James, on growing his career in development at Experian
James, Head of Software Development, shares his experiences moving from a small web development agency to Experian.
What was your path to Experian?
It’s been a good one. I was at a small company, where I ran a web development team, and we were creating four or five websites a month, working with really interesting brands. It was fast-paced, but my progression there was limited. That’s why I looked to an opportunity with Experian. I respected the innovation and the technology angle that came with Experian’s reputation so I was excited to join.
What has your career journey been at Experian?
I joined as a Lead Developer and was tasked with redesigning the Credit Expert website using modern technologies. It was a fantastic project to get involved in. At the time, most of the development for the UK was delivered from America. So it was great to set up a team in Nottingham and start to do more development here in the UK, with people that had a first-hand understanding of the market.
On the back of that project, I was promoted to a Solutions Architect which meant I got more involved in the design of future platforms and products. We started to design what we call a corvette platform, which is a cloud-based platform rather than the on-premise legacy platform we’d been using. It was ready for a revamp.
I was promoted again to Head of Software Engineering for our UK team in Nottingham, and started to take on responsibility for managing the teams. It’s been an amazing journey in a relatively short time.
To move up and progress has been great for me and my family, but it’s more about where we’ve gone as a team that brings me the most pride. The team are going from strength to strength and seeing them improving, sprint by sprint, is wonderful. Great careers are forming in front of my eyes and I can’t wait to see what our people will achieve both at Experian or anywhere else they choose to go.
How does it compare to working at a small company?
There are a few drawbacks in some of the bureaucracy, which you expect with a large corporation. But the benefits, I think, far outweigh those.
The people here are fantastic. The spectrum of people that we’ve got across the organisation, and the talent, the technical skills, the data scientists that we get to work with from time to time. That depth of resource is just fantastic.
It’s a very successful, growing company. It is a huge benefit. Just last week, we had £275 million spent on Experian consumer services. That’s something you wouldn’t dream of at any other company.
So, I would say the difference is the people. The resources. And the opportunity. It’s just second to none really when you consider the difference we could make to people’s lives. We can protect them from the increase threat of cyber crime and fraud and we can help stop people overpaying interest payments in a society more dependent on credit than ever.
Before you joined Experian, what were your reservations about joining?
It was just a self-confidence thing, I was asking myself: “Am I going to be good enough to succeed in this big, innovative organisation?” It’s hard to know when you’re coming from a much smaller company. I wanted to quantify whether I was going to be able to make the difference. I found when I joined that I fitted in well and I shouldn’t have been so worried about the transition.
Before you joined Experian you were developing multiple websites each month, then when you came to Experian you were focused on just one. Did it get boring?
It’s more interesting, because it’s lots of different challenges. Yes there’s not the breadth of different brands or websites and things to work with, but it was all about going far deeper into a single product. Such a rich amount of data and features were involved.
And it was also about trying to modernise a lot of pretty outdated development practices. For me it was a lot less about the delivery of a website, and more about trying to bring more modern practices into an organisation and trying to get people working together in a smarter way. Trying to bring in some more modern technologies that we’d been very fortunate to be tinkering with on the small websites I worked on before. And bringing some of those into the one big websites that we have now.
What makes someone a good fit at Experian?
The people that enjoy working here and succeed are the ones that want to make a change. They want to make suggestions when they see something isn’t quite working right, and keep things moving forward. They find a new way of doing things, or a smarter way of approaching something.
We try to celebrate those people as much as we can, even if just in a small way, especially when it comes to working as a team and doing that as a collective.
What opportunity for career progression is there?
I think there’s ample opportunity. Experian feels like one of those organisations that’s very happy to be creative with your career. So, if there’s a different discipline or a different role that you wouldn’t normally apply for, you can get the opportunity to try it out here. Even if it’s a sabbatical, or spending some time with people in different areas, to figure out whether that’s something that would work for you.
Why would you recommend working at Experian?
Because you get to come and work with amazing people. And, work in an environment where there’s a huge amount of opportunity. I’d encourage people to come in and see what it’s like for themselves.
If people are keen to work with data, and new technologies, and to innovate with those things, then I think there’s a wonderful opportunity here.
I’d also like people to know about the work we’ve been doing with Tech Nottingham. Tech Nottingham is a community organisation, and they run events in the city for people who are interested in technology. They get a lot of people coming to various events they run throughout the year, and I think their flagship event, Hack24, is the biggest hacking event in Europe. They do an absolutely brilliant job of explaining why Nottingham is a great place to come and work – especially for students who are either considering moving here or staying here after they graduate. We’ve been sponsoring their student outreach programme, and had students here to talk them through what it’s like to work in technology and at Experian. We also sponsored the Hack24 event.
I think it’s great that we’re involved at that level, because it shows we’re not grey suits; we’re happy to put a hoodie on and take part.
If anyone wants to find out more about our development team, I’d encourage them to talk to the people at Tech Nottingham. It gives people a less formal introduction to the company, and I think that’s really helpful.
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