Q&A With Tristan McCarthy, Head of Software Delivery at Footasylum

On Thursday 25th March at 11AM, Andy Norton, Tristan McCarthy (Footasylum) & Tom Geraghty (Red Hat) join Godel to discuss psychological safety & the pillars of a high-performing tech team. You can sign up to join the event here!

We asked Tristan McCarthy, Head of Software Delivery at Footasylum, three questions about his role and what he’ll be speaking about at the event.

What made you get into a tech leadership role?

Stubbornness, mostly! I come from a test automation background with experience in delivery leadership roles, working in consultancies for enterprise and government clients. In those roles I saw a lot of mistakes and inefficiencies that were wasting time, and I was never one to let them slide. Problem solving is something the tester and the delivery lead in me enjoys. So I’d always speak up about solving these problems, and the best possible response I could receive was always “well, you fix it, then!”.

I’m currently Head of Software Delivery at Footasylum. In the past I’ve been a digital transformation consultant which needed quite a hands-off “bigger picture” mindset, as well as a delivery lead working right in the core of engineering teams. At Footasylum I get to bring together the best of both worlds into one role – I’ve got to be close enough to support the teams, but also keep a full perspective on Footasylum as a business.

What’s your favourite thing about being part of the Footasylum tech team?

That’s an easy answer – it’s the culture. I noticed straight away that there’s no ego in the company – everyone is striving to improve, but it’s never driven by personal politics – instead it’s for the benefit of their teams and the business. It’s like striking gold to join a team that’s genuinely all about doing the right thing.

The talk Andy [Norton] and I are presenting on Thursday is about our journey to putting our “tech pillars” in place. The whole initiative was driven by a shared interest in improvement – we all knew that remote working would change how we communicated and worked, so it was about getting everyone on board with a defined set of guidelines for Footasylum tech.

Without giving the secrets away, what’s one key lesson that your audience can take away from the event?

It definitely won’t be the case that anyone can take our pillars and copy-paste them to their business. Our journey is so unique and influenced by so many specifics that it’d be impossible to replicate it exactly.

The main takeaway would come from our journey, which we’ll go into detail on during the event. Everything we did to define the four pillars was supported by our focus on psychological safety. We needed to set out shared detail on things like how we approach problems collectively, our OKRs, and how we align with Footasylum’s vision – but before any of this we needed to define how to protect our teams as they strive for this.

That psychological safety foundation has been the biggest part of our journey – it’s a more prominent topic now than ever because we can’t always talk to each other like we used to, but it’s always been so important. I think sharing what it means to Footasylum and our tech culture will give people a lot to think about.

Thank you, Tristan!

To find out more about Footasylum tech team’s four pillars, read this article by Andy Norton, Software Development Manager at Footasylum, who will also be presenting at the event.