Canterbury tech Summit 2019


Stephen Scheeler, The Digital CEO (ex CEO Facebook of NZ / Australia) photo by Sunstone

The Canterbury Tech Summit really has become one of those dependable events & highlights of the business year where you just rock up and have that hard choice of who am I going to see talk…It really is such a credit to the Canterbury tech community, to all who organised the event - thanks to the committee and to all who were involved in another outstanding event that the IT community in Christchurch can be super proud of…


The Jungle Gym with Stephen Scheeler, The Digital CEO (ex CEO Facebook of NZ / Australia) photo by Sunstone

When Stephen Scheeler ran onto the stage you knew you were in for something good. The ex Facebook CEO of NZ / Australia & Ted Talk guy oozed personality and was a new skool speaker in which I thoroughly enjoyed getting real stories from the trenches…

How he introduced 5 minute meetings at Facebook and professed the most valuable thing you can do is ‘give back time to your staff’ - what a hero. He talked about how the old corporate ladder is over and now modern tech companies talk about the ‘Jungle Gym’ in which people want to work across an organisation experiencing different parts of it gaining more valuable insights, leading rather than top down management.

‘The combination of data insights, obsession & paranoia that leads to continuously better customer outcomes’

I also liked the way he described how companies are looking to remove friction between customers and in doing so solve a problem or deliver a great service…some epic real examples were captivating - what a start to kick things off and I’ll be following this funny, charismatic super insightful tech business guru from now on.


The years it took for different media to capture 50 million users, WeChat took just 4 months photo by Sunstone

Olivier Klein from Amazon delivered a polished performance with some great insights into how Amazon utilises data (Machine Learning / AI) and Computer Vision for it’s fulfilment centres. They extract every ounce of efficiency using slick logistics capabilities being able to deliver the very next day to customers and now have a large fufilment centre in Melbourne.


Olivier Klein, Head of Emerging Technologies, AWS (Amazon Web Services photo by Sunstone

The always amazing captain fantastic Charlotte Walshe from Jade talked through the interesting journey where Jade has come from & where they’re going as she steers the ship into the digital & data age.

Graham Grant from Seequent talked about their fascinating journey on how they’ve become a global player & about running great businesses. A great analogy he drew on was now when you go into a hardware store and ask for nails they don’t just give you nails, they ask you what problem you’re trying to solve and instead of coming out with a $5 bag of nails you end up coming out with a bag of screws, a planer and a power drill having spent $500 bucks - brilliant…

I also heard the Sharesies talk was a good one by Brooke Roberts - a user friendly app to help simplify share trading on the index for people of all ages new to the share market.


Dr Dan Milligan in the lab doing his PhD at University of Canterbury, Christchurch photo by Sunstone

In the theatre I enjoyed Dr Dan Milligan from Syft, an entertaining & down to earth take on How to Successfully Commercialise a Technology Business. The link between product development, sales & marketing and developing culture around delivering to customers. He started designing & developing the original product as part of his PhD at UC (University of Canterbury) and gave some insightful examples from his hugely successful journey with Syft.

‘Success = Engagement’


Nigel Latta - popular psychologist had the crowd belly laughing what a finish to an amazing day photo by Sunstone

Nigel Latta wrapped up things with a hilarious talk showing us how even babies in a study will choose kindness and relaying a few belly laughable stories which took us into drinks & networking.

His simple messages were:

1) Build Culture

2) Reduce Friction

3) Make Peoples Lives Better

and most of all just be KIND.


Couldn’t resist a selfie with Nigel Latta photo by Sunstone

Thanks again to everyone who was involved at the Canterbury Tech Summit 2019 - what an event. Will next year or the year after see us venture back into the CBD? New conference centre in Christchurch? Could be very exciting…Watch this space….



Looking to change your career into IT or another area of technology?

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Are you looking to transition your career into IT or another IT skill area?

