Blog Take-Over by Carolina

Author: Carolina Cullington, Full Stack Developer Date: 2020/10/07

At Awaken Intelligence we’re not just about the AI, tech and interactions, we’re about our people too. That’s why you’ll start to see ‘Take Overs’ from members of our team, sharing their experiences and the reasons why it’s good to be part of the Awaken team. Carolina Cullington our Full Stack Developer has decided to share her journey and how she found a new company in the midst of lockdown. Intrigued by the Fiat? Read on to find out more…

 

Coming from a family of artists, actors and authors, my practical, scientific and analytic nature did not come to the fore immediately.  And when it did, I took a few wrong turns! My initial steps on my technical career path was as a fully qualified Motor Vehicle Technician. It was close but not quite what I had envisaged.  Having tinkered with Amstrads as a teenager, getting online with a PC and building my first website in 1996 helped to pave the way that eventually led me to study Computer Science at the University of Essex. After graduating in 2006 my career in software development beckoned.

I have worked on a wide variety of systems over the years, ranging from e-commerce websites written in PHP or .NET to SharePoint systems and a variety of MVC architectures in .NET and .NET Core. I have been involved in UX design, IT training, technical writing and IT project management along the way.  I am particularly passionate about clarity, both in how code is written and structured as well as the communication throughout the entire software development life cycle.  It means I’m a big fan of clean code and the principles behind Lean and Agile methodologies.

Prior to joining Awaken Intelligence, I worked with Mondaq Ltd. They gave me the opportunity to do some amazing work modernising their workflow – leading their transition to .NET Core MVC as their main architecture, unifying systems as old as the company itself and introducing agile ways of working and delivering software solutions.  Despite the very rewarding work I began to crave the buzz of working within a larger team of skilled developers, with a shared drive for improvement and growth.

It wasn’t until lockdown, working from home, that I had some time to reevaluate what I wanted from my career. Spurred on I began the job search in April, right in the depths of the Covid19 lockdown.  However, after four long months of searching, and not quite finding my perfect match, I told my long-suffering husband that I’d had enough. I decided to take one last look at a job site before packing away my CV.  And there it was, the job description for a .NET Developer role at Awaken. I sat bolt upright with an ‘Ooooooh!’.

What was it that jumped out at me from that advert you wonder? A few really important factors:

  • The terms ‘conversational analytics’, ‘process optimisation’, ’customer experience’ and ‘dynamic low-code software’ – all terms I found very intriguing for a software product and I wanted to know more.
  • Awaken were genuinely using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in a very practical and measurable way – by learning from call centre conversations and applying that into practice.
  • They were well-established and known for a very strong identity of providing automated conversational analytics with actionable insights.
  • The company’s suite of AI products showed they weren’t limited to one single area and suggested they were actively developing ways to expand and grow.
  • From the list of required and desirable skills, I could infer they were stretching themselves with modern frameworks as well as well-established ones. They were keen to implement best practices by using CI/CD pipelines and unit testing, and they were driven by professional principles by looking for candidates with software architecture and design understanding and not just coding ability.

 

There was no getting away from it, I had to apply!

The following nine days from submitting my application to receiving my offer letter were seamless, efficient and enjoyable.  Wisely, the technical test was performed before any interviews, which struck me as a great idea to save both the employer and applicant’s time.  This was followed by two planned interviews with Chris Brown and Geouffrey Erasmus plus an extra one that I requested to answer all my extra questions about the current development environment.  I went away from each interview feeling inspired and enthusiastic about how Awaken’s openminded and innovative attitude was balanced alongside a pragmatic and realistic approach within the development team.

During my final stage interview with Geouffrey Erasmus, Simon Black and Chris Robinson, I was introduced to Awaken’s values – ‘FABRIC’ – each of which I could relate to my own personal ideals:

  • Fun
  • Agility
  • Be the best
  • Responsibility
  • Integrity
  • Curiosity

 

It was wonderful to be presented with such a fresh way of thinking and operating both internally and externally as a company.

I found myself being quickly onboarded into the team over two socially-distanced days in the Ipswich office and being made to feel very welcome by my managers and members of the team who I now work with. I was given personal presentations by the senior managers to give me a high-level view of the history and future ambitions of the company plus an insight into how they wanted me to fit in with their goals.  It was really exciting to hear what drives and inspires the people making the fundamental decisions and to witness the warmth and respect that was present in all of these conversations! I definitely made the right decision to join!

Since then, I have gradually been introduced to the various well wrote and documented codebases and ‘virtually’ met more members of the team – especially enjoying the virtual team social every Friday afternoon.  What a really nice way to get to know so many new faces!

I am genuinely excited to be part of this team and I’m really looking forward to the opportunities ahead for me. The ability to bring my experience and skills to use at a company I feel very much aligned with, by principle, standards, ethics and outlook is incredibly exciting.

When I’m not working I’m either hanging out with my family, out on the road in my 40-year-old Fiat 126 or on my motorbike. Or I can be found indoors with a crochet hook or cross-stitch!  My favourite memory is from 2013, driving my Fiat 126 through 12 countries in 12 days with my 10-year-old son, Oscar – to Slovakia and back for charity! And now I’m looking forward to my next adventure with Awaken.

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