Trineo Spotlight: Mark Haylock

Josh Ashton July 31, 2019

Trineo team members live in cities ranging from Seattle, Washington, to Christchurch, New Zealand, with interests that include Jiu Jitsu, cartooning, and herbology. In this series, we’ll learn more about these extraordinary people we are proud to call friends and colleagues.

Mark Haylock

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Location:
Christchurch, New Zealand

Your role at Trineo
Lead Engineer

Three words that describe you:
Cautious, Optimistic, Thorough

Last book you read:
The Three-Body Problem (science fiction by Liu Cixin)

Current favorite video game:
Horizon Zero Dawn

All time favorite video game:
Any/all of the Uncharted series on PlayStation

What do you do in your spare time?
I spend time with my family, read, and play video games.

How do you start your morning?
Well I’m not necessarily a morning person. But I shower, eat, get out of the house. All exciting stuff! That said, I do enjoy listening to podcasts on the way to work.

Your professional experience before Trineo
I studied Computer Science at the University of Canterbury and graduated in 2005. I’ve been working in web application development almost continuously since that time. For the first couple of years I worked in C# and ASP.NET in financial services, then for four years worked with PHP on e-commerce projects.

In 2011 the appeal of native mobile application development led me to a company that was experimenting in iOS development. I got to work on a couple of iOS games while there and it was a fun diversion from the web. But web development remained a big part of my role there and I spent all of those six years working with Ruby on Rails (RoR).

How did you end up at Trineo?
That Ruby/iOS company wound down in 2017. Having known many of the Trineo team for years through the Ruby community, Trineo ended up being the perfect new home for me. At Trineo, my years of experience with JavaScript have proven to be invaluable and I now spend most of my time working with JavaScript.

What have been some important moments in your career?
In 2010, moving back to an office-based job after three years of working from home made me realise that I’m happiest sharing a space with colleagues. I’m thankful that remote collaboration tools have improved so much since then that it’s a lot easier today to foster strong relationships with remote colleagues.

For the first five years of my career, I didn’t realise how much I was missing out on by not being involved in a wider community of developers. It was attending a local iOS development conference in 2010 that really revealed the possibilities to me. That conference led me to the job that introduced me to the Ruby community, and that community ultimately led me to Trineo. I stepped outside my comfort zone to attend that first conference and it’s paid huge dividends for me.

The Ruby community taught me an enormous amount over the years: the value of collaborative open source, and the way that great tooling can make you more productive and lift the quality of your work. I was also shown how writing tests is essential, practical and even enjoyable; an idea I resisted for far too long!

What’s your secret to achieving success in your role?
I think it’s key to realise that strength comes from collaboration and that you will always have a lot to learn from others. Be willing to reach out for input, and accept the feedback you receive. Don’t bring an ego to your work, and accept constructive criticism.

We work in a field where we can be exposed to new and exciting ideas every day. It can be fun to experiment with these new things, but it’s very easy to find yourself chasing lofty promises that end in disappointment and frustration. It’s important to be pragmatic and client work is not the place for risky experimentation.

This just means that you need to develop a clear rationale for investing in something new, and it’s a good idea to capture that rationale so that you can refer back to it later and learn from anything that didn’t play out as you expected.

Over the years, the practice of understanding existing “legacy” code (whether written by me or someone else) has taught me how important it is to clearly communicate your intent in all the work you do. As developers, we generate a lot of artifacts other than the code (e.g. commit messages and other documentation) that remain as evidence of our intent and understanding at that time. Taking care to make sure that information is captured clearly will pay huge dividends for future developers who return to maintain and extend your work (and that could be you!).

What are you working on that you are most excited about?
We have a lot of developers at Trineo who are working with React everyday for frontend development. In the past we haven’t had a great deal of collaboration amongst these developers across separate project teams. I’ve had the privilege of helping organise an initiative to improve knowledge sharing amongst these teams and it’s been great to see us all learning from this — myself included.

What do you like most about working at Trineo?
The people, the culture, the attitude towards ensuring we are all living a healthy lifestyle and supporting each other both professionally and personally. Also working with a very strong team that I can learn from.

How would you describe Trineo’s culture to candidates or other people who inquire?
We’re always pursuing the best outcome for our clients in a way that’s reasonable, pragmatic, and ensuring quality both short term and long term.

What does it take to be successful at a company like Trineo?
You need to be open, honest, and humble. You also need passion for the work, and let’s not forget a good sense of humor.

What career advice would you give to your younger self when you were just getting started?
Get involved in the community as soon as possible. My career developed so much faster when I got out to conferences, user groups, etc.

If you won the lottery what would you do with the money?
Pay off our house, help our wider family. If there is anything left after that, take my family on a holiday. Europe is at the top of the list!

Follow Mark on Twitter

Want to work with people like Mark? Trineo is always looking for great people to join our team.
To learn more, visit careers at Trineo.

Josh Ashton

Josh Ashton