A conversation with Guillermo Rodriguez, Lead Architect and Dev Ops Manager at Wagestream.
Guillermo started working at Wagestream in early 2020 as our Lead Architect and Dev Ops Manger. See how he found himself in the world of financial wellbeing and why he's so passionate about engineers working to an ethical code.
I studied computer science in Peru, my first jobs were in the telecommunication and education sectors but I specialised in computer graphics and video games and used those skills to win a few national technology competitions. When I moved to Australia I was focused on working for a big game development company.
But when I arrived I was offered a role at Capital Markets Cooperative Research Centre (CMCRC). Originally I accepted the job because I was new to the country and needed a job, but then I began to realise I could really give a lot in this space. We created a company for CMCRC called Lorica Health which specialised in medical claim data analytics and used my skills to optimise the system performance and even built a small supercomputer with thousands of CPUs. This is where I found I really enjoyed the start-up vibe compared to working for big companies.
I enjoyed working at CMCRC a lot because it was full of extremely talented people with so many diverse ideas. Once, during a lunch discussion, a colleague made me realise that engineers should follow an ethical code that leads to helping and improving our society in a similar way to how doctors swear a hippocratic oath. This conversation really stuck with me and changed my perspective about work and how I should use my own skill set.
That was part of the reason I moved to Volt Bank, because they had a really good mentality about how the banking space should be. In the time I was there they allowed me to test new concepts and manage a team to create a whole new platform. I was able to demonstrate a proof of concept, running a platform for a fraction of the cost with a toolset that made development and operations much more productive.
When I was looking for a job after Volt, I was still thinking a lot about my responsibility to use my skills to improve society, so one of the main questions I had for any prospective employer was ‘What does the company stand for?’ If the company objective was just making money for the sake of making money then I wasn’t interested.
Then I got a call from Wagestream saying, ‘We’re reducing all these financial problems employees face with innovative tech.’ That got me interested.
I really dislike the way the financial system tries to lure people into taking credit and brainwashes people into thinking borrowing money and paying interest is the only way forward. I believe people should have the ability to live within their means and develop healthy money habits. They should work, be paid and able save for important things, not have to rely on credit. So given the opportunity to join Wagestream I jumped at it.
When I moved to Wagestream I had all these fresh concepts in my mind, all this experience and a blank canvas to build a new platform from scratch. I feel really proud of what has been built here.
I love having the freedom to test and try all these new concepts that I have. In many companies there is some legacy infrastructure that really drags things out. Once you’re working for a company like that then it’s hard to get out of those operational ways so technical debt keeps piling up like a Tetris game until you have little space to move.
In the case of Wagestream I’ve been able to set up something clean and new that runs so smoothly. I feel it’s my best work ever. I like how our systems look and operate, but also have space to keep improving and growing. Maintaining the highest level of security of data for our customers and users is one of the big things that motivates me.
Another thing that motivates me is keeping everyone within the company happy and at maximum productivity with the least amount of problems. Development is expensive so the less time the developers have to worry about how the platform works, the more time they can focus on producing their best work and the more time they can be with their families and loved ones. I tell people: “If everything is so stable and smooth that you don’t know what I’m doing here then it means I’m doing a good job.”
Finally, I want to replace these warped financial concepts and products that are bad for people. We can help get people back into sustainable ways of building their wealth. We create tools to make it easy to save and avoid borrowing so people can afford what really matters.
That’s why I work at Wagestream.
My plans for the future are to see Wagestream become the tool for all employers to help employees improve their financial wellbeing.
I would also love to write a book or website to share the knowledge I have gained in managing a platform and its security. A lot of people who do this make it very complicated and it shouldn’t be.
And eventually, I would like to write a really cool fantasy or sci-fi video game.