This can often be a challenging move but there’s some good tactics that you can start with….

Firstly what area do I want to go into? Knowing that you need a change is often the easy part but often working out what area to go into is the challenge.

It’s great to work out your strengths & weaknesses, what you’ve liked and not liked, some of your favourite projects or achievements at work over the past few years may highlight this… and to be truly honest with yourself. Some times talking to a career consultant can help this at the start of your journey.

Once you’ve worked this out what are the next steps?

Networking - Start networking within that area you’re looking to get into…if you’re looking to get into a BA / Product Owner role go to agile talks where these type of people hang out and ask them about their jobs. How did they get into their role? Ask family friends or colleagues who are in this particular job and go have a coffee with them - find out about how they got into it.

Meet-Up Groups, Institutes or associations - If it’s in Project Management for example join the PMI or if you want to focus more on Product Management becoming a Product Owner head a long to the Product Management meet-up group in Christchurch click here :-). This is where these people are and not only will you learn about your new trade but you might even make contacts that will get you hired.

Skills Based CV - This is a very powerful method of taking your skills / experiences from your previous work history and getting these at the top of your CV to ‘hit the reader in the face’ and make an impact. It’s also quite enlightening to really clarify if these are the things you really want to be doing in the next few years so it often can clarify your desires to get into this new field.

For a skills-based CV example from the NZ government careers page please click here.

Projects on your CV - Pulling out real life examples that you’ve already worked on can be a very powerful way of leveraging previous projects & experience into your new area of choice. It also gets you thinking in your current position of the types of projects, opportunities or training you should be putting your hand up for in your current role & organisation.

Just do it - Once you come up with a plan you’ll start to look at stuff differently with your ‘PM’ mindset or ‘designer hat’ on or whatever that may be and I often say if you enjoy (like or love even) what you do you’ll become very successful - sometimes it’s not always that easy but we can make changes to start edging your way towards the end goal…but we need to know what that end goal is and make a plan, a road map to follow. So get out there and make IT happen!!!!

I'm Paul, Founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment & HR company specialising in recruiting IT roles within software, web, mobile, blockchain, big data, infrastructure, security & networks in Christchurch & South Island of New Zealand.



2019 Presentation to CompSoc at University of Canterbury - How to actually get an IT job

sunstone talk 2019.png

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’re going into: development or infrastructure? And I assume most will be looking for 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 or Digital Human sooner rather than later.

Sunstone UC talk2.jpg

So how do you actually get an IT 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….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…

If you have a chance to go to a CV workshop I’d recommend that as we get a lot of people to re-write their CVs.

Some of the key issues we often have are:

***Spelling / grammar mistakes

***Long waffling CVs so keep short & succinct 1-3 pages

***Expand detail on your technical projects you did at Uni and any side projects or internships

***Make sure your CV is relevant to the role you’re applying to which can mean changing things to emphasise different technologies or projects

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...

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 the best candidate for the job - think of it was your 30 second elevator pitch. Keep it short & punchy.

Let your friends know you’re looking for a job, let your parents know, then let your friend’s 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?

Get out there & network you can attend your local Meetups (free) and your local tech conferences (at reduced student rates) & hackathons. We have some excellent resources in Christchurch that you can check out like Ministry of Awesome, Canterbury Tech, Meetups, and the Christchurch Hacker Conference.

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 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….

A rainbow welcomes me back to my old university for a talk to computer science & software engineering students

A rainbow welcomes me back to my old university for a talk to computer science & software engineering students

The Interview:

(Mock interview thank you to Exequiel from CompSoc for taking part :-)

Here are some interview questions you’re likely to get at your first interview....


1) How did your course go at Uni? What did you most enjoy?

2) What do you like to do out of study?

3) What do you enjoy about coding?

4) Tell me about your most successful technical project?

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

6) What new technologies have you been excited about recently?


