William Poynter

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I started my engineering career as a keen hobbyist, teaching myself how to write software throughout University, in the era when PHP & MySQL was cool. In the early days of work, I worked for small companies as the most senior engineer (and occasionally the only engineer), meaning I had to develop the full stack. But I always preferred developing the backend and data solutions to the experience solutions. Now, I heavily focus on architecting solutions to the complex system and data problems that global healthcare has to offer. All wrapped up with leveraging the benefits of the cloud to give cheaper and faster high-availability and performance.

Aside from engineering, I am an experienced manager, who enjoys building great teams. I have managed a department (tribe) of over 70 people, with a wide range of skills needed to build a modern engineering product. Front-end, back-end, QA, design, delivery, product management, etc. Although I like employing models such as Agile development, or Spotify’s tribes and squads, I am a big believer that you build teams of people; models need adjusting and flexibility to meet the talent you have.

Outside of work, I try to keep active with a few runs and gym visits per week to offset the laptop lifestyle. I have run 10 half marathons and currently training towards my first marathon. A while ago, I also cycled from Lands End to John O Groats and I am hoping to do more multiday cycles in the future. I also have a tendency to say “yes” to whatever fun things friends suggest, which is why I just got my scuba diving license, which I have yet to try out in warmer waters.

Skills

Architecture
  • GraphQL/Gateways
  • Serverless
  • Microservices
  • RESTful APIs
  • SaaS/PaaS/IaaS
  • CQRS
  • Autoscaling
Languages
  • Java
  • Ruby
  • bash
  • C++
  • C#
  • javascript
  • Go
  • SQL
Tools
  • git
  • Terraform
  • Hashicorp Vault
  • Circle.CI
  • Jenkins
  • GitHub
  • New Relic
Platform Development & Administration
  • Istio
  • Kong
  • NGINX
  • Wordpress
  • Hugo
Data Management
  • MySQL
  • Postgresql
  • Redis
  • Elasticseach
  • S3
  • Kafka
Containers & Cloud
  • Kubernetes
  • Docker
  • AWS
  • Google Cloud
  • Heroku

Publications

A collection of articles, presentations or blog posts I have created over the years.

Blog - Monolith to Microservices: Frequently asked questions

At Babylon, we have been replatforming to replace our original Ruby-on-Rails monolith with microservices written in many different languages, the most common being Java. Over time, there have been frequently asked questions, lessons learnt and internal reflection over whether we are doing the right thing and in the right way. In this post I aim to share what we have learnt so far, even with the replatforming still ongoing.
February 2020 A large monolithic rock

Presentation - An Application of Search Engine Topics Through the Use of DDI-3.2 Concepts

CLOSER is a consortium of eight UK longitudinal studies for the purpose of increasing the use, value and impact of longitudinal research. CLOSER’s flagship product is Discovery, a DDI-backed search engine for the documentation and appraisal for the eight consortium studies. To enhance the searchability of Discovery all Variables and QuestionConstructs in Discovery require a Topic from CLOSER's controlled vocabulary. Archivist provides bespoke infrastructure for inputting topic allocations. Through the use of Strands and Clusters the work has been reduced by 75%. Further savings are being implemented using deep learning to aid data managers.
December 2017 The logo of the EDDI conference series

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See all Publications for more examples!

Experience

Director of Engineering

Babylon Health

Providing leadership, guidance and architecutal oversight for the Platform: Foundation tribe (formally Membership & Enterprise). Responsible for cross-cutting domains such as:

  • IAM
  • Multi-Tenancy
  • Membership Management
  • Consent Management
  • Feature Control
  • Profile Management & Search
  • Data Subject Tooling.

The tribe was also home to the infamous CBS squad, which provided deep knowledge and caretaker responibilies for some of Babylon’s lognest running systems.

At its peak, Platform: Foundation consisted of more than 70 people with 55 of them being engineers.

Feb 2019 - Present

Squad Lead

Babylon Health

Shortly after becoming the squad lead of the Consumer & Business squad, the product manager and I reinvented the squad as CBS (Core Business Services). This clarified the remit and gave the squad a new identity. Overtime we grew the squad from 5 people to 25. After which we reorganised the area to create several spin-off squads making CBS a more manageable size. CBS, the spin-off squads and one other then formed one of the first platform tribes, Membership & Enterprise, which I then led.

Overtime CBS was reponsible for an incredibly wideranging area, that would later form the majority of the Babylon Platform.

May 2018 - Feb 2019

Senior Engineer

Babylon Health
Based within Babylon’s “Core Team”, working predominantly on the backend in Ruby, I tended to focus on complex system and cross-cutting concerns. Working on federated authentication with Babylon’s partners, replacing Babylon’s non-global ready integer ID system and preparing legacy systems for the arrival of GDPR.
Jan 2018 - May 2018

Technical Manager

CLOSER, University College London

CLOSER is a consortium of some of the UK’s biggest and longest running longitudinal studies focusing on infrastructure and impact. Part of this work included the development of CLOSER Discovery, a search engine to publish documententation about the longitudinal studies and their datasets.

As the Technical Manager, I was reponsbile for the engineering decisions, technical consultancy and inter-group technical liason. My responsibilities included chairing the Technical Oversight Committee four times a year and being lead engineer for the search engine and all metadata tooling.

Jan 2016 - Dec 2017

Metadata Officer

CLOSER, University College London
As Metadata Officer for CLOSER, I was responsible for managing the team of Metadata Assistants who were doing the restrospective work to enhance the studies' documentation. This included setting the docuemtnation standards and procedures to ensure high quality documentation.
Feb 2014 - Jan 2016

Chief Technology Officer

Research Through Gaming
Research Through Gaming is a start-up market research boutique delivering a very specialised product. We created computer games for the purpose of collecting market research. As CTO, I was the lead architect for all games and therefore would have to work closely with the client and the external development teams as well as our hosting organisations. All of our project collected personal information so ensuring the Data Protection Act was followed and informed consent was carried out were key responsibilities of mine.
Jul 2013 - Jan 2014

Database Developer

Research Through Gaming
In order to collect the data of such custom and unique surveys, RTG required a bespoke data collection tool that would allow for radid survey design and data curation. I was the lead engineer developing the database and tooling using PHP and MySQL.
May 2012 - Jul 2013

Education

The University of Manchester

2011 - 2012

The University of Manchester

Bachelor of Science
Physics (2:1)
A Tuning Device for a Musical Instrument
2008 - 2011

Bilborough College

A-Level
  • Maths (A)
  • Physics (A)
  • Electronics (A)
  • General Studies (A)
2006 - 2008

The Gedling School

GCSE
  • Double Science
  • Maths
  • English Literature
  • English Language
  • Religious Studies
  • Design & Technology
2001 - 2006