Engineering a decade at RUSH

Alaina Luxmoore headshot

Alaina Luxmoore

Director of Marketing

February 20, 2024

7 mins

Three RUSH employees standing in front of a crowd

Jamie Peterson and David Breßler are two incredibly talented Senior Software Engineers at RUSH who have hit the magnificent milestone of ten years here!

What keeps an engineer engaged over a decade, how has tech changed during their tenure, and what projects have they worked on during this time? Read their interview below…

Ten years at RUSH is epic - congratulations! Is what you're doing now in your role what you thought you would be doing when you started your career in software development?

David: Yes, and no. I mean definitely developing software - but I didn't really know what kind of software I wanted to develop when I started. When we began at RUSH, it was kind of gaming stuff. So we were working on game things, and a few marketing activations. It didn't really matter to me as long as it was something interesting.

Jamie: Yeah for me when I started I was really interested in the gaming stuff. So that was what kind of got me into RUSH at first. Over time I've become a bit disillusioned with the gaming world... It seems like it's one of those industries that a lot of people want to work in - there’s so many very talented people working really crazy hours, and it can squeeze the enthusiasm out of you. So I'm glad RUSH evolved to not be doing that kind of work anymore.

Looking back, what are some of the most significant changes you've witnessed in the tech industry during your time at RUSH?

David: I guess one thing was when mobile development went from native development where you had to build one app for iOS and one for Android to hybrid development so you could just have one code base to build an app and deploy on those platforms which makes life so much easier. That kind of happened before I started actually working on apps though.

Jamie: Yeah, I completely agree. It used to be pretty standard to have two separate code bases even though they had the same set of designs. You basically have to make an app twice.

David: Also for working with designers; Figma definitely.

Jamie: Figma’s so good. It's been fantastic.

So RUSH has changed quite a bit over the past decade. Can you share an example?

Jamie: Haha I remember when I started there was this guy who used to have a standing desk that was actually just a normal desk with bricks underneath to raise it up! It was also funny because he was also the health and safety guy for the office. And I used to find it ironic that he was being hard on people for having extension cords running across the office when he had this particular setup.

I remember those early times doing Disney projects, porting games to Windows phones. It was a mad time, just like living in the office - only about 12 employees who were all engineers. It was a bit chaotic, not so much structure.

In the early days RUSH was more unknown, we were super lean and there was more overtime and harder timelines. Now we’ve matured and things like the Z App and Covid Tracer really put our name out there.

I guess it means that business practices have evolved as much as everything else which makes our jobs and our overall work-life balance so much better. I think that's really the main thing that's kept me here, is how RUSH has grown over the years.

What’s a RUSH project that stands out in your mind over the last ten years?

David: I think my favourite project, and client, has been Watercare. I worked on the smart meter app. Their team just understood how tech works, and the whole team was really integrated in the agile process that we work to. They pushed us further too, especially around Test Automation; it’s amazing to get a client who wants us to spend some time on that kind of stuff. They're just great people as well.

Jamie: For me, it would be UBCO. Their software team was fantastic and very much best practice all around. It’s impressive what they managed to do when they're mainly a motorbike company and yet software is something they take very seriously. I was very impressed. It’s a company full of good people. 

Those are both relatively recent projects. If you think about some of your earliest projects at RUSH, is there anything that you’d love to have a second shot at - given you’ve built up so much experience now?

Jamie: My God, I feel like almost every project! Haha. I think back to when I didn't really know some of the tech and was sort of learning as I went. There are always the weird ones... Off the top of my head, we had a project - I’m going back a long time - which was a visualisation for your roof. So the user would pick a roof profile, the colours and things like that, and it would visualise it for you.

I think I'd approach it in a pretty different way if I had the chance again. So back then I was doing Three.js which was a fairly native approach - whereas the actual website was done by someone else using React. Now I would do something that slotted in better because I know that it would have made the other guy's job a lot easier; if I was doing something that actually fit together instead of him having to do some magic to make it work.

David: When I started on the Z App I was just learning React Native and I felt like I didn't really know what I was doing. So if I could redo it now, I know I would be so much better. But that’s just what software development is - learning as we go.

What’s been one of your proudest achievements during your time at RUSH?

David: That’s easy for me; the NZ COVID Tracer app.

Jamie: Very nice, good choice. For me, I was very proud when I was an intern and we were working on the Disney Words of Wonder project. No one could get into the texture files which affected the images that you'd display on the screen. So I was very proud when - just trying so hard in my spare time - I managed to solve it. I mean, it's not so important at all because I guarantee no one is playing that game anymore! But I really felt a lot of imposter syndrome at first and so this was an early moment that validated what I was capable of.

So they’re quite different moments, but it seems that engineers are really proud when their achievement is tied to a struggle. Do you agree with that?

David: Yeah. I mean COVID Tracer was tough because of the timing. Technically there were some small challenges - especially at the beginning when Apple and Google hadn’t come up with a collaborative solution yet. But mainly the timeframe was extremely challenging. It was a moment of proving that we could do it.

Jamie: Yeah, and that ties into the example I gave. I mean it wasn’t really an important problem, but it was a tricky problem.

David: That's it. It doesn't have to necessarily be something highly impactful. Just the satisfaction of solving a problem.

How do you both stay motivated to continue learning in such a rapidly evolving field?

David Bressler: Well every project is something new, and the company has continued to evolve. I’m always learning something different and interesting. I can’t imagine working out of a big corporation where you work on just one specific piece of software for 10 years. That can be boring as hell.

I think learning is great and building stuff is quite satisfying. Yeah, just being motivated by the learning itself because it's fun.

Jamie: Yeah, I agree learning is sort of fun itself. And I've been really enjoying sort of seeing the new stuff that comes out. Maybe I'm not sort of naturally motivated by new frameworks and things like that - but at the same time you've got to learn it.

David: For me, part of it is figuring out when you need to learn something particular to stay on top of your skills - rather than spending my free time doing it.

Jamie: Yeah, yeah. And I feel like RUSH has got better at planning for that and building it in.

What advice would you give to software developers who are just starting their careers?

David: Ask questions.

Jamie Peterson: Yeah, that's a really good one. That's something that it took me quite a while to grasp. I've sort of realised over time: don't be worried that you find something hard, and don't feel like you're making yourself look stupid because everyone's got questions about something.

David: That's it. Don't be afraid to ask questions and get advice because often you might feel like you have imposter syndrome and you want to prove something to yourself - but most of the time when you are stuck on a problem, often all it takes is one different perspective, one other set of eyes and they'll solve it in five minutes - not because they're smarter than you, but just because it’s a fresh perspective.

Is there a particular company you admire for making a huge impact?

David: Tesla, probably just for making electric cars cool - you have to give them some credit for pushing EVs forward.

Jamie: Yeah, that's fair. I'm gonna say Google. They were moving in the AI space quite a lot even before it was cool. I feel like the world would be a couple years behind without them.

As you reflect on your 10-year milestone, what are your hopes and aspirations for the future?

David: I'd say continue to grow and learn… and also hoping that AI can be a nice useful tool. Not something that is going to be used to exploit people. 

Jamie: I guess also connected to AI, I've been trying to stay abreast of it because it is sort of the big cloud on the horizon. But at the same time I'm not super worried necessarily. I do use it quite a lot, not so much for coding, but for other tasks like bringing old photos into new resolution. It feels like you're almost seeing them again for the first time.

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