September 13, 2022

Tech Leaders Hiring Well featuring Accesso

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Hirewell has been fortunate to partner with Accesso on several technology hiring initiatives and we’ve heard rave reviews on the team chemistry. For this episode of Tech Leaders Hiring Well, Zac meets with Jonathan McGuire, Vice President of Platform Engineering to discuss his growing team and the types of technology they engage with for their ticket queuing solutions.

Episode Transcript

All right. We have another episode of Tech Leaders Hiring Well. I’d love to welcome Jon McGuire, Vice President of platform engineering at Accesso, a cutting edge queing and ticketing technology solution company for cultural attractions and sporting events. Welcome, John. Hi there! Good to see you today.

Yeah, yeah. How’s everything going on in your side? How’s your week going? It’s busy, which of course is better than not busy. So happy Wednesday. Excellent. Excellent. Well let’s jump right into it. Can you tell me what Accesso does and kind of the clients that you guys serve?

Yeah. So Accesso is in the business of doing services and software for pretty much anything in the leisure and entertainment business. Includes a lot of the world’s leading theme parks and amusement parks, ski resorts, cultural museums. And then it also broadens our scope across things like virtual queuing and lines and the ticketing systems and the mobile systems and everything that has to do with operating and the guest experience at any of these attractions.

Very cool. Very cool. I have a feeling I may have used your guys’ services in the past, as you- most likely. Seeing ski posters behind here. That’s really cool. And how are you guys operating in kind of a post COVID world or hopefully a post COVID world here soon enough? COVID was interesting for us.

There was a bit of a kick that we took from it. I think the biggest thing internally for us is that we used to be a very office centric group in a lot of our areas of operations. And when everybody had to go home back, what was that 2020, beginning of 2020 I think? When everybody got sent home into their quarters, we kind of had to reinvent ourselves to figure out how do we operate globally as a remote workforce, which we’re not perfect with, but I think

we’re getting there. Yeah. I think a lot of companies had to adjust on the fly there. You know, I think it means a wider breadth of candidates available to you, but also some challenges and just organizing people and getting them on the same page, so. Yeah, absolutely. It’s it. It’s interesting that the challenges that we used to face were about hiring local to our area

and trying to find the skill sets in the Orlando area or the Fresno area, or the various places that we have offices. Where it’s challenging a little bit more now in that we’re dealing with a much broader group of people that are living all over the place. And interviewings a little bit more challenging.

Keeping human with each other, I think is probably the biggest challenge in all of it. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And have you felt from your team, like a draw to get more in person events happening and stuff? We’ve been seeing it a ton on our side. We do. We’ve done some leadership level things this year.

We still have a pretty good concentration of people in certain city areas around the country, in the United States and in and around the UK and London and other areas like that. So here in Florida for example, we actually got together last week and did a little putt putt event at our offices.

And we’re doing some stuff with top golf. And I don’t know, every once in a while you see some of us just get together and say, “Let’s go get lunch or have beers after work” with the people that are close. Nope. That’s really cool and I think it’s really important. So good to hear.

And can you tell me, like, how did you end up over at Accesso? I see you had kind of a long career in leadership. What brought you to Accesso? You know, I’ve been here about four and a half years now on- I started in April of 2018. I moved here from Charlotte, North Carolina, where I had lived for a very, very long time.

And the team down here at Accesso convinced my wife and I to pick up and move to Florida and come on down here. The thing that really attracted me, I mean it’s a fun industry. Don’t get me wrong. And it’s cool technology to work with. And the challenges are sometimes difficult which is good.

It’s a growing space, but the biggest thing was just the impression I got with the people that I interviewed with and talked to. That was really what got me on board with coming down here was I fell in love with the team and I wanted to work with these people on a daily basis. And while I said I’m four years in now and I have no regrets about it.

Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. How big is your guys’ technology team? We’re a couple hundred. The company right now is I think we’re at 500 and something people at the moment. Still growing about 200 to 250 of that in some way is involved in our product and engineering group. Okay, awesome. Awesome. And it seems like you guys are continuing to grow quite a bit. Why do you think folks like working there?

Again, I think it’s a people thing. It really is. There’s a real good culture here of collaboration and teamwork. And I like to talk to people on my team about the concept that we celebrate our wins as a we. And we soak up our losses as a we. And there isn’t a lot of time or space for pointing fingers or worrying about who’s doing what. People are just willing to pick up the ball, do what we have to do and get us over the hill.

