“I really like working with Rachel Primrose,” says fellow Company-X software architect Luke McGregor. “She’s obviously a talented developer with a strong focus on quality. She’s also not afraid to push her technical limits and learn new things, which is hugely important for any developer. From an architectural point of view she also thinks really differently to me, which I find really valuable.”
Company-X has entered software architect and senior developer Rachel Primrose into the Reseller News Women in ICT Awards.
“Rachel immediately sprang to mind when we began discussing the Women in ICT Awards,” says Company-X director and co-founder Jeremy Hughes. “Rachel’s made the world of difference to a variety of projects since she joined Company-X in February 2018.”
“There’s not enough women, or men for that matter, in the IT industry with the depth of knowledge and breadth of skill that Rachel brings daily to Company-X clients,” says fellow director and co-founder David Hallett.
Rachel joined Company-X from trans-Tasman telco Vocus Communications where she had worked for nearly six years as a senior analyst, software developer and software architect.
Rachel’s interest in technology began as a child, when she helped out at family business Arche Technologies NZ in Auckland. She started in the back office while still at primary school, but as her knowledge of the business and passion for technology grew Rachel worked on Arche Technologies’ personal computer assembly line.
While studying at Rangitoto College in Auckland, Rachel researched using recycled aluminium cans to soundproof buildings and earned herself a prestigious Silver CREativity in Science and Technology (CREST) award. Rachel achieved a 1A grade, the highest possible grade in Sixth Form Certificate.
“She achieved excellent results in her theoretical and practical work and also consistently approached her studies with outstanding diligence,” says Rachel’s physics teacher Chris Smaill.
Rachel describes Chris as an inspirational teacher, who made an extra effort to ensure the girls in his physics class were treated the same as the boys.
“Chris absolutely encouraged me,” Rachel says. “I had some other teachers that were not excited about having girls in their class.”
Rachel left college in 2000, partway through seventh form, to get an early start at the University of Auckland where she earned a Bachelor of Science with a double major in physics and computer science.
“While at university I worked in internet service provider ihug’s call centre part-time for a year or so,” Rachel recalls. “I would call them at 3pm and see if anyone had called in sick for the night shift and ended up working about three days a week.”
Rachel took a summer job at Toll NZ on the IT support desk, also a 24-hour train operations line. “The general manager of IT asked, while I was still studying at university, what I wanted to do,” Rachel says. “I became a junior programmer working mostly in programming languages Java and PHP and was also seconded to the database team where I worked in Oracle and IBM database DB2.”
Rachel worked as a contractor for tourism company Jucy in 2005 and 2006 in the Active Server Page (ASP) development framework providing data loads to and from the company’s forecasting system and website.
Rachel joined Christian internet service provider Maxnet in 2006 as a programmer working with founding director Kim Thibault.
“Kim was a most inspiring leader, not to mention a woman,” Rachel says.
“Kim’s never been afraid to jump into technology in terms of getting an idea to market. She’s always forward thinking about technology, and then gets others to do the implementing. She encouraged me to develop both my technical skills and my soft skills.”
After more than a year working as a Maxnet developer, Rachel spent nearly two years in development management, before a three-year stint as lead software architect.
Kim says she really enjoyed working with Rachel at Maxnet.
“I quickly saw in her someone who is extremely intelligent, able to pick up new languages and tools really easily, and has excellent business acumen,” Kim says. “She could understand what is important to the business and deliver to that. As the only female engineer in our male-dominated environment, Rachel quickly gained the respect of all with her speed, problem solving skills and attention to detail.
“She is passionate, committed, and communicates clearly (even if it is not what you want to hear, but is what you need to hear). With her skills and personality she can do and accomplish whatever she sets her heart on.”
Vocus Communications bought the Maxnet business in 2012.
After taking maternity leave, Rachel returned to Vocus and worked on architecture and communication skills with chief administrative officer Simon Robson. Rachel’s learnings there are evident in her work at Company-X.
“The most exciting thing I did was the architecture for mergers and acquisitions worth about $1 billion. Vocus Communications founder James Spenceley had a really forward approach to culture and technology which made for a great environment.”
Mentoring is important to Rachel.
“From a Company-X perspective I am getting mentoring from directors David Hallett and Jeremy Hughes, professional services manager Michael Hamid, business analyst Bryan Miles, software architect Luke McGregor and designer Pete Stewart,” Rachel says.
Michael Hamid says Rachel combines superb and deep technical understanding with a very pleasant manner.
“She has the rare ability to translate technical details into descriptions that non-technical people can understand. She relates well to customers and is very good at building trust. Her deep technical knowledge has also gained her a lot of respect among her colleagues.”