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Software Development Manager by day, Tennis Captain by night; Anton Parker tells us about his role heading up a diverse and creative team, and how management has changed during the COVID-19 lockdown, in the latest of our Inside IMS series.

After travelling through South East Asia and living in Australia for a year, Anton joined the UK IMS Evolve team in 2004 as a Linux Engineer. He soon moved into software development and quickly found his footing after progressing from a Software Developer into a lead position within the team. Today, he heads the department in his role as Software Development Manager.

‘I manage a large multi-discipline team of Full Stack, Database and Integration Developers. Together, we’re responsible for creating and building the software product suite that is available to our customers.

‘Progressing from a Software Developer within IMS myself, I understand both the vast opportunities as well as the various challenges my team will face on a day-to-day basis. My role is to lead them through the inevitable challenges that come with the job, as well as to encourage a creative and forward-thinking mindset. This is key to enable the team to focus on delivering software that drives value for our customers and that is aligned to the strategic technological vision of the business.’

The culture at IMS, underpinned by the company’s values, provides Anton and his team the flexibility to think outside of the box. Anton acknowledges how important it is to leverage the individual strengths of his team and encourage a comfortable and collaborative place to share ideas.

‘Naturally, the team are very creative and welcome a collaborative platform to showcase their ideas. But they really thrive when they harness this creativity and innovate to find new ways of working; the open culture at IMS encourages this and provides a place where everyone can feel confident to share ideas. Whether it's an active session to devise a mobile application or designing a new energy forecasting module, any project where they can push the boundaries to solve a problem they will grab with both hands.’

Alongside managing the department, Anton works closely with other functions in the business, such as the Client Partners, Programme Managers and the COO, in order to efficiently plan resource to achieve set deliverables and support other business requirements.

‘A day at IMS can require many different gear changes, from project briefings, calls with our American team, preparing a code deployment and one-to-one time with my department. To establish a routine, I always aim to start and end my days with designated time to set intentions, prioritise and reflect on achievements ­– and catch up on emails of course!

‘In my previous role as a Software Developer, my time was mostly spent doing what I love – solving problems with code. As a Development Manager, I still get to problem solve, but my resources have changed; communication, support, encouragement and compromise are now my go-to tools to solve the problems the team and I face.’

With the current global pandemic keeping office doors shut around the world, Anton and his team have had to quickly adapt to maintain the collaborative ethos in the new ‘working from home’ normal.

‘COVID-19 has undoubtably bought unexpected changes to the way we work. Maintaining momentum and establishing new routines has been important to ensure the department keeps up with the continued pace of business.

‘Remote collaboration is now standard practice in the Development team. We've made full use of online communication platforms to continue the office conversation, elevate productivity, and increase morale with webcam-on stand-ups. I've personally enjoyed adapting to working from home and the benefits it brings; no commute, savings on parking, more flexibility with my home life and, most of all, working in my pyjamas!’

Despite the pandemic, IMS Evolve’s business opportunities continue to expand and with Anton’s department growing considerably over the years, hiring new talent has become a key element of his role.

‘I really enjoy the process of hiring new team members and mentoring, coaching and supporting the individuals to enable them to grow into the roles they aspire to reach.

‘At IMS, I have been afforded the opportunity to strive for my career goals and although there are aspects of my role that I find hard work, they are as rewarding as they are challenging. The people, the culture and our product have been a source of continual inspiration for me and it is always exciting to bring someone else into that environment and watch them flourish.’

Although a working life with Harry Potter on in the background hasn’t proved too uncomfortable for Anton, he is hoping normality will resume soon so that he can continue to get his travelling fix following his football team, Arsenal, around Europe as an avid supporter holding a season ticket for over 20 years.

‘I also play tennis for my local club and captain one of the men's doubles team, training in the evenings and weekends around work – and a social life!’