National Coding Week 2020

Coding: you're like a magician

We speak to the coders who make online public services possible

Programmers, architects, software developers and engineers. Coding runs through them all. At Civica, these roles are open to all too. Challenging the stereotype of coders as young men stuck in dark rooms with computers, our coding community spans the globe, across gender, age, race and neuro-diversities.   

This National Coding Week, Civica is helping to build people’s confidence and skills by encouraging volunteers to build their digital skills, from Pluralsight and hackathons into reality. Civica’s coders build the software that improves lives: from COVID-19 apps to patient records in hospitals. Such coders who come from all walks of life have global citizens in mind. But it’s a satisfying career too that continually challenges and tests, where you reap the rewards with a supportive team. 

Still not convinced that coding is fun and makes a difference? Take it from Civica's own coders.

Andrew Fletcher, Senior Software Engineer

Andrew's career in software engineering stems from a massive enthusiasm for all things computing and technology. Learning to code aged 14 led Andrew to study MEng Computer Science at Queen's University Belfast from 2012 to 2017, where he was successful in gaining a place on the Civica Scholarship Programme. Here, Andrew worked as a Placement Software Engineer throughout his time at university, where he could contribute to large-scale digital transformation projects in Northern Ireland while developing his skills. Andrew returned to Civica as a graduate and quickly progressed to a senior position. He's extremely enthusiastic for delivering key projects for Civica's customers using the latest cloud tools and technologies.

Saurabh Srivastava, Azure Engineer

Why did you choose a career in coding?

Programming has always fascinated me. I remember when I heard how Mark Zuckerberg developed an idea to connect people all around the world while sitting at home: Facebook. I’ve been fond of computers since my childhood and have always loved to play games on them (Mario, to be precise!). Playing games, making friends on Facebook by visiting a cybercafé twice a day and thinking about developing my own computer game someday all motivated me to take my first step towards programming.

Coding is a really attractive career. Solving problems in programming gives you a feeling of intellectual satisfaction. Plus, it’s really cool to see your code solve challenging problems. Everyone wants their work to have a wide impact. And, being a software engineer provides you with that platform to have a wide influence on society. The best thing about programming is that you have the opportunity to create things that no one else around can. You’re like a magician!

What do you enjoy most about the coding community here at Civica?

I’ve been with this awesome company for just over a year now. What I like most about the coding community at Civica is the innovation and the approach to overcoming challenges, particularly by our regular hackathons. With the help of hackathons, people discover innovations which can be enhanced further to shape a product. I also enjoy Civica’s training programme run by the Civica Academy and attending virtual tech sessions on new topics and innovations.

Ches Staunton, Technical Architect

Why did you choose a career in coding?

I didn’t choose a career in coding; I chose coding and I’m delighted to have made a career out of it! I've been coding as a hobby since my teens, and I've worked in temp jobs and tech support roles until my first proper MS Access dev role at 20. I think my love of coding chose for me! So after uni, I did a quick Masters in OOSS to help that along, and ta-da: career!

Coding is so much fun. Sometimes excruciatingly frustrating, but those moments when you suss something are golden. I love the maths, the logic, the creativity. It's also useful: my advice to anyone who asks about coding as a hobby is to find a use for it. I learnt because I wanted to create databases to support my hobbies and VBA macros to avoid repetitive tasks when writing my novels; driven by the need for invention and laziness!

As a career, I have all that fun, and more too. I enjoy being able to translate layperson dreams into specs into reality. I enjoy collaborating with product managers about ideas and other developers about how to make stuff work. I love hearing about how a product is helping our users and seeing how they engage with it.

I struggle to understand why everyone doesn't want to do it – it’s the dream job!

What do you enjoy most about the coding community here at Civica?

It’s great to be part of the Civica coding community. I like figuring things out together or sharing things we've found. I've been mentored, I've helped others. I wouldn't want to go it alone! I took the job here because there was a team, rather than being a solo dev. I rather imagined a group of geeks like me, but I've found that there are coders who don't watch sci-fi and many who actually like football! I've met a lot of interesting and different people over the years and learnt little bits from them all and lots from some.

