Avenir Technology has provided internships for, and went on to hire, many of our software development students. We talked to two of Avenir’s three founders, Martyn Bain and Dr Ferry Hendrikx, about their organisation and experiences with our school.
The idea for Avenir (which means ‘future’ in French) sparked when Stuart Turner, Martyn and Ferry worked together at NZX (New Zealand Stock Exchange) many years ago. They contemplated that they could make better software than some of the suppliers they had exposure to at NZX before going their separate ways. When they met up years later, the flame was still there and it was no longer a pipe dream.
Avenir’s software manages the infrastructure behind financial markets and, as their client base grew, they realised they needed to expand their team. Ferry had heard about our Master of Software Development (MSwDev) programme, which had just launched, through contacts at Victoria University of Wellington. The MSwDev students have a three-month internship at the end of their programme where they’re typically placed in a local ICT business for a research and development project. Avenir thought this was a great opportunity and have taken interns from every cohort (2017 through to 2019) since, all of which they went on to permanently hire.
Most of Avenir’s development team is made up of our software development alumni and they “liked that the students had previous experience, other degrees, and backgrounds.”
Our MSwDev programme is conversion which means our students often have diverse backgrounds and skillsets, from linguists to veterinarians, because they pivoted into development.
Avenir shared that they mainly use Unix platforms (mostly open source), PHP, and Perl but “know that they might be new [to the students] so we don’t expect them to know everything and we train them up…we’re looking more for attitude, team fit and the desire to learn.”
“Once you get the general concept of programming, switching between different languages isn’t that hard for there’s a lot of similarities.”
Martyn said that not being afraid to try, even if you fail, is an important trait he looks for when hiring, because sometimes you can’t get it exactly right the first time.
“When thinking about some of the problems we need to solve, they’re not things you can solve on day one. You can solve pieces of them [like a puzzle] but you might have to go back and revise. It’s about being flexible and open to change, working iteratively.”
The projects the students worked on were useful things Avenir had on their ‘nice to do if we had the time’ list. They looked at problems they were looking to solve and let the students go for it, seeing what they came up with.
The project that Sinny and Danielle, the recent 2019 MSwDev interns, created was a tool that imports bulk data in the form of CSV files. It’s something Avenir does frequently but it’s often formatted wrong and they didn’t have a clean way of handling it until now. The two other projects previous students had worked on for Avenir were a language translation tool, because most of their clients are overseas, and a real-time communications prototype.
Our MSwDev alumni (Sinny, Danielle, Kaitlin, Claire, and Mark) at Avenir are now working on the core product and maintenance, but often there is also customisation work to adapt the software to local conditions for new clients. Avenir was excited to be involved from the very first batch of students and continues to support the school. We’re excited to follow Avenir’s journey and see them grow, you can too by following them on their LinkedIn page.
*Photo caption (left to right): Danielle Trewoon, Nevin Jojo, Mark Newbery, Martyn Bain, Simon Smith, Dr Ferry Hendrikx, Kaitlin Maddever, Claire O’Neill, Sinny West, and Sienna Hendrikx.