (shared OpenTV knowledge)
- Produced much-valued technical status reports on critical issues
- Proactively drove the setup of the end-to-end system for home field trials allowing people access to latest builds via software download
- Appreciated the technical challenges placed on engineers, often siding with the engineers that “it cannot be fixed any sooner without consequences”