What happens when world-class technical capability is leveraged to improve operational efficiency across the commercial property sector? That’s exactly the opportunity that drew our Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Anton Mazkovoi to CIM when it was just an early start-up.
Anton brings a wealth of valuable experience to CIM, having developed globally renowned software products in past roles. As one of Atlassian's earliest employees, Anton’s contribution was pivotal to its success, spearheading the development of flagship product JIRA and other leading products. He also led engineering at notable tech companies such as SafetyCulture and IRESS.
In 2017, he joined CIM, motivated by its mission and the chance to shape another technology success story. Anton’s unrivalled expertise has shaped CIM’s PEAK Platform in a big way, drawing upon his experience to transform the product and the team managing it.
Key Insights from our Q&A
- Anton’s love for tech is driven by a passion for building software products that millions of people use, combined with the unique opportunity to curb climate change and work with knowledgeable people.
- CIM is at an interesting stage of growth; it is large enough to make serious progress, but small enough that each individual's impact can be seen in the product on a daily basis.
- It’s the feeling of working towards a common goal and solving problems collaboratively as a team that makes work exciting for Anton. Cliché as it might be, it's less about the end destination than the journey and actually enjoying that journey.
- The mandate of the CTO, namely to unleash the full power of technology, involves delivering simultaneously on the complex goals of security, scalability, performance, ease of use, and speed of delivery.
- A large part of the CTO’s role is supporting the team, and embedding the right culture. Additionally, they must balance the technical responsibility of delivering the product, with a great deal of project management required to perfect the mechanics.
Q&A with Anton Mazkovoi
Anton’s professional journey
Q: Run us through your career path so far.
A: I got a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Information Systems. While studying, my degree had full-time work experience as a part of it, which was a lot of fun. Things got very practical fast, which was great because I’m not really a big theory guy.
I began to work for Qantas as a Systems Programmer. I was drawn to it because I felt like if there was any piece of technology ever created by humankind, it was used by Qantas! As technology becomes more sophisticated, it gets easier to use. For instance, today, we no longer work with things like binary codes that older technologies used, but I was always fascinated with all forms of technology, old and new. Qantas had systems and mainframes that dated back to the early 70s and 80s, which I found to be really exciting. The team I joined mostly worked on websites, but because a lot of critical information was held in really old systems, a lot of the work was integration work. We were trying to get what was then the cutting edge of technology talking to really old school tech.
Around 2002, I got to know of a software start-up that was doing well and looking for people to help develop the product. I had always wanted to be a software developer, but there wasn't a lot of opportunity in Australia back then, because most IT work was about maintaining somebody else's product. So I jumped at the opportunity to join Atlassian to get my hands dirty, and become a developer. It was a good time to take a risk; we had no kids and no mortgage. I joined Mike and Scott as one of the first developers of the issue tracking platform JIRA. And I spent the next 12 years there. By the time I left, the company had grown to around 1,200 people. I then worked as VP of Engineering at SafetyCulture, and Head of Engineering for IRESS.
Q: What were some of the software products you helped to build, and what was your role? How did that help you with what you built at CIM?
A: At Atlassian, I looked after the development team of JIRA, and then switched over to looking after teams on development tools. We acquired a few products, shut down a few products, and built a product from scratch, so that was interesting. JIRA, which now has over 100,000 client organisations, was probably the most popular product that I had the pleasure of contributing to.
During the year I spent at SafetyCulture, I worked on their flagship product. Their mission was to increase frontline workplace safety, and they were building ‘iAuditor’ to revolutionise safety inspections digitally. They began a huge migration project, but they weren't big at the time, and needed someone to help them complete it. That was the most amount of time pressure I think I was ever under: if we failed the outcome was very, very clear - the company would cease to exist. iAuditor has now completed over 600 million checks.
Next, I spent a year and a half with IRESS on a product called XPLAN, which is used by 90% of wealth managers in Australia and New Zealand. That was my introduction to Fintech; I thought combining technology and finance could be very interesting.
“I think my journey prepared me quite well for the SaaS world, where we work on the complex goals of security, scalability, performance, ease of use, and speed of delivery.”
At CIM, with PEAK, we wanted to build software that was intuitive to use and helpful; while some of our users are fairly technical, they're not all developers. Our development team was clear on what we wanted to achieve: what we built had to be fast, super secure, usable and easy to understand. I incorporated my prior learnings and expertise from building a number of globally renowned products to conceptualise and iterate PEAK into what it is today.
