In his role as Technical Competency Lead at Saratoga, Willo keeps on top of up-and-coming technologies and makes sure our Saratogans are able to perform in these technologies. He also assists our Business Development team sell Saratoga’s amazingly skilled people and helps out when a team member gets stuck with a technical problem.
“The one thing that keeps on surprising me is how absolutely gob-smackingly huge the tech industry is, and it shows no signs of slowing down.”
Laying eyes on an Apple IIe computer at a friend’s house back in his early high school years, Willo fell in love with computers immediately. “Here was a machine that could play games and music, show art – it was amazing.” His dad, being a bit of a gadget freak himself, quickly decided that they needed a computer to help run his mom’s book shops. “From there I quickly learnt how to do some basic programming, read every monthly Nibble magazine cover-to-cover and impressed my friends by printing out Breakdance logos.”
Despite his keen interest in the field, programming wasn’t something Willo thought of as a possible career choice and spent his first two years at university studying architecture. He knew he had to switch his field of study when he knew exactly where each and every computer science book sat in the library, while he only had a vague idea of the architecture books being on the 3rd floor of the varsity library somewhere.
In his established career, one of the hardest decisions Willo had to make was when he decided to take the plunge to run his own company full-time. “It was scary and exciting at the same time.” At the time, Willo had just bought a house and his wife was pregnant, so the stakes were incredibly high. This leap of faith would payoff for Willo as it allowed him and his family more quality family time – something money could never buy.
Reflecting on his career, his most prominent mentor was a crazy haired, German biker who was the team lead at his first job. Willo describes this mentor as being ‘brilliant and patient’, and adds that he taught him a lot about applying discipline to his thinking and coding.
Willo has always preferred to lead from the back of the room and likes working with a team he can trust. In his leadership role, he enjoys supporting a culture which empowers others to be creative and appreciates that this is a leadership style which fits well with the rest of the Saratoga leadership team. “It’s imperative to provide a safe environment for failure to help stimulate innovation.”