Bach Huong, a Team Leader for MessageMedia, shares some wisdom about how to succeed in a product development environment. In this interview, he talks about career paths in IT and also gives advice to young developers who are in the early stages of their careers. Bach works in Ho Chi Minh City, in a development center that’s part of PYCOGROUP’s Build-Operate-Transfer partnership with MessageMedia. Interview by Catherine To.
What’s your job and what do you like most about it?
I’ve been a Team Leader with MessageMedia since December 2017. I like the fact that it’s an Australian company and that we’re a direct part of the team in Melbourne. I wanted to join an international environment and take up the challenge of facilitating team collaboration across countries and cultures.
The technological stack of the company is really interesting to me, and that also drew me to this role.
Tell me about the product your team is working on
It’s one of many services offered by MessageMedia. The service that we’re working on is a web platform which manages bulk business messaging and two-way SMS campaigns for small to medium sized enterprises in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It has the capabilities to send out millions of personalised messages on scheduled cycles, set timeframes or immediately. You can personalise all messages with the customers’ names, and customise the content and template for the audience. You can manage the contact list, the conversations and receive delivery reports. You also have access to a dashboard where you can track delivery, open, click through rates and inbound traffic to judge whether your campaign was successful and you can generate reports, graphs and tables from this data.
It has really impressive UI/UX as the user can navigate through the desktop and mobile app versions with ease. As the administrator, you can track the usage patterns between departments and users.
The technical requirements are an exciting challenge. We need to process broadcasts which might include millions of messages each time and this must be done quickly, smoothly, reliably and in a way that keeps the platform stable.
In product development, the emphasis is on achieving the best possible technical solution in the long-term. You have an ongoing relationship with the client, so you’re always working towards the best version of the product and trying to match and if possible, exceed their expectations.
What is your advice for young developers trying to succeed in the tech industry?
For young developers, I’d recommend never stopping at just solving a problem after you’ve completed a goal.
When you’re up against a deadline or launch date, you might produce a work-around solution to overcome a technical challenge. After you’ve finished delivering on that sprint, keep trying to understand the root causes of the problem. Don’t just finish and forget. Challenge yourself to work towards solving the underlying issue, and try to introduce your proposed solution at the next opportunity.
This active mindset ensures you’re always learning incrementally. The habit of always trying to solve the underlying problem means you go deeper, past a superficial mode of troubleshooting, improve your research skills, learn more theory, build up your knowledge and surpass the basics that you learned at school.
Would you recommend that young developers aim for a career in product development, then?
If you’re at an early stage of your career and want to develop your skills fast, I’d actually recommend an outsourcing environment. You’ll work to a bunch of tight requirements and deadlines in a high pressure environment. You’ll have the chance to work with many different clients, learn multiple technologies and adapt to different requirements. You finish many new things.
When you acquire enough technical experience, you can consider taking your career in the direction of product development where you can strive towards deeper solutions to technical challenges. Some people enjoy the variety of working on different projects and learning new technologies and opt to stay in an outsourcing environment, and that’s an equally valid career choice. It’s like the difference between doing agency work and being an in-house consultant – it’s up to what best suits the individual.
What was your career path?
In my previous job, I was a solution architect for the local branch of an international company. As part of my role, I communicated and consulted with the clients, tried to understand and analyse their business needs, and recommended a technical proposal and pricing table to meet their expectations. I developed technical solutions and blueprints for the team to build systems for clients. It was an outsourcing model where we sold business solutions and did the development. I had many opportunities there, but I really wanted to make the shift to product development, which is why I left to go and work for MessageMedia.
Backtracking a bit – I actually started my career with PYCOGROUP! Over my five years there, I honed my skills in focusing on the most critical issues for a digital product, prioritising what was important and learning the discipline of delivering to the clients’ expectations and timelines. It was a positive experience and I was exposed to many different projects and solutions, gaining a lot of technical and management skills, and the confidence to work with clients from different continents.
The experience helped me discover my passion for product development. While working as a developer and team leader at PYCO, I created an idea for a product and left PYCO to develop it. I co-founded a company, but the pressure of getting investors on board was a huge challenge. After half a year, it folded.
Last year, I heard about an Australian tech company which was opening up an office in Ho Chi Minh City in partnership with PYCOGROUP. I successfully applied, and I’m happy to be working for MessageMedia. I really enjoy the supportive, friendly and open manner of my colleagues, both in Vietnam and Australia.
The technical aspects of the role are equally as satisfying. Each sprint gives me the opportunity to work on cross-functional tasks and different technologies.
Do you have any mottos?
When you’ve just solved a problem, never just leave it there. Challenge yourself to discover its root cause and seek out a better solution.
Read the original interview here