In the second of our sponsor interviews, we talked with Wayne Forgesson from Intergen.
Webstock: Wayne, how would you describe Intergen? What sort of company are you, what sets Intergen apart?
Intergen: Intergen is New Zealand’s largest and most dedicated provider of web and software development services, based entirely on Microsoft technologies.
In terms of what sets us apart, there are a number of things I could mention here. For anyone who has come into contact with Intergen, chances are they come away with two very distinct impressions: first, our people are extremely passionate about what they do; second, we’ve got a really strong (and very yellow) brand and culture, which our people are really proud of and work hard to preserve. The yellow padded meeting room doors in our Wellington office are an example of passion, brand and desire for all things fun.
We started out as a small operation in Wellington, and now employ more than 200 staff across offices in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Sydney and Perth. From the early days we have always had a focus on our people, and this has remained true and I think this has really helped shape Intergen’s unique culture. We’re lucky to employ some of the best and brightest in the game, we have a number of technology evangelists and experts who are leading the way not just within New Zealand, but globally as well. In the words of a recent Intergen inductee: “Intergen is made up of intelligent extroverts who are the best at what they do. I love the fact that every way I turn I see talented people excelling at what they do and absolutely loving it.
Webstock: Intergen is closely aligned with Microsoft and a Microsoft partner. What benefits has that brought to Intergen?
Intergen: Being a Gold Certified Microsoft Partner is absolutely central to everything we do. The benefits go both ways, and the strong partnership we have with Microsoft gives our customers the certainty that they’re dealing with proven, universally recognisable technologies and engaging the most experienced New Zealand company to understand their individual business needs and implement the best possible solution.
On our staff we have one Microsoft Regional Director, four Microsoft MVPs (most valuable professionals), plus a number of other subject matter experts as well. What this illustrates in a nutshell (for the non Microsoft) is that we have staff on board who not only bring the best of breed solutions to our customers, but who are also extremely active within the New Zealand technology community (as well as globally), and who also act in an advisory capacity to Microsoft in helping them shape their future directions. We were really pleased to be named Microsoft Partner of the Year 2008, in recognition of our commitment to Microsoft since we started out as Glazier Systems back in 1995.
Webstock: How would you describe the web and software scene in New Zealand? Is it competitive? Collegial? Is there a sense of being part of a larger NZ Inc, competing against the world?
Intergen: It seems to me the web scene in New Zealand is extremely collegial. It’s an area of tremendous, almost unprecedented growth – a really exciting place to be. The internet – and the way in which we engage with it – changes every day, and we learn the most by sharing knowledge and networks. New Zealand has some terrific examples of web successes, and these successes have been shared, to great effect. I’m always proud to be a Kiwi and especially proud when our friends/partners and competitors are making a difference in the international scene. One thing we focus on is trying to share our learnings, and thoughts from our experts, by offering seminars of relevance to technologists and web enthusiasts alike. A recent example of this is the free Online Communities seminar we offered, with a visiting specialist from Sweden giving real examples of how organisations in the Northern Hemisphere have successfully built online communities.
As for the global question, and whether we’re competing against the world… Intergen is in an interesting position, and I’m sure there are numerous companies in the same boat. As we share a very strong relationship with Microsoft, we are often engaged to work with Microsoft Corporation on upcoming projects and new technologies; and these engagements can see us working and presenting all around the world. In an online world where New Zealand is no longer considered quite so ‘remote’ as it used to be, working ahead of the clock can have distinct advantages, and I don’t think there’s so much of the ‘us against them’ mentality. We may be a small nation, but in all senses of the word we’ve proved ourselves to be world class.
Webstock: If there was one project that you felt best encapsulated Intergen – your ethos, your philosophy, your strengths – what is it? Tell us a little about it.
Intergen: This is actually much harder than it looks and there isn’t one project that does this, there are many. In fact we want all our projects to do this. Our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is about positively touching everyone with what we do; “Everyone, every day, is touched positively by the things we do” and this is truly an intent in what we do. Key aspects for us are; making a difference, having fun, solving technical problems, having fun, working with new stuff and having fun.
Significant projects that help us achieve our BHAG have included:
Tertiary Education Commission – a range of projects that have improved the processes within TEC and their ability to achieve their business goals
Department of Internal Affairs – rates rebate project for local authorities to accept and process rates rebates claims from low income families
Westland Diary – Financials, reporting and process improvement projects for Westland Diary
Webstock: Intergen has been a sponsor of every Webstock. Why? What have been the benefits for Intergen?
Intergen: It goes back to the collegiality thing we touched upon earlier. For us it’s an honour to be involved with Webstock. Every year the bar is lifted even higher, and it’s one of those rare conferences where you really do feel that a ‘meeting of the minds’ is happening, where web practitioners of all descriptions are challenged to be even better, and to never stop learning. You can feel the synergies and the enthusiasm, and the calibre of speaker is always top notch. To be associated with such a group is great for Intergen. We’ve got a dedicated team of interactive designers and developers who really get a buzz from attending. Plus we’re committed to delivering the best in usability web standards to our customers, so being involved in each event is a no-brainer for us. Plus it gives us the opportunity to think outside the square and come up with new ways of being outlandishly yellow each year!
Webstock: Thanks Wayne. We’re really pleased to be working with Intergen again!