Humans of iQmetrix: Andrew Kuipers, Enterprise Architecture

This month, our Humans of iQmetrix mini-profile takes a closer look at Andrew Kuipers — Senior Staff Developer, occasional videogame designer, and all-round good dude.

Andrew’s team lead Jason Collinge describes him as thoughtful, methodical, kind, and passionate.” Here’s the lowdown on this Regina resident, including how he does things differently, and exactly how far he’ll go to try good beer. 

iQmetrix: Tell us a bit about your role at iQmetrix.

Andrew: I’m senior staff developer in the Enterprise Architecture team, based out of the Regina office. My role is a mixture of what the industry would call enterprise architecture work and some solution architecture work.

The solution architecture work is based around deciding how to build a system. It’s not just the traditional method of making a bunch of decisions up front, then developers go off and build the system and everything hopefully works out. That’s not our reality. Instead, it’s more of an involved role where we have ideas and hypotheses about how to build the system, which databases and messaging systems to use, how to structure it, how it’s going to be deployed, and then how we’re going to build it. I’m not involved in teams directly building systems but I essentially offer consultation on solution architecture to help teams make decisions around it.

The other side of my role is enterprise architecture. This is where I’ve been involved with our product and tech leadership, primarily in development and the product engineering and architecture side of things. But I also have connections into product management, design, client experience, support, and a variety of different roles to help craft some of the guiding principles and practices we use in developing our systems. A recent example is that I’ve been rolling out practices around architectural decision records and our architectural advisory forum. 

Instead of having a kind of heavyweight, top-down approach, we’re embracing the Chrysalis and iQmetrix principles of autonomy and enabling teams to make decisions.

When did you start at iQmetrix, and how has your role evolved?

I started off as a as a junior developer back in January 2016 and then my role morphed — through some of my own choices and some of those around me — after just shy of a year. It was around December when I was asked if I would be interested in leading one of the development teams. I debated it a bit, I got some counsel from my wife, and made the decision to say yes. I realized that my goal is to understand how to create great software and to do that I can’t just focus on coding. So I took the leap and become a team lead. I’ve led three or four different development teams over the years.

In September 2019, we saw the introduction of a new role: a higher-level individual contributor role to focus on concerns like architecture, which had been a theme that had been emerging in my technical interest. I put my name in the hat for that role and was one of the first two people at iQmetrix to move into that. The title is Staff Developer, which is an individual contributor leader who is not a manager within a technical organization. We introduced that role as well for advancement for technical folks who don’t necessarily want to go into people leadership. Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy the people side of things, but I find this role to be a fascinating balance.

One of the things I appreciate about iQmetrix is that I’m always motivated by the people I work with and the community of users that we support — and there is a never-ending stream of challenges. Of course, you need to fulfill your core responsibilities, but if you see a challenge that you have some ideas around you’re not boxed into one role. It’s so energizing to be able to work with smart, interesting people on interesting challenges.

What’s your background, and the story that got you to iQmetrix?

I like to say I’m from Western Canada — I moved around a lot as a kid, living in BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. I ended up at the University of Calgary and I did my bachelors, my masters, and started on a PhD, all in computer science. But then funding for the PhD started to dry up. I’d been in a long-distance relationship with Andrea, who is now my wife, in Regina for about two-and-a-half years, travelling back and forth on the Greyhound. I decided that there wasn’t a lot keeping me in Calgary so I moved to Regina, proposed to Andrea, and then realized I probably need one of those job things if I’m going to make a wedding happen!

I happened to be chatting with a contractor who was making cabinets for our comic book collection and he said if you come to live full-time in Regina, definitely check out iQmetrix — they’re the best tech company around here to work for. It turned out he was the father of one of our employees. iQmetrix was the first company I applied to, and I got the job and started as a junior developer.

By the following August, I was able to put together enough money to have a nice wedding and, as they say, the rest is history.

What’s something interesting that we might not know about you?

My wife and I are both into comic books — we’re often found picking up editions down at the local comic book store. We also have two wonderful cats, Johnny and Ernie.

My mom lives in Prague and I spent some of my sabbatical [a seven-week paid leave, earned after seven years of full-time employment at iQmetrix] with her. We took a quick trip through Europe, starting in Prague, then we hit Amsterdam, Brussels, and a small town in Germany called Bamberg. Mom gave me a challenge, in celebration of my 40th birthday earlier this year, to try out 40 different beers in our one-week trip. I think my tally was closer to 43 or 44 by the end of the week — but not full pints! I wasn’t drunk at a single point, but I had a blast. I especially love the Trappist ales that are brewed by the monks in Belgium, which are big, strong, flavorful beers. 

I also love making little videogames. I participated in Regina’s first Global Game Jam event in the spring of February 2016 after I started at iQmetrix, and a group of us from iQmetrix have been doing it every year since. It’s part of a global event that involves tens of thousands of people. And I’ve just finished my first year on the board of Sask Interactive, which is a non-profit here in Saskatchewan that promotes interactive digital media. It’s been a lot of fun. 

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