Company Announcement, Interviews

Gerhard Schweinitz has joined Contino APAC as Director of Talent! Why is he such a Meetup legend? How did he get involved in tech? We had a chat with him to find out.

Can you tell the readers a bit about your background?

Hi, sure. After completing a double degree – in law and commerce –I owned and managed multiple businesses in Sydney for about eight or nine years mainly in the fitness and education industry. Throughout this journey I did all my own web dev, I fell in love with technology, and decided that I wanted to enter the world of tech recruitment. About four years ago I joined S2M Digital, where I was in charge of consulting in the DevOps, Cloud and Security space which were areas of great interest to me.

My next major role was at Strut Digital, a DevOps shop that was acquired by Deloitte AU earlier this year. As the Head of Recruitment, Community Engagement, People and Culture, I was responsible for building out the technology teams on the ground with some of Sydney’s finest cloud, DevOps and software engineers.

Throughout this time, I was deepening my involvement in the tech Meetup scene in Australia. For a number years now I have been running an ever-growing set of popular Meetups in Sydney around Docker, AWS, Hashicorp, Puppet, Ansible and so on. By now, I’ve hosted or spoke at over 100 meetups! I also run large tech debates - for example around which container management tool is best - and mega-meetup events with over 500 attendees.

Over time I’ve built up credibility, trust and a huge network of contacts in that community. Due to my vast network and my passion for bleeding-edge technologies my role at Strut had a pretty broad remit: not only did I recruit the talent required for projects, I leveraged my network to build and maintain partnerships and alliances with local and multi-national companies and started bringing on new clients. I used the Meetups to get to know the senior people within enterprises that have problems that need solving, suggest that my company might have solutions worth talking about, and bring those leads into the business. If we needed to meet with the CIO of a company… I was the guy called upon to make that meeting happen!

Since then I have expanded my activity to include about 10 Meetups in Sydney and 10 in Melbourne - and I’m loving it! It’s fantastic to be so deeply involved in helping the thriving tech scene along, it’s fulfilling for me personally, and very useful for the people and businesses I can bring together.

Most recently, I was Recruitment Manager for amaysim, a large Australian telco, managing a team of four to take care of amaysim’s global recruitment requirements.

What led you to getting so involved in meetups?

Well, in terms of hiring, there are so many recruiters out there sending out a gazillion LinkedIn messages about every project under the sun...the best engineers are so inundated that they just don’t respond. But the best engineers do regularly go to Meetups to learn and keep up-to-date. I used to just attend the meetups but, even then, you’re still just a recruiter (though you probably have more credibility than a recruiter who doesn’t go!).

So I flipped it on its head: I decided to run the events, get speakers, organize pizza and beer - give the people what they want and don’t even pitch recruitment. It’s the pay-it-forward mentality.

I started running one, then several, and started building connections, networks, friends. And I really got to know these talented people as people, knowing their first names, about their families and what have you - not just treating them as a set of skills and a price tag! And then it becomes a two-way street, they get great talks and events and in return I’m building up an incredibly valuable network.

Because of my network lots of agencies wanted to work with me. Due to the work I’ve put in building credibility in the community, when I get in touch with candidates, they give me honest responses. They’ll say “you know what, I’m not actually looking for a role at the minute, but, when I am, you’ll be the first to know”. Or they’ll tell me exactly what they’re looking for in terms of project or company and then I can offer them very specific, highly-tailored roles that are worth their time and consideration.

And what attracted you to working at Contino?

Contino’s involvement in the tech communities is something that really grabbed my attention, apart from running some amazing meetups, they are continuously releasing articles and blogs that provide much needed thought leadership in the space; this impressed me a great deal.  Further to this Contino is a company that hires some of the smartest consultants in the world and I personally love working in highly talented teams as we can achieve great things together.

When I was approached about the role, everyone I met was extremely passionate and very ambitious, there was a unified and clear disruptive mission to transform the enterprise for the better. After these conversations I knew this was the organisation for me.

What’s your appraisal of the tech scene in Australia at the minute?

Australia has many of the best engineers in the world and much of the enterprise IT estate really is top notch, CommBank, for example have been reaping the benefit of adopting Cloud strategies for many years now and have been going down the microservices and container path in a highly-regulated banking environment. But there’s also a lot of talent brought in from overseas as there’s a significant shortage of skills, particularly when it comes to skills related to full-scale digital transformation.

But overall the situation is good, Australia is what I would call a ‘fast follower’. CommBank and other banks have been using AWS since 2012 (which is faster than European banks in some cases), and as a result high-quality talent is emerging as people learn the technology. So the talent is there, but the demand is simply huge!

Most enterprises are applying DevOps methodologies in at least some ways at the minute, although some are doing this better than others. CommBank, as I mentioned, is leading in FIS at least - and all other banks would be crazy not to follow!

But there’s not enough talent to get all of these organizations over the line! Which is why Contino-like companies are so great - to empower the teams with the knowledge to catalyse a fundamental shift in productivity and innovation levels will not only save these enterprises 100-fold the consulting fee, but put them in the right place to be able to scale properly in the future.

What’s your plan for Contino in terms of recruitment?

The plan put simply is to hire the best of the best. In the transformation space the talent really needs to be top notch. Given the exciting projects Contino are looking to engage in and the backing that there is to make sure Contino succeeds, I believe the right ingredients are there to attract the right people.

I will be sure to share the Contino story and mission to disrupt the enterprise at all the meetups; and, I look forward to introducing those who are interested in coming on this journey to Dan Williams and James Denman, who head up our Melbourne and Sydney offices, respectively.

Thanks Gerhard!

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