Hot technologies in demand in the Christchurch IT market:

Web UI Applications Development - TypeScript / Angular2, JavaScript (React or Vue.js)

Containerisation & DevOps - Docker / Kubernetes / Rancher, Ansible or Puppet

Software - C#.Net, Java, C++ or Python

Full Stack Web Development - (PHP/JavaScript) Laravel, Silverstripe, Symfony2)

Big Data, DataScientist or Data Engineer - ML & AI - Coding in R / Python /Spark / Tensor Flow /

Mobile Apps - Native (iOS or Android) or Hybrid (Xamarin etc)

SysAdmin - Linux scripting in BASH or Windows scripting in Powershell

Cloud - AWS, Azure & Google Cloud

Network Engineering - Cisco, Juniper, Huawei, Fortinet

Data Analytics - Power BI or Tableau

Automation engineering / testing - Test frameworks like Katalan, Selenium, Cucumber, scripting in Python, Java or C#

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.

So what are the highest paid jobs?

Software Architecture and product design & development but of course if you’re the top in any area in IT you will be very well paid.

Seek today released the top 20 highest paid jobs and Head of Engineering & Head of IT were the top even higher paid than a GP. 10 IT jobs featured in the top 20. Please click here to read more.

After 6 or 7 years or earlier you can think about becoming a contractor earning hourly rates to work on projects that can give you excellent variety, interest and opportunity to run your own freelancing / consulting company. A very experienced Senior Software Developer contracting in Christchurch can earn $100 per hour.

Of course you need to start somewhere and a graduate degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering will get you a starting salary in Christchurch of about $45k-$58k depending on the organisation and role. $50k is a good rule of thumb and it can go up quite quickly once you start adding value after just a few years.

Why should you work overseas? It’s great to work on the big stage, work on super large systems, see how companies do things differently (and similar) and work in different cultures meeting great people & some life long friends and when you come back to NZ for family & lifestyle you’re very well qualified.

We talked about about influencing & 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.

So keep up your coding and at the very least scripting in Python and soon even Receptionists & Admins will be coding in Python.

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 please here:

 Graduate Full Stack C#.Net Software Engineer, IT Jobs Christchurch NZ 

Feel free to send me your CV and I’m happy to give you some feedback & maybe we can catch up for a coffee :-)

You can email me on:

I'm Paul, Founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment & HR company specialising in recruiting IT roles within software, web, mobile, blockchain, big data, infrastructure, security & networks in Christchurch & South Island of New Zealand.




What are the positives & negatives of using part-time workers in your business?


All the research says flexibility is the most popular benefit candidates look for in a job and with the work landscape changing in how we deliver work - how can you ensure your business outcomes are met?

The initial concerns are often...

***Well we need 40 hours per week - we’re budgeted for an FTE (Full-time equivalent)

***If we offer part-time other workers will others want to do the same?

****Will we lose productivity?

So what are the positives?

***You instantly increase your candidate pool

Opening up a whole new pool of skilled & experienced workers who either for family reasons, interests, life-balance choose (or don’t choose can have dependants that restrict their working hours) 20, 25, 30, 32 hours

***You save on salary overhead ie you pay pro rata so if they work 4 days a week you pay them 4/5 salary - simple

***You can save on the recruitment fee as you only pay a % of the salary the candidate is appointed on

***You retain staff who have been wanting to work part-time instead of having them leave - they can no longer work full-time (having families or other commitments)

***With an ageing work force (The baby ‘boomers’) you can retain skills & experience instead of having them retire for good

***Increase in productivity much has been mentioned about a 6 hour work day being more productive…check out the article from the Harvard Business Review click here

***Part-time workers are often very skilled & experienced and can often come in and ‘nail it’ working very efficiently focused on outcomes

***A recent study on ‘Presenteeism’ found 57.5 days per year were lost with workers turning up & not actually doing anything…please check out an article on EHS today click here

***Some part-time contractors already have client commitments but can help you out for 5, 10, 15 or 20 hours etc and as they’re very skilled & experienced can get you the right business outcomes quickly

What are the negatives?

