“We follow an agile approach where we organise work democratically, and anyone at any level can propose new, better ways of working. That coupled with the flexibility makes it a lovely environment to work in.”
What does your role entail? What do you enjoy most about it?
It entails anything from designing and creating SQL (Structured Query Language) Server databases; to writing T-SQL (Transact-SQL), Stored Procedures, SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) Packages, and DAX (Data Analysis Expressions) to lift and shift data in Visual Studio; to developing PowerBI Dashboards that the Senior Leadership Team use. We use Jira software, which is a ticketing system used to log, delegate, and track work throughout its lifecycle. I love the creative and problem-solving aspects of making something and getting it to work correctly.
What was your pathway into this career?
After a career change from working in geology and geochemistry labs, I hopped onto a weekly year-long IT night course at my local college. I then secured a two-year apprenticeship with DE&S, working as an Oracle SQL and APEX (Application Express) Developer within the Application Services Team. This mostly involved developing HR applications and configuring projects, as well as providing some third-line technical support for the COVID Personnel Data Capture Tool when the pandemic hit. I then applied for a promotion to a Level 2 role within Data Services, where I’ve worked for the past year.
What learning and development opportunities are available in your team?
We have some upcoming courses in SQL, SSIS, and other software development platforms such as PowerBI, which I’m looking forward to. The DE&S Digital team runs a membership scheme with the Chartered Institute for IT and the British Computer Society, which allows us to access various events – my favourite being a virtual demonstration by a bug ‘bounty hunter’. Our team also holds a monthly Team Takeover event where each team within Data Services can share their knowledge on their specific specialisms. There’s lots of routes to learn more.
Do you feel supported to achieve your professional ambitions? Whether that’s taking on new projects to grow your skills or working towards a promotion?
Yes, 100%. There’s a lot of flexibility within DE&S, with promotion opportunities and the ability to move around the organisation to gain more experience. I’m hoping to work with lots of different teams in the future, such as Data Science, Data Governance, Automation, Office365 Development, and .NET Development to expand my skillset. Both Application Services and Data Services have been very supportive, helping me to try new things and get involved in other projects I’m interested in.
What is it that makes your role rewarding?
It’s all about streamlining working practices: taking data sets from disparate sources, tidying and reorganising them, and combining them in one place. There’s nothing better than automating something manual and tedious, saving time and energy. Learning to use new tools and programming languages is pretty satisfying in itself!
For you, what are the key things that make working at DE&S interesting or enjoyable?
Variety is a big one. I’ve worked on applications and dashboards that cover all sorts, including HR, COVID, Safety, Inventory, and Finance. There’s plenty of tools and technologies to explore, so I know I’ll never get bored.
How does DE&S support you to find the right balance between your work and home life?
Flexible working allows me to tailor my schedule around other needs – like walking my dog! What’s great is that working from home was widely accepted even before COVID. Cutting out the commute makes a huge difference to your time, and finances! Plus, I’m partially sighted, so I prefer working in an environment that I can tailor precisely to my needs.
Are you part of any networks? If so, could you tell me a little bit more about the network and your involvement?
I’m part of a Diversity & Inclusion Communications and Engagement Group. This usually involves sourcing and creating content for the DE&S Digital newsletter and monthly briefings. I’ve written two articles so far: one about how the pandemic has affected my experience working with sight loss, and one about National Eye Health Week and the importance of regular eye tests, eye protection, and appropriate Display Screen Equipment.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
You’ll usually find me playing whatever games I can get my hands on – role-playing games like the Elder Scrolls and Fallout are my favourite. Otherwise, I enjoy cooking with recipe kits; my kitchen tends to pay the price though.
What’s one thing that might surprise people about you?
I used to train in Tae Kwon-Do and Aikido several times a week. I even had a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do back in my prime.
Would you recommend DE&S to others as a great place to work, and if so, why?
Definitely. There’s an informal, open, and friendly culture here – I even got into an impromptu pun battle with the Head of Function once. We follow an agile approach where we organise work democratically, and anyone at any level can propose new, better ways of working. That coupled with the flexibility makes it a lovely environment to work in.
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