May 22, 2019
The intersection of art and technology
By: Sara Alamoodi

I originally joined Accenture on their technology placement programme, and it was at the time when this placement had just been introduced. In my start group of around 30 people, only three of us were female engineers! I’m so glad to say that, even though it was only a few years ago, the contrast from that time to now at Accenture is significant and we’re seeing many, many more women engineers starting and growing their careers here. The reason I chose a consultancy for my placement was that I was still studying, which involved a lot of theory with only a little technical work, and I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in technology. By merging consulting with technology, I had the opportunity to try out different roles and industries.

After graduation I decided to move back home to Saudi Arabia, mainly to see what was happening in the Middle East in terms of technology advancement. I had a couple of different jobs in the tech sector whilst there, including working with for an accelerator to help start-up entrepreneurs, and being a tech advisor for a Venture Capital start-up in Dubai, UAE. Still, the engineering part of my brain was feeling left behind and, I missed programming, so after a few months I returned to Accenture in London.

Front to back to full stack
Since then, I’ve been lucky to work on many projects that generally fall under the umbrella of ‘innovative technology’ or to put it another way, recently-released technologies that do things in a more efficient way – whether for personal or business applications. I started in Front End Web Development, which is building the interface you’re interacting with day-to-day. I then expanded to Back End Development, which is basically the processing behind what you’re seeing. I believe that the User Experience/User Interface (UI) has a huge impact on whether a person likes interacting with the technology. Even if you’re dealing with something that has an amazing, powerful back-end, if you struggle to interact or understand the UI then that ruins your whole experience (e.g. when the colours aren’t right, when you type something that doesn’t show up, or when you try to navigate to a page and end up somewhere else). I was always curious to know what happens at the back-end of beautiful and cohesive interfaces, so I simply skilled-up in functional programming languages. I guess you can say that I now do Full Stack Development, so UI, the styling, the journey and experience, as well as the hardcore processing that drives the all nice things you are seeing.

Being the best that you can be
A big part of what I like about working here is the flexibility and not being tied to doing one role. Plus, the training and development opportunities here are excellent. Accenture encourages you to move on in your career and requires you to keep up-to-date with new technologies. In fact, they really want you to be the best that you can be in terms of the skills that you can offer. I don’t think I would have been able to gain all the new skills or retrain so quickly without the opportunities that Accenture give me. I’ve recently been focused on building proof of concepts that tend to be small scale, so this enables me to learn and upskill to deliver these solutions. A proof of concept can last from a few weeks to a few months, which means I generally get to move quickly from one project to another, and hence pick up new skills along the way. For example, a few months ago I was working on developing a Virtual Agent platform that is powered by AI (Artificial Intelligence). I had to learn and configure IBM Watson and Microsoft Speech to Text and Text to Speech services. I also had to learn about microservice architectures and best practices in designing a system with many different components. But now I’m working on a completely new assignment that is focused on using Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology to make supply chain as efficient and trustworthy as possible.

Fusing technology with art

I’m really interested in design/art and how they integrate with our experiences and general daily life. This interest leads me to explore art galleries and museums like the V&A, which is one of my favourites. I particularly like contemporary and modern art. One of my favourite artists is Yayoi Kusama. She uses hallucinations to make art pieces visually stunning. I am particularly interested in art that incorporates technology. The company that does this best is Team Lab, they have amazing installations that are powered by technology and stimulate your five senses - you feel like you’re walking into a waterfall when in fact, it’s a visual experience. I guess you could say that’s how I bring my passion to my work – fusing together the strong technical functionality with a beautiful visual and human experience to help resolve complex business challenges.

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