Life @ PointClickCare: Andrew Datars
“The first five years of working for PointClickCare’s software engineering team is like getting a graduate degree. You’re going to get to work with experts in the industry and continuously build your skills and broaden your concept of what you think is possible. We encourage each of our team members to step outside their comfort zone, and with the support of our team and mentors in the field, they achieve things they never thought possible before.”
PointClickCare is more than just a technology company, it’s an incubation zone for innovation. At the center of it is our Software Engineering team, head up by Andrew Datars, SVP of Engineering. Recently, we sat down with Andrew (virtually) to hear all about him, his team, and their journey to being world class.
Problem solvers at heart
When we asked Andrew if he always knew he wanted to be an engineer, he surprised us by saying that this was not his first career path. “I went to University and Graduate school for physics and for a long time, my interests were mainly in theoretical quantum mechanics. But I always liked making software and I was especially drawn to making software that could solve other people’s problems. So, when I had the opportunity to go into commercial software, it was a pretty natural move for me.” Andrew mentioned that the draw for him was really about the satisfaction he felt when seeing the positive affect his work had on the lives of others. “In commercial software, you’re given a problem and when you do all the rigor and the hard work and you solve the problem, you get to see the benefits of your work in other people’s lives. At PointClickCare we have millions of users and even more patients that they support, and I struggle to think of another job that could have that magnified effect.”
So, what attracted him to PointClickCare specifically? “Our vision and goals of becoming word class was a huge attraction for me, but the way that vision partnered with the mission of the company was what sealed the deal. Being able to create something that is deeply meaningful to so many people, it’s an extraordinary opportunity. I also felt like the team was comprised of people I could learn from and offer my own expertise to as well.”
Software Engineering at PointClickCare
PointClickCare’s foundation was built on our EHR, it’s the bread and butter of what we do and it’s how we got started in the industry. As Andrew says, our engineering team is responsible for the delivery of our solutions, which means his team is tasked with making ideas become reality. “Our biggest challenge is that we need our team to succeed at work they don’t know how to do yet. It seems daunting, but with the support of the team, we are able to deliver outstanding new capabilities while supporting learning and growth.”
Speaking with Andrew, he mentioned there are lots of ways that our organization is committed to ensuring our engineers are always on a continuous path of learning. One in particular he mentioned was the applications security training. “In this training, two or three team members join the security team for five weeks and get hands-on training of secure coding techniques and learn to how to fix security issues. It really gives them a visceral experience of applying the principles they learned in training.”
We also have training for management positions as well. “Our engineering management workshops provide team members training that not only expands their skill set, but it also increases their confidence to take that next step in their career. Each one tackles a different topic and teaches them how to work through critical problems. At the end of the day, we want to make sure team members have the support and training they need to reach their individual career goals, whatever they may be.”
A world class approach
For Andrew, being world class isn’t about awards and recognition, it’s about ensuring that his team is operating in a way that fosters world class ideals while reaching new levels of innovation and ingenuity. How does he ensure this happens? “A lot of my time is spent coaching the team. It’s something I am passionate about because professional development is how we advance as a team, and as an organization.”
Andrew says one of the ways he ensures this level of excellence in his team is by leading by example and ensuring all processes operate within the Product Engineering Organization (PEO) behaviours. “I dedicate my time to helping team members grow and embrace our PEO behaviours, such as, we learn from our mistakes, we confront the brutal facts without assigning blame, we work out in the open, we are evidence driven, these are things we have written down and codified. It’s easy to write them down, but people need encouragement to live those behaviours and implement them into their work. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying, ‘it’s okay it didn’t work out, we can learn from this’ and then working together to find the solution.”
Professionally rewarding work
As leader in the industry, PointClickCare is always at the forefront of innovation in technology and is constantly looking for new ways to solve the problems of senior care, and beyond. For our engineering team, one area that is particularly impressive is the work we are doing in the area of systems of intelligence. “Professionally speaking, it is daunting, but there’s something about being on the cutting edge of innovation that makes it worth it. We’ve had extensive conversations and collaborations with experts at the top of the industry, and we are working towards tackling some very complex engineering challenges. It is one of the projects I am most excited about right now because its uncharted territory for us and the world.”
But for Andrew, the most rewarding aspect of his job is being able to see the professional growth of his team. “I get to see people doing things that they couldn’t do before, and now they are jumping in and succeeding at that those tasks, and that’s incredible to witness. It shows me that the processes we have in place are working and reaffirms for me why I do what I do and why I put so much emphasis on coaching and continued education for my team.”
Investing in people
Andrew believes that for software in particular, an investment in people is critical to achieving our goals. “Software engineering is never finished. It’s always innovating, and we really do need people to succeed at work they don’t know how to do. The only way you can succeed at a challenge like that is to build this broad-based culture for curiosity, growth, and learning. It’s important that we have a permanent, deep, and rich culture for learning.”
What advice does Andrew have for new/prospective engineering team members? “You need to be aware of the culture change you are going to experience when you come here. The candor, the working in the open, learning from our mistakes and being evidence driven, confronting the brutal facts without assigning blame, those sorts of things can be abrupt if you aren’t used to it. But there is a method to these processes, and we have a proven track record for how they help lead us to success. It’s what makes us the leader in the industry. At the end of the day, it’s about instilling in team members that we’ve got your back and we are hiring you for who you will be in two years, not for what you can accomplish in the next two months. This is the long-game and I want people to be ready and excited for that.”
Thanks for sharing with us, Andrew!
If you are looking to join our Engineering team, click here.
May 17, 2021