An Interview with Dave Lewthwaite
6 April 2022
Dave was one of the first employees at RealityMine back in 2012.
Today, he works to architect solutions to fit RealityMine’s own as well as its clients’ needs, and drive best practices with cloud services. He loves working at RealityMine because of the people, and the fun and relaxed office environment!
We spoke with Dave about the early days of the company, how it’s evolved, his favourite memory and the biggest challenge he has faced through the years, and what he is most looking forward to in the years ahead!
Take us back to those ‘early’ days. How has the company and your role evolved?
When I started, we were, I think, six people. I worked directly for Graham Dean, our CTO, and there wasn’t really anyone else working in the same area as me – I was taking on the CEO’s technical projects. This meant that I was the sole developer and there was little in the way of forward planning – those early days were extremely hectic! From there I was able to grow a team of now seven people who continue to work on these projects and many others. Now we plan our roadmap ahead and take time to discuss the best approach and designs. In the last 10 years, the business has grown into around 55 people, and I’ve witnessed the business direction change from primarily being focussed on how many data points we could collect into one which engages the market research and mobile industries to determine what products and features are of most value, whilst remaining privacy centric and giving our end users confidence in the security of their data.
What has been the biggest challenge in the last 10 years?
There have been lots of challenges over this time, principally for the business, such as the changes in the mobile industry as it becomes increasingly privacy centric. The industry has now started to respond to the requirements of the market research industry and we can see changes happening where research is becoming more up front and open about what is done. At a personal level, it has been a great challenge to deliver on many tight and hard-deadline projects (such as when new OS versions are released) as well as managing teams who have diverse skills sets.
What do you see as the biggest accomplishments since you started?
I have learnt so much on my RealityMine journey, it’s hard to know where to begin. I was hired as a relatively junior developer and I’ve come from that to being able to manage a team of people who continue to deliver on the products and features I started all those years ago (along with many others of course!). Throughout that time I’ve been able to achieve professional accreditation, backed by the company and I’ve also been able to take part in the community – even presenting at a conference.
What’s been most surprising about the journey so far?
What really surprised me is that I have really enjoyed the people management aspects of my role and I’ve been able to improve my people skills so much that I get great feedback on my management style. So much so that this is the path I am taking for the future, with less of a technical focus.
If you could go back in time, what’s one piece of advice you would give yourself 10 years ago?
Think about the bigger picture – how does what I’m doing fit into the business right at that moment and if I’m discussing that with someone, try to understand their reasoning. I’d like to think I have a much better grasp of this now but I could have done with that advice 10 years ago!
What is your favourite memory from the past ten years?
There are many good memories from the past 10 years, I think my overriding one may have to be how supportive everyone was when I joined. In software engineering, imposter syndrome is a very real and prevalent issue, by making me feel welcome and valued I realised that I did in fact know what I was doing! I was listened to, and ideas were considered and implemented. Everyone is still very much like that and staff at all levels are approachable and supportive. I’ve also received lots of positive feedback from customers on features and products we’ve released, these are always a highlight as positive feedback is often overlooked.
What is the best project you ever worked on?
I would have to say that the VPN web data collection product is my favourite, and this is due to the fact that this is the product that I started from nothing other than a suggestion from the CEO. In those early days I did all the research and development to bring this into a core part of our business myself. I’m proud of what I achieved then and even more proud that I was able to bring other people on board to work on it. Today someone else now leads that product and it gives me a tremendous sense of achievement that someone else now shares my vision.
What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?
I don’t have a crystal ball so I think it’s impossible to say! I am looking forward to see how the market research and mobile industries evolve and how they change to work together. I don’t think either of these industries will disappear so it’s more a question of how do companies like ours help.
Anything else you want to add?
Our culture at RealityMine is fantastic, all staff at all levels are very approachable and supportive, whether you want advice on work or something personal there will be someone there who can help. No-one is left to struggle on their own and this positive environment really fosters collaboration and discussion so that everyone gets involved in the ideas generation and are made to feel as though there are no wrong answers.