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“There are so many flavours of tech out there. Don’t be put off if you don’t find the perfect job first time!” – Paulin Shek, Ocado Technology

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

In this interview with Paulin Shek, Software Engineer at Ocado Technology - we look under the bonnet of Paulin’s successful career in technology and into the future of inclusion, diversity and tech.
We were recently delighted to get to know Paulin Shek, Software Engineer at Ocado Technology. In this interview, we look under the bonnet of Paulin’s successful career in technology and into the future of inclusion, diversity, and technology.

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How did you get into tech? 

After a degree in Maths & Computer Science, I started my career as a Data Scientist. I loved the creativity, proof of concepts, and experimentation of working as a Data Scientist, but I started to crave the design patterns, structure, and long-term commitment to projects which comes with being a Software Engineer – so I made the switch and haven’t looked back.

What is it about tech that you love?

I love the variety of different types of projects that all fall under working in tech. I get to be creative and experiment especially during the discovery stage of a project. But I also love writing code bound for production – considering all the practical and pragmatic aspects of supporting services in production keeps me focused and motivated.

What do you enjoy most about your role? 

Currently, I’m in the middle of a 12-month secondment into the architecture team in the Fulfilment stream, building the software that enables our highly automated fulfilment centres to run accurate and efficient order fulfilment. It has given me lots of opportunities to share my experiences of working in my old stream (Supply Chain) and use this to influence the technical direction of a completely different domain. What I’ve enjoyed the most during my secondment is meeting and collaborating with lots of different engineers in different teams, yet all with the same goal of improving our software.

Why is Ocado Technology a great place to develop your career? 

At Ocado Technology we work on really exciting tech challenges and there are so many opportunities to make change. As an example, within your team you might work on a new demand forecasting graph for a warehouse manager to look at – you can volunteer to lead this piece of work, or even before it gets to that point, you can be part of discovery, which means working with Product Managers and UX to define what the graph should look like, and understand what problem this data would solve.

Beyond that, Ocado Technology is the most ambitious company that I’ve ever worked at, with the domain model and architecture constantly being improved at a large scale. Being involved with the bigger initiatives means that you can have a bigger impact and get exposure to other parts of the business too.

One of our core values is craftsmanship; to help build up breadth of knowledge, you can do placements or secondments which are short or long-term stints working in a different role. My current secondment as an Architect has been amazing for trying things out of my comfort zone, whilst getting the perfect amount of support from the other Architects. 

What excites you most about the technological challenges you are solving?

Some of the technical goals we have are so ambitious and long-running. I love seeing everyone’s dedication to making it happen, and having a shared understanding of the benefits it will achieve. I feel excited when I think about what success will look like!

What challenges have you faced, as a woman in tech?

Sometimes I used to wonder if I get underestimated because of my gender but I thrive off the challenge of going above and beyond other people’s expectations of me.  At Ocado Technology, I’ve had amazing opportunities to develop my career and have always had the full support of my colleagues and managers.

So what do you think companies can do to ensure women are better represented in the workplace?

This is a big topic and I’m not sure I can do this question justice. Society needs to change and unconscious bias needs to be called out. The biggest change we can influence in our own lives is to have candid conversations about difficult topics with those close to us, like our families and friends. At Ocado Technology, there are many inspiring women in leadership positions and the team is committed to hiring more women into technology roles.

Can you suggest any tools, resources, organisations that have been useful for your development?

Untitled design (29).pngI have a “book club” with my friend and ex-colleague, where we get together regularly and read tech books together. It has been wonderful to bounce ideas off each other and a great motivator to get through tech books, which I’d struggle with by myself. We recently finished “Designing Data Intensive Application” and have just started “Domain Driven Development”. Another book that made a big impact on me towards the beginning of my career was “Crucial Conversations”.

And finally, what advice would you give to women who are thinking about a career in tech?

There are so many “flavours” of tech jobs that are available out there, so just try something out and don’t be put off if you don’t find the perfect job first time!

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