You can read Ambition Magazine in full here or you can read the piece below:
“My Ambition is to…”
I had an unusual route into the tech world – in my case, the phrase ‘what’s meant for you won’t pass you by’ actually happened! I wasn’t a teenager who was interested in computers or gaming so never considered it as a career option during secondary school. So when I found it impossible to get a job in my chosen field when I left university, I thought about a tech job despite having no background in it, as tech was the up-and-coming area at the time.
I manage the day-to-day running of the software development team at Cora Systems, where we develop project management and tracking software. It is a really exciting environment to work in. Our customers carry out ground-breaking research and work. For example, our client Allergan develops new drug treatments, and another client – Honeywell – installs energy-efficient systems in buildings worldwide. We help our customers manage globally impacting projects.
I studied environmental planning at Queens University Belfast, and then did a master’s in urban and rural design, also at Queens. The 2008/2009 financial crisis had just hit when I graduated in 2009 and I couldn’t find a job despite lots of applications – no one was hiring in the planning industry. It was very disappointing and frustrating after all the hard work I had put in with my studies. I looked for alternatives and found the Higher Diploma in Science and Computing course in Sligo IT. It was a big risk to retrain and money was very tight, but it was made easier by the fact I could commute to Sligo from my home in Belcoo, Co Fermanagh.
I studied from 8am to midnight as I wanted to succeed, all the more so because of my struggle to find employment. I received first class honours in the course and encourage people not to dismiss moving into tech even if they think they are not ‘techie’! I thought I wasn’t a coder but the jobs market guided me this way.
Sligo IT has great links with local business such as Cora Systems. Cora System’s Chief Technical Officer, Pat Henry, reviewed my CV and I interviewed for the position of graduate software developer in 2012. To my surprise I was hired, as I thought that some other candidates had more IT experience. I was absolutely thrilled.
Every day is a school day and I love being the go-to person if one of the team has a question. My day is packed and I have to prioritise the work that the team do and approve its completion, ensure deadlines are met, help everyone on the team with customer delivery, get new staff up to speed, meet with other sections of the business to align the work that the development team are doing, and lots more.
I have loved learning and growing and having the chance to work my way to the next thing, to be able to take on more and more and grow in the role. I’ve been part of huge change at Cora – when I started we were only 15 people now we are a team of 50 people and growing, and in my time here we have set up offices in London and Washington, DC. We have customers with live projects in 51 countries so there is a very international feel to our office that you might not expect in Carrick on Shannon! We use cutting-edge processes and tech tools (such as the latest TFS, GIT, SourceTree and automated build and deploy) and it is very important to my colleagues and me that we are at the forefront of tech.
If my original career path had worked out in planning I really think that I would not be challenged enough. I will never be bored with tech as there is always something new to learn. Trying to find new and better ways of doing things is what drives my ambition. I look forward to seeing the direction that Cora takes as it grows, and my hope is that I can learn and grow with it.
To find out more about working with Cora Systems check out our Careers Page.