You joined Allica straight from Birmingham City University, can you tell us what your journey was like to becoming a Graduate Software Engineer here?
My journey to joining Allica started during my Masters at Birmingham City University.
The course I was doing (Advanced Computer Science) had a 6-month professional placement, which I did at the university itself. Birmingham City University are very focused on developing their own apps and tech solutions, so for my placement, I worked on a project there that involved developing an app from scratch – designing the database, then building the app.
I finished that in November of 2021 and that’s when I started looking for jobs. To be honest, it was a struggle – yes, there are a lot of opportunities out there and a shortage of good developers, but there’s also a lot of competition. So getting that first interview, putting my faith in that all-important piece of paper known as the CV… it was tough and required a lot of resilience.
However, I was already pretty active on LinkedIn and knew it was a good network for professionals. I was connected to Ravneet Shah, Allica’s CTO, through a friend of a friend, and I’d been keeping a track of Allica for a while, watching how they were growing and flourishing.
When I finished my degree, I posted on LinkedIn that I was looking for opportunities. That’s when Ravneet got in touch to tell me that Allica were hiring for grads to fill the first grad intake they’d done. I jumped at the chance! Ravneet put me in touch with HR and it went from there.
It didn’t take long for me to realise that Allica was the perfect company for me. Their values align with my own, especially around integrity and collaboration. And I could see that it was a great opportunity to learn – not something you always get with the bigger tech companies that many grads typically go for!
What does your job involve at Allica? What projects have you been working on since you joined?
When I first joined, I was working on the lending squad – we work in focused squads made up of multiple functions rather than teams. This helps us deliver quickly as a powerful independent unit.
I was really lucky because I got to work on a big migration project – the migration of loans from AIB to Allica following our acquisition of their lending portfolio.
Now, I’m working in the loan processing squad, developing APIs. It’s something I’ve been really looking forward to doing as a backend engineer and I’ve been introduced to loads of new tech and frameworks, for example, the Kotlin language.
So tell us, what does your typical day look like?
I wake up early as I always start my day with yoga and going to the gym. I get back home by 7.30am, which is when I wake up my daughter and get her ready for school. I drop her to school at 8.45am and then I’m back home to start work by 9am.
Then it’s the first squad call for the day where we discuss the status of our projects, any blockers we have and what the priorities are. That sets me up for the day really well in terms of understanding the meetings I need to have and what dev and coding work I have to focus on.
Then around 3pm, I do the 10-minute walk to my daughter’s school again, get her home and arrange what homework she has to do, etc.
I tend to finish work around 5pm or 5.30pm. My husband gets back from work around 6pm and so we’re both able to enjoy the evening with our daughter, and, most importantly, read her nightly bedtime story at 8pm!
Being able to work from home is great – it helps me balance work with my home and family life really easily.
What are your favourite things about working at Allica?
It’s definitely the culture and values that we all live by – most importantly, working in a very straightforward way and working with integrity. Also, there’s the immense amount of support that you get from colleagues.
From Day 1, I was greeted by smiling faces and warm, welcoming hugs. After 6 months, that’s still there. You really feel that you’re part of a team and family, and not just treated based on your role or your level.
Finally, there’s the whole squad structure where we work in very cross-functional teams. This provides an amazing opportunity to learn new skills and work with others from different departments.
You’re a working mum. How do you manage the your work/life balance at Allica?
It’s surprisingly easy at Allica, as the whole culture is very flexible. It was one of the main reasons I joined because of the ability to work from home – it means I can be a mum and a professional at the same time. And what’s nice is that it’s not even a point for discussion for Allica!
Of course, we have regular get-togethers as a company and in our teams. These events are a great opportunity to meet other people from other departments and spend some time off screen with colleagues too. We had a Hackathon a couple of months ago and it was great to spend time in-person.
What job did you want to do when you were growing up?
When I was 10 years old, I made up my mind that I really wanted to be a pilot. I was actually on a path to being a pilot – I even did my ground training in Delhi for 6 months at the age of 17. But I have a rare heart condition that unfortunately meant I wasn’t able to pass the medical. So, at the age of 18, I faced a real turning point in my life – I had to completely reassess my skills and work out where to go next.
What led you to career in engineering?
Around the same time as I had set my mind on being a pilot, I was introduced to computers. A friend of my mum’s was in IT and I used to go to her house on weekends to learn all about Microsoft Office and all the different apps in it.
When I was having to reassess things at the age of 18, I thought again about computers and about how curious I always was to understand how they work. That set me on a path to doing me BSc in IT, but I quickly realised I was after a different kind of challenge. I went back into education to do my Masters in Computer Science, where I was able to get my teeth into something I found more rewarding!
Funnily enough, I ended up doing my Masters while Covid was going on – I was juggling that with a part-time job and being a mum. My dad used to joke with me then, asking me if I’d found enough of a challenge then! Yes, I think I had!
Thinking ahead, what’s your biggest goal for your future career development?
Right now, I just want to learn as many new skills as possible, and Allica is really helping me do that!
More long term – say, in the next 5 years – I want to be a full stack developer, covering both frontend and backend.
Beyond that, I don’t have any specific ideas at the moment and in tech, there’s so much to learn and explore, you need time to do that and work out where to go next.
What I would say though is that, since joining Allica, I’ve felt incredibly supported as a woman in tech. I’ve got a great role model in the likes of Ravneet, who herself has achieved so much in such a short space of time. It makes me think anything is possible!
What advice would you give prospective graduate employees who are also at the beginning of their career journey?
I’d say two things:
- Don’t assume that because you’ve done a degree, that you know everything. There is so much to learn, especially in tech. What’s important is that you approach your career with an open mindset and that you push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
- Be sure to research a company’s culture and values. Environment matters a lot and if your company can’t help you grow mentally and can’t give you an environment in which to flourish in, then no amount of money is worth it.
Find a job where work is enjoyable. I find at Allica that I actually miss work on the weekends and I never get those Monday blues. I couldn’t ask for more!
Interested in joining the Allica team? Check out our careers page