Committed to Success: Simon Stanlake, SVP Procurify
Simon Stanlake is Senior Vice President of Engineering with Procurify. We sat down with Simon to hear his perspective on what it’s been like to work with Commit.
Can you tell me a bit about Procurify?
Procurify provides spend management SAAS for medium-sized companies. If you’re a company and you need to buy things or spend money, and you also need to make sure the purchases are properly reconciled with generally accepted financial controls, we help you do that. Our focus is to make purchasing and accessing funds simple and safe, but we have controls for the finance team too.
What’s your position there?
I’m the SVP of engineering, so everything related to the construction of the software we sell is my responsibility. That means growing the engineering team, making sure we have the right people in place and that the people on our team are set up for success.
What role were you looking to fill when you connected with Commit?
We’re a traditional web application: we’ve got a single-page front end with an API back end. Our front end was initially developed using Angular, and about a year ago we realized it was difficult to make customer-facing innovations on the front end. On top of that, the version of Angular we were using was being sunsetted. So we either had to upgrade to a new version of Angular or move to a newer technology like React. We decided to move to React, and we essentially needed more horsepower on our React transition team, to push us over the goal line.
What are some of the typical challenges of finding the right person for your team?
It’s a competitive market everywhere, especially Vancouver. There’s a big split in the talent pool: there are people coming fresh out of boot camps, who want to get into the industry but don’t necessarily have deep experience, and there are others with experience who get soaked up quickly by the big companies. Plus, every company has challenges finding people who are the right fit for your culture and values. When assessing new candidates there’s definitely a risk of bias, of looking for people who seem familiar, without broadening your mind to a wider range of possibilities.
How has it been working with Commit and with Clara?
It’s been great. Clara started working with the React transition team and demonstrated good core capabilities. Some of the stuff we were doing was very new to her, and I heard right away that she was picking up new things quickly. She made a great contribution to that team in terms of the actual code that she wrote, but she’s also meaningfully contributing to the education of the broader engineering team, about how we were going to adopt this technology. They put on an internal React boot camp and Clara was a key participant in that.
What’s your biggest fear about hiring the wrong person?
There are the obvious types of wrong, like, they’re not a nice person, or the quality of their work is poor. But something less obvious is that if your quality level isn’t consistently raised, you have this long, slow downward spiral. If you hire people that are not top calibre, and those people are responsible for hiring more people, you end up with a very mediocre team over time.
Would you work with Commit again?
I 100 percent plan on working with Commit again. In fact, it’s made me want to adapt our processes. We want to make it easy for people to come in and pick a project at Procurify, execute on it, deliver it, and then go do something else if they want. I also think that if you set yourself up as a company that is amenable to that type of temporary workforce, it means that your projects are really well scoped, with clear definitions. If you can support remote project-based work, you’re probably a very nimble company. So there lots of benefits. That’s my experience with Commit — I think their quality level is top-notch, and making ourselves fit with their model is going to help us to be a better company.
Is there an advantage in the way Commit pre-vets engineers?
Definitely. I inherently trust Commit’s recommendations. The model is based on a short-term engagement, so in the event that something doesn’t work out, we can go in a different direction. But I don’t expect that to be an issue.
What would you say to other start-ups about working with engineers from Commit?
I would say do it. Commit engineers will make an impact on whatever project you put them on, but on top of that they will really get you thinking hard about what top-quality talent looks like, for the next time you’re hiring for a full-time role. They set a really good example.
Simon Stanlake is Senior Vice President of Engineering with Procurify. The Vancouver spend management software startup partnered with Commit to find engineering talent to help grow and scale. Commit Engineering Partner Clara Tsang joined Procurify in 2019.