Social media handle(s): @harryharrold (Twitter)
A few words about me:
I guess at heart I am a performer. I was very lucky to fall into a career that didn't even exist when I left school.
It turns out that being interested in people, and how they think and behave, is real handy if you're in the business of building software they want to use.
Are there any professional experiences you've had that are quite unexpected compared to what you do nowadays?
I've worked in marketing, youth training and I've run a restaurant.
Is your background more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM related?
STEM - a degree in Zoology, but far from the mathematical side.
Where did your professional journey start?
A friend I played role-playing games with got a job at a startup in 1997. I'd just been made redundant from a marketing role and the company where my friend worked needed marketing assistance. They'd noted that Sun Microsystems were weak in financial services, had just launched Java, and couldn't export strong crypt from the US that was banned for reasons of national defence. Their strategy was to exit via trade sale to Sun and in 2001, two months before the first dot-com boom crashed, they succeeded.
How did you get into tech and what motivated you?
Serendipity - I needed a job, and was offered one in tech. That lasted until 2003, then I was made redundant again as Sun moved their software development to Texas and I decided not to sign a US employment contract. What moved me into user research and then product management was serendipity again. A colleague got onto a BBC innovation lab and taught me all he could. That got me working with Channel 4, and they got me into tech-for-good.
Have you experienced any 'career in tech' challenges / stereotypes?
I'm very privileged, and nowadays us geeks are much nearer the mainstream than we ever have been before.
"It's much wider than you think, and the human elements are interesting and complicated - sometimes complex. That's the challenge and what makes it fascinating ..."
What you wish you knew before getting started in tech...
I wish I'd taken psychology and philosophy at uni - to know a bit about how minds work, and how to create an argument. That would have helped.
What has been your biggest 'wow!' moment related to working in tech so far?
Every single time I do a user research interview. There's always something that makes my jaw drop and my mind flip. Those are the best moments.
What do you like / not like about working in tech?
Really, there's not much I genuinely dislike.
"... nowadays us geeks are much nearer the mainstream than we ever have been before."
What's been your favourite / most memorable / funniest 'career in tech' moment so far?
First time meeting a senior Civil Servant to talk "agile procurement", and wondering what business I had being there?
Or being sat at a blackjack table in Las Vegas by a customer I was running user research workshops for, and just handed chips to lose all night?
Or being told by a nice man with a machine gun behind the gates of Downing Street that my name wasn't on his list for a meeting I really had to be at, and being rescued by someone inside who knew Harry wasn't my birth name?
I've been around long enough to be full of stories!
And to wrap up, is there any advice you'd like to give to others interested in a career in tech?
It's much wider than you think, and the human elements are interesting and complicated - sometimes complex. That's the challenge and what makes it fascinating to me.