Lewin Chan

About Me

What is the one word people would use to describe me: my wife would say pedantic, my friends would say deliberate, and my mother would say fierce (but in a nice way)…

I am an expert in enterprise software integration and development. My team delivers high quality, scalable software that behaves predictably and fails gracefully. This means I understand the needs of the business and can articulate them to the technical teams. I build R&D teams to scale for growing business with agility in mind; the teams become based around a product not a person. Planning and collaboration with the end user means that solutions are designed with clear user requirements and can be tested throughout the development lifecycle. Backwards compatibility and stability are my primary considerations.

I have excellent knowledge of many different technology stacks, and can recognise potential weaknesses and design effective solutions. I understand the interplay between new features, system complexity, and technical debt, and can make trade-offs among them effectively to deliver the solution you need.

If you want to work with me, then these are the things that you need to know about me:

My Style

I am a pedant; I will argue about the specific meanings of words and what they convey.

If you ask me a specific question, I will give you a specific answer. I make the assumption that you have done the thinking and you’re asking the question you need the answer to. If that isn’t the case, then you’re better off couching the question in broader terms; less of the “How do I do this very specific thing?” style questions.

I don’t mind being the inquisitive idiot; there are no stupid questions, just idiots that ask the same question repeatedly.

I’m not scared of being wrong, or saying that my skillset isn’t the right one; sometimes it isn’t but I can still provide value.

I do have high expectations, both of myself, and my colleagues. Everytime I touch a piece of code, it will be better, not in terms of new features, but in terms of technical debt reduction. More code coverage, simplified branching, more documentation.

I look at my inbox 2/3 times a day, and I don’t engage with social media. I do this to avoid my time being hijacked.

What I value

The things I value are commitment; curiosity; taking responsibility; doing your best; collaboration; clarity of purpose; honesty and trust. In my experience, the absence of these invariably leads to friction and frustation. I know I don’t have a lot of patience when I’m frustrated.

I try to do the right thing.

Commitment means that I’m fully prepared to do the things that I say I’m going to do; I don’t like it when other people start making commitments on my behalf.

Curiosity means that I want to learn and to apply my knowledge; if you don’t want to learn, I am not the person to spoonfeed you the answer.

I will take responsibility and try to provide a solution.

I do my best. I will go the extra mile but if I feel I am being taken advantage of, then I will stop.

I collaborate to achieve the best outcome; I’m happy to change my mind but it doesn’t mean decision by committee.

I will voice my opinion. I enjoy having robust discussions with those who have different opinions to me and I can handle being told that I’m wrong. Business decisions won’t offend me, but I may still tell you that they’re wrong.

I trust but verify, I may sound sceptical at first, but once I have verified, you have my trust; if it is lost, then it takes a huge amount of effort to rebuild it.

What I don’t have patience for

A culture of blame; “it’s never your fault, because it’s always someone else’s” - sadly, we all know this isn’t true.

Complaining about things, but not taking the steps to rectify them.

Being asked the same question 3+ times, in the hope that you’ll get a different answer. You won’t, just make a note of the answer already.

Everything being exceptional1 - no it isn’t. I am ruthless when I need to decide on what to spend my time on.

Any situation where I am being asked to do something that conflicts with my values.

Resistance to change; because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.

How best to communicate with me

Generally text based or asynchronously so that I can plan my interruptions; I don’t need the preamble so we can get straight down to business. We can talk about our personal lives during lunch or after work. If you start a converation with me, especially through IM, then you’ve disturbed me. If you have a question to ask then get straight to it, don’t wait for my response!

Language is important; using the right words to convey meaning is even more important when you aren’t face-to-face.

I don’t like to talk about the abstract; I like an actual problem that can be talked about and how different solutions might map into those problems.

How to help me

Give me as much notice as possible if you need my time. If you value my time, then I will value yours.

If you don’t understand, then tell me straight away. There’s always a different way I can explain things.

What people misunderstand about me

If you’re doing the best that you can, then I have a lot of time for you. Sadly, that might not come across sometimes, but that’s something I’m working on.

I know that there is nuance to everything and that things aren’t black and white; however, I try to live my life as though it were.

I have strong opinions; but I try to approach things with an open mind. I will have a feel for what will be the most suitable decision quite quickly but am happy to change my mind as the situation changes.

  1. Everything is somewhat amorphous; but if each and every thing is a special case, or high priority, then none of it is. ↩︎

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