What is your role at Upgrade Pack and what does that entail?
I’m a Full Stack Developer in our Tech team. We develop completely in-house, so the team is responsible for delivering our soon to be launched mobile app, which will give our users exclusive loyalty-based discounts on flight and hotel upgrades. Full Stack means that I work on both front and back-end features (e.g. from UI to database management). Being Full Stack makes us highly agile as a dev team and means that any required changes or fixes to the mobile or web app can be made almost immediately, rather than relying on front or back end specialists. This responsiveness also makes us a better support to our colleagues in the product team, and is great for our clients in terms of efficiency.
Why did you want to join Upgrade Pack? What for you makes what Upgrade Pack is doing different?
It was a rare opportunity to build the supporting technology for a ground-breaking concept from the ground-up, and to understand industries which I’d only had prior exposure to as a customer. I was drawn by the transformational potential of the upgrade concept for both the banking and loyalty industries, and how it might also impact businesses and consumers across completely different markets.
What/who encouraged you to get onto Tech?
I was attracted to Tech as I view it as fundamentally a creative discipline; where you’re constantly required to problem-solve and learn. I’m very interested in how it can fundamentally change the ways that people experience life and broadens the range of potential experiences that we have access to.
What, in your opinion, is the key thing users are looking for from the Upgrade Pack platform?
Simply put: added value. Something that will save them time, effort and money. As our user base are being courted by a number of premium brands, we’re also dedicated to delivering the most premium experience we can, and we work closely with our design team to make this happen.
What are the most important skills or qualities to have in your job?
I don’t believe that there is a single set of skills or qualities; I’ve met many fantastic developers who all have completely different qualities and apply these uniquely to their work. With anything, a genuine interest is all that matters – when inevitable problems come up; you have to want to actually understand why, rather than wanting to throw your laptop directly out of the window!
Which women (in business or in the public eye) do you admire?
Two women stick out to me: In business, Michelle Mone; for her straight-talking and taking herself from an impoverished upbringing to create lingerie brand Ultimo and become a serial entrepreneur. I once went to a talk she gave and asked her some questions afterwards. Her story of sitting in Selfridges, heavily pregnant and with debt up to her eyeballs, with samples patched together from months of working with the idea that bras should be constructed completely differently is unbelievable. She revolutionised the industry to the extent where women of all shapes and sizes could get beautiful, well fitted underwear. She's awesome!
I’m also a huge admirer of Serena Williams, both for her sporting achievements and her sheer tenacity.
What’s been your experience/perception of being a woman in the tech industry – any changes in recent years?
For me it’s been fantastic and here at Upgrade Pack as a Tech startup, 13 of our 20-strong team are women, including our co-founder. There have been so many amazing women and men passionately pursuing equality (across areas from disability to gender) in the background of many industries, including Tech. However with recent research highlighting that only 15% of employees in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are women, there is definitely much more to do. From my side, I think that increasing university or coding Bootcamp applications from women is still key.
Any advice for women starting out in tech?
APPLY! Fewer women still seem to apply to Tech roles than men, which will be inevitably reflected in workplace demographics. If someone is interested in becoming a developer, there are a huge amount of affordable, or even free, tools to learn from such as FreeCodeCamp (who I’m so passionate about that I donate to them).
Most proud moment/ greatest accomplishment?
I genuinely believe I’m on the cusp of it with the delivery and roll out of a genuine market and tech first in our app. Exciting times ahead.
What’s your ideal travel destination?
It has to be The Galapagos Islands. I blame David Attenborough for that one.