What's The Stack Episode 7: Scott Warren (Rexlabs)

What’s The Stack Episode 7: Scott Warren, Head of Engineering at Rexlabs

Welcome to What’s The Stack! As tech recruiters, every day ask the question – “What’s The Stack?” and now, we’re bringing that question to life as we ask some of our favourite technical friends about their own tech stack all while enjoying stacks of pancakes in Brisbane’s most iconic church turned 24/7 pancake restaurant – The Pancake Manor!

So, what is What’s The Stack?

Every day we get the opportunity to work with some of Brisbane’s best tech companies and throughout this process, they also get to have insightful conversations with developers and tech leaders about how they got to where they are, where they currently are in their careers and what they’re trying to achieve. But what don’t they get to do? Jump on camera to capture these conversations with some of our favourite people in tech. Until…. Now!

What’s The Stack takes a peek behind the curtain of the careers of Brisbane tech leaders and emerging developers to explore Brisbane’s Tech scene through a series of interviews with some of your favourite faces as well as some that you may not have seen before. 

Each episode of What’s The Stack will take you through three levels of conversation:

  • Tall Stack: Questions about our guest and their career history
  • Full-Stack: In-depth questions on tech-related topics
  • Short-Stack: Funny, short sharp questions that no one else is asking

Let’s get into it…

What’s The Stack Episode 7: Scott Warren, Head of Engineering at Rexlabs

Scott Warren is technical and he is tall! With over 15 years of experience in technology, what we love about Scott’s career is that he adds another feather to his cap everywhere he goes. Whether it’s working as a Tester or in Product or moving towards Management roles, Scott brings his prior experience with him into the next role. We’re going to need a bigger cap!

After studying Commerce at university, Scott ventured overseas (as many do) to take a break and gain some life experience. Upon his return, Scott worked in a call centre at Wotif where he stumbled across the opportunity to step up into a QA role. His career in technology really escalated from there! From Canada to Melbourne to Brisbane, Scott worked his way through Product, Head of Service, Head of Service Delivery, Head of Technology and Head of Software roles before landing at Rexlabs in Brisbane, whose range of SaaS products powers real estate agencies to deliver the very best customer experience for buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants.

As the Head of Engineering at Rexlabs, Scott manages a team that seek to take complex problems and untangle them into simple, usable products for users.

Scott is super generous with his insights and his time and we think there’s something here for everyone in this chat. It was a real TREAT to be able to sit down Scott and enjoy some pancakes!

Interview Transcript:

Carly Shearman: Welcome to What’s The Stack. As tech recruiters, every day we’re asking the question, “What’s the stack?” And now we want to bring that question to life by asking some of our favourite technical friends in Brisbane, “What’s their stack?” all while eating a stack of pancakes in Brisbane’s iconic church turned pancake restaurant 24/7, and that’s The Pancake Manor.

Emily Conaghan: Today. We’re meeting with Scott Warren. We reckon Scott Warren is the nicest guy in tech. He’s had over 15 years of experience, both here in Brisbane and down south in Melbourne. And he’s currently the Head of Engineering at Rexlabs. Scott is also really, really tall. Like really tall. And we’ve also heard that he drives a Nissan Cube.

Carly Shearman: We didn’t fact check that last one. So don’t trust us on that, but let’s go meet Scott.

Emily Conaghan: Welcome to What’s The Stack.

Scott Warren: Thank you. It’s great to be on What’s The Stack.

Emily Conaghan: To kick us off, what is the stack in front of you today?

Scott Warren: It is a macadamia nut ice cream and maple syrup.

Emily Conaghan: And Scott, what is your tech stack?

Scott Warren: Tech stack at Rexlabs is… Well, we’ve got Laravel or PHP Laravel, and then on the front end, we’ve got React and TypeScript, Postgres.

Emily Conaghan: What’s it like being so tall?

