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Whistle-stop Wednesdays: Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day

Hannah was a Project Manager for 10 years before taking the leap into her new career as a Software Engineer. With a degree in Glaciology and not Software Engineering, Hannah talks about what it was like adjusting to her new role and why she loves it so much!

Read on to hear more about Hannah's journey.


What is your current role in Admiral?

I currently work as a Software Engineer at Veygo, and I’ve been doing that for 18 months. It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work – I wasn’t a Software Engineer before that! Before joining Veygo, I had been a Project Manager for 10 years. It was a great role and I enjoyed it massively, but I reached a point where I needed a new challenge. I taught myself Python and took a Web Development course and things spiralled from there – I ended up changing careers, which was daunting but felt like the right thing for me. Veygo took a chance on me and I think it’s worked out well for both sides so far!

How did you find starting a new career?

My previous role and my current role are worlds apart. Not only am I adjusting to the day-to-day differences in the work that I do, but I am also adjusting to working in a large organisation (I worked in the public sector previously). Our ways of working are also different – we work in small scrum teams on short sprints which I find really satisfying. The team culture is great – everyone wants to succeed, and we work together to achieve our shared goals. Everyone is friendly and helpful, and there really are no stupid questions. I know that because I’m new and I’ve asked a lot of questions!

What was it like to learn everything from scratch?

I’ve always had a thirst for learning, so when I reached a point in my Project Management role where I felt like I was just going through the motions I knew it was time for a change. I found going back to the start exciting. I think what’s great about Software Engineering in general is that everyone is always learning, the software is constantly changing so no one is an expert forever. You’re never done – there is always a new challenge, and I love that.

At Admiral Pioneer, and Veygo specifically, we’re lucky that it is so fast paced. We can release up to 10 new adjustments to customers in a day. Although of course, there is some variation depending on what we’re working on, but nevertheless we are always able to make changes and have them in the hands of customers quickly, which is incredible. I have some friends working in the same industry as me, where they might do 2 releases in a week, so I find the ability to move so fast exciting.

The collaborative nature is also fantastic. We’re not in our little bubbles – everyone knows everyone, and we work together on Design, Marketing, and Pricing. I suppose you could say that there is ongoing collaboration outside of engineering.

What does your day-to-day role look like? Any highlights?

We start the day with a scrum team meeting which is a great chance to catch up, talk about what we want to achieve that day and solve any problems that we might have. We tend to work in one-week sprints, and whilst not everyone is working on the same thing at the same time, there is crossover. Collaboration is really ingrained in Veygo’s culture and so we communicate a lot during the day, even in this virtual world. We pair on things, particularly code, and help each other to figure things out.

One of the highlights of my role is our demo, where we present back to shareholders what we’ve done. It gives them the opportunity to share their questions and feedback, and it’s a great moment to reflect on all that we’ve achieved as a team.

How would you describe Veygo’s culture?

There is a fantastic sense of community, with no obvious hierarchy. I’ve had coffee chats with the CEO, so the flat structure is very tangible. Everyone is involved in the conversation and everyone’s input is valid – sometimes it feels like a good group of people putting fun stuff together. Of course, it’s been different now that we’re online, but you still feel like you’re a part of something, and there is no division. We had a team meeting that finished early the other day, but we stayed online and played a game for half an hour. It’s moments like those that help with team bonding and maintain our culture, and it’s been great to see that we’ve kept those up during the pandemic.

If you had an ideal teammate, who would it be?

I think someone who is open for a challenge and thrives in a fast-moving environment. Things do change quite quickly, and we’re always evaluating how we do things, trying to find the best way to approach what we’re trying to achieve. It’s important not to get stuck in how we’ve always done it.

I think you’d thrive here if you’re willing to speak up. We place enormous emphasis on positive communication, and it’s always okay to disagree with someone – it’s never held against you. If something could be done better, we want to do it that way, so we are always open to different opinions. Other than that, probably someone who is keen to get stuck in! We have a great team environment; we work very collaboratively, and everyone gets involved with team dynamics and decisions.

What is it like to work in Tech as a woman?

I definitely have a unique perspective; I’m currently the only female Software Engineer at Veygo. It’s frustrating – we know that it’s not our hiring process because we’ve worked hard on that, it’s just that there aren’t as many women in tech as there could be. But I am lucky, my team are great and supportive, and I never feel like the only woman on the team – it’s not a boy’s club. I think that’s a large reason why I’m not going to be one of the statistics that drops out because it is too hard, or the environment isn’t right.

What advice would you give someone considering changing career?

I was 29 when I decided to quit my stable job, move to a completely different part of the country, and do something different. It felt so risky at the time, but I’ve learnt that those risks are worth taking, and I want to encourage others to do the same. It is challenging, but I’ve learnt so much, and I think that if you’re passionate, you make it happen. Looking back to a year ago, I never would have thought that I would be able to do what I do now, but I have learnt so much. If you’re considering a new career – go for it!

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