Staff profile: Inside Bill's Mind

From chess champion to pro online gamer, Rocketspark Web Developer, Bill Li, is a man of many hats, and pies.

Bill works on Rocketspark’s full stack web development, and the team thought it was about time our customers got to know him better as a person. 

“When it comes to programming and coding we divide it into two parts, the frontend and the backend. The frontend is all the code you can see, your website and its functionality. The backend code is all the data that holds it altogether. I work on both sides,” Bill explained.

Born in Beijing, China, Bill moved to New Zealand when he was two years old, growing up he spent most of his time living between Hamilton and Auckland.  

Bill has always enjoyed a good game, especially when there’s cash to be earned. 

He represented New Zealand in the Inter-schools Chess Championship for 2011 when he was 15.

“I got into chess when my mum entered me in a tournament and I won, the prize money was $80, that’s way more than my pocket money was, so I kept playing,” Bill said.

In 2014, Bill started a Bachelor of Computer Science at Auckland University, but he didn’t graduate until 2018. 

“I was a really bad student. I pursued professional gaming during Uni. I was a professional gamer and uni was like a part time job. I played League of Legends and made a good amount of money from that, but it wasn’t enough to call it a career. So, I decided I’d better start coding properly.”

Straight out of University, Bill’s first job was at a fast-growing software development company. 

“I started as an unpaid intern as part of a three month internship programme and after two months was offered a full time position. I did that for six months, but I got a little bit bored as I was just doing low level coding, it’s called kernel coding and it’s just numbers on a screen, which meant I never really got to see the results of what I was building. I’ve learnt I don’t do well in those circumstances.”

So, Bill left the company and started teaching himself how to do frontend programming through YouTube. 

He then started attending a lot of networking events and at one of them he met one of the founders of Rocketspark, Richard King.

“Richard eventually emailed me about an open position. I’ve been here about two years now. I love being able to see what I’ve made. Here, when I code, I can see I’m making a difference and that matters quite a bit to me.”

In his spare time, Bill still enjoys playing online games and League of Legends is still his favourite. 

He also enjoys travelling, something he is itching to get back to when we’re through this pandemic. 

“I went around Europe by myself in 2015. I went to Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Munich, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and London. Next, I really want to go to Southeast Asia, I would eat all the pho in Vietnam.”

There’s a bit of a running joke in the office when it comes to Bill, it’s centred around pies.

During his second week, he went to the bakery just down the street and grabbed a mince and cheese pie, but forgot to eat it. 

“I left it on the bench for two days and then I saw it and I ate it. Then I had a tummy ache and got sick and had to go home. So, that’s the running joke. 

“I probably still have a pie a week. If I was a pie, I’d be a potato top,” Bill said.

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