Canterbury Tech Summit 2017



Another amazing event this year with a record crowd of 700 attending the Canterbury Tech Summit in Christchurch!

It’s a fantastic gathering of the Christchurch tech community meeting up with old faces & new.

I think what inspires me the most is the gathering of a common ethic to work together building great IT companies & products in software & hardware. 

It makes me proud of such a gathering of talented people and getting pumped on inspirational speakers really gets the motivational juices flowing reminding me of the grit, determination & resilience whether you’re in a start-up, software house, technology company or corporate striving to be the best you can.


Here's a great video re-cap of this awesome IT conference in Christchurch that has become an annual showpiece of the South Island IT community




Keynote speaker & marketing guru Andy Cunningham was fired 5 times by Steve Jobs ...amazing war stories & presentation!


Andy Cunningham delivering a great opening keynote at the 2017 photo by Canterbury Tech

Andy Cunningham delivering a great opening keynote at the 2017 photo by Canterbury Tech


Digital Marketing guru Andy Cunningham on companies - 'Know your Super Power' your 'Onlyness'! The thing you do better than anyone else.


Once again a very well attended event & a highlight of the Christchurch tech calendar photo by Canterbury Tech

Once again a very well attended event & a highlight of the Christchurch tech calendar photo by Canterbury Tech


There was a variety of topics & speakers from AI, Machine Learning, BIg Data, Security, Digital Disruption, Design Thinking, Cloud, Bitcoin & the Blockchain....


AI Forum of NZ photo by Canterbury Tech 

AI Forum of NZ photo by Canterbury Tech 

Here's to another great software summit and I'm already looking forward to the next one in 2018! Thanks again to the Canterbury Tech committee for another superbly organised event and to all those who attended.


I'm Founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment company specialising in IT roles within software, web, mobile, development, infrastructure in Christchurch, New Zealand.



Web Designer? Love graphics? Work on leading edge software products?



Do you like designing with front-end & back-end devs working on software products to give scintillating customer experience?

We have a couple of hot web design roles we’re currently recruiting for awesome software house clients in Christchurch.


Senior Web Designer / Graphics Designer, $70k-$90k + Puzzles + Toys + Robots + Yoga + BringYourDogToWork + Flexible working

Are you a Design visionary? Work within agile creating & designing a suite of global software products……

please check out the role here


Intermediate Web Designer (Adobe Creative Suite), $60k-$80k + training + insurance + sit/stand desks + fruit/drinks fridge + Flexible working

Are you a solid web designer using CSS3/HTML5/SASS? Want to work in an agile team delivering to Big Brands?

please check out the role here


Jump on in - contact Paul now sending your CV to


I'm Founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment company specialising in IT roles within software, web, mobile, development, infrastructure in Christchurch, New Zealand.



Why do companies use IT Contractors?


In this blog I’ll give you some reasons why companies use them, some pitfalls to watch out for and some tips on how to manage IT Contractors…


Why should I use an IT Contractor?


***When your team needs more resource but not enough to justify a full-time hire

***They are a specialist that can solve a specific problem / provide a specific solution for you

***Provide Expertise in a knowledge domain / hard-to-find skill set

***Great when you have a project budget & you can use skilled experts to resource this

***Flexible Resourcing - time of engagement from hours, weeks, months or years if needed

***Short notice periods i.e. 1-2 weeks is standard for 3-6 month contracts

***You only pay for work performed 

***They can bring new ideas / different ways of working

***Up-skill other team members

***Look at overall methodologies / processes to improve 

***Can provide coaching on new ways of working i.e. Agile / Scrum or TDD/BDD/DDD etc

***Can focus on a specific piece of work the team has been struggling with / are fed up with

***Can be paid for in Capex budget rather than Opex

***Fill a key gap that may become vacant due to maternity cover, long-term sick or someone on secondment / long-term leave etc that is critical to your business 

***Try before you buy - not quite sure? Take someone on contract and see how they perform

***Having a very high-end resource can be very valuable to an organisation delivering value, improvements, efficiencies and innovations - you may want to move them onto the next project and / or take them on permanently (if they are open to this) 


What are the Negatives or things that I should watch out for with IT Contractors?


***Cost is a premium - but you pay for what you get (keep an eye on your budget)

***IP can walk out the door - you need to manage your contractors closely

***They can become 'part of the furniture' & never leave - again you need to be aware of how your head count is made up ie FTE & Contractors

***Make sure you work out the market contract rate & pay accordingly 

***A professional IT Contractor will always want to finish an assignment so pay a market rate to ensure this isn’t a reason for them leaving 


Winston Wolfe.png


What are some of the key tips I should know to managing IT Contractors?