***Overhead - You have a work station - desk top / desk / phone etc set up for full-time yet it’s only being used part-time

***Availability? Synching with team meetings. Do you have core hours set that everyone needs to be available for ie 10-3pm etc?

***Not available for impromptu meetings out of their working hours

***Part-time contractors can come at a premium hourly $$ rate but can deliver you excellent value

So in skill short industries like IT a smart talent strategy is being open to all types of working relationships which is positive for both employees and the business. Opening up the candidate pool statistically gives you a higher chance of hiring better qualified, well-matched candidates to the work outcomes you require to get achieved.

Let me know your thoughts & experiences with part-time?

I'm Paul, I love coffee, Founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment & HR company specialising in recruiting IT roles within software, web, mobile, blockchain, big data, cloud infrastructure, security & networks in Christchurch & South Island of New Zealand.


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What do I need to set up as a professional IT contractor?


You’re looking to get into IT contracting for the variety of projects, the excellent hourly $$ rate & no politics but what do you need to set up and what are the real costs of IT contracting?

The reality is that it’s not that hard to become an IT contractor and setting up is relatively straight forward with everything you need to know online.

Company set up:

You can start contracting immediately as a ’Sole trader’. This is zero dollars to set up.

Once you start to earn over $60k per year you need to register for GST.

If you’re looking to become a contractor long-term you might want to set up a limited company for $150 as this can give you tax advantages. For example your tax rate can be lower than top personal rates.

Check out the differences between a Sole Trader & Limited Company structures click here.

Apparently New Zealand is one of the easiest places in the world to do business and start up your own company.

To see how to start up a business click here.

Provisional (Income) Tax, GST & ACC:

The IRD simply want to get paid the tax they are due.

Most professional IT contractors will be in the 30% tax bracket & the best tip I’ve had when I was a contractor is to keep 1/3 (ie 33%) of the money you earn in a separate account for tax and a wee bit more (to cover any oversights or expenses) & remember THIS MONEY IS NOT YOURS IT’S THE GOVERNMENTS.

If you are GST registered you add 15% to your invoices and the best way to think of GST is you are collecting GST for the government. Again put this into your separate account and don’t touch it until you pay your GST.

You also need to pay ACC being self-employed.

To see how much your ACC levy will be click here.

The number 1 way small companies get into strife is not paying their tax correctly.

Accounting systems: 

Of course we have Xero which is super easy to set up & is a flexible solution. If you’re only sending up to 5 invoices per month it only costs $27.50 per month.

To check out Xero click here.

There are other options on the market but many people love the simplicity of Xero as do I.


As a contractor you’ll be expected to record the hours you work & submit these to a line manager for invoicing purposes. This is a small piece of admin that is usually done on an email, spreadsheet or app.


Typically every month (or few weeks depending on your agreement) you’ll send an invoice with the hours you’ve worked to the company or IT recruitment agency. At Sunstone we pay within 1-2 days of when the work is complete.


There are plenty of accountants who will oversee your provisional tax (income tax) for your company & yourself (personal Income tax & how much you pay yourself or as a dividend - ask your accountant about this).

It will be cheaper if you reconcile your accounts & do your GST yourself and it’s VERY easy once you have Xero set up. It’s also quite fun as you’re learning how the nuts & bolts of a  business works and this adds to your professional business experience :-)

Again the number 1 way small companies get into strife is not paying their tax correctly so get a decent accountant and as long as you’re on top of this it’s plain sailing.

Sick leave / Public holidays / KiwiSaver: 

Sick leave. There is none.

The hours you work are the hours you get paid for & really any time you take off is covered in your contracting rate but it might be an idea to budget for some sick days off per year say 5.