There's a lot of support at Civica. Our wonderful IT team have always helped me, I'm finding the DevOps support team friendly and my teammates are pretty amazing!

Raxit Soni, Solution Architect

Why did you choose a career in coding?

I loved learning programming and developing in my college days as a mechanical engineer. So I moved into a career in software development, where the challenges I faced were like no other. But my confidence was always growing. Solving one problem helped solve the next…

What I like about my career is that teams develop small chunks of code which, when brought together, build a great solution. As an industry, coders are inspired to achieve more and more. We also have the flexibility of time and workspace, which empowers programmers like me to deliver the work even despite challenging conditions.

What do you enjoy most about the coding community here at Civica? 

There’s so much opportunity to learn: knowledge sharing sessions with tech evenings, Pluralsight training, innovation sessions like our Lime Learn calls, hackathons and other coding events, plus our NorthStar innovation programme. NorthStar plays a key role in our ideas and people-driven community. As a NorthStar ambassador, it’s quite exciting for me to come across the out-of-box ideas related to various domains and technologies throughout the organisation. People at Civica avoid shortcuts like consuming readily available code. They learn, research, design, develop and test the programme.

Isha Shah, Junior Software Engineer

Why did you choose a career in coding?

It wasn’t until I started developing demo apps and designing their views that I discovered how much I loved to code. I was actually unsure about a coding career when I was in college. But the hands-on experience I’ve gained at Civica, both in frontend and backend coding, has affirmed this career path for me. 

What do you enjoy most about the coding community here at Civica?

Our community is always ready to show that ‘Every day is a learning day’. We can access free online Pluralsight training to learn new technologies and improve our coding skills. Plus colleagues and leaders are always up for sharing new coding knowledge and conducting sessions on new technologies. For example, our development teams run competitions to boost our coding confidence. As someone in a junior role, that’s critical. I’m really glad to be a part of Civica and have the chance to learn something new every day.

Adele Delaney, Apprentice Developer

Why did you choose a career in coding?

I’ve always had a passion for STEM: I actually started a maths degree to realise that I much preferred the hands-on approach of development. I love to help others and I admire how much technology can facilitate that – which you can’t do so much with maths! – be it through promoting paperless working or by enhancing accessibility.

I’m legally blind in my left eye with poor vision in the other, so I’m a big advocate for making the lives of people with disabilities much easier. Technology is a fantastic way of doing that.

Development just made sense to me as a career route: I can make a difference and still stay true to my values, including being an environmentalist. Working at Civica has given me an opportunity to combine my love of problem solving with the joy of helping people. 

I absolutely love my job, which I feel very lucky to say.

What do you enjoy most about the coding community here at Civica? 

There are so many learning opportunities. I don’t just have great online learning access through platforms like Pluralsight, but I get to work with some really knowledgeable people.

Development can be a rollercoaster of emotions, so having a supportive team is essential – especially when deadlines loom and the stress admittedly mounts. Being able to have a laugh with colleagues gives a sense of balance!

I feel really supported by our leaders too. Whatever your personal objectives or areas of development you want to work on, our managers will do their upmost to help you achieve them. I personally want to give a shout-out to our Development Team Lead Mandy James-Dingle – she’s awesome!

Will Newman, Software Development Lead

Why did you choose a career in coding?

I’ve always enjoyed problem-solving: from an early age I loved all kind of puzzles and brainteasers. A big part of coding is about finding the best solution to a particular problem, and that's the part I enjoy the most: ensuring not only that the solution works, but that it's efficient, scalable and requires minimal effort to support. It's a feeling I experience each day and it never gets old.

What do you enjoy most about the coding community here at Civica?

I love how varied the challenges are that come my way. One week I’m optimising a particular process, the next I’m recommending a framework or library to suit a solution. In my role, I also help to identify and nurture our talented software engineers. I get to work with some incredible individuals who are feeding their innovative and cutting-edge ideas into our NorthStar programme, which I champion in my role as an Innovation Ambassador. I'm always encouraging our people to find new ways to solve problems.