Meet the Team: 5 mins with Martin Lau, Chief Technology Officer

Martin Lau is our Chief Technology Officer at HR Assured. Martin oversees HR Assured’s Product Roadmap and manages our team of software developers to ensure that our platform is constantly improving and remains at the forefront of HR technology. To find out who he’d rather have a beer with, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, read on!

1. Have you always wanted to become a Chief Technology Officer?

No! Sort of… Perhaps?

When I was in school I wanted to be a teacher. When I started university, I wanted to be a psychologist. When I studied psychology, I had to do some IT subjects. When I took those subjects, I found I was pretty good at them. That wasn’t much of a surprise, I’d had computers since I was a boy and always loved tinkering with them. I probably could’ve saved myself and my parents a lot of time and effort if I’d had that thought early on!

I love technology, seeing what it can do, writing code and solving problems. I was never going to feel satisfied by a job that didn’t provide that intellectual challenge. I’ve always enjoyed working with people from a range of backgrounds (not just developers) to make sure there’s a common understanding of technology involved in decision making. CTO was never part of a 5-year plan (I don’t think I’ve ever seriously written a 5-year plan) but I suppose CTO was something of a natural succession based on my experience and the things I enjoy doing.

2. What is your favourite way to relax?

Coming to work… I have 3 kids aged between 3 and 9, so nights and weekends are hectic at best – work at least gives me the feeling of being in control (although that may be a delusion my colleagues allow me to perpetrate). Beyond that, I love being around the water: I’m an enthusiastic (but lousy) fisherman and enjoy kayaking and boating on the waterways near my house.

3. Who would you rather invite out for a beer? Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, and why?

Bill Gates. I’d love to get his take on his journey from hacker to [alleged] software plagiarist to leading an organisation that was widely regarded as being all kinds of evil for a long time, through to internationally renowned philanthropist.

4. What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?

“Stop messing around, get in there and do it!”

There are so many things I’d love to do now, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I look back on the way I spent my time in my late teens and early twenties and cringe at the way I choose to spend my time!

5. What is your favourite food?

Spaghetti and a variety of sauces – there’s a relatively small number of things I can cook that everyone in our house will reliably eat.

6. If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do?

Move to a new house to somewhere with water views and easy access and that’s a short commute to work. I’d love to be a man of leisure for a few weeks or months, but would get pretty bored with it after a short while, so would definitely want to continue working.

7. When was the last time you laughed so hard it made your stomach hurt?

My wife was reading me Instagram stories of people who mis-ordered items via online shopping, for example buying 10kgs of ham instead of 10 slices, accompanied by the creative ways they found to use wand then the subsequent loathing that grew for luncheon meat! I suspect there’s a whole new meme waiting for someone to build a website there!

8. What is something you think everyone should do once in their life?

Not work for an extended period – not just take a long period of leave, but actually resign, and not find a job. Do the thing you’re passionate about for a while – family, hobbies, travel, whatever – just do that.

9. If you had a time machine, who would you go back to visit and why?

I feel like it’s probably under-valuing the things you could do with a time machine (why only go back 60 years when you could go back millions?) but I’d probably go to the 1950’s and show it to Albert Einsten & Richard Feynman and see what they could do with the possibilities.

10. What is your biggest pet peeve?

People not cleaning up after themselves – not erasing whiteboards after meetings, leaving dirty dishes laying around, that sort of thing.

11. What do you like most about working at HR Assured?

Definitely the people – everyone here is intelligent and passionate. We don’t always agree on the best way forward or how things should be done but everyone is willing to work together to find the best possible outcome and then to dig in and get it done.