" Jimmy- it was an honour to know him. This scholarship is a fitting way to honour him as a person and what he believed in.
Visiting Whitley recently I was reminded of a conversation where James used so many big words (he was worldly and smart beyond his years!), and I had to stop him for clarification. He then selflessly took the time to try and explain the conversation- not to be smart, but to help me learn and grow. I have many fond memories of him at Whitley College. Memories such as drinking cheap 'Proton' caffeine drinks to spur him through exams, or the many nights out.
Reflecting on my Whitley College experience I am glad to be reminded of how integral Whitley was in providing me so much support in my transition into adult life, and the with many great friends I made long the way. Jimmy was one of the best people I met at Whitley, and I'll be forever grateful for meeting him there, and all the memories we shared at College and beyond."
I’m Alex, I worked closely with James for 3 years at Redflex Traffic Systems. Officially I was his manager, but a smart man like James just needed a strategic direction and then the intellectual responsibility and physical space to do his job well without any meddling from above.
We had mutual friends going to university, however the first time I met James was when he came to interview with Redflex in 2010. After the interview Matt Higgins rang me to say he’d heard we were interviewing James and that he was the most switched on guy he knew, to which I responded "you don't need to tell me that, he's an absolute gun!"
What I know he really loved after coming to Redflex from IBM was in being able to code and design rather than manage people and projects. He loved to tackle the big problems head on rather than work around them. His legacy is in two valuable pieces of software that he designed completely, the decision making module for every enforcement camera Redflex makes and the automatic test system. The funny side to his work personality was that he would passionately elaborate his designs, but he could make the design so complex such that us mere intellectual mortals would be left staring at him blankly by the end of his presentations. This wasn't made any easier by his usage of demonstrably superior vocabulary.
James had a rare combination of intellect, a great personality & humour. We were sent a photograph that our radar speed camera had captured of two men holding hands running at 24km/h down the emergency lane in Abu Dhabi. James' comment was that "surely two blokes running barefoot down the emergency lane is also illegal. Clearly the issue here is that pedestrians need to be registered and have number plates."
Everybody here knows James loved to travel, and he went to Hong Kong, the UK, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the Phillipines with Redflex. He would always come back with great stories, for example when he came back from the Phillipines he related working at night at the side of the road and then hearing a "kcshrt" behind him, he turned around and saw a guy holding a tazer at him and James thought "oh shit I'm going to get tazed". In fact the guy was trying to sell him the tazer, but that may have been hard to do amongst all the kids trying to beg money off him.
Of course another great travel story is when James and Karen bailed our boss Adrian out of a jam in Cuba when his Australian money and credit cards didn't work. James & Karen were going to Cuba at the same time, so I called James when he was transiting through to Cuba, and he then met up with Adrian in Cuba to help him out. However he and Karen then got worried that their money wouldn't work there either, so they went around to all the cash exchanges in the airport in Mexico and pretty much cleaned them out of Canadian dollars and the other currencies accepted in Cuba. I think they had thousands of dollars in cash on them.
James was fantastically capable and responsible, so naturally everybody wanted to promote him to management positions, but he was happiest doing real work. For his final year at Redflex James managed a large R&D project for UK enforcement cameras, a job he did very well, but got frustrated with because he couldn’t control others to share his sense of urgency.
However, despite being an articulate, athletic, confident genius there was one very large chink in the armour. He was absolutely terrible at board games. I never understood how somebody so accomplished could strategise so poorly at these games, he actually made the rest of us feel on par with him after we'd clean him up at games nights.
When one of our colleagues got headhunted by Amazon through the online social media service LinkedIn, I stupidly said to James that if thats the way the world is turning we'd better get on there. I setup an account and then James did as well, telling me that he'd pretty much copy pasted my one. Within a day he had invitations from multiple US companies who started to fight over him.
The lure of going to a new job in the US was of course irresistible to a curious man like James. We discussed whether he should go to Groupon or Google, and concluded that at Groupon he’d be on a useful interesting project with more control and potential to make a change, whereas at Google he’d probably be another cog in the wheel. That decision was reinforced when the Google recruiter sent him a nasty letter telling him how Groupon was a huge mistake and that Google was better.
What makes me saddest about James' passing is the tremendous loss of potential. If there was one person I knew who was going to change the world for the better it was James. We haven't just lost a friend, we've lost a truly inspirational man with big ideas and a big heart.
John Mark Nickels
A native of Melbourne who had moved to Chicago, to join us at Groupon, just six months earlier, James saw things through a particularly clear lens: every decision he made, his father said, was "tempered by his desire to achieve a greater social good."
James understood how fortunate he was and used his position to make "the planet the best possible place for humanity."
James worked on the Automated Merchandising team, where he was “very humble about his intelligence".
He and his teammates were building Megamind, a widgeting system that will allow anyone in the company to submit ideas for widgets to keep the website compelling for customers. For James, this project was about creating an idea meritocracy and letting everyone get involved in the website.