Rob Giesbrecht–what’s your story?

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AdobeStock 83030359 3 Converted 1024x527 Rob Giesbrecht  whats your story?

At Reflex, we take pride in our software and we love to talk about its amazing features, its cutting-edge approach, and how it helps our clients. What many people often don’t hear are the stories from behind the software—the stories of the people who built Reflex one line of code at a time.

Rob Giesbrecht is Reflex’s Director of Product Development. He’s been with the company for 18 years and has seen the software through countless iterations, working with and managing the development team so that we can offer the postmodern software package we have available today.

At the roots of software development lie the passion for creation. Design, planning, and innovation are all key to a developer’s day-to-day activities and, thanks to Rob, Reflex now boasts some of the most cutting-edge features in the ERP marketplace. As a Partner in the company and one of the primary driving forces behind Reflex’s software’s growth and development, Rob is our go-to person for exploring new ideas, discussing enhancements, and deciding the future direction of our product development.


Q: How did you get into software development?

When I was a freshman in high school (in ’86), my dad realized that the PC revolution was going to have a huge impact. He suggested that I take a programming option in school. I laughed at him and explained to the old man that there’d be enough nerds to write software and all I needed to do was use their programs. I later ate crow when I became one of those nerds in my mid-twenties.


Q: How did you end up at Reflex?

I worked as a parts person for a small Caterpillar wrecker and their inventory system involved hand-writing quantities and locations of parts on manila cards. I’d taken a course in a now-deprecated database system during business school and decided to input the inventory electronically. As things progressed, we found that we needed increasingly complex solutions at a time when ERP systems were incredibly expensive. It was vastly cheaper to have a wannabe programmer-slash-parts person develop a point of sale and inventory system on his own time after hours. I found I liked doing it and eventually sat for my MCSD and PL-SQL certifications.

In 2000, I was offering my services as a contract programmer through a tech placement agency and was offered a 3-month contract position with Reflex (at that time, known as HM Systems). At the end of the contract period, I was approached by HM to leave the world of contract programming and work as a contractor for them directly. That was 18 years ago.


Q: What are your main responsibilities at Reflex?

As Director of Product Development, my most important responsibility is to “feed” the development staff. Developers are a very cool breed; they are happiest when they’re coding. In terms of “managing” them, they’re a very easy bunch; they only have to be fed a steady diet of challenging, clearly-defined assignments and be given enough freedom to create.

I still spend about half of my day coding, as well. As a result, it allows me to understand the problems that our development staff are experiencing, as well as satisfy the itch that I have to create. And, of course, our product has to continually evolve and keep pace with the technological eco-systems on which it depends. This means that we are continually experimenting with new trends and toolsets to bring the best possible solution to our customers.

Currently, we’re working on a full-fledged redesign of our dashboard in order to provide users with the absolute freedom to access KPIs, drill-downs (charts and pivots), alerts, tasks, routing, and reports via any device by utilizing the newest HTML5 delivery technologies.


Q: How did you become a Partner of Reflex Enterprise Solutions Group?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs and grew up observing the values that it requires first-hand. I learned that ownership brings responsibilities that require an enormous work ethic, which then permits the freedom to make decisions.

I learned that entrepreneurs (at least in my family) are driven mainly by the need to create. That’s been my main motivator in this career. It was the reason I became a developer as well; software development permits a simple path from conception to design to usage. For example, I could never be an architect of buildings. Imagine spending months designing something that, if it ever does get built, gets built years down the line. Software allows a much more immediate expression of creation.


Q: What do you like most about your job?

The people: we have such a great, synergistic group of people working here. While there are vastly different personalities and skill sets, I’m often very impressed with the capabilities and conscientiousness of each person. We’re still small enough that bureaucratic bloat hasn’t hurt us. People are given freedom to grab the reigns and do great stuff. It’s very satisfying to have a front row seat to watch all their successes.


Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about software development throughout your career?

That there can never be too much time spent in both the initial design and testing phases. I mean that in earnest. Great design leads to great development. And while great development eases the transition from the testing to release phases, the importance of testing can never be minimized.


Like I’ve said, developers are happiest when they’re creating, but very few like the testing phase. It’s like having an older sibling constantly picking apart otherwise great creations—nobody likes that. Still, to provide such a vast, fully integrated, quality ERP solution, it is absolutely the highest priority step in the development process.


Q: What do you like doing when you’re not at work?

My wife and I have been renovating our home non-stop for the last five years. I’m no longer sure if I like doing all the renovating or if I’ve just been consumed with it for so long that I’ve become “adjusted” to it (like in the movie Shawshank Redemption, where Red talks about becoming institutionalized). I think I’ve become “renovation-alized.” I can’t fathom what I’ll do with all my tools when we’re finally finished. If I’m lucky, my kids will need help with their homes and let their old man help and swing a hammer.

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