Readify — a software company that pays for your personal development, 20 days per year

by Dea Martinjonis June 28, 2017

Sounds like a dream? Read on. They’ve also been named one of Australia’s best companies to work for, ranking high on BRW Magazine’s prestigious “Best Places to Work” list for many years. The company motto — discover, master and influence — is exactly what they let their employees do.

“At Readify you won’t be paid for time in a chair — you’ll be paid for results,” says Martina Talbot, Talent Acquisition Manager. The company that helps some of Australia’s biggest organizations move their tech forward is in so much demand their candidate acceptance process works more like a top university than a job opening. Readify hires the top 5% of candidates who apply.

Readify has been awarded Microsoft’s top global partner and country partner on several occasions and won the Microsoft Australia Partner Awards in 2016 for ‘Excellence in Cloud Productivity’ and ‘Technology for Social Impact’. Photo by: Readify.

But once you’re in, you just might not want to ever leave. Because this is a company that really believes in constant learning and invests in their people.

We invest heavily in personal development. We want our developers to stay ahead of the curve,” says Michelle Ridsdale, People Director. “Everybody in the company has a Professional Development plan consisting of up to 20 days of paid time every year.”

That PD time can be used for listening and writing talks, speaking at conferences or organizing them. If someone wants to learn a new technology, they can take online courses or build something new, take workshops, or spend their time shadowing other people within Readify because the company has a very diverse set of skills and knowledge across many different technologies.

Readify believes in hiring talent based on skills not passport — so it is no surprise there are 28 different flags represented in the company. Photo by: Readify.

“We recognize that our people are our core asset. It is their ability to be the leaders in the community and at the very forefront of technology that keeps this brand alive,” reveals Matt Hilton, the Technical Talent Scout at Readify.

“This is how we keep our people up to date and this is what differentiates us from our competitors and it definitely contributes to people wanting to stick around.”

A company that’s been around since .net

Community is not just a buzzword in Readify’s case. One of Readify’s strongest values has always been participation in the developer community and being leaders within these communities.

“We’ve been around 14 years or so. We started as a training organization in the very first days of .net. At that stage, we were training people about something completely new and we’ve continued along those lines for the whole span of our existence,” Matt Hilton explains. “We are out there in the developer communities, organizing and running conferences and speaking at them throughout the world, also organizing and running technical user groups in various cities across Australia. We have a number of user groups across the country, at least one in each of the states that we’re in — Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. I think we did around 150 unique technical presentations last year.”

Readify employees are brilliant, but they don’t keep all that intelligence in-house. The company hosts events and supports a number of meetups and technical user groups across Australia. They also have a Professional Development (PD) program that lets employees attend conferences, courses and learn new technologies — all on the company dime. Photo by: Readify.

Teaching new technologies to the community and helping them continually improve and learn isn’t a corporate thing. These events are being organized by Readify’s developers themselves.

This has contributed also to Readify’s attractiveness in the recruiting market — some of the company’s strongest candidates and most long-term staff members have joined the company through that reputation within the technological community.

Retro — a career progression tool on steroids

Another unique thing that Readify has implemented is a thing called career retrospective or retro in short.

“Rather than having just once-a-year performance review which is done at you by the manager, we encourage our people to have a career retrospective and we recommend they have it every three months or so but they can do this as frequently or infrequently as they like,” explains Matt Hilton.

Readify doesn’t have a structured hierarchy like many other organizations. “In consulting, we’re moving from one engagement to another, one might have multiple different people that have been working with them and observing what they’ve been doing over the course of a year,” Matt says.

One could even have a donut while doing their recommended career retrospective aka retro. Photo by: Readify.

A retro can be done with the team lead or also someone more junior than you. The idea is to have a conversation with them about some of the great things you’ve been doing in areas you want to develop in.

“We find that three months is a very good cadence for people to review where they’re at, what they’ve been doing, call out some great stuff, identify some gap areas, and then set a couple of goals over the next little period to work on filling some of these gaps,” explains Matt Hilton.

This guarantees that over time, as people are having their retros and doing their day-to-day work, they’re constantly seeing their own improvement and progression. There is no maximum limit set for the retros, but everyone has to have at least one retro per year.

“Some might have two per year, some might have six — they might to a retro with a couple of different people to get a couple of different perspectives,” says Matt, adding: “I personally found it an amazing way to facilitate my career progression — I actually came from the consulting pool before stepping in my current role as Technical Talent Scout.”

Nothing better than personal evidence — Matt started his career at Readify as a developer, then becoming a senior developer, then a senior consultant all the way through to a lead consultant, and he names the retro as a key helper in his ability to progress in his career.

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