***Ensure your IT contractor doesn’t become ‘indispensable’ or ‘irreplaceable’ by not sharing information or not documenting key information —> Have senior team members collaborate / work together with the IT Contractor

***Set expectations up front before engaging the IT Contractor or on the start of the assignment-> When expectations are clearly communicated issues are less likely to arise 

***Draw specialist knowledge from the IT Contractor —> Have the IT Contractor pass on skills / technical knowledge and even 'Upskill’ other team members in a particular domain or language

***Have the contractor sign an NDA - Non-disclosure Agreement to protect your IP (Intellectual Property)

***Give feedback to the IT Contractor or IT Recruiter on how they’re getting on

***If an IT Contractor does stay long-term ensure you write in specific project briefs in the contract to avoid risk of it being deemed an employee relationship by the IRD


IT Contractors are an excellent way to get flexible resource into your business if used & managed well.

If you have any questions or want to know more on how an IT Contractor could help your team or business please feel free to contact Paul on 021 532 008  or email:


I'm Founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment company specialising in providing IT Contractors within software, web, mobile development & infrastructure skill sets in Christchurch, New Zealand. To find out more on how we can help you with IT Contractors please click here:



Presentation to CompSoc at University of Canterbury - How to actually get an IT job when you're a graduate

What do IT Recruiters & IT Hiring managers ACTUALLY look for when they're hiring?

My aim of this talk is to give you some simple insights into how to find a job when you are an IT graduate.

The first thing to decide is what area you’e gong into: development or infrastructure? And I assume most will be looking into a code orientated role…

But if you do go down the infrastructure route please make sure you get a role that is technical enough & allows you to code / script otherwise you might find your job being replaced by a Chat Bot sooner rather than later.


So How do you actually get a job?


Once you've decided the area you want to go into, then you can decide on the type of role you want! So within development do you enjoy mobile apps, web or full stack development, back-end or want to go deep into Big Data? Within Infrastructure / Networks do you want to be involved in Comms like Juniper or Cisco, or a SysAdmin/DevOps role within Windows or Linux?

Then you can shape your CV around that type of role including those relevant technologies & personal projects…I understand there’s been a CV workshop so we’ll skip that. You can also tailor your CV to different roles if you quite like web & full stack dev for example…so it’s more about having a general idea i.e. web and then going for a few different types of web roles…

We also want to see either an internship or a personal project within the technology we’re recruiting for i.e. if you’re going for mobile apps we’d like you to be able to have some basic coding in Java on android or swift on iOS,  or be able to talk about your projects at Uni from a technical standpoint….this will really make you stand out from the other candidates...

Write a Cover letter - either as an attachment or in an email paragraph actually telling the recruiter, HR manager or line manager your current situation and why you’re interested in the specific role. Keep it short & punchy.

Let your friends know you’re looking for a job, let your parents know, then let your friends of your parents know that you’re looking for a job - you’d be surprised how many people get jobs this way or at least an interview or foot-in-the-door.

Go to Job fairs / company presentations / start networking / have you created a LinkedIn profile?

The classic saying ‘It’s not what you know it’s who you know’ but I like to take this to the next level ’It’s what you know & who you know’!!!!

Apply for graduate jobs online on the various Job boards - TradeMe / Seek / SJS / LinkedIn

CV, cover letter then apply, if there’s a direct email send it direct to them. Then follow up with a phone call (this is the crucial most valuable point I will make in this talk tonight…it seems simple….this will instantly show you’re keen, interested & confident….I have a policy that if anyone rings me about a tech job and wants to see me I pretty much say yes….

Paul giving his talk - photo by Sam Yamoah (CompSoc)

Paul giving his talk - photo by Sam Yamoah (CompSoc)


The Interview:

(Mock interview with Sam Yamoah of CompSoc)

These are some of my favourite tech interview questions ....

1) What do you enjoy about coding?

2) Tell me about your most successful project?

3) What's the hardest problem you've ever solved?

4) What new technology have you been excited about recently?


Hot technologies in demand in the Christchurch IT market:


Web UI Applications Development - JavaScript (Angular2 or React)

Software Development - C#.Net or Java, often now Full Stack Development with HTML/CSS/JavaScript (Angular or React etc)

Full stack Web Development (PHP/JavaScript) i.e. Laravel, Silverstripe, Symfony2)

Big Data - Hadoop / Spark / Google Cloud - DataScientist or Data Engineer

Mobile Apps Development (iOS or Android)

SysAdmin (Linux scripting in BASH or Windows scripting in Powershell)

Networking with Cisco, Juniper, Huawei 

DevOps - release cycle / automation - Docker


Sometimes the graduate role will be learning the ropes - the coding language, tooling & domain but just make sure the role has progression and you like the company culture & the team is friendly & fun with some good senior people to learn from.