Scott Warren: Well, depends when you ask me that question. When I walking underneath the house and banging my head on every beam, not so great. When I’m at a festival amongst the crowd, very handy.

Emily Conaghan: Give us the elevator pitch of your career so far. So how did you get to where you are today?

Scott Warren: So I studied Commerce at uni, but then went overseas, as most do after uni, took a bit of a break. And then I came back and I was actually working. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I knew I didn’t want to go into finance or anything like that, but I loved tech. So I ended up working in the call centre at Wotif when I got back. So I had a few friends at Wotif and I was sort of tossing up where I was going to go with my career. And I ended up, there was an opportunity, I was tossing up between going back to uni to become a Software Engineer. But then there was an opportunity upstairs at Wotif as a QA.

Scott Warren: And then I worked there for a number of years before I decided that I was like, “Look, I just wanted a break.” And actually when I went overseas the first time, I was a dog sled guy, so I just fell into it. Right? But I had this dream of just going back and doing three months, just dog sledding and snowboarding. But as it turned out, I followed a mate. I went over to see a mate in the middle of Canada in Saskatchewan and got a… met my wife there and then decided to stay there and got a job as a QA in a startup over there. And as that grew, there was a need to get into that Product space, which again, I love being in with the requirements and I loved, again, solving those problems, so slipped into Project Management, or PO actually.

Scott Warren: And then from there, I stayed over there for four years. That business grew from about 10 people through about 175 by the time I left. Came back home and then went straight in back into Project Management. And then, with that, it was a startup again. And during that time, I transitioned into the technology role, working with developers day in, day out. I had a real knack for it, I thought, and then moved into a Head of Technology role. Went to an acquisition with Catapult, got brought on there as Head of Software and then was down in Melbourne for a couple of years. And then, obviously, COVID hit. Right? My wife fell pregnant and then I decided that it was the time to move back with them, friends and family. So then got a job at Rex. And here I am.

Emily Conaghan: You’ve seen, you’ve mentored, you’ve built up people in your team and have had that experience as manager. What advice would you give for developers in the first five years of their career?

Scott Warren: It’s be patient and realize that, actually as you go through, that’s your learning opportunity. Slow down. I mean, it’s hard as it is, right? Because everyone wants to keep pushing forward and wants to progress. But now it’s, there’s a real strong sense that I get where people are leaving university or just getting into the tech scene, and they’re straightaway wanting to go from this junior to senior very quickly. Right? But I think that there’s that, the important piece is the experience you gain along the way. I’ve learned a hell of a lot during my career, and I don’t think without living those situations, whether they’re making the right move or the wrong move, you can only learn that through years. Right. So just be patient. Spend those first years just learning, reading etc.

Emily Conaghan: And what advice would you give to short developers in the first five years of their career?

Scott Warren: Just grow. Just grow.

Carly Shearman: As a person.

Scott Warren: As a person.

Carly Shearman: Height-wise.

Scott Warren: As a human, yeah. Wear big-soled shoes.

Emily Conaghan: Tell us about Rexlabs. So you’ve been there for a little bit now.

Scott Warren: Six, seven months.

Emily Conaghan: Yeah.

Scott Warren: So not a huge amount of time. I love it. Honestly, when I was down in Melbourne, I was looking for a role to come up into. I actually was getting hit up for a few little things that didn’t really tickle my fancy. And a job posting was for Rexlabs that I, at the time when it started, when I was thinking about what I wanted to do, it was really in that people side. I just really wanted to focus on the general wellbeing of devs and create a culture and a buzz. And I wrote down these things on a bit that I was looking for. And then the ad for Rexlabs came up, and it was like almost word for word. It was a bit crazy that it came up. It was just amazing.

Emily Conaghan: What’s been your biggest tech fail?

