Social media handle(s): @jlewr
A few words about me:
I'm a Product Manager for digital services but I never took a computer science class and dropped maths after age 16...
I learned Mandarin Chinese at university and did a research degree in Chinese Literature - and I'm now learning Japanese, Scottish Gaelic, and Welsh!
Are there any professional experiences you've had that are quite unexpected compared to what you do nowadays?
I lived for a month in Taipei on a scholarship for a translation course, learning how to handle translation of different types of media, as well as how it can differ for audiences in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It's amazing how different it can be even when it's all in one language, which gives me even more of an appreciation for the work of Content Designers!
Is your background more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM related?
I dropped maths after 16 because I didn't find it interesting enough and couldn't see how it'd be relevant in the future. Now I'm learning to code, but it's good to know it's never too late.
Where did your professional journey start?
I applied for the Civil Service Fast Stream and went for the 'Digital, Data and Technology' route - it was daunting but great because it didn't require a computer science degree.
How did you get into tech and what motivated you?
I'd always been interested in tech from a young age, particularly gaming! I started off playing a gameboy on my uncle's lap and have been addicted ever since.
After that, I got into mobile phones and was fascinated by the variation in the market (before everything was a touchscreen). I think even now, being into video games and variation of mobile phone forms has really made me appreciate the impact of good design.
Have you experienced any 'career in tech' challenges / stereotypes?
It can often feel quite daunting to even ask questions in tech, because you're not even sure if you're using the right language in the question - but that shouldn't stop you! Fortunately I've learned that good teams have good people who are always passionate about sharing what they know. You've just got to pluck up the courage and ask about things you don't understand!
"Don't spend too much time worrying about 'the right path' - just focus on what interests you and drives you to learn more. You'll always be learning on the job so don't let 'being ready' get in the way of starting good work now."
What you wish you knew before getting started in tech...
Probably that there's no single 'right way' of doing things or following a career path! Lots of people I've met have had totally different backgrounds, whether it's design or coding or something else entirely. It's really inspiring to see people from different backgrounds taking what they know and influencing other fields.
What has been your biggest 'wow!' moment related to working in tech so far?
I've had lots of moments thanks to the breadth of work in the civil service, but probably my biggest was just seeing the sheer number of users of Universal Credit. It was amazing to have so many ways to analyse what was happening with lots of rich data to back it up - that's a real privilege that not every service has.
What do you like / not like about working in tech?
I really love the complexity and the fact that there's often more than one 'right' way to get things done. Not like ... that's there's always more I don't understand?! But that keeps it exciting!
"You've just got to pluck up the courage and ask about things you don't understand!"
What's been your favourite / most memorable / funniest 'career in tech' moment so far?
Meeting a Product Manager who replaced me in a previous role when I was then covering their role ... It's a small world sometimes!
And to wrap up, is there any advice you'd like to give to others interested in a career in tech?
Don't spend too much time worrying about 'the right path' - just focus on what interests you and drives you to learn more. You'll always be learning on the job so don't let 'being ready' get in the way of starting good work now.