Ben Gracewood photograph in a circle

Ben Gracewood

  • ben@gracewood.nz
  • +64 21 755392
  • Auckland, NZ

Kia ora, ko Ben tōku ingoa...

People are the most important thing in the world, and my experience proves continuously that this is true. I've met people from world-class organisations to understand how they work; I've hired great people (and helped people be great); I've worked through problems caused by people's best intentions; and I've seen the amazing things that people can create from nothing. People, with a tiny bit of the right process, are what makes technology so interesting, and what keeps me in this industry.

With over 20 years in the technology industry, I've seen some things, I've done some things, and I've been some places. Some of those things are documented below, but the most important ones probably aren't. The most valuable events of my career combine together to form my experience, which is the thing you'll be hiring me for.

What I can bring to this role is passion and experience with helping technologists get the absolute best out of themselves, helping technology companies excel through their people, and helping New Zealand compete with the best in the world via technology.

Communication

Television and Radio

I've been a regular contributor to Television and Radio via tech commentary and guest appearances. For two years (2008-2010) I was the regular tech & gadget reviewer on TVNZ Breakfast. I've also regularly presented on TV3, and contributed to RNZ. This experience has helped me become comfortable with talking live to camera, thinking on my feet, and also understanding the importance of brevity and clarity.

Public Speaking

Through Codemania and other long-form conference presentations, I've gained significant experience in public speaking. I'm comfortable speaking to a crowd, and understand the importance of preparation and storytelling. I've presented at multiple tech conferences and coached others on presentation skills and public speaking.

Conference Organisation and Management

Over my career I have run multiple private and public conferences and retreats, and I have significant experience in all aspects of conference management. I'm confident in conceiving, budgeting, managing and running conferences, and more importantly in approaching and attracting speakers to conferences.

A successful conference is more than just inviting speakers and selling tickets. It involves building a diverse speaker panel, setting the right tone through marketing and a code of conduct, and ensuring that all attendees and speakers get the most out of the event.

Networking and Research

Using the contacts I've made through Codemania and elsewhere, I've built an extensive network of contacts in the software and technology community. I've leveraged this network many times to research global best-practise in software engineering and SaaS fundamentals

Using this network, I've spent time at companies throughout New Zealand, Silicon Valley, and elsewhere; working to understand what makes them tick, and what principles Vend (and other companies) can leverage to compete globally.

Experience

Vend

Chief Engineering Officer

2013 - Present

My last four years at Vend have been spent developing the people and processes required to compete as a global-scale SaaS company. As Chief Engineering Officer, I'm involved in company strategy at the highest level, defining the goals for the company, and liaising with the company board on strategy, security, technical direction, and more.

I model the software engineering capability at Vend not on our global competitors or local companies, but on world-class engineering teams including those at Netflix, Apple and Slack. I've visited with those companies (and more) in Silicon Valley to validate this approach, and learn which principles and processes we should adopt (or adapt).

Codemania

Co-founder & Director

2011 - Present

I created Codemania from scratch to fill a gap in the conference roster in New Zealand. Each year for the past seven years we've made connections; recruited speakers; organised the agenda and hosting; and sold out the conference. The result has been to bring speakers from New Zealand and abroad to share their experiences with kiwi technologists, raising the profile of our industry and improving the skills of kiwis.

We've connected kiwis with technologists from the very top tier of the industry, including speakers from Microsoft, IBM, Netflix, Slack, Facebook, Twitter, Github, Amazon, Xero, Pushpay and many more.

Marker Metro

Practice Lead

2012 - 2013

Building award-winning app and games for Windows Phone and Windows 8. Working locally and internationally with major brands including Trade Me, APN, Plunket, GoPro, Disney, Al Jazeera, Nokia, Microsoft, and too many more to mention.

Intergen

Solutions Architect

2011 - 2012

Software Architecture and Pre-sales. Engaging early and winning sales for Intergen with large NZ corporate accounts. Working directly with Microsoft Corporate Demos and Conferences. Developing demoware and outward-facing demo code for Microsoft internationally.

Datacom

Principal Architect

2008 - 2011

Motivating developers to work to their potential, and implementing practices to ensure quality and consistency across Datacom’s development practise. As part of this I conceived, planned and conducted the inaugural Datacom Devcamp – an off-site weekend gathering of developers from Datacom Australasia. The conference was a massive success, providing measurable improvements to Datacom’s development community and Gallup Q12 results.

Leading by example as a senior technical team member by researching, learning, teaching and speaking on technical subjects. Speaking at Tech.Ed, local conferences, and customer presentations.

Engaging early and winning sales for Datacom with large NZ corporate accounts. Client engagements: OnePath (formerly ING), PlaceMakers, Fonterra, Eagle Boys, Tower Insurance, UDC Finance, Vector, Microsoft, Barfoot & Thompson, and more.

Orion Health

Development Unit Manager

2008

Managing a team of 30+ software engineers and testers. My work included people management, product direction, and program management.

Datacom

Development Manager

2004 - 2008

Line manager for 30 analyst/developers, budget and P&L management, prospecting, client account management, and project delivery responsibility.

Enterprise software architect, including pre-sales software architecture and consultancy for some of New Zealand's largest companies; driving development methodology and best practices, peer reviews, and research.

Client engagements: PlaceMakers, Foodstuffs (Auckland and South Island), Gilmours, Coca-Cola Amatil, Toll Tranzlink, The Radio Network, North Shore City Council, Golden Bay Cement, Express Couriers Limited (NZ Post), and more.

BT Financial Group

Senior Analyst/Programmer

2004

Developing solutions for funds and investment management.

Evolution Ebusiness Limited

Development Manager

2003-2004

As the leader of a small development team working on accounting and B2B software, I undertook analysis and architecture to repair and convert a financial accounting package from legacy code to modern (at the time) C# .NET

Spicers Wealth Management

IT Manager

1999-2003

Complete management of technology and hardware, including head office and 15 WAN locations throughout New Zealand. As a member of the key management team I was involved in company planning and strategy.

I modernised Spicers' IT systems, introducing CRM & document processing, and implemented Microsoft Exchange, Active Directory, and SQL server.

Education

University of Auckland

Computer Science (BSc)