Profile: Ettienne Gous

What Life As A .NET Team-Lead Looks Like


I sat down with Ettienne from our Delivery team to talk about his role in the agency. A coding enthusiast and technology lover at heart, Ettienne sits on the Delivery Leadership team and really drives business to success.

*Ettienne heads up the development team at IE, he is a qualified Sitecore developer, Microsoft MCPD and holds an engineering degree in computer systems. He employs a hands-on approach to the SDLC and mentors team members to use a systematic approach to tasks at hand. Ettienne has 9 years experience across a range of CMS platforms the most remarkable projects being a full site rebuild for, a Windows Azure services layer and single sign on implementation, and Sydney Airport on the Sitecore CMS platform. At IE, Ettienne is closely involved with the work we do for Moonee Valley City Council, Tourism Victoria and ME Bank.

1. What do you work on, predominantly, in the Enterprise Team?

Most of my working time at IE is spent on development, of course. But more specifically, the ongoing Tourism Victoria projects. I’ve found the development team lead role to be a hybrid of management and operational roles; overseeing and mentoring all while still coding and tech leading too!

I really do love coding and would enjoy always being part of the technical side of things here. Programming is very similar to any other artisan craft, you can really create wonderful things if you keep practicing and apply yourself. However most of the time true beauty lies in the simplicity.

2. Tell us about Sitecore, what does it essentially do for our clients?

Sitecore is an Enterprise web content management system. Essentially – it’s an application that assists clients in managing their websites. Even those with very little knowledge of the underlying stack can use it! Most web pages are an amalgamation of a few technologies, these normally include: Some server side code, HTML, Javascript and cascading style sheets (CSS).

Using Sitecore simplifies things; so content authors don’t require technology experience. This enables the end user to update content easily and quickly whenever they want. In a flash even!
Sitecore takes the basic requirements of updating content and pages to a whole new level. Clients are able to curate content far more efficiently than before with enterprise features. Some include:
Data APIs

  • Responsive content capabilities (Based on the users interactions)

  • Workflows

  • Very large data set capabilities

  • Advanced reporting and auditing

  • Versioning

3. What experience have you had with Sitecore builds/re-builds?

I’ve had some previous Sitecore build experiences for large-scale projects around Australia before IE Agency, as I’m relatively new.

One of these included a full rewrite and information architecture for one of Australia’s largest budget airlines. The Sitecore implementation included 16+ sites spanning across more than 10 different languages. The team consisted of 4 developers, including myself. I partook in tech leading, developing and rewriting the existing code base (which at the time was 3 years old)

A rigorous regime of coffee drinking and extreme programming saw the site re-launch 3 months later. This included: A brand new website design; perfectly curated code base (of object orientated wonder!); as well as very logical and nice to look at data architecture in the CMS.

Another exciting project followed short on its heels and was a large implementation for a NSW airport. The implementation took 12 months from start to finish. When the team was at its peak, we reached 7 back-end developers and 3 front-end developers working concurrently.

The project was run as an agile project and structured to be hyper responsive to changes in requirements. I was involved as the tech lead on the project again. The site launched a brand new corporate, investors and travellers website with deep integrations into their flight schedule management and parking systems.

4. For IE and their clients, what are the most beneficial parts of Sitecore?

Sitecore is an excellent Enterprise Web Content Management System. It is a mature product that will serve a clients’ immediate requirements and still be fully extensible for any future expansions. As a result of the systems’ excellent separation of data and presentation it allows each client to build their own information architecture to suit their specific requirements. As clients are able to set up their own taxonomy, this greatly aids in structuring data and making the most out of the information available.

5. Being the team leader and an experienced developer, what are your favourite things about working with the .NET team at IE?

I really do enjoy all of the different personalities in the team. We get along like a house on fire and really work well together. Everyone knows how to have a good time and equally buckle down when there is a lot of work!

6. Are there any solutions you’re particularly proud of?

The recently completed mobile project for Toursim Victoria showcases a mashup of a few progressive things we’ve been working on. This included a full JSON restfull service layer and nicely structured AngularJS front-end thanks to our stellar front-end developer Tim Mansell.

The end result was nicely structured from a coding point of view, but also aesthetically pleasing on a smart phone. Some of the more ‘techie’ achievements include a custom Lucene sort and query scorer to rank and show results based on their proximity to you.

7. What does working with a team of Sitecore .NET developers look like? How is that different to other website platform teams?

It pretty much looks like most other offices except there’s: more geek speak; more monitors on each desk (there’s at least 3); lots of paper work (thanks to the 100 page novels our BA writes); endless supply of coffee and the occasional “woop” if someone cracks a hard problem.

In all seriousness, for the most part Sitecore development is quite a bit easier than other WCMs I have worked with before. It incorporates its own data definition mechanisms already built into the CMS. Essentially it saves us time and requires less code to write.

Lets use Recipes as an example, Traditionally, if there is a requirement to manage some data on the CMS it involves the developer building database tables as well as the interfaces to manage the data (CRUD = Create, update, delete).
As Sitecore manages all of this, it changes the effort from hours to minutes and no code is involved. This only leaves the front-end component for a developer to code and read directly from the Sitecore data APIs.

8. What’s the atmosphere at IE like? Do you enjoy your work here?

When I first began here I adjusted very quickly and easily! I guess that’s a testament to the people and the culture here. It’s a relaxed environment and we have a very nice open floor plan with lots of space to frolic (if that’s your thing, which it should be!). Friday afternoon is always fun, with beers, lunch and lots of fun social initiatives going on.

My previous work experiences have been with very corporate companies, so the IE office feels more homely and certainly more fun. I guess it’s great working with like-minded individuals who care about technology as much as me!