When Drew Vanderriet graduated from university with a mechatronics degree, he made a (literal and figurative) surprising move: instead of taking an engineering job in his native South Africa, he packed up and moved nearly 8,000 miles away to teach English in South Korea.
“At the time, I was not interested in the job opportunities that were available for me in South Africa, which was mostly working in the automotive factories,” Drew said. “I wanted to be more of a design-based engineer, but there was very little opportunity for that in South Africa.”
After a year in South Korea, Drew ventured to Georgia (the country, not the state, he clarifies) to teach. During his six months there, he met his wife, Alexi, then the two of them spent another six months teaching in Chile.
“Teaching is something I recommend to everyone,” he said. “It was a great way to see the world and get immersed in the various cultures that you go and live in and yeah, just an unforgettable experience for me. Life changing.
“It set the tone for my career in that it had a purpose – it wasn’t just a matter of showing up for work everyday. There was intention in how I approached what I was doing.
“That’s something that has stuck with me.”
From Chile, Drew returned to South Africa, where he received his Master’s degree in biomechatronics from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. While there, he built a low-cost robotic prosthetic hand and spun the technology out into a company, Touch Prosthetics. After two years, he and Alexi moved to the United States and he began working for Apple.
“I worked on the Siri localization team building out different English translations of Siri,” he said. “I was hired for South African Siri and ended up working on Indian Siri and British Siri and Irish Siri and New Zealand and Australian Siri; all of these different locality adaptions.”
While initially satisfying and fun, he soon found his ambition stifled and a lack of acceptance of any entrepreneurial initiatives.
“There wasn’t really any room for growth in the corporate pyramid,” Drew said. “The stagnation can be disheartening.”
That’s what led him to LSQ in early 2017.
LSQ’s General Manager of Platform Services Drew Vanderriet enjoys spending time traveling with his family. An avid outdoorsman, Drew also designs board games in his free time.
He came on board as a software engineer and was immediately impressed with the collaborative nature of the company.
“In my second week at LSQ I was told to just go and spend as much time with the operations team as possible and identify opportunities where I can contribute and learn what they did,” he said. “I got to learn a lot of the business and meet a lot of the different individuals that I normally wouldn’t be working so closely with.”
Armed with a better understanding of the company and its operations, he began leading a data reconciliation project involving one of LSQ’s customers. “We had a client whose primary customer was Amazon,” Drew said. “They did shipping and delivery and so they had millions of invoices and we detected duplicates in the system. This was a major issue that had to be corrected. After just a couple weeks here, I was trusted to build a tool to solve it. That wouldn’t have happened at most places.”
In the end, Drew’s team was able to rectify the issue and help the client fix their internal processes to prevent further problems.
From there, Drew went on to work with LSQ’s burgeoning data team and create a number of automated processes. His next project was working with a team to create LSQ’s supply chain finance platform that would become LSQ FastTrack®. Drew is now the General Manager of Platform Services where he leads initiatives to grow LSQ beyond financial products and into the world of software as a service, such as offering insights, payments as a service, collections as a service, credit management, and potentially, more to come.
For Drew, LSQ has offered him the ability to grow his career and be purpose driven in his work.
“One of the things that’s kept me at LSQ for so long is they’ve continually made room for my ambition,” he said. “So as I continued to grow in experience and capability, the impact I wanted to have on the company grew as well. LSQ has been fantastic at making opportunities available.
“There hasn’t really been any ceiling that’s kind of hampered or slowed me down.”