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.