Senior Web Developer, BBC
1. What do you enjoy about working in STEM?
I enjoy working in tech because my day job involves dreaming; thinking about problems in abstract ways and finding a solution. There's a lot of careful process (managing branches, deployments, etc) but there is also a great deal of creativity and room for expression and innovation. A good idea can save millions of pounds, or touch the lives of millions of people. At the BBC "one in a million events" happens daily and we have to code for scale, accessibility and with future maintenance in mind. This is a rewarding challenge.
2. What do you do day-to-day in your work?
My current role is as a senior developer in platform engineering. Day to day I pick up tickets from an Agile Kanban board. Each ticket represents a unit of work, for example, writing documentation, writing code, designing new API's or fixing bugs. We work across both services and frontend code, so I may be fixing screen reader bugs one day, and working with highly concurrent server code the next. We also managed shared components, so we always have an eye on performance and platform stability issues such as caching and scalability.
3. What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been about keeping a professional distance from my work. I get passionate and have very strong beliefs. I have had to learn to modulate my passion and pick my battles. I tend to be a strong black and white thinker, so accepting compromises and ugly hacks has been difficult.
I have overcome this challenge mostly via acceptance from my colleagues. They understand the challenges that Asperger's brings and they work with me to accentuate the pros and minimise the impact of cons. I am always learning new communications skills and methods to enhance my ability to understand others and enable others to understand me.
4. What has been the highlight of your career so far and/or what are you hoping to go on to do in the future?
My first big project at the BBC was as the frontend lead on iPlayer Radio. We had a difficult build, to a tight deadline and on a new technological platform. It was a lot of hard work but when it launched it was satisfying to see it going into the hands of users.
My favourite individual highlight is the design of the BBC Radio search system. We managed to make a massive reduction in cost, while also reducing complexity and increasing performance. It's rare to get such a "silver bullet" solution.