And it creates a great spirit of people working together to accomplish something. Very cool. Are there any like exciting projects that you guys are involved in right now? Are you guys building out like kind of custom applications for each client that you guys work with?

Not so much custom- it’s not so much the custom applications for each client. We have a bunch of different platforms that we work with. So we have various point of sale systems for ticketing, very large eCommerce presence around ticketing and entitlements for many of our clients. We have a big presence around virtual queuing, premium queuing, which is like the flash pass for example in Six Flags, things like that.

And on all, pretty much on all cylinders of everything that we’re doing we’re constantly trying to improve our products and add onto our functionality to our products, modernize our products and continue to gain traction across the marketplace. Okay. Great. And what technologies does your team primarily work with?

It’s a pretty broad spectrum depending on where you are. So some of our back end platforms are Java services, a lot of spring boot on the Java side, we’d have some C sharp and dot net stuff in and around some of our point of sale systems and other areas like that. I’ve actually got one group that does all of their work in Python right now for all of their backend systems for our distribution systems.

A lot of different SQL databases out there from Postgres to my SQL to no SQL databases like couch base, a lot of native mobile application development going on. Some on the front ends, we have a lot of angular, a lot of react. We’re pretty much, yeah. It’s not a free for all. I don’t want to leave it that way, but it’s very much a let’s let the team figure out what the best tool for their job is and be really good at doing it fast.

Okay. Very cool. And I mean, that sounds like a lot of modern technology. When we talk to candidates all the time, those are the technologies that most folks are looking for. As you continue to work with modern tech, how do you invest in your team, handle training and development?

So that’s actually a pretty big passion of ours is trying to create a learning culture inside of the company.

We have tools that we have licensed to have available to all employees for online learning. Wherever possible we try to create the time for people to be staying on top of their skills. In some cases we’re even paying for tests and stuff for people to get their certifications on things like Amazon’s web services skills and other new technologies that we’re working with.

We still have a job to do but at the same time, we want to make sure that we’re growing our people to where we want to be tomorrow and not just leaving everybody behind as we try to get somewhere and get stagnant. And I know that is so important for folks out there looking where technology’s key to the business and that sounds like it’s integral within your guys’ business.

Absolutely. Now, as far as like when you’re looking to add new talent to your team from a technical standpoint, what do you typically look for in candidates? So there’s two big things that I always like to bring up when we’re talking with people like yourself, about our hiring.

One of ’em is that I am always looking for the potential somebody has to learn, more so than what they’ve done specifically in the past. Smart, aggressive, talented people will figure out how to do the things. The technology’s changed. So being an expert on yesterday’s technology does not necessarily make you the person that we need for tomorrow.

The second thing is fit. I mentioned before about our collaborative environment and the team environment of the way that we work together. So all of our interviews at some point or another, go through a peer level interviewing process with members of the team that the person will be working with.

It’s usually the form of a technical screening, but a lot of what they’re looking for is, is this a person that we want to work with? Is this a person that we think is going to bring value to the team that will fit in and work well with us to develop stuff? Not just, do they have the skills? Yep.

Now what positions are you guys looking to fill right now? Pretty much across every skillset that I mentioned there, we have something open. We’re growing with a lot of large initiatives coming up. So we’re seeking talent on a lot of different fronts.

My world personally focuses more on our platform engineering, which is a lot of the Java and the Python stuff, things like that, that I was talking about. But on the front end application side, we have open spots all over the place that we’re recruiting for very, very actively. And we have new projects that are coming up over the next couple of years too

that’ll cause us to need to expand the team as we get more clients and more products involved in things. Yeah. Just looking at like your guys’ hiring plans and everything, it looks like you guys are growing quickly. It seems like a really exciting place to work. If you could say one message to somebody potentially looking to work over there, what would you say to those people?

Don’t be hesitant to take on a challenge that you haven’t done before. That would be the one piece of advice. Don’t be afraid because you don’t have the picture perfect resume that matches everything that we might want to do. For the most part, we’re much more concerned in, are you going to be able to drink from the fire hose and get caught up on the new things we’re doing?

That’s probably the hardest part to hire for. Yep. Nope, totally understand. Awesome. Well hey Jon, I really appreciate you jumping on here with us. I think this is going to be some really great content to get out there and educate people on what you guys are doing and what you’re hiring for.

So appreciate your time. All right. Thanks a lot, sir. I’ll talk to you later. All right.

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