A behind-the-scenes look at the people who make us great.
Welcome to another part of the Cogent Crew series, where every month we’re inviting you to get to know a little more about the people at Cogent.
This month Kath (designer) spoke to Myles (developer) about his return to Cogent, his love of meat smoking and beer brewing, and why saké is much more similar to beer than wine.
Name: Myles Eftos
Job: Lead Developer
Time at Cogent: 1 year (sort of)
Hello Myles! How long have you been at Cogent for?
I was actually with Cogent as a contractor for two years and I left to work as CTO for a startup for 18 months. Being away really helped cement my values and learn a whole lot, but ultimately I realised that Cogent was the place for me.
What does your day-to-day at Cogent look like?
I’m a little less on the tools than I used to be, so I spend a couple of days a week with one of our ongoing clients, Covidence. I’m doing all sorts of stuff there, from delivery management to coding and deployment. I also spend time on Cogent internal projects, helping our People Team recruit new staff by running values interviews, and I’ve also been part of the team working on a new values manifesto for Cogent. You can check it out here if you’re interested.
Sounds really varied! So you used to be more on the tools?
Back when I was contracting, I was pretty much on the tools as a software engineer 100%, and then at the startup, I was CTO so there was more strategic work to do. It was a very small company, so I was doing product and marketing and all the things. Being a startup, if there was a job to be done, someone had to just go and do it.
How’d you get into what you do now? Have you always wanted to be doing this?
I got into computers really young. My dad used to bring home a portable computer that looked like a briefcase with an orange screen and just DOS running on it. I learnt basic programming on that and then got hooked on building websites in Hotdog, Netscape Composer and early versions of Dreamweaver. I eventually worked out how to do things in PERL to send emails or change numbers on websites and how to have more dynamic content coming through. That’s how I got hooked on the web.
You seem to learn a lot on the job. Do you have any formal education or was it all just about on the job learning?
I do have a computer science degree, but I was working throughout the whole course so probably learnt more from being at work than hearing things in computer science classes. It’s very much applied knowledge rather than theoretical.
My little brother was a graphic designer and is now a software engineer as well. He went back and did a computer science degree recently, so he’s gone the opposite way to me.
If you could be doing one other thing professionally, what would you do?
It’s an interesting question, someone asked me this in a slightly different way the other day. They said, “What is the thing that you think you want to do professionally, but you’d know you would hate?”
Brewing beer is heaps of fun and I’d love to do it full time, except I also wouldn’t! I reckon it would actually suck to do professionally. I’ve always been someone that turns hobbies into work, but sometimes things are best left as hobbies.
What kind of projects are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m the lead engineer for a project we’re doing with Covidence. Outside of work, I’m building some hardware temperature controllers for the beer and curing salami and meats. Even when I try to have hobbies that are non technical, I somehow still manage to mash tech in there.
What’s been your favourite project so far?
Working at RedBubble as a Cogent contractor was great back in that day, they had such an amazing culture, really similar to what Cogent is like now.
Back then really product focused, data driven engineers were given the ability to make product decisions as long as they could back it up with data, which they did. They had the facilities to go off and measure things and help drive the product. So everyone was in on that and it was really grassroots product development, which was just amazing.
That’s cool. You got to use some of your design skills, providing evidence as to why you wanted to do things you wanted to do.
Absolutely! I used to sit in user tests and conduct war rooms and all of those sorts of activities, and then sit down and pair with a designer to build things. We’d go through all the metrics, look at how successful our activities were and were able to say, “Hey look, this is the thing we found. Work out how we can prioritise that into the backlog,” and then rinse and repeat.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Cogent?
The product focus is a really big thing for me, being able to make and produce things that have actual meaning and value to the world. We’re not just taking cards off the JIRA board and producing some code; it’s actually stuff we’re producing that gets in the hands of people and solves real problems.
I think that ultimately, everything a software engineer does has an interaction with a human at some point, so if you’re working in a little silo, you’re not seeing the impact of the work you’re doing. For Cogent people, that’s such a big drive and it’s quite exciting.
You mentioned a few hobbies earlier, so what’s your favourite thing to do on the weekend? Those ones?
Yeah, I’ve already mentioned making beer. I also cure meat and make salami, bacon and a few other choice cuts. I like smoking meat as well, American barbecue slow cooking. I’ve got a 3D printer and a CNC router as well, which is kind of the opposite of a 3D printer. You can take a block of wood and you can cut shapes out. So that’s the newest addition to my ever growing garage of hobbies.
What is the best place you’ve ever been?
I went to Tokyo recently, that was pretty rad. I also like museums, as I like seeing how people lived and how we’ve evolved over the years. I can go to museums and have no interest in the topic but still really dig it. In fact, I’m the sort of person that if I’m walking along the street and I see one of those historic signs, I’ll stop and read it.
The history of the shinkansen in Japan (which are the bullet trains) is really interesting. There was even a beer museum! I didn’t realise Japan has such a rich history of beer drinking, but it turns out sake is closer to beer than it is wine. You actually brew sake in a really similar setup to beer, except you use rice instead of wheat. Naturally, I went to a sake museum and discovered all of that and learned about the traditional methods for making it.
If you had a private chef for a night, what would you get them to make you?
Probably American barbecue, the only problem is I’d want to help or ask more questions about how they do things. I just really love people who are super passionate about a specific thing and can teach me all about it, so if I had a professional chef in front of me, I wouldn’t be able to help myself.
What’s the best advice anyones ever given you?
Probably a piece of advice my old man gave me, which is “know something about everything and everything about something”. Be well rounded enough that you know at least a little bit about most topics, but also have one thing you deep dive on and are expert at. So be a Jack of all trades and a master of one.
Like the idea of joining the Cogent team? Head over to the Cogent Careers page and say hello!