Joining PaperKite — And moving half-way around the world!

My name is Dave. I’m an iOS developer at PaperKite, and I joined in August 2017.

My name is Dave. I’m an iOS developer at PaperKite, and I joined in August 2017.

Getting here has been a journey, literally and metaphorically. I’m from Leicester in the United Kingdom. I lived there all my life, but had wanted to emigrate and try a new life for several years. In July I moved across the world to join PaperKite in Wellington, New Zealand.

How did I get here?

I have been developing iPhone apps since 2012, with several of my own apps available in the App Store. 2016 was a year of massive change for me, as I made the leap from a career in data and analytics to full-time iOS developer.

I have a young family, with my wife and our two boys. In 2016 we were lucky enough to be able to travel New Zealand for a few weeks by car, and we fell in love with the country.

If I was bringing my family half-way around the globe, I wanted to be sure I would be doing meaningful awesome work

We plotted a route to emigration, and I set about finding work in New Zealand. I didn’t just want to work for any $insert_name_here_corporation though. If I was bringing my family half-way around the globe I wanted to be sure I would be doing meaningful awesome work and maintaining a great work-life balance.

In my effort to research companies from afar, PaperKite was mentioned to me by a Wellington contact as somewhere doing innovative, cool projects with a focus on rapid application design. They’re also medium sized, which means big enough to do big projects but small enough to maintain a positive company culture that involves all teams. This seemed ideal.

I checked them out on twitter, and braved sending a tweet:

I introduced myself over email with a view of my background as a developer, and my career so far. It just so happened that PK was recruiting to fill an iOS development role, as one of their team was moving on, and I’d timed things pretty well.

The interview process

Interviewing from overseas is a bit of juggle. Luckily video conferencing is easy, and we used Google Hangouts to make things happen.

The 12-hour time difference means it’s always either early for one side and late for the other. This meant early starts for the PK guys, and later evenings for me to coincide.

I had an initial conversation with Patrick, PaperKite’s technical director and this led to me being invited to do a technical test. There are many different ways of testing developers, and I was pleased to find PaperKite’s approach was pretty hands-on. The test involved solving a real-world problem through coding an app, and submitting this for review with their development team.

After succeeding with the test, and discussing the way I worked and other questions with the iOS team, I moved on to the final stage: a chat with the main-man, the boss, the head-honcho… Nic.

I was nervous, but Nic has a relaxed and practical approach to work and business, and was awesome to talk with. He offered me the job — I accepted — and returned to my family to break the good news!

Time to move:

We thought we were pretty prepared for our move. We’d planned out our finances, gone over the visa process time and again, and decluttered our family home. When the family hamster passed away, his role in our home was not backfilled. We thought we were ready.

In our experience, having two young boys and a full house to move, it turns out there will always be things you haven’t factored in. There’s a lot of logistics to manage and last minute things to work out. The only advice I have to anyone considering doing the same is to plan well but remain flexible.

In the space of several weeks we completed medicals, visas, the wait for our visas to be approved; packed our house to be shipped; and arranged flights and accommodation. The dream was really real.

A first day at PK

A bus-ride into the capital and I was at PK’s office, right in the heart of Wellington’s central business district (CBD).

I was treated to a PK breakfast, followed by my #RUPK introduction to the team. #RUPK is an introduction like no other.

I couldn’t have timed my first day at PK any better. It was the first day of the Beervana festival and we were all invited! PaperKite sponsored Beervana, building the app for attendees to guide them around the event and rate the beers they sample.

I finished my first day at PK utterly spoilt with a brilliant day out, and a great introduction to my new team and co-workers

Life in Wellington

It’s worth mentioning that life outside of work in Wellington itself is pretty cool.

The city has a busy central business district, plenty of cool places to shop, and is right by the sea as it curves around the harbour. As a coffee lover I love the fact the city has no shortage of decent cafes.

Mount Victoria looks over the city, the harbour, the airport and views to the south and the Cook Strait. On a clear day it’s possible to see across to the South Island and it’s mountain ranges.

Wellington is the windiest city in the world, and has all the weather. We landed in winter, and after coming over from the UK’s summer it was pretty cold.

Despite our timing, there have been more sunny days than we would have expected at the same time of year back in the UK. As the seasons have turned my family and I have been able to get out and appreciate our new home.

A couple of months in

Three months later, I feel fully immersed in life at PK. I’ve been involved in development on many existing projects.

The iOS team is awesome, producing some of the best apps in the country and I feel proud to be part of team doing great work.

The team practices agile in a way that means developers have autonomy and freedom in their code, but progress is tracked and quality is assured.

PK genuinely practices the “work-hard” / “play-hard” ethic very well.

For me, PK’s culture has taken a little getting used to, after quite a corporate career in the UK’s energy sector. It has been refreshing to work in a place which has such a positive vibe and attitude. It feels like PK genuinely practices the “work-hard” / “play-hard” ethic very well.

I’ve been welcomed into the team and made to feel at home, and I love it here!