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August 03, 2018
From Coffee Beans to Coding
By: Alison Haire

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

That was something eight years running a coffee shop taught me and will stand me in good stead in the fast-changing world of technology.

In fact, my time spent in my 20s running a coffee shop in Port Macquarie taught me a lot. From crisis management, to choosing the right type of coffee, perfecting the menu, having the right stock at the right times, managing staff and retaining the best people. It taught me to be a planner and an organiser.

But the most important lessons were to value your people, manage your cash flow, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t give up.

Now, four months in as a technical architect in the Accenture Analytics for Application Management (AAAM) team, I've realised these skills are just as important in the tech industry.

In AAAM we must be willing to learn and try new technologies. To succeed in developing cutting edge products it’s essential to have a great team around you. And to overcome complex problems and find breakthrough solutions you need to be resilient.

Although a totally different working environment - the coffee shop taught me those skills. It made me realise that although you might not be able to see it, around the corner there’s always a solution. An attitude that’s essential for a career in tech.


When I fell in love
I went back to Uni to study mechatronics engineering. Programming was one of my subjects and that’s when I fell in love with coding.

From then on my life switched from coffee beans to coding - I was all about tech. I was a Google ambassador on campus, I won a tech hackathon, attended start-up accelerators and even made a short foray into the start-up world as the co-founder of Little Elf – a shared laundry service.

Then, through the Accenture Adventure program I joined Accenture’s AAAM team.


Combining my entrepreneurial spirit and love of tech
Although Accenture is a global corporate I have been able to continue to satisfy my entrepreneurial side.

My role as a technical architect within AAAM could also be described as a front end developer. I work on those things you can physically see which are coded such as websites and mobile apps. So it’s a little bit of creativity and a lot of tech.

AAAM’s flagship product ATR (Automatic Ticket Resolver) was the first project I worked on which was designed to help businesses automate their IT desk. The product incorporates machine learning to try and solve IT helpdesk problems without taking up the time of an IT manager.

The overall focus of AAAM is designing products that automate experiences and manage enterprise and business needs.

I’ve also been able to satisfy my entrepreneurial needs through my work as a mentor at the AAAM bootcamps.

One project we worked on was a mobile app based on a new Google language called Flutter. We workshopped an app based on a client need for increased petrol pump security. The app would allow service managers to monitor if anything was wrong at the petrol pump in real time. Through sensors and back end data it would send a push notification if any problem occurred. We identified a market need for this type of apps and had a team in Europe ask us about it because they were looking at developing something similar.


Technologies in AAAM:
We work with all the latest technologies in AAAM and they are changing fast.

Augmented Reality (AR) is emerging more and more as a learning platform, not just as an entertainment platform for the likes of Pokemon Go. Machine learning hasn’t done as much as it could yet and as for Blockchain – we’re definitely going to see a lot more from both of these.

We involve machine learning back-end in most of our products as it does a lot of the thinking for you and helps remove the guesswork.

Although my current project doesn't incorporate the buzzwords of Blockchain or AI, I'm working with Splunk which is a database system with a visual element, making it easier for non-tech people to understand.


How to break into the tech world
Anyone with a burning desire to work in tech should go for it. You don’t need a degree in tech. There are many tech meetups, hackathon challenges, and online courses to help build your skills.

It’s important to experiment and teach yourself. A friend of mine asked me to build him a mobile app in React Native. I’d never used React Native so I taught myself through a Udemy course which is a valuable online school. Another online source is HackerRank which has a range of code challenges to play with.

I love my new tech career and am excited about the future. Although I sometimes miss the buzz of the coffee shop my job in AAAM has opened many new doors. The main advantages are that you can do it anywhere in the world, it’s always moving forward and you’re never going to be bored.

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