Behind the Tech Interview Series. James Barrett


February 21st, 2024, posted in for_founders
by Miruna


There are people making waves everyday in the field of technology. Our "Behind the Tech'' series is where we explore the stories of these amazing people. We aim to shed light on their challenges, victories, and invaluable lessons learned. Plus, this is a great way to encourage connections between technology creators and the community.


Join us as we discover the fascinating world behind the tech that shapes our world!


James Barrett has over thirty years of experience in the industry and is currently the Vice President of Software Engineering for R&D, at Ministry Brands. Through his proactive leadership style, which actively shapes Agile teams globally using DevOps strategies, he is fully committed to deliver the best there is. 



James is known for putting advanced AWS and Azure Cloud SaaS solutions into practice. He made an impact by prioritizing fundamental principles like security, scalability, stability, cost effectiveness, and forward-thinking innovation in every project.




1. What inspired you to pursue a career in tech?

James: As a young teenager I used to play around with ciphers and secret messages as a hobby. Then my High School offered some courses in Boolean Algebra and introductory programming via GW Basic on a TRS-80 personal computer.


I was captivated by the process which led to studying Computer Science at University and a career in Software Engineering. 




2. Regarding technology adoption, what are the biggest challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

James: I have been in the technology field and software development specifically for over 30 years. It’s a constantly changing domain that requires you to be a lifelong learner. You can’t expect to remain relevant and impactful unless you continually upgrade your knowledge and skills. I lived through early main-frame computing; to the dawn of the internet; the rapid growth of technologies consolidating in modern Cloud computing; and now the disruptive impact of AI.




3. What’s your approach to balancing innovation with maintaining day-to-day operations?


James: Excellent question and one that is core to being successful in the industry. I like to focus on the balance of Security, Scalability, Stability, Cost Efficiency, and Forward-thinking Innovation.


It’s not a fixed allocation in each area in the day to day activities of running a successful engineering organization, but over time it should balance out.




4. What advice would you give to aspiring tech leaders?


James: Make sure you have a passion for the industry. It’s miserable working in an area that does not excite you and inspire you to come to work each day. And understand that the role of a front line contributing engineer is often filled by highly intellectual, introverted contributors.


Moving into tech leadership could be an overwhelming and unfulfilling change in your career direction. A great architect and productive leader of an Agile SCRUM team does not automatically lead to a successful tech leader.


My advice is to try it…but allow yourself the freedom to course correct if it turns out it is not for you. Climbing the corporate ladder is not always the best path and knowing yourself and your area of passion is key to being a success. A Software Engineering organization contains many specific roles and responsibilities to be healthy and productive. Tech Leadership is just one area and the pre-conceive social hierarchy needs to be challenged.




5. How do you envision the future of technology in your industry?


James: It’s going to have an even greater impact on all our lives. Cloud Computing, AI, Virtual Reality and Quantum Computing will be very disruptive in our industry and in society. I think our future is what we make it. We are evolving our technology at a pace faster than we can emotionally adjust to the change. It’s not going to slow down and those that can adapt faster will do better in the years to come.



James Barrett's story, sparked by his fascination with coding as a teenager, points out how important it is to always be learning and adapting in the tech industry. He offers great advice for aspiring leaders focusing on developing self-awareness and passion. He believes that only by being flexible and adaptable you can succeed in this competitive environment.




We hope you've enjoyed exploring the world of tech leadership as we come to an end of this awesome conversation with James.


Don't miss out on the insights – keep an eye on our blog for the next “Behind the Tech” interview!


About the author


UI/UX designer, copywriter, wanna be photographer and doggo lover. Sarcasm and bad jokes are my superpowers.

See more articles by Miruna