Tell us about yourself, how did you get into web development?
So, I started with a Computer Science course at Sheffield University - a long time ago now! I found I had a natural ability with computers and programming, so this is the career path I fell into.
My main passion was actually music but it’s not an easy industry to get into. I studied Music Production as well, before I ended up in my role at NetConstruct. Given that I lived in Wetherby before I went to university, it seems fitting that this is where I ended up again. Ever since I first joined 2007, I’ve loved working here. It's like a big family and I've certainly never found it boring.
It's a very different company today than it was 13 years ago. The main difference has been becoming part of idhl which created a massive culture shift and has been a really positive thing. There has always been career progression available too which has meant my role has changed throughout the years.
What is your role at NetConstruct?
I started on the Support Helpdesk and worked my way up into the development team and now I work directly with our clients as a Solutions Architect. My role is basically to work with clients to refine requirements down to specifications - both functional and technical. I also work with the development team to pass on that information by logging development tasks and discussing them with the relevant people.
Supporting the developers to work through a project is also part of my responsibilities. Usually, I end up being a technical lead on the project. And, if I'm not, I will often be handing over as much information as I've gleaned from the various conversations I've had with clients, so the development team can be self-sufficient.
And of course, day-to-day, I continue to work hands-on during various phases of a project as a senior systems developer; I still love to code!
You've been in the business for 13 years now. What has made you stick around?
I'd say it's down to the camaraderie and working with the people at NetConstruct. The number of people who have remained part of the business for over 10 years is quite amazing for a web development agency and I think that's a reflection of how nice it is to work here.
When I get up in the morning, I look forward to coming to work. I'm not staring at the clock waiting for it to turn five, and because there are lots of different things happening on a day to day, it always passes quickly.
Tell us more about a typical day…
There is no typical day! Generally, I work on the project that I've been assigned to for that day and it usually involves business meetings on a particular project, checking in with the devs to make sure everyone's happy with what they're doing or jumping into tasks that I'm working on.
There’s often ongoing collaboration with the client as we're working through things too. Usually, we'll have a Slack channel open and we'll talk to the client directly just to make sure they're happy with what we're doing. We like to collaborate as much as possible so that the client always feels involved with the day to day as well. Not every client wants that, but some do, and I think it’s a great thing to offer.
How has NetConstruct helped with your progression?
One of the nice things about working here is the fact that you have an opportunity to carve your own needs within the business. Obviously, we have job roles, but you're not just boxed into a particular role. So, if you're good at something, for example, talking to the end client or you're a development guru, NetConstruct will make the most of your skillset rather than forcing you down a particular path.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the fact that I get to experience both the technical side and working with other people too. Personally, I find you can do too much code. If I'm coding all the time, it becomes too much and if I'm not talking to anyone for a while, I feel boxed off. In my role, I get to do both and it's a nice mix.
I also really love solving problems. That's what got me into this in the first place. It's almost like a bit of a game, it’s a nice feeling when you get it right. You're always learning here, and I get a buzz from learning.
Is there anything you’ve found challenging?
When I first joined the company, I was a reserved, shy person. I would never have pictured myself being the kind of person that would sit in front of a client and run a technical workshop. Over the years and through my experience, I've become more confident in my role. I'd say getting to that point was the biggest challenge. I remember the first time I had to do a training session for a client, I was really nervous. But it went well, and I got really good feedback. Ever since then, I’ve improved, and it has become a favourite part of my role.
What value do you and your team offer clients?
Obviously, we offer our clients the best possible website we can give them. But I think one area that we’re particularly good at is being able to collaborate effectively with our clients and with third parties. Today, many websites are a component of a much larger system; sites need to hook into various different CRM systems, ERP systems, and third-party services. That can involve the need to work closely with the end-users of those systems, and with other providers – and that’s something I think we do very well.
Some companies will prevent their developers from actually talking to the client. This forces you to go through a channel of communication that creates a very slow process for getting stuff done. We're very open in the fact that, as developers, we like to consult directly with the users and providers of whatever system we are integrating with to speed things up and get things right the first time.