Scott Warren: As a manager, I’ve had plenty of fails, right? I think, I mean, from that standpoint, that’s an easy one. It’s overworking people. Right? When I was younger, it was always like, “Guys, we got get this out. We got to really, let’s keep working, keep working.” And then when people would go home, I’d be like, “Oh, why are they leaving? Come on guys, come together.” But that’s been, honestly, that’s been the one that comes back in my head all the time, those examples. I think it’s more about that it’s planning and being able to execute and committing to what you can actually get done within the standard nine till five. That’s the goal. Right? If we could do that, that’s brilliant.

Emily Conaghan: I was once in a bus with Gladys Berejiklian.

Scott Warren: Who’s that? Joking. Keep going, keep going.

Carly Shearman: I was like, “Oh no.”

Scott Warren: It’s a younger reference. Keep going.

Emily Conaghan: Who’s your coolest celebrity run in?

Scott Warren: Oh, I had dinner with Paul Kelly.

Emily Conaghan: Wow.

Scott Warren: At his house.

Emily Conaghan: Wow.

Carly Shearman: Why?

Scott Warren: There you go. So yeah. Now it’s a long story. No. So my sister is a muso down in Melbourne, known Paul Kelly… Well actually, Paul Kelly’s partner and my sister, they’re very good friends. And so as a result of that, I think my sister is good friends with Paul Kelly. And for her birthday, Paul invited her around to the house, and of course I was a guest.

Carly Shearman: Amazing.

Scott Warren: Yeah. And we went through all his old cassette tapes. It was amazing.

Carly Shearman: What are cassette tapes?

Scott Warren: Yeah, I know, right? Tell me. Again, I’m sorry.

Emily Conaghan: And did he make the gravy?

Scott Warren: Oh geez. It was like a vegan dinner, actually. It was a vegan dinner. So if it was, if there was gravy, it wasn’t very good gravy.

Emily Conaghan: No gravy.

Carly Shearman: Not the real stuff.

Scott Warren: Yeah.

Carly Shearman: Who’s playing you in a movie version of your life?

Scott Warren: Nicholas Cage.

Carly Shearman: Yeah. I don’t mind that. You had that ready to go. Why?

Scott Warren: It’s because I’ve been called Nicholas. Look, if you just, imagine…

Emily Conaghan: Oh yeah. I see it.

Scott Warren: … I had hair. Having hair. I think Hollywood takes you down a few inches, so that’s fine. Actually, there was a… I receive, “You look like Nicholas Cage,” a lot.

Carly Shearman: If you could only code in one language for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Scott Warren: Probably JavaScript.

Carly Shearman: No, every time. It’s a classic.

Scott Warren: I know, boring, isn’t it? But it’s like, it does both. So it’s pretty safe. It’s a safe bet.

Emily Conaghan: And final question, what do you love about having a career in tech?

Scott Warren: That’s it. One more question, this is it. This is the finale.

Emily Conaghan: This is it.

Carly Shearman: Take your time with it.

Scott Warren: I think it touches on what we sort of spoke about before. It’s always changing, always evolving, new ways of doing things. Everybody does things differently. I don’t think I’ve stopped learning the whole time. It is tiring at times, but it’s exciting. Right?

Emily Conaghan: Beautiful.

Carly Shearman: Thanks for coming.

Scott Warren: We did it.

Carly Shearman: We did it.

Emily Conaghan: We did it.

Thank you for watching What’s The Stack! Looking to hire new talent, seeking new opportunities, or just loved this episode and want to let us know, go ahead and email us at hi@huntandco.io


What’s The Stack… roll the credits

Powered by: Hunt and Co. 

Executive Producer: Emily Conaghan

Producer: Carly Shearman

Hosted by: Emily Conaghan & Carly Shearman

Support Crew: Elise Le-Galloudec and Matthew Hunt

Video Production by: BITL

Location: The Pancake Manor

Special Guest: Scott Warren, Head of Engineering at Rexlabs

A special thanks to The Pancake Manor team and everyone that played a hand in making this project possible.

Industry & Career Insights, What's The Stack