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A hands-on approach to IT

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Hi I’m Varuna, I first learnt to write code when I was about 10 years old. Since then I’ve always had an interest in computer science, following the traditional route of gaining a degree in the subject and then going out into the world to build a career as a Software Developer. Now at AO, my home for the past three years, I’ve been able to develop from a Software Developer to leading a Software Development Team.

One of the first things that really stood out to me when I joined AO was the opportunity to see first-hand how the software I was building had a direct, physical impact. For context, before AO, I worked as a Software Engineer for an Affiliate Marketing company where the impact of my work was more virtual. Within my first month on AO’s Logistics team, I was sent out to the warehouses to see how the software I’d been building was put into place. I even recall going out on the delivery vans to talk to the drivers about how they use the app we built and to find out what they liked, what they didn’t like and what they would change. I really enjoyed this hands-on, user-focussed approach.

Fast forward almost three years later and with the support of the people around me, I’ve recently taken the