Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I trained part time with the Scottish Ballet in primary school and went onto study full time at a ballet school for a year.
Tell us about your career journey so far.
I studied Business IT and Accounting at the University of Paisley. Early on I realised I preferred IT and specialised more in this area.
I struggled to find a job related to my degree locally. Around this time there was a big drive in Ireland to recruit people into IT related roles. I applied for some roles, arranged interviews and within a month I was living and working over there, specialising in Access Databases. This role gave me experience of database design, VBA coding, business analysis and first line support. It was a great experience.
When I moved back to Scotland I worked for several years for the NHS where I began web design. 20 years later I still work in the healthcare field with Atos developing software for NHS Scotland. I definitely believe my degree and first real job in IT over in Ireland gave me a great grounding for all the other roles I've taken on over the years.
What was your favourite subject in school and why?
English was my favourite subject at school. I loved reading, writing stories and analysing text. It's proved essential in my job just now. A large part of my role is to gather requirements from customers and turn these requirements into documents that customers, developer's and testers can all understand. Sometimes the language used in software development is too technical for the people who are going to use the software. I like to think by translating this technical talk into something more user friendly I help to bridge the gap.
What subjects/qualifications/skills are useful for your role?
Maths, Computing and English are useful in my role. I didn't enjoy maths in High School as I couldn't see how it was relevant to every day life. I now use algebra almost daily for writing algorithms in my code as well as basics like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. In my current job I'm calculating the number of hours worked by nurses on a ward to determine how much they should get paid and also to determine how many nurses are required daily on a ward.
I wish someone at school had been able to give me real life examples of how maths can be useful after school.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
I love being involved in a piece of software from beginning to end. Having initial conversations with the customer about their requirements, through to designing and then producing the software. It's great to see something that has started out has an idea in someone's head be transformed into a piece of software that is used in real life by the NHS.
What is a normal day in your role like?
Each day in my job can be different depending on the stage we're at in the software release. Something that is constant is a daily team meeting we have online at 10am with all team members who are based not only in different locations in Scotland but also across the UK and Europe. This is where we chat about our priorities for the day.
When we're beginning a piece of software I'm mainly talking to customer's and writing documentation. This then moves onto designing software and writing technical documents. Followed by coding the software, which usually takes the largest amount of time. Once I've finished coding I need to test the software myself and also pass to the test team for testing. At this stage I'm hoping they don't find any bugs for me to fix!!
And what does your job title mean?
As an Applications Developer I can take on different roles that can vary from gathering and writing customer requirements, designing and coding software and self testing the code. It really can depend on the project I'm working on. Which is good because it means no two days are the same. However, the main part of my job is coding. Which is really just writing a set of instructions for a computer program to perform a particular task
Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?
An activity that I like to do is to pretend I'm writing a set of instructions for a robot to perform a task. Then pretend to carry out these instructions to see how accurate they are. This activity can be as specific or general as you like, for example a specific task would be 'Make a jam sandwich' and a general task would be 'Make something to eat'.
In writing these instructions you are required to make decisions along the way e.g. what type of bread to use. You'll also need handle unexpected situations such as what to do if there's no jam. Although no code is actually written, by performing this activity students have to think about and write out a list of instructions for someone to follow. Which is basically what happens when a computer program is written.