Raf Gemmail

Raf Gemmail

Lean-Engineering Leader and Coach
Dev no. 4 at Booking.com and Ex-BBC iPlayer
/ Morgan Stanley / ING / Stuff.co.nz


I am a transformational technology leader driving innovation, product growth, and business impact. For over a decade, I have led the development and product evolution of high-profile and webscale products; scaling systems, optimising cost/performance, and achieving significant revenue increases.

With strong expertise in cloud-native architecture, DevOps, and software development, I lead platform and stream-aligned teams to excel using learning loops, experimentation, and FinOps principles.

See Me Here
A sample of public content from community contributions and my InfoQ passion-work:

Recent Leadership

  • Engineering Manager (Mobile Messaging and Platform/SRE Teams) July 2022 - present
    Marigold (Formerly CM Group/Campaign Monitor) Fully Remote with direct reports across 5 TZs
    • Responsibility and Accomplishments:
      • Ensuring high availability, cost management and the delivery of billions of email, push and in-app messages per month for world leading brands.
      • Leading and managing 2 Platform teams with cross-functional, polyglot, ICs delivering platform and mobile messaging capabilities for a range of customer facing features, with a focus on DevEx.
      • Delivered business sensitive initiatives to time and budget, by focusing on outcomes and project management.
      • Participating in PagerDuty schedule with my teams; supporting ECS/EKS/Kafka/AMQ/Rails/Elixir/Java services. Contributing to and driving architecture convos.
      • Mentoring the next generation of leaders.
    • Senior Leadership Influence:
      • Coached peers in data-driven leadership and DevEx, leveraging metrics covering cost, delivery, reliability and friction to inform decisions and propel product success.
      • Proactively drove alignment with product, engineering, design and ICs by designing and facilitating remote Big Room Planning sessions with elements of ShapeUp.
  • Head of Technology promoted from Head of Product - (Fully Remote) November 2020 - July 2022
    Developers Institute
    Fully Remote
    • Responsibility and Accomplishments:
      • Led the evolution and design of a remote educational product, collaborating with compliance and marketing leads on growing from single digit to hundreds of full-time learners. Worked with a large NZ firm to design and kick off a workplace accredited programme, exceeding my learner hiring goals.
      • Recruited and grew a team of high-caliber tech leads from industry, to shape learners into the people we'd want to hire ourselves.
      • Promoted with a range of CTO responsibilities, and a period of dual-responsibility, focused on driving the business' scale-up across all technology from core product development to enterprise IT.
      • Architected and ran a project to deliver a cloud-native data-driven SaaS using security by design, and targeting the learner experience. Delivered to my own gantt, budgeted and costed, factored in experimentation, focus-groups, and built a new dev team. Hands on Python/AWS.
    • Senior Leadership Influence:
      • Strategic partnership with CEO and other heads + monthly reporting for CEOs board updates. Hands on dev, teaching and customer engagement.
      • Surfaced waste using value stream mapping, targeting solutions to counterbalancing weeks of admin and a high cost of human error.
      • Assumed responsibility for our technology supplier selection, and the org-wide support function using borrowed FTE capacity.

Leadership Roles

  • Senior Technical Consultant (DevOps) February 2020 - November 2020 (COVID)
    Assurity Consulting Remote/Wellington, NZ
    • Consulted and taught DevOps practices and culture. Provided DevOps and BDD consulting at NZQA on a major initiative to automate processing of qualifications. Coached ATDD and paired with BAs on writing BDD requirements. I led developers in self-validating these using Concordion, and driving the development of an AWS serverless Spring Cloud Functions solution.
  • Contract: Agile and DevOps Coach November 2019 - February 2020
    NZTA Wellington, NZ
    • Coaching DevOps and led practices in an Azure/ADO government department whilst working with teams delivering massively overrun high-profile projects. Partnered with leadership to coach cultural change and coach in Agile processes. Addressed trust issues with vendor teams and worked with a myriad of _human_ factors slowing down strong technical teams.
  • Agile and Technical Consultant November 2018 - January 2019
    MPorium London, UK
    • Provided experience at a time of CTO absence. Coached, facilitated and cut code on an ML stack for ad bidding based on a range of signals with huge customers. Aided in off-shore dev cohesion, CTO hiring, team reboot. Drove customer satisfaction and team productivity using Agile methodologies. Demystified ML and Spark through mob-programming sessions.
  • Technical Design Lead January 2018 - June 2018
    Bank of New Zealand Wellington, NZ
    • Started teams on the strangling of a JEE monolith to microservices in Redshift. Coached customer and business empathy through DDD workshops and event storming. Security championed and drove modernisation of Mobile app development CI. Left due to life-event in the UK.
  • Technical Coach and Lead (NZ's largest domestic news site) May 2015 - January 2018
    Stuff.co.nz, Fairfax Media Wellington, NZ
    • Drove a range of high profile projects across multiple languages using lean methods and pioneering in microservices, continuous delivery and experimentation. Coached using mob-programming techniques and empowered my devs. Hands on development across Java and node deployed ECS and Serverless solutions with my early adopting teams! Worked closely and championed Lean methods as part of the senior leadership team.
  • Solutions Architect & Iteration Master October 2013 - May 2015
    Catalyst IT Wellington, NZ
    • Designed, built and led high profile solutions and integrations with a BDD focus. Direct collab with Spotify's Partner API team. Stepped into leadership role as the Agile lead on a massive government project using security by design, leading and facilitating a team of 40 ICs, BAs and testers across multiple sites. Worked directly with the Cabinet Secretary of New Zealand, who was the product owner.

