While some employers look overseas for computing and mathematical science graduates to cover their needs, New Zealand agile software specialist Company-X makes a point of hiring a large number of University of Waikato alumni, with more than half of its team holding a Waikato qualification, including co-founders and directors David Hallett and Jeremy Hughes.

Why? “Because the University of Waikato produces work-ready technologists,” Hallett said. “We look for the best and brightest IT professionals and computer scientists, and Waikato graduates have proved to be integral to the success of our firm.”

A computer science graduate himself, Hallett said the qualifications offered at Waikato fitted well with the development work Company-X was involved in.

“We need strong technical people, and in this rapidly changing technological environment, Waikato graduates bring the right knowledge and practical skills to solve our clients' business problems,” Hallett said. “You don't get a top 250 world QS ranking for your Department of Computer Science without earning it.”

The University of Waikato is renowned for producing world-leading technologists, including researcher Dr Craig Nevill-Manning – the man behind Google Maps, and co-founder of Google DeepMind Dr Shane Legg.

“University of Waikato Computer Science graduates measure themselves against such greatness and so do we,” Hallett said.

Founded in 2012, the Company-X team has grown to nearly 60.

Company-X ranked on the Deloitte Asia Pacific Technology Fast 500 in 2019 for the third consecutive year, after being named the Fastest Growing Technology Company in the Central North Island in 2018 by Deloitte.

Company-X builds bespoke software applications for businesses, from creating four e-commerce websites to promote the world's first hydrofoil e-bike to developing the Waikato Expressway testing application.

ON TARGET: Company-X senior analyst developer Marcel van de Steeg tweaks his voice-activated selfie-authenticating double-barrelled ping-pong ball firing turret cannon.

Waikato graduate Marcel van de Steeg has worked as a senior developer at Company-X for six years and hopes to inspire the next generation of technologists.

He spent several hours each week teaching Hamilton Boys' High School technology students how to write, publish and market their own games.

Van de Steeg's classroom visits were part of the Smart Waikato Secondary School Employer Partnership (SSEP), which Company-X supported.

Marcel runs similar sessions at his daughter's primary school, using a tea-making robot and a biscuit-dunking bot he built and programmed.

"If you show younger kids a physical component that they can interact with, there's a much stronger engagement and they are much more likely to be interested in software development," van de Steeg said.

Marcel said technologists needed to combine solid academic expertise with the right attitude. “Studying at the University of Waikato gave me access to a broad range of papers and played a huge part in building the foundations of my professional life,” he said. ‘"You never know what you'll encounter next in the workforce, so having the right attitude and a willingness to learn also makes a huge difference.”

Hughes said Company-X's biggest challenge was the global skills shortage in the information technology sector.

“Without University of Waikato graduates the fast growth of Company-X may probably not have been as meteoric as it has been, and we need more to go around.”

For more information about the University of Waikato's computing and mathematical science, qualifications visit https://www.cms.waikato.ac.nz/.