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February 15, 2021
Learn it, apply it, teach it
By: Paul McMurray

Developing into a developer

Let’s start by saying that I’m not your typical developer! I went from sales into coding which really does not fit the norm, so I don’t necessarily talk like developer, but I can develop. When I was made redundant from a sales job, I knew I wanted to make a career change and believe it or not, I threw a dart at a prospectus and it landed on a computing degree, so I did that and never looked backed. I’ve now been working in technology since around 2005. Prior to joining Accenture in 2018, I was working for a manufacturing company to devise a business management system and, once that was done it became more of a babysitting role so, I decided to look for my next challenge. I opened a LinkedIn Account where I saw an advertisement for a job at Accenture. The job ad had a long list of requirements which said, ‘if you can do at least ten of these, ring this number’. So, I rung the number and said, ‘I can do more than ten things on this list’ and that got me an interview and here I am.


My main ‘hustles’

My first project was the British Triathlon Federation, for the Athlete Genome and I was the backend engineer for the MVP on that (MVP is a method that allows for fast, data-driven testing). After about six months, when my time on that project had finished, I moved on to a public sector client to help develop a new system that will bring huge benefits to society and I was using traditional frontend technology (we used Angular which is just like JavaScript) and then there was the backend which was Java. The project that I’m on now is a legacy system where we support some of the underpinning processes using Java and I’ve also written Python scripts to speed up processes. I think the term for someone like me is Polyglot, which generally refers to someone who can speak many languages, but instead I can write in many languages. I’m honest enough to point out that I’m not amazing at any of them but what I will say is that I’m good at thinking things through.

My side ‘hustles’

In 2019, myself and another colleague entered an Innovation Competition with an idea for an AI (Artificial Intelligence) tool to assist post-natal care and it looks like I’m about to get a little partnership going with a para-natal charity to create a prototype to roll out to new mothers. It’s a side-of-desk project, but there’s been talk about me charging for it, but I’ve turned that down because I like doing it. I don’t want to turn it into my full-time job – I think my words were ‘I don’t want to turn my side-hustle into my main-hustle’ and that’s because when your hobby becomes employment, I think it loses its joy a little bit.

Then, last year, we entered the same Innovation Competition. The idea we picked was called Authentify Genie which looked at Universal Credit where it normally takes five weeks to process a claim. Our solution was to reduce that down to five minutes by using AI. The idea won the local competition and also the European competition and, came third in the world out of 115,000 ideas. The great thing is that Accenture will support you to do these competitions, and anyone can enter these. I’m at the stage now where I want to help nurture people to do the same so, if anyone comes to me and says I’ve got an idea but I don’t know if it’s worth it… or I don’t know how to wrap it up to sell it to someone… or does this technology even exist… I’m an open door for them and I say just come and see me and if I can help you, I will.

I’ve done quite a lot of side-of-desk project work whilst at Accenture and now I’m also helping our training department to create a new two-year programme for our degree apprentices. I’ve written a lot of code schools and teach people at Accenture for an hour, one lunchtime a week on various topics such as serverless tech to image processing - basically any new technology that I find interesting. So, I’ll learn about it, make a prototype, write the training materials and I’ll teach it. But that’s good for me too because when you teach it, you get asked all kinds of interesting questions and quite often you need to circle back round to find the answers so I’m also learning and getting better!

The human touch

What do I most love about working for Accenture? It’s two-fold! One of them is their enablement and I’ve been able to join the serverless world (which is this brave new world that we’re all entering into) and I’ve been able to learn it, apply it, and teach it, in a never-ending circle. Accenture’s trusted me enough to take what I’ve learnt to a classroom setting and allowed people to come and have time away from their projects to learn something new.

The second thing is that one of Accenture’s key objectives is to ‘be human’ but that’s not just lip-service, they actually let you be human! For example, my business terminology is dreadful - I just don’t get all the business speak - but when it’s spelled out for me, I get it and people know that and take time to explain in a way I would easily understand.

Away from work, I’ve got a little boy, a 2-year old who is a handful and I need to really be strict on my ‘own’ time away from work, but Accenture is good enough to be flexible especially in these times. Right now, because of the current childcare situation, I’ve got my diary blocked out with meetings but, it’s also blocked out with when I can’t do work to look after my son. If I have to work later, I’ll do that, but really, it’s just making sure he’s smashing and that I can do the hours. That said, it’s not been so much about Accenture supporting me, they’ve done it for everyone.










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