A software engineer with a strong background in international eCommerce, Ann-Marie is passionate about good software design and coding standards and dedicated to continual self-development.
Tell us about your career journey. Did you always want to be a software engineer?
Not at all. I kind of fell into software development. I come from a small town on the Carlow/Wicklow border and at the school I attended the career-guidance was pretty non-existent, so growing up I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was working at my Aunt’s pub at the weekends during my Leaving Cert year and I was filling out my CAO form, and I said to one of my co-workers, “I don’t know what I want to do.” He said, “you should do computers – it’s the way of the future!” I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I had no experience of computers other than a Word course we did in school. I got into a four-year computer degree course in college, and to be honest I found it challenging and full-on. I needed a break, so I went travelling to Australia. When I returned, the dot com bubble had just burst and it was hard for graduates to get work in Ireland. Like many of my friends, I ended up working at a company in a data entry job, but luckily there was an opportunity to do some software development at the weekends. My manager wanted a website built, and I was lucky because there was a very talented developer who worked at the company, and he helped me at the weekends to build the website. From there I moved into the development team and my career started to take off. I felt lucky that I got that break and that also there was someone willing to help me get the experience to progress.
What’s it like to be a woman working in an industry that many people perceive as male dominated and egotistical?
There’s this impression that to succeed in this industry you have to be some kind of rock star, and because I was shy I felt I didn’t stand out. I felt like I was an imposter in my early career, but over the years I’ve realized that not everyone needs to be like Steve Jobs. Everyone brings something to the team. I’ve stopped comparing myself to others and I can now recognize my own strengths. These days I feel comfortable being the only female developer on my team. In fact, I’ve only ever experienced sexism once in my career – and that was from another woman at another company.
How does working in a health tech company differ from working in eCommerce?
There’s no difference when it comes to software development. It’s all software at the end of the day and you’re still solving problems. I’m working on our Senior Living development team, so we’re writing software for people in senior living communities. The difference is that we’re putting ourselves in the shoes of seniors all day every day. My grandad is in a community, and it has made me much more aware of what he is facing. I make much more of an effort to go visit him now.
What has been your favorite project at Oneview?
Without a doubt that would be the Senior Living project I’m working on. I love working with this team – they are amazing. I work with really talented people here and I’m very happy in the job. It’s great to be involved in a green field project like this using the latest technologies. We had an architect working with us from the get-go, and we have a researcher from Trinity College Dublin, Joan Cahill, working with us. She was vital in helping us build our personas – making sure we are addressing the biopsychosocial aspects of the product. I’ve learned that ageing is about so much more than the physical side. If a person is put into a community and they aren’t engaged, they deteriorate so much quicker. The biopsychosocial aspect has been a huge eye opener for me. It has completely changed my thinking. I am also much more aware that working in these communities is very challenging, so if we can streamline care that is so important.
What’s a typical work week like?
We’ve been working hard preparing for demos for our clients. Each client may want different things from a care-centric focus to a more resident experience focus. We will plan out the features they want by breaking them out into tasks. We’ve recently changed from a two-week sprint-based method of working, to Kanban which means we’re working as a team to push these features through faster. Kanban is designed to eliminate bottlenecks, so if someone is stuck we can see that on the board and we can swarm on the feature, meaning everyone works together to push through.
You work in a busy and challenging environment, how do you balance this with being a Mum?
I’m a single Mum so I need a degree of flexibility in my working life so I can juggle the competing demands. I’m in work each morning for 8 am and I leave at 4.30 pm so I can collect my daughter and do homework with her, but then I can hop online later if I need to. I really appreciate the flexibility and the great benefits like the 24-days holiday leave we have at Oneview.
Outside of your passion for software, what else are you passionate about?
I am really passionate about the environment and climate change. I’m keen on any initiative that reduces plastic and waste and so I’ve brought in a recycling initiative at Oneview.
What’s the best advice you ever received from a mentor?
I have been very lucky in my career because I have had some amazing mentors that have gotten me where I am today. When I first started out, one mentor really spent a lot of time with me. The reason being, because someone had done the same for him. I have never forgotten that and always try to pay it forward by spending time with and teaching less experienced developers starting out.
Who is your hero?
I don’t really have a hero, but I admire and have huge respect for Michelle Obama.
Do you have a personal saying or motto you like to use?
Better to regret something you did than something you didn't do.