Engineering IC Roles

  • Remote Computer Science Professor (by contract) 2019 - 2022
    OpenClassrooms Fully remote, NZ & Paris, Fr
  • Senior Software Engineer (Returned to the BBC on a targeted Contract) April 2013 - October 2013
    BBC iPlayer London, UK
    • Rapid delivery for the BBC of a business-critical Java microservices with hard deadlines. Reverse engineered and migrated a legacy set of Perl microservices to Spring & Camel in AWS, using BDD.
  • Contract Senior Software Engineer January 2012 - April 2013
    Headforwards / NTT Cornwall, UK
    • Architected and delivered subsystems for NTT's enterprise cloud solution, leading the way in TDD.
  • Contract Senior Software Engineer October 2010 - January 2012
    BBC iPlayer London, UK
    • My highest performing team! I led performance optimisations of one of the UK's most-hit services, forming part of iPlayer. Visualised platform metrics and built versioned REST APIs for serving high-performance programme data. Paired on talk with Katherine Kirk at QCon 2012 on this team's agile journey.
  • Contract Senior Software Engineer July 2009 - October 2010
    Trinity Mirror Digital Recruitment (Daily Mirror's Job Board) London, UK
    • Helped architect and scale a major job board. Performance optimisation of search and lucene indexes. Began rewrite using Spring.
  • Software Engineer August 2007 - July 2009
    Morgan Stanley London, UK
    • High-performance ETL services to consume and publish market reference and timeseries data.
  • Software Engineer November 2006 - August 2007
    VisionOSS Green Park, Berkshire, UK
    • High and low-level Cisco VoIP software and hardware integration.
  • Senior Asset Control Developer February 2005 - November 2006
    Abbey Financial Markets (Santander) London, UK
    • High performance message orientated middleware to support traders.
  • Experienced Software Engineer February 2003 - February 2005
    ING Bank Amsterdam, NL
    • Implemented high-performance data-intensive applications and middleware for front office traders and internal consumers.
  • Senior Software Engineer February 2002 - February 2003
    Booking.com Amsterdam, NL
    • Developer number 4 and the first commit. Refactored original code to be more OO and normalised Database.
  • Software Engineer and Systems Administrator January 2001 - February 2002
    Codix.net London, UK
    • Worked as both a SysAdmin and Software Engineer, building and maintaining brand-name sites on bespoke projects.
  • Junior Software Engineer February 2000 - January 2001
    Sportingbet.com London, UK
    • Cutting my teeth in the commercial world building statistical interactive TV and web applications.

Professional Skills & Tools

  • Java
  • node.js
  • Scala
  • Ruby
  • Perl
  • Python
  • C
  • Go lang
JVM Frameworks
  • Springboot
  • JPA/Hibernate
  • Cucumber JVM
  • Play
  • Karate
  • Camel
  • Spark
  • AEM
JS Frameworks
  • Express
  • Typescript
  • React/Redux
  • GraphQL
  • Mocha
  • Cypress
  • Cucumber.js
  • Svelte
  • Sequelize
  • PostgreSQL
  • Elastic Search
  • MongoDB
  • MySQL
  • S3
  • DynamoDB
  • EKS/K8S
  • S3 (Lambda)
  • Datadog
  • Terraform
  • ELK/Opensearch
  • Kafka
Holistic Leadership Skills
  • Hands on DevOps Coaching
  • Hands on Technical Coaching
  • Hands on Agile Coaching
  • Lean/Kanban/Agile/LeanUX
  • JVM and Fullstack polyglot
  • Continuous Learner
  • Technical Leadership
  • Lean Architecture
  • XP and Lean Development
  • Facilitation
  • Teaching
  • Mentoring
  • Business goal alignment
  • Project Costing
  • Turning failure into learning
  • Creating cultures of psychological safety
  • Empirical technical improvement through measurement
  • Technical Hiring

Relevant Education

BSc Hon. Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence
University of Birmingham
1994 - 1999
Study in Continental Europe, ECTS Credits
Dipartimento di Informatica, Universita degli Studi di Pisa
1997 - 1998
ICP-ACC ICAgile Certified Professional - Agile Coaching
Trained by Shane Hastie, Director of Learning at ICAgile


I am a homeschooling dad who is fascinated by the sciences as well as futurism. I practice amateur astronomy in the night and love to go on coastal jogs during the day. My other life-long passion is music: I love listening to it as well as playing both the guitar and ukulele.


I just wanted to thank you for this stellar work, it's a real pleasure to work with you and to benefit from your (seemingly endless) experience!

Clara Corazza OpenClassrooms

Raf actively worked on the approach he took and adopted a coaching stance with his teams, letting them own the solutions and outcomes, while working with them to up skill and create a better way. He's a thoughtful, intelligent individual who seeks the best for the people he's coaching; people definitely grow and flourish as a result of working with him.

Paul Flewelling Delivery Systems Coach, author of The Agile Developer's Handbook