One of the questions was about soft skills and I mentioned a very good book on Human Relations....

‘How to win friends & influence people’ by Dale Carnegie.  It's a terribly cheesy title but being written in 1936 it’s stood the test of time and has been modernised to give contemporary examples.  This is a MUST read for any person in business and will help improve your people skills.

If you haven’t started out on LinkedIn yet feel free to create a profile & connect with me. You can also check out our current graduate roles here:


Graduate Web Developer

Graduate Mobile Apps Developer



I'm founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment company specialising in software, infrastructure web & mobile jobs based in Christchurch. Feel free to send me your CV to:




How to improve your people skills when it doesn't come naturally to you!



As an IT recruiter candidates often ask me how they can improve their soft skills, their People skills? And let’s face it in business with team members, management, stakeholders, customers, suppliers - it can be a lot of people contact when actually what you’re really good at is the technical side of things. But that’s business….


So what are some of the positive things you can do to improve your people & communication skills?


***Get involved

Just turn up! Whether it’s a drink on a Friday night or cooking that cake for charity or a company quiz night….people like people who are ‘good sports’ & get involved.   It doesn’t matter if you’re not good at something - nobody cares - just by showing your face & fronting up is a really powerful thing especially as it often means you get to meet & interact with people in the company you don’t know. You will be remembered.

Tip for introverts: You’re often better at developing deep lasting relationships so head along with someone you know or team up with some people you’re familiar with.


***Go Travelling

Head out and see the big world, meet some incredible people backpacking & have experiences beyond your imagination. You’ll learn some street smarts, meet some fascinating people (a lot of tech & entrepreneurial types of all ages), you’ll have time to read a lot of books, debate & philosophise with like minded guys & gals. It will improve your communication, confidence, independence & resilience. Whether it be Europe to kick off or keeping it cheap across Asia, some of the best lessons in life I’ve learnt travelling about myself, what is important in life & what it really means to live it to the full.

Tip for introverts: Have a basic plan of places to go but part of the fun is having flexibility and being able to stay longer in the places you're enjoying without being on too much of a schedule allowing you to explore more.


***Go to Networking events

The old saying of ’It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is very powerful, however I like to take it a step further and say ‘it’s what you know and who you know’ if you’re good at what you do and you know people you’ll pretty much be successful. So go along to Canterbury tech / industry events & conferences - it’s a great way to keep current, learn about new technologies / methodologies and it makes you look at your projects differently.  It may enhance your solutions & put a different perspective on ways to do things better.

Tip for introverts: Take a buddy or plan to at least meet someone you know – have a plan on what to say / how to introduce yourself / remember your business cards. Sometimes it's best to go solo and you're forced to meet people - don't worry they're all there for the same topic, and are friendly & professional.


***Read Books

Read stuff that is industry relevant to you but also throw in a 'businessy' book especially if you’re making the transition from technical to leadership….

Some classics from the Sunstone bookshelf on human relations are:

‘How to win friends & influence people’ by Dale Carnegie.  It's a terribly cheesy title but being written in 1936 it’s stood the test of time and has been modernised to give contemporary examples.  This is a MUST read for any person in business but also helps with friends & family too...

‘Drive’ by Dan Pink. How we are motivated & approach work - this in an extremely insightful book on modern working.

‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’ by Stephen Covey. Some of the foundations & fundamentals on how successful people operate, it's a classic.


***Take Opportunities

Just by saying ‘Yes’ to going on that training course or going out to see a client - different experiences shape us and make us richer for it & again pushes your experience in learning new & different things.

Tip for Introverts: You’ll no doubt analyse the opportunity first that’s right for your skill set / experience but if you’re on the fence take that step and you might be pleasantly surprised.


***Keep Balanced

Keep up your personal interests, exercise & passions, catch up with friends, and make time for family - these will keep you mentally strong. In times of stress take some time out to meditate, stretch out with yoga or take a walk to let the mind wander.  Often my clients don’t just want passion for the job but want passion for interests as this makes for more interesting, well-rounded positive people.


So there you are – get out and get amongst it!


I'm founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment company specialising in software, web & mobile jobs based in Christchurch, New Zealand. You can contact me on: