Culture

Meet the Team: Zander Ellis

April 27, 2022
6 minute read
Lucy Drennan

Meet Zander, one of our new recruits in the engineering team here at Phlo Digital Pharmacy. Zander started with us earlier this year in March after completing a computer programming traineeship and is already contributing to some of our projects.

In this next instalment of our Meet the Team series, we speak to Zander who tells us what a typical day is like here and how we put the patient at the forefront of everything we do.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your educational background and your previous roles before joining Phlo.

Before working at Phlo I worked as an accountant studying towards my AAT qualifications. I have always had an interest in computers and software but never really knew how to start a career in it. While I was put on furlough during the pandemic, I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. Like any sane person, I thought to myself “hey, why don’t I learn about how accounting software works?” what a great idea!  

I began learning about web development through YouTube tutorials and eventually found a course which looked like an interesting way to learn about software development. I ended up really enjoying it and decided it was something that I wanted to pursue full time. So, I made the scary decision to leave my accounting job during a pandemic. I was not sure how it was going to turn out but, looking back, I can honestly say it is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I started at Phlo on the 14th of March 2022 and have been enjoying my time here ever since.

What attracted you to work for Phlo?

Having just finished a year-long computer programming traineeship, I really wanted to find somewhere I could learn and build on the knowledge I had already built up. It was Phlo’s clear commitment to people that really attracted me to want to work here. I read all of the “Meet the Team” blog posts and everyone had nothing but good things to say about working at Phlo. It was in an interview with James Maciver (Phlo’s Chief Technology Officer) James had said “I want to build an environment where individuals can grow and feel fulfilled” which was something that really stood out to me. That just sounded like exactly what I was looking for. I also liked their apparent want to “keep things simple” and that they were “focused on the outcome over the technology”. But more than anything else, I just wanted a job where I would be able to help people. Even if it was just in some small way, Phlo just seemed like the perfect place to do that.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I work in the Pharmacy engineering team alongside three other developers. Together we work on the “Workphlo” application which is our pharmacy operating system. This is a critical system which helps us ensure that our service runs as smoothly as possible for our patients. .  

I usually start the day off by catching up on any slack messages and checking if there are any Trustpilot reviews which have been left by our patients. Then we will have a “stand-up” meeting at around 10:00am to discuss what we will be working on that day. We will also normally take this time to clearly define goals for the day and review any recent successes we have had. I spend a lot of time collaborating with my team on different problems as I’m still learning the ropes. You don’t really know what cool feature or functionality you will be working on next and that’s what keeps the job exciting. I really love the “Okay team, how are we going to do this?” approach to problem solving.

What makes Phlo different and why should people join us?

We are not just a group of people clocking in and sitting at a desk for a certain amount of time in exchange for a paycheck. It really feels like the business is filled with talented and smart people who are passionate about what they do and genuinely want to make a difference in the world. Everyone seems to give their all and does their absolute best because they want to. Anyone can give input and ideas on how we can do better or how we solve a problem. The culture is great, and you really feel like you are part of a team all moving in the same direction.

Tell us about a project you are working on now and how you work with other members in the team.

Right now, my team are working on a project that is focused on improving pharmacy operations and efficiencies. This means that we are establishing new ways to improve our pharmacy facing application so that it reduces the amount of time that pharmacists are spending doing administrative work. The more efficient our pharmacy processes and operations are, the faster and slicker our service is for our patients.

What do you hope to achieve in your role at Phlo?

My goal is to help create software that makes complex things simple. I started learning about computer programming after I experienced the impact that good software can bring to your everyday life. Having previously been an accountant, I always thought “I don’t know what I would do without this accounting software”.  

I want to develop software that gives people the same warm fuzzy feeling that I had from using good accounting software. At Phlo, I feel very fortunate in that I can work on developing software that has the potential to make a positive difference in the everyday lives of our patients and pharmacists. For example, if a patient has mobility issues or social anxiety and finds it difficult to leave their house to pick up their prescription, we can help them. If I can work on something that is going to make even one person’s life easier, I will have achieved my goal.

What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to join a tech company?

I would say don’t be afraid to try things and don’t be scared of failure. My initial impression of people who worked in tech was that everyone was a super genius and that they all had a master’s degree in computer science. Whilst I do work alongside some incredibly smart people at Phlo they are people just like you and me. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they can’t figure things out right away. Whether you are a senior developer or someone who knows nothing about software development, everyone gets involved in solving the problem at hand. It’s alright to “fall down” but it’s not okay to stay down. The people you look up to had to start somewhere. As the American author Zig Ziglar put it: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time, if I’m not already out walking around listening to an audiobook or a podcast, then I’m either listening to or playing music. I own a guitar that I can only play a few chords on (although I can barely play it) but that doesn’t stop me from picking it up and strumming for hours. The time just seems to get away from me once I start playing. Apart from that I’m either spending time with my two best friends or filling out my stock market spreadsheet (I know… you can just tell I was an accountant).

If you’d like to join the Phlo team and help us shape the future of Pharmacy, check out our careers page.

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