Celebrating success in our Engineering community

UK | June

Since joining us as an Associate Software Engineer back in 2018, Suthathip has gone from strength to strength, working across multiple digital teams on lots of exciting projects. More recently securing herself a well-earned promotion!

We caught up with her about her journey into Tech, the opportunities she's had at Vanquis and why she loves working in the team. She also speaks from her experience as a female in engineering and how she thinks the gender imbalance in the industry might improve in the future. 

Congratulations on your recent promotion!
Thank you! The role has actually been my goal ever since I completed my work placement as a junior software developer during university. I’m grateful for the support I have received from my manager and my team – especially for the confidence they have in me! I’m looking forward to continuing this journey and making the best of every opportunity here at Vanquis.

Tell us about your time at Vanquis so far…
I originally joined the web team in Digital as an ‘Associate Software Engineer’ where I worked alongside other engineers to support the development of the new customer online portal. Later on, I moved over to the mobile team where I learned about mobile development. Starting with fixing bugs, I then progressed to help develop features such as the new ‘Credit Limit Increase’ journey and ‘Report Card Lost and Stolen’, I assisted with the deployment and releases of the app, and provide support to the team. The mobile team was a big part of my time here at Vanquis and it was very rewarding knowing the impact I have made to the customers.

...and now, what is keeping you busy at the moment in your new role?
As a software engineer, a big part of the job really is about learning the current systems and the tech stack, as well as keeping up with technology to always look for new improvements – all these things enable myself and my colleagues to deliver and make a difference to the business and the customers. Being in an agile team, a normal day involves working on a task during a scrum sprint which is generally around problem solving - with a mixture of coding, pair-programming and debugging.

Recently, I was part of the PSD2 (Payment Services Directive Two) team delivering the new adapted mobile registration journey. I am currently working on automating reports of downtimes for web and mobile required by regulators. It has been both challenging and fun to be working on some of the backend systems and to expand my knowledge of the infrastructure and Microsoft Azure (cloud).

What’s the Software Engineering team(s) like? What’s exciting about Tech & Change at Vanquis?
The software engineer teams here at Vanquis are very diverse. Each of us come from various backgrounds with different personalities and experiences, but we all share the same passion for technology. There is a very strong focus on learning and innovating as well as adapting to change. There is a sense of ‘moving forwards’, whether it’s to learn new frameworks and ideas which the current systems can benefit from, or expanding the skill set to other areas of technology (e.g. infrastructure). Everyone is always excited about trying out new ideas and elevating their skills.

One of the things I find really exciting about Tech & Change is the impact our work has on everyone, this includes the business, our colleagues and the customers. Especially as the business continues to grow and relies more on automations and IT systems, the work we do here really does make a difference.

 

What influenced you to pursue a career in Tech?
I have always been interested in Technology and I really enjoy learning about it. So I decided to study IT in college, and later got my Computer Science degree at University of Kent. During my year in industry at university, I worked as a junior software developer at ‘Charities Aid Foundation’ bank. I was involved in many projects such as automated test systems and the new internal process for the business. From this, I have gained a better technical understanding and improved my programming skills (especially in Microsoft tech stack and C#). It also gave me an insight of how it is like to work in IT, and the courage to pursue a career as a software engineer.

What’s it like to be a female in engineering?
There really is no doubt that there aren’t as many females in this industry and it has felt overwhelming at times. There have been instances where I find myself the only female in the room, which has become normal to me. Even though at a glance I might not fit into the stereotypes of a software engineer, I feel very lucky for the support and the encouragement from my mentor and the people that I work with at Vanquis. I feel like part of the family among my peers here.

What do you think companies can do to encourage more women to choose careers in tech and rectify the imbalance? 
Firstly, I believe that companies need to recognise this imbalance so that we can all have these conversions out in the open and work together towards rectifying this. Secondly, by showing examples of the many talented women already working in IT, we can hope to inspire other females from all ages and backgrounds to see this as an opportunity. I feel that encouraging the younger generation is crucial and we can utilise the tools that we have to promote women in tech (e.g. via social media)

I am fortunate that Vanquis has in the past given me the opportunity to attend the ‘Women of Silicon Roundabout’ conference, which was about women in tech and equality. There have also been other events hosted by people at Vanquis such as the ‘Women in Leadership’ that was showcasing some of the amazing women here across PFG (of which I felt really inspired from).  

What do you think are the qualities that make a good Software Engineer?
From my experience, I personally believe that a good software engineer requires an open and inquisitive mind with the thirst to grow. it is not just about being able to code, but being able to connect various systems, applications and endpoints together - whilst still taking into account other things such as usability, resiliency, performance and the end-user. Being able to communicate technical concepts and make suggestions (such as improvements to current systems) is also an essential skill to have in order to effectively collaborate with other colleagues within the business.

At Vanquis, we believe a balance of personal and professional development is very important. How have you been supported you in your own development?
Vanquis has always provided me with support since day one of joining here. At first, by assigning a mentor who has been working closely with me on my personal development and career progression, then by providing me with opportunities to improve my soft skills (such as allowing me to organise a hackathon).

Another great thing here is ‘innovation’ time which we can set aside for personal learning, this is actually allocated and planned into our agile sprint. There are also many online resources (e.g. PluralSight) and classes available for everyone.

What has been your highlight of working here?
There have been many highlights, but there is one that really stands out. At the end of 2018, I helped to organise a tech ‘Hackathon’ for the Ops Engineering team. It was a two-day event away from the office where everyone was divided into teams and worked on the chosen technical projects to compete against each other. It was a really fun experience where everyone got to be creative and learn new technologies that they wouldn’t normally get a chance to dive into at work. These project ideas were:

  • KYC (Know Your Customer) using cognitive service (image analysis)
  • Amazon’s Alexa skill for Vanquis
  • Smart watch app (Apple/Android) for Vanquis
  • Augmented reality game for Vanquis app

And finally... How’s the adjustment been to working from home and how are your team staying connected?
It actually has been really great! I think it should also be mentioned that many people here at Vanquis (especially the engineering teams) have always recognised the value of working from home and already allowed people to work remotely when possible.

I really miss being in the office where ideas are bounced around and people can easily join in conversion, but I think it’s great that we can all now stay connected via technology. Microsoft Teams (and the rest of Microsoft Office 365) has been a big part of making this happen. It’s very positive that many people are now seeing the convenience and how technology can really make your life better; things like meetings across sites (with people working in different locations) and a quick catch-up with colleagues can happen without moving away from your desk.

“Here at Vanquis, things are never stagnant. Opportunities are never far away.”

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“The bank has really grown, and it's our target to continue growing.”

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