Edwin Wills – CTO at start-up Rentify

Edwin Wills

Edwin Wills
Degree course: Computer Science with a year in industry

Why did you choose Kent?

I loved the campus, and the course and lecturers really impressed me when I looked around on the open day.

Did you do a year in industry? If so where and how useful was it in getting a graduate job?

Yes – I worked at British Rowing (think the FA of rowing, with lots of water) as a web developer and IT project manager.

Could you describe your career path since leaving Kent?

I was fortunate to be offered a job with British Rowing after I’d graduated and spent a few years there over the London 2012 Olympic period, project managing and developing software projects, with a remit to increase the number of rowers in the UK. I had exposure to a real breadth of work, and having spent a few years there, decided I wanted to work somewhere I could focus on software development.

My next (and current) role was at Rentify, a small startup building software to modernise property rental in the UK (at a time when most tenant contracts were signed on paper, and most rent paid by manual bank transfer). I’ve grown with Rentify, and I’m now their CTO, looking after the engineering team, and overseeing and developing our in-house property management platform that powers the business.

Could you describe a typical day in your current role?

Rather than a typical day, I’ve tried to break down how I spend my time:

Team management and career progression

As individuals in an engineering team we have weekly 1:1s as an opportunity to give and receive feedback, monitor progression, and check-in on each other. We also have a weekly team retrospective (a quick meeting where we can all get together to have a no holds barred chat about the week).

Planning for the future

As a management team we typically look 3-6 months ahead to understand our progress and targets (e.g. we might have a target to increase our customer base by 20% in 3 months). I then prioritise product and feature development to help our teams to hit these targets (e.g. our sales team might need improvements to their sales tool to help them track deal flow at greater volumes).

Building software

As an engineering team we’re hired to build software to grow the business. To do this we work in month-long “sprints” (blocks of focussed work), having agreed on the features we’ll build in the sprint at the beginning of each month (e.g. this month some of the team might be integrating our platform with a new payment provider that enables faster payments to our customers). I try to spend about 20% of my time building software with the team.

Finally, what are your future plans/aspirations?

I’m driven by helping businesses grow and solve problems with technology (and specifically, allowing technology to perform boring, mind-numbing tasks, so that the humans have the time to tackle interesting problems), so as long as I’m that continues, I’m happy.