You won’t get paid on public holidays or when you go away on holiday. When you finish a contract it can be a good time to turn this into a holiday before you get your next contract or at least make sure you budget for when you do schedule your next family holiday.

You’ll have to contribute your own money to KiwiSaver. If you contribute at least $1,042.86 a year (from 1 July to 30 June) to your KiwiSaver account you get the maximum Government contribution of $521.43. Ask your accountant or check out the KiwiSaver website here.


You can claim back work expenses like petrol (kilometres) to & from the work site, work tools (Laptop, Mobile etc), business coffees & lunches. Remember to keep your receipts for 7 years.

Here’s how expenses work click here.

It’s also good to think of some extra expenses that might arise like a new laptop, phone or vehicle so think a head and put away 3 months of earnings to give yourself a buffer.

More on things to think about before you become a contractor click here.


Most companies require Professional Indemnity insurance. You can search online for a broker or ask for a referral from an IT contractor you know.

You may also want to consider liability insurance should you get sued this will cover costs like legal expenses. If you’re working on large, expensive IT systems in mission critical enterprise environments (like banking, aviation or defence etc) where things could go wrong this is worth looking into.

Market Contract Rate:

Make sure you charge a decent contract rate. For shorter assignments your rate will be higher for longer-term ie 12 months+ it would be less. Talk to fellow contractors and find out what a ballpark market hourly rate and I’m always happy to advise on market IT contract rates for various IT disciplines as this is what I do everyday.

Professional conduct & 3rd party independent view:

Now you have your own company and you’re about to step on-site and start working as an IT contractor you can hold your head up high and be a true professional. Many professional contractors enjoy being an independent consultant as they can focus on the technical solution / project and not get caught up in the politics of an organisation.

Networking events / professional development:

Getting out to networking events & keeping up-to-date with latest technologies is part of the professional IT contractors job. This doesn’t have to be a crazy amount, but pick the right networking events for what you do & go to them regularly - become known. It’s also great to go on courses (online & physical) that will extend your skills & you get to meet excellent contacts in your industry which is a win-win situation.


A lot of IT contractors find their work extremely rewarding due to the purpose and the effort they put in - they get out. There’s a sense of pride in doing purposeful work for yourself, Your reputation is important and from doing great work it leads to more great work as you continue to build your contracting network.


I’ve been managing IT contracting relationships for nearly 20 years & having been a contractor myself and running Sunstone Group Limited I’m happy to point you in the right direction. Whether you’re looking to start out as a contractor or are a seasoned IT contractor looking for your next assignment get in touch. I’m always happy to advise you on the going contract rate for a particular skill set in Christchurch just reach out on: / 021 532 008

Disclaimer: Before you commit to any of these please seek professional accounting or legal advice as everyone’s situation is a little different.

Are you ready to step up & become a professional IT contractor?

Here are some of the IT contract roles we have currently live in Christchurch:

CONTRACT Java Developer, IT Jobs Christchurch NZ

CONTRACT Senior JavaScript Web Developer, IT Jobs Christchurch NZ

CONTRACT Software Test Engineer, IT Jobs Christchurch NZ

CONTRACT Senior C#.Net / Angular Full Stack Web Developer (TypeScript or JavaScript), IT Jobs Christchurch NZ

CONTRACT Senior Web Developer (Angular / TypeScript), IT Jobs Christchurch NZ

CONTRACT Intermediate C#.Net/SQL Software Developer, IT Jobs Christchurch NZ

CONTRACT Senior C#.Net/SQL Software Developer, IT Jobs Christchurch NZ

CONTRACT Senior C#.Net/SQL Integration Software Developer, IT Jobs Christchurch NZ

Wow you made it all the way to the end - I’m stoked so thanks for reading!

I'm Paul, I love coffee, Founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment & HR company specialising in recruiting IT roles within software, web, mobile, blockchain, big data, cloud infrastructure, security & networks in Christchurch & South Island of New Zealand.

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