Anton’s role as a CIM leader
Q: What role did you play in the early building of the PEAK Platform, and how has your role evolved?
I think my role at CIM is still very similar to what it was. I came in to look after the development team, and that’s the job I do to this day.
“A big part of my role is really just looking after the people on the team, trying to help them grow and enjoy their job.”
One of the draw cards of coming to CIM was the need to get my hands dirty again by writing code myself. Now, I do a lot of code reviews and architectural type work.
In my role, there’s the technical responsibility of delivering the platform and making sure it works. The mechanics of that is where a lot of project management comes in; different pieces need to be built by different people with different skill sets. Next, there’s making sure we have the right culture. We have multiple priorities and nuances that we need to get right each time, and it's very hard to write the rule book for that. So it comes down to the culture. You need to go through adequate examples and ensure everyone is in a position to make the right calls, and ultimately the right culture becomes embedded.
Q: CIM was a small start-up in its infancy when you joined. What drew you to it?
A: Every job I’ve had has been about building software products with the hope that many people would use them and find them useful. That's what I love to do. At the end of the day, I love building products that people use. And that’s exactly what my role at CIM has allowed me to do, from early on until now.
There’s also the sustainability angle. Climate change is a big issue - back when I joined CIM it probably wasn't as obvious or visible as it has become, but I definitely believed it was a big thing.
“I think there are very few opportunities where you get to do what you love, while also playing a role to curb climate change.”
There is still a lot of potential for the tech world to support humanity’s sustainability efforts. While there are a large number of great climate tech products out there, if you look at that as a percentage of all software in the world, it’s probably very small.
The people I get to work with also played into my decision. I was inspired by Dave’s (CIM Founder and CEO) compelling vision and I always felt that we could achieve real change. At CIM, I found that combination where I get to do what I love, help control climate change, and to work alongside creative like minded people.
Anton on what makes working at CIM different
Q: How would you describe the culture here at CIM?
“There's a term that I think is used a lot, but I’ve found it to be particularly true about the people at CIM, they’re quiet overachievers.”
A: The usefulness of the product speaks for itself, so we haven’t needed to thump our chests unnecessarily. It’s an attitude that extends across every team at CIM. That’s how I prefer to do things, and that’s the culture I'm drawn to. From the perspective of a software development team, hubris is dangerous, and thankfully it’s something our team does not subscribe to. At the end of the day, there’s a lot of people that are very, very good at what they do. They are driven, passionate and eager to solve real-world problems - and that’s how our culture has been shaped.
Q: Why is now a good time to join CIM?
A: I think it’s always been a good time to join CIM. There is a problem to be solved, and we have the people to do it. But there is always room for more great minds to join, learn and contribute.
“We’re large enough to be able to make some serious progress and move some big mountains. And we’re still small enough that each individual's impact can easily be seen on a day-by-day basis.”
I love that. We’ve got the scale to get big things done, and the people to be inspired by and learn from.
Q: What’s your advice for someone thinking of applying for a role here?
“Go do it!”
For my team, you've got to be passionate about making software. We’re looking for people who enjoy what they do and who strive to get better all the time. It's not about the destination, it's about the journey, and actually enjoying that journey.
As I said earlier, being humble is a big piece of our culture. We’re confident enough to make decisions, but humble enough to potentially have our work reviewed or improved. The point of a team is to have different people with different strengths that you work together with such that you complement each other.
Q: What’s your favourite thing about working at CIM?
I think it's the common goal; we're all aligned on creating something that moves the industry forward and helps to control climate change. Every single person at CIM fully believes in our vision and is committed to playing their part to get us there. That feeling of working towards a common goal as a team is what makes this work exciting.
Q: What makes CIM unique? What differentiates it from other tech companies you have worked for?
I think we do tend to take a bit more time than your average start-up; we prepare ourselves for the long-run, rather than looking for quick fixes. We prefer to get things done properly.
There’s always a balance we try to strike here in what we deliver. Chasing complete perfection is a recipe for disaster, but opting for the quick short-term solution won’t work either. We do things right when developing and iterating the product, always thinking about balancing security, scalability, performance, and ease of use.
There's also very few political plays that happen here. Instead, we work together and build each other up.