“It was a completely lucky occurrence.” How one developer found a new team at Silicon Milkroundabout

Interviews, SMR | | 5 min read

After each edition of Silicon Milkroundabout lots of people leave knowing they’re about to start the next phase in their career and we wanted to shine a light on some of these individual stories . We’ve been catching up with the designers, engineers, data scientists, marketers, product specialists and all-round legends that came to our most recent edition to get their take on how to get the most out of the event.

Read on for our chat with Peyman Owladi, a Senior Developer who struck up a conversation with Bagboard at SMRapril19, before going on to accept an offer to join their engineering team.

Hi Peyman, thanks for talking to us! We wanted to find out a bit about your background in the tech industry – what’s the first thing you remember enjoying working on?

Honestly, when I was about 5 or 6 I was doing MS-DOS batch files so I could load my games quicker, with the cheat codes already entered.

And what excites you about the future of the industry?

The obvious answer to the question I suppose is, there’s a whole bajillion opportunities opened up, effectively by AI, but by the fact that we’ve got such a level of computing power. It’s exciting that people are actively taking on certain applications with an ethical mindset, which is not an easy thing with big problems.

How long have you been actively working in the industry?

When I graduated in 2006 I went straight into the tech industry. I was hired from University as a developer. I worked in a team of around 40 which grew to 60 by the time I left.

So you came to Silicon Milkroundabout as quite an experienced developer?

Yeah, so I’d been to SMR before, this wasn’t my first time. In the past I tended to come along to see what was out there, more than actively seeking a new role. My idea was that if there was something that was a perfect fit then I would jump on it. Attending the event has also been really useful to understand how the industry develops, because I’m used to being in a team in quite a focused environment, breaking out of that and seeing what was going on gave me the opportunity to think about what kind of things I might actually be more interested in.

Do you have anything that you prioritise when looking for a new position?

It matters to me that I’m working with people who are a cultural fit. People who I can engage with actively. For that, the culture in the engineering team matters a lot, it needs to be open and somewhere that people are willing to put forward their ideas and learn from others. That makes a big difference. The other big thing is that the organisation has goals, or a goal, that I’m aligned with.

One thing I’ve been looking for in particular is having some flexibility with working patterns. I’ve got a young kid, so it’s important for me to be able to fit my family in around the work I do.

Was the face-to-face element of Silicon Milkroundabout useful for finding a team that matched this criteria?

In this particular case it made a massive difference because I had a long conversation with someone from Bagboard, and we could see that we got on well, and we felt like we could work together. I think that played a big part in how I’ve ended up in this job. I hadn’t planned on talking to them and it was a completely lucky occurrence whilst I was walking around the venue.

My usual approach to SMR is that I turn up on the day, take a look through the companies that are exhibiting and try and cover the whole event. The companies that are either working in an area of tech that I’m interested in, or with roles that seem to be a good fit, I will go and have a conversation with. I think your highest likelihood of finding a job is if you’ve fully read up before the event and know who you’re targeting, but I’ve never had anyone complain if the first line of my conversation is ‘oh sorry I don’t know very much about you, what is it you do?’

What was the follow-up with Bagboard after the event like?

The person I spoke to at the event gave me his card and then followed up personally, and introduced me to other people within the business as well. The personal connection helped as the follow-up was all within the context of the conversation we had already had.

Favourite part about Silicon Milkroundabout?

The best thing is it gets a whole bunch of tech teams in the room together. The ‘industry-in-a-room’ setup of the event is really useful, you can get a feel for where the industry is at and therefore where you might fit into that. For example, one of the things that I took away from previous years was that there’s been a shift to data science now having a clear function within most businesses. What was at first big data, and then AI, is now settling down into more of a clear thing that everybody knows what they’re doing with.

Off the back of seeing that at SMR I’ve taken some courses over the last year which gave me much more insight into data science. It’s not what I’m directly doing day-to-day, but it will be useful because I’m able interface with the parts of the company doing that.

The offering of the companies from event to event is a good indication of where the industry is headed, as well as a good indication of where I might want to upskill so I can get the jobs I want.

Is there anywhere that you think the industry in general needs to improve?

It kind of feels like there’s still some work to do overall on culture. It’s something that people are very aware of altogether across the industry. One of the things I cared about was the ability to be flexible, whether that’s remote, part-time or something similar, and that’s something that’s not very well catered for at all in the industry. There are norms that come in to place that push against that, but I feel like companies are missing out on a lot of potential talent.

Best thing about working in tech right now?

I think one good thing at the moment is that a whole range of real opportunities to have big impact have been opened up by new technologies, and their associated frameworks, that you can easily build on to do new things. I think there’s a lot of low hanging fruit yet to be fully utilised that’s going to make a lot of things day to day easier. I think there’s a lot of opportunities there for innovators to go and solve these problems, and I think that’s the most exciting thing about where the industry is at the moment.

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