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Meet the Team - Q&A with our VP of Engineering, Michael Norris

Posted on 7 September 2022 Read time 2 mins
Author Mat

To mark 12 months in his role as our VP of Engineering, we sat down with Michael Norris to talk about his career pathway and leadership of our software engineering team.


Can you tell us about your career background to date?

I originally moved to Brighton to study for my degree in Software Engineering, during which time I also worked for Apple Retail. After graduating, I continued in my role with Apple before moving to a local digital agency that specialised in developing mobile apps, before working with a friend on a startup venture – gaining invaluable experience in the process.

My search for a long-term career pathway brought me to Tillo (which was then known as Reward Cloud), and within a few days of applying, I was interviewed and hired as a senior software engineer. I was one of the first employees, and in the six years since, my experience has grown via different roles and responsibilities to the point where today, I have been VP of Engineering for 12 months.


Tell me about your role at Tillo and the work of your engineering team


I head up the Tillo engineering team, looking after our strategy and vision for our platform as a whole. We run a team of four project-focused groups, made up of 26 dedicated professionals who are a pleasure to work with. One team looks after product enhancements and key features, another focuses on our reporting offering, while our platform team is responsible for infrastructure, security and data functions. Our fourth team acts as our Quick Reaction Force, managing business-critical tasks.

Across these teams, we are currently recruiting eight new colleagues across a wide range of experience levels and seniority. They are a supportive and highly collaborative group, not least because we hire the right people to fit with our culture.


What are your key areas of focus at the moment?


For the last few years, the overarching focus areas of the engineering team have been on four key areas. These include

  1. Performance – particularly around scalability and meeting demand within peak periods.
  2. Security – ensuring the integrity of our systems and team, product and system penetration testing, and implementing the ISO 27001 standard on how to manage information security.
  3. Testing – focusing on maintainability, extensibility, robustness and delivering a positive developer experience.
  4. Documentation – this is a key area that starts with onboarding new members of the team while also supporting the progression of existing colleagues to senior roles with more responsibility. The documentation function also enables us to more effectively share knowledge across the team and with the wider company.


And what are your plans for the team going forwards?


Aside from our exciting recruitment opportunities, we are looking forward to hosting an internal technology conference at the University of Sussex in October. This is part of our commitment to knowledge sharing, and we’re looking forward to welcoming colleagues from across the business to focus on technology innovation.

At the same time, we’re also working towards the launch of the Tillo Academy, which will target our recruitment and progression strategy to bring in more people at the beginning of their engineering careers while also maximising progression opportunities for our existing team. In addition, we have also designed and implemented a progression framework for the engineering team that specifically supports succession planning and career progression.

To share these initiatives and experiences with a wider audience, I will be part of an expert panel at an upcoming Haystack webinar: 'Addressing the Shortfalls in Tech Talent Attraction & Retention' on 13 September 2022.


What’s it like working at Tillo?


Tillo is a great place to build a career – I have been here for almost six years, and I love my job, not least because we work with cool technology and alongside retailers and partners from around the world. We’re a collaborative, innovative and supportive team where the focus is on progression opportunities and personal growth. We offer exciting career pathways that blend variety with autonomy and responsibility – exactly the qualities people really value in a modern employer.

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