This week, we meet Steve, Technical Continuous Improvement Manager at Hastings. He shares his career journey since graduating from the University of Southampton Solent with a degree in Computer Games Development.
A competitive IT industry
After graduating from university, I was left to my own devices to try find a suitable job for my skillset and interests. I attended several interviews with various companies from web development to media entertainment systems… concluding that the IT industry is extremely competitive! Finding it difficult to obtain my first role, I opted to get a job unrelated to my degree and I gained a position as a household claims handler with insurance company. After a few months, I started to create macros and scripts to perform some of the mundane tasks that claims handlers had to do – getting the ever-increasing urge to seek IT related opportunities.
From junior to well-respected developer
There was an internal opportunity for an IBM RPG programmer role, and I thought "it is my time to shine"! With a CV demonstrating that I had a broad knowledge of various programming languages, I thought I was the ideal candidate, however it was another failed attempt at securing an IT job position. Immediately feeling misunderstood, I took it upon myself to seek feedback and quickly learnt that the person who obtained the job was an internal candidate in a programming role already, and they’d opted for someone with industry experience. Understanding that a gap was being left which required filling, I was offered the opportunity to backfill as a Polaris Product Writer. Four years passed and I progressed from a junior to a well-respected developer within the team. It was at this point that I posted my CV details on LinkedIn and was approached by a recruiter at Hastings Direct to become a Senior Product Developer and I’ve been with the team for six years.
Tackling challenges head-on
Day to day working life has changed as the team has grown and as company initiatives continue to evolve. Hastings Direct are relentless in efforts to become the best and biggest digital insurance provider – always tackling challenges head on with vigour, which creates an exciting workplace. With technology and ideas constantly evolving we never sit still, ensuring all colleagues are taken on the journey together.
Our team comprises of a few areas; product change, product development, technical continuous improvement, and product quality assurance. As a product development and automation team, we use Polaris ProductWriter and Willis Towers Watson’s Radar Base as our core technologies for delivering products to market, and SQL, Python, C#, XML (to name a few) to create support and automation applications.
Exciting projects in the pipeline
We are a relatively young team looking to take on talent straight from university or from the industry. With more initiatives than we can currently cater for, we have many exciting projects in the pipeline, from testing automation to neural network integration – offering development opportunities for new and existing colleagues.
Working from home has been well accepted amongst the team and I personally prefer having my own office. The best piece of advice I can give is to make sure you reach out to colleagues to have a catch-up that you would have otherwise had at the vending machines. Everyone at Hastings Direct is approachable and the friendly atmosphere in and outside of the office makes the company feel like one giant family, which is truly my honest opinion.
The most important advice I’d give to any newcomers is that you should be prepared to expedite your career. If you like a challenge and would like to be among and learn from the best in the industry, then Hastings Direct is the right home for you.
Join us: If you’d like to follow in Steve’s footsteps and grow a career in a fast paced and digitally-focused company, find out more and apply to join the Hastings family. Other available roles can be found here.