This month we had our first interview in our Made Tech team interview series with our Lead Engineer Charlene Hunter to better understand her role and to feature the great work she has been doing.
If you would like to watch the full interview, it is available here.
Q: How did you become interested in working in tech?
A: I think I’ve always secretly been interested in it but I didn’t really realise that I was. My dad has a software company that I always used to hang out at when I was growing up, so that was one of the key reasons. At the time, when I was growing up I didn’t really want to work in tech. I thought I wanted to do something else because I saw it all the time so I didn’t really like it.
But I’ve always just been interested in tech. I’ve always been doing things in that space. I think I started coding when I was about 10 or something and ever since then I’ve just been involved in it and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s a passion of mine so I really enjoy it.
Q: Outside of tech, what other hobbies do you have?
A: I don’t think I have any hobbies outside of tech anymore. I think everything I do is kind of tech related. There was a time I tried doing some sewing but that didn’t last very long and I’m back in tech again.
Q: Had you worked at all in the public sector before you joined Made Tech?
A: Yeah, so I’ve actually worked in the public sector for around 10 years. The first job I had was at BAE Systems and that was public sector work and then I became a contractor in the public sector. Now I’m back in the public sector!
I quite like doing work that means something. You know you’re contributing to the greater good, I suppose. I tried getting out of the public sector and it just felt strange. It didn’t feel like I was making a difference so I had to go back into that space. So I’ve always worked in it for about 12 years. It’s different, but it’s nice. It’s worth it.
Q: How long have you been at Made Tech?
A: I think I’ve actually only been here about three months. It feels like a lifetime but it’s been about three months. I started at the beginning of May.
Q: How did you find out about the company?
A: It was actually through Luke and Yas. So about a year and a half ago I attended a meetup group called Black Devs London and Made Tech was sponsoring it. It was my first time ever speaking at an event and I remember seeing Yas and loads of Made Tech notepads on all the desks. I didn’t even know that companies sponsored meetups.
So I found out about it that way and then over time I think I saw Luke on Linkedin and we connected. Then after that, he was like “come into the office. Let’s have a chat about the public sector.” So I came in and had a chat about the public sector and then it just seemed like you guys are actually a really good company. Made Tech’s just really nice. It’s just a really lovely company.
So we stayed in touch for the last year I guess and then I applied and I’m here.
Q: What was the interview process like for you?
A: The whole process didn’t feel like an interview. There was an initial chat where we spoke about a bit of my background and just to understand me a little bit better and then the next stage there was essentially a three-stage interview.
So the first part was another chat about my experiences in the roles I’ve done and the core values of Made Tech. Then there was a pairing interview and then we went on to do a technical scenario. So that was quite fun.
That was it. Then you get a call within 24 hours. So it’s quite nice.
Q: What does your role here involve?
A: My current role is actually quite interesting. I’m at the moment looking after the Academy. So we’ve got the Academy starting in September and what I’m doing is trying to make sure that that runs smoothly. We’ve got the September Academy and then the March Academy and I’ve been massively involved in that.
It’s been exciting meeting all the candidates and trying to make sure that we have the right programme in place for them when they get started. So that’s what my role is at the moment. I’ve done a bit of bid work as well but nothing on one of the actual projects yet.
Q: What do you like most about your role?
A: I think it’s Made Tech in general. So it’s knowing that you’re doing something that is actually benefiting people. I joined here because I wanted to work on projects that would benefit the public sector and instead, I work on a project that’s going to benefit people that wouldn’t otherwise have got into tech roles necessarily.
It’s great to be working on something where you know that you’re giving back. You know that you’re giving people opportunities and it’s really fun to create a training programme and to work with a bunch of people that are really cool. For me, it’s that you know that you’re working towards something that’s bigger than just writing a bit of code.
Q: What is one of the most challenging things about your role?
A: At the moment, it’s probably the lockdown to be honest. I think if I was in an office it would all be going very differently. I would feel like I was meeting people and seeing people, rather than seeing people for 15 minutes and then ending a call. So at the moment, I think it’s very much the separation of not working with people. It’s the working away from people I find quite difficult at times.
Q: What’s one of your favourite projects you have worked on so far?
A: It’s the Academy. It’s been really fun just getting that going. Interviewing lots of people and running a really exciting day for people to try to get into the company has been really fun. So yeah, the Academy, definitely.
A: Outside of work I run a non-profit called Coding Black Females and that’s to address the under representation of black women in tech. So what we do for that is we have loads of events that we run. We’ve got mentorship programmes, we’ve got training that we provide to people and we do quite a lot to just make sure there’s a community around black women who are in tech roles and to make sure that it’s more representative.
At the same time, I’m also working alongside another company called Niyo Enterprise to run a coding bootcamp called Black Codher. So we started the Black Codher bootcamp two or three weeks ago and it’s a 30-week coding bootcamp for 50 black women. So we’ve got sessions happening every single night for the next 30 weeks.
It’s so exciting to see the energy of people learning tech and getting into tech and people that wouldn’t necessarily have thought of it as a career and now are trying to get into an industry that I absolutely love. So for me, it’s just exciting that I get to do loads of really fun stuff every single evening. In a nutshell, that’s Coding Black Females and Black Codher.
If you have any more questions for Charlene about her role here, you can get in touch by reaching out on Twitter.
Be sure to stay tuned for our next Made Tech Team Interview coming next month with our Market Principal, Tom Taylor.