This month we continued our Made Tech team interview series with our Senior Engineer Lewis Dale to better understand his role and to feature the great work he has been doing.
Our Senior Software Engineers deliver digital, data and technology outcomes that improve society. They do this by delivering and architecting software, and coaching others to do so in public sector organisations.
If you would like to watch the full interview, it is available here.
Q: How did you become interested in tech?
A: It actually started when I was about 12 years old and I was a member of an online forum. It was eBay for kids basically and I realised ‘oh, I want to do something like this’. So I learnt how to set up one on my own, how to host, did the HTML, and learnt a bit of PHP. That kind of snowballed into learning how to code. Then I went off to university and got a Master’s degree in Software Engineering and now I’m here.
Q: Outside of tech, what other hobbies do you have?
A: I’m a big reader. I love reading sci-fi novels and horror novels. I’m reading Turn of the Screw by Henry James at the minute which is dense but I’m enjoying it.
Q: Before you joined Made Tech, had you ever worked in the public sector before?
A: I had a brief stint in the aerospace sector which involved a European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency, so I had some exposure to the public sector but not to the same extent Made Tech does.
Q: How do you find working in the public sector?
A: It’s good. You get some really, really interesting projects and the thing I like most about it is being able to do good. Having an impact on the way technology works in the public sector is nice.
Q: How long have you been at Made Tech?
A: A year next week.
Q: How did you find out about the company?
A: I actually found out because the Talent Lead at the time got in touch with me over a hiring website I had signed up for and about a day later I got a message from them telling me about the company. I got a look at the Handbook and it all looked really great so I sent over my CV and had an interview.
Q: What attracted you to Made Tech?
A: There were three major things I think:
1. There was the openness, so having the Handbook in the open was a big, big thing for me because I like working at places that value transparency.
2. Learn Tech. Sort of having that investment time in learning is something that I was really keen on doing. It was something that I’ve not had the chance to do at other companies and I like the opportunity to grow.
3. Having the Academy. I thought that was a great idea to be able to invest in new engineers. I was really impressed by that so it made me want to come on board.
Q: What was the interview process like?
A: It was quite a painless process. I think I sent off my CV to the Talent Lead at the time who took about 3 or 4 days to get back to me. Then they offered me a phone interview which I had with one of the Lead Engineers. It was a short 30 minute phone interview which checked that we were aligned and that it felt like a good fit.
Then it was a 90 minute face-to-face interview, back when we had face-to-face interviews, where it was 30 minutes with two hiring managers having a chat about my work history and what got me into tech and stuff like that. 30 minute pairing exercise with a Lead Engineer and then a 30 minute more technical discussion where we did stuff like an architectural question.
Q: What is a day in the life of your role like?
A: That’s quite a hard one to answer really because it can vary quite a lot but typically as a Senior Engineer I’m involved in a single workstream on a project. So I’ll be working directly with one of Made Tech’s clients on a day to day basis. We’ll have stand up then the rest of the day we’ll pick up work.
At the minute we’re doing a lot of mobbing so the whole development team is all on one call and we’re all trying to work through a problem together. Which is quite nice because it’s nice to pool ideas and everyone sort of gets the information propagated at the same time. That’s been my days recently anyway.
Q: What do you like most about being a Senior Engineer?
A: I like working on problems and writing code, that’s obviously why I became an Engineer. But I also like having people there who I can mentor and work with. Seeing people who have come in at a more junior level and then working with them and watching their knowledge and abilities really come out is really great. Having a role in that is probably my favourite part about being senior.
Q: What are some of the most challenging things about this role?
A: Obviously the work can be challenging. It’s mentally taxing to write. You’re given a specification from a customer, you’re given a set of requirements, and turning those into a finished feature. There’s things you have to do there and a big part of that is having the conversations with the client and drawing out ‘okay, so this is what you’ve said and how does that translate to a finished product? How do we verify that that’s the case?’ Having those conversations can be really challenging but really rewarding when it’s done.
Q: What has been one of your favourite projects you have worked on?
A: At Made Tech the one I’m on right now I think is one of my favourites because it’s such a different challenge. So we’re trying a digital transformation for a critical infrastructure within the UK government and we’re taking that and putting it into the cloud. Then we’re going to start modernising it. To be directly involved with improving the technology and the infrastructure of the government is a big deal. I really like it.
Q: Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to be a Senior Software Engineer?
A: It’s almost coming in as a junior I think. Just put as much time as you can to invest in learning. Do different projects, learn various different programming languages, making yourself more of a generalist helps you understand how to come at problems with a completely different approach. Invest in the learning I think.
Q: What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face since lockdown started in this position and how did you overcome it?
A: The biggest challenge I found was that we were lacking the personal interactions that we had before lockdown. Previously we used to commute to the client office and there were times there were four of us in a car and we’d have an hour of conversation. It was quite nice to kind of bond and overnight we sort of lost that and we weren’t in the office anymore.
A couple of things we’ve done to sort of combat that were we had an open Google Meet room at all times. So we would go in there and you could just sit there and work away and people could join you. You could have off the cuff discussions and it was an attempt to recreate the sort of office environment.
Then we’ve had more structured social sessions where we’ve had a few hours at the end of the day and we’d go grab a drink and food and sit on the call, play some video games, or do something together and just socialise in a way we haven’t been able to do in quite a while.
Q: What do you like most about working at Made Tech?
A: I think it’s definitely the people. The people that work for Made Tech seem to be consistently the nicest people I’ve ever worked with. It’s a really nice environment. It feels very safe. The concept of no stupid questions and things like that, that’s really baked into the way people are at Made Tech and that’s what I love about it.
If you have any more questions for Lewis about his role here, you can get in touch by reaching out on Linkedin. Additionally, if you are interested in joining our team, you can view our current open positions here.
Be sure to stay tuned for our next Made Tech Team Interview coming next month.