It's the final day! What a couple of weeks! Good luck to @Leah, @Graeme and @Aleks. 🤞
Urmston Grammar School, Manchester (1995-2002), University of Manchester (2002-2006)
BSc (Hons) Information Systems Engineering with Industrial Experience (1st class). A Levels Art (A), Biology (A), IT (B), General Studies (D). AS Level Psychology (A). GCSEs (June 2000): 5A*, 2A, 1B & Short Course 1A*, 1A
Sandwich student at car factory in Manchester. After graduating I became an analyst programmer for an Oxford company working with charities. Since 2007 I have worked at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. I started there as a software engineer. I was promoted and became a team leader.
I am a principal software engineer and group leader managing 5 teams of software and systems engineers.
I work for Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory helping scientists do very cool science e.g. with neutrons, muons, and lasers.
My connections to STFC science and technology:
I work for STFC at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory helping scientists do very cool science e.g. with neutrons, muons, and lasers.
A software engineer and group leader who loves making things and never stops asking "why?", "how?" and "what if...?"
I live in an old cottage with my husband in Oxfordshire. He is a software engineer too and we met at university in 2002. We do not have any pets (yet) but we do have a robot vacuum cleaner that we love dearly! When I want to celebrate or make myself feel better, I treat myself to a Chinese takeaway. If I could eat just one thing forever, it would be popcorn. I enjoy watching The Big Bang Theory. I also cannot resist a good crime thriller but I do not like horror films or roller coasters. I am currently reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography, “Becoming” – it is brilliant. I have several craft projects on the go including making a quilt, weaving a rug and knotting a scarf.
I lead a group of software and systems engineers to build computer systems used by scientists from around the world.
I make software that scientists and other engineers use to plan complex, cutting-edge experiments using tiny particles and powerful lasers in huge laboratories that are one-of-a-kind in the world. My teams and I build web sites that thousands of scientists from around the world use to arrange their visit and their experiments. We manage computer systems that our colleagues in other departments use to help them do their scientific jobs too.
My Typical Day: Make a cup of tea. Check email and everyone/thing is ok. Meet with customers and colleagues in other departments. Join in design discussions and planning. Answer impromptu questions from lots of different people.
Seriously, I make a cup of tea before I even login. The day can get so busy with lots of different projects and people that this is the most important tip another software engineer gave me. In a typical day, I can speak to dozens of different people and sit in several meetings. It is important to stay hydrated so I start the day as I mean to go on! I then check emails and our team chat app. At 10am, I join in the stand-up with the teams. Now I am a manager I do not do much programming anymore. I do miss this though as it is so satisfying to get code doing exactly what you want it to. Although I do not write much code myself these days, I do review others’ code and help team leads design new features and software. I am mainly responsible for identifying what software and systems my teams and I need to provide to help scientists do great science. This means meeting with many people and listening to the problems they have doing their job and seeing if there are ways computers might help.
What I'd do with the money
I would buy a 360 degree video camera to make a video of a real day-at-work with a team of software engineers. As well as fly-on-the-wall web cams in the offices and meeting room, I would also zoom in on the software we are designing and code we are writing.
I want to reach as many people as possible to show what software engineers REALLY do. I would particularly like to do something that schools all across the UK can use. I also want my investment to allow others to do similar for other jobs in the future. I was quite shy at school and did not really know what jobs were out there. I certainly did not go anywhere outside my comfort zone. I was conscious that there might not be many other girls around in IT. I want to show that software engineering suits both shy and outgoing types, men and women, and they can all work together to make a difference and have a good time doing it!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
creative, caring, persistent
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Knowing I have played a part in enabling scientists to do world class research that helps make a difference to the world. Software I have designed and built lets scientists arrange their experiments safely.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Well, several things nudged me in this direction but I think the final conversation that “sealed the deal” was my neighbour’s son. He lived in Australia with his wife and daughter. When he was visiting his parents one Christmas he was talking about his job. He was a computer programmer who built industrial control software. He inspired me by how much he loved his job.
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
A primary school teacher.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really. I was a good girl and, for the most part, enjoyed school. Teachers put naughty boys to sit next to me. I assume they were hoping this would keep them out of trouble.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Probably something crafty like a carpenter or stain glass window restorer. Alternatively, maybe a detective. I like making things and solving problems!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Poached eggs on toasted granary bread.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Ooh, that is difficult. I have been lucky enough to do many exciting things with girl guiding including high ropes, squeezing, white water rafting. I have travelled to some interesting places quite a bit with work and for holiday including Australia, Australia and Albania. However, I think the most fun I’ve had was learning to play a drum in a percussion workshop with girl guides. In just 90 minutes, our group went from nothing to playing a rich piece of fast, catchy samba music.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Wake up tomorrow and be able to speak French, German and Albanian. Not sure if that is one or three wishes!
Tell us a joke.
I was reading a book on helium. I couldn’t put it down.