Zarek Marshall is a highly experienced CTO and an avid technologist with a track record of building highly successful engineering teams and creating a working culture which is relaxed, productive and brings out the best in people.
Zarek caught up with Hamilton Forth’s Atif Hussain to discuss his background, thoughts on key tech trends and his vision for transparently.tech.
What does a typical day look like?
My day starts with a couple of hours spent getting my children ready for nursery and school. Somewhere in there I’ll have a shower. The reason I mention this is because I very frequently have all sorts of great ideas or find solutions to problems relating to my work during that time. I believe this phenomenon of shower thoughts has something to do with the Default Mode Network, which I can definitely attest to!
Then over a coffee we do a daily stand up, where we talk about what’s going on and any particular blockers we may be experiencing relating to specific projects.
After this, I’ll often then split my day into chunks of project work, internal process related stuff, maintaining business relationships and new business. It depends really on the priority of a given week, and our overall strategy for the period.
What were your ambitions when you first graduated from Uni?
I always remember fantasising about doing million-pound deals when I was young, in a very 90’s film montage style in my head. I always wanted to make a difference wherever I may end up and I didn’t ever see myself becoming just another cog in a massive machine. I set my sights on small local software companies and got myself a job in a great environment where I very quickly was able to gain end-to-end experience of a small business. I always enjoyed solving problems and building software that real people would use, and I had plenty of opportunity to do that in a small company. Funnily enough, I remember the branding for that first company I worked for was a set of cogs. Make of that what you will.
What inspired you to start your own business?
This has been a long-held ambition of my wife and I. We met on our Computer Science course in university, and both bring heaps of experience building great teams and software for enterprise and government clients.
I am particularly proud of the teams that I built whilst latterly working for Simplifie. Everything changed through acquisition of that business, as is the way of things, and we saw it as a great opportunity to attempt to recreate a great working environment but under our own control.
We aim to create a fantastic company that people want to work for,including us!,, where we get to do meaningful work and where we all have a great time in the process, and we are delighted and fortunate that we have been able to attract some of the talented people we worked with previously.
How do you manage between work and family life?
The children are at an age where we don’t have much choice about these matters, which I think is a real bonus. I feel like the lines were more blurred when I was working for another company. We both value ‘me time’, and we both very much ensure that the other can achieve this, and have a sort of rotation where we allow the other to go and take time for whatever purpose that might be, although we do strongly encourage each other to take time for the hobbies we love. I love sports and regularly climb and play tennis. Tina loves to sing.
What core values do you have that contribute to the success of transparently.tech?
I very much believe that relationships are key to business. It might sound cheesy, but I believe great relationships are built around trust, communication, and loyalty. We make sure that we really listen to our customers, and that we have an open communication style, which means that customers know where they stand both with us and with their products or systems. We enjoy helping customers to succeed and build long lasting relationships as a result.
How did you come up with the name transparently.tech?
This was one of the hardest bits of setting up a business. We settled on this name because we felt that it matched one of our core values that we hold, which is that transparency helps to build trust. At the time of trying to come up with a name we were having conversations around the benefits of speaking openly with customers, and that clear communications are always important for a successful business relationship. We settled on transparently.tech because we wanted to put across in our name exactly what we’re good at, what we value, and how we go about doing business.
What business problems is transparently.tech looking to solve? Who can benefit from these services?
We support our customers on each step of their digital journey. We’ll bring focused strategic planning, product management, software and data engineering and end-to-end digital transformation. We aim to have fun delivering services and products that will ultimately make our customers succeed. Based on solid cloud expertise, we are well equipped to quickly take ideas from design right through to deployment and beyond in the most efficient manner.
What are the key tech trends that you are keeping an eye on?
We always keep our eyes on advancements in our bread-and-butter technologies, .NET Core, React, and cloud (Azure and AWS) for example. Looking beyond that, I see Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, DEFI, Zero Knowledge, and Web3 as absolutely the future.
There’s a lot of controversy around these areas, but you only have to look at the unbelievable investment going into these technologies from the community and from business to understand that there’s a revolution underway. I absolutely see the future of transparently.tech working on one or more of these technologies, because I want to be part of building the right future.
What advice would you give to others looking to start a career in tech?
It’s vitally important to always understand the business, not just the tech. If you are wanting to get into tech, you are probably already interested in some specific tech, and interested in how tech can solve problems, which is a good start. It’s just as important to understand the business side of things, the why. And don’t forget to make good friends along the way. You will make yourself invaluable and likely successful by doing this.
What next for transparently.tech?
That million-pound deal perhaps? In the immediate future, we’re targeting our imminent ISO 27001 certification which will be a great achievement for a company of our size. We are very excited and hope that this will allow us to expand upon the business we are already doing, and to explore new opportunities. Ultimately, we want to establish our reputation as an excellent software company in Scotland and grow the business.
For a confidential discussion around your technology career, or building a successful tech team, contact [email protected]