A career in Tech wasn’t really on my radar when I started university in 1998, despite my hometown of Dundee harbouring a burgeoning video games industry (including DMA Design, later Rockstar North), and endless hours invested in my beloved Amiga 500 and PS1 (playing Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto, two of Dundee’s more successful exports!)
Instead, I was drawn to the dreaming spires of the University of St Andrews’ English and Geography departments, rather than the fledgling video games development scene getting underway nearby at Abertay University, and (undeterred by a crash landing into some pretty intensive and unexpected exposure to Old English poetry) eventually graduated with an MA in English Literature in 2002.
‘Tech’ seemed to be just landing at St Andrews Uni when I arrived in ‘98: Essays were still being word-processed on actual Word Processors (Google them!), and email sent from green-screen terminals using PINE (self-authored by the university itself), before the central library took delivery of x8 (8!) Pentium PCs, each running Alta Vista for browsing the early internet (Imagine the queues!) - I think we might still have had a microfiche machine, too…
On graduation, I was fairly certain I wanted to write for a living (something, anything!): Again, growing up in Dundee (also home to DC Thomson, the Sunday Post… and, of course, the Beano!) made this an easier move than it might have been elsewhere.
But, with the internet just starting to change the journalism industry forever, it soon became clear my first role as a sub-editor and features writer might not be the long-term solution I was looking for (at least not in Dundee): Besides, the bright lights of Birmingham, and a move into the glamorous, rock n’roll world of electronic musical instrument retail with Roland UK, were also beckoning…
I’ve had a fairly circuitous route into Tech since then. But, looking back over my previous roles within the Journalism, Retail, IT brokerage and Healthcare sectors, it’s fair to say elements of Tech have been a constant in all of them, to varying degrees - I’ve certainly never regretted learning to type properly, or getting to know my way around the more arcane menus of Word, Excel or InDesign…
Having gained a few years’ experience as a Bid Manager with a global private healthcare provider and insurer, Tech really came to the fore for me in 2020, when my employer at the time embarked on a company-wide transformation programme which brought Agile to my attention (and ways of working) for the first time.
After picking up some training and low-level certification in Agile (and emerging a little exhausted from the pandemic) I began looking for my next challenge, preferably out of the healthcare sector. After a short spell at an Architect’s practice, I was delighted to have the opportunity to join Naimuri as its first official Bid Manager, as its mission, culture and Agile ways of working were just what I was looking for.
Although I don’t work in a directly ‘technical’ role, I find the general dynamism of the sector, and the ‘cleverness’ of the solutions it finds to modern challenges, to be really invigorating to work around.
It’s a forward-thinking sector, both by default and definition, so you’re always learning new things and refining your ways of working: I’d already learned about the principle of kaizen in previous roles; however, in Tech, it’s a reality you see being lived every day.
Finally, there’s the people you meet through working in Tech: It’s an important component of job-satisfaction in any role, but my colleagues here are just really lovely people: Smart, people-focused and kind.
I’m lucky to have been the recipient of some great career advice over the years, but perhaps none more so than ‘Wherever you start won’t be where you end up: so enjoy the journey!’
I’ve also always appreciated the concept of experience being something that you don’t get until immediately after the point you needed it most (i.e. probably when you had it least!). There’s something in this idea that’s always reminded me to be brave, and not go too hard on myself for not being perfect the first time around…
In addition to the above, there’s been several times in my career (and probably my life, more generally, come to think of it) when I wish I’d been kinder to myself, and more mindful of the concept of ‘personal best’.
It’s easy to understand why ‘PBs’ are so valued in sport or in the gym: But, with the benefit of hindsight, I definitely could have taken the time to recognise ‘I’ve done the best I can, at least for now: How can I improve from here?’ (or even just ‘I’ve never done better than this before - Well done me!)’ a lot earlier than I did.
Aside from reminding my younger self of the importance of being resilient, fair, patient, hard-working and kind, I’d also encourage them to do something that matters (no matter how small or unimportant it might seem), stay true to themselves (i.e. their values and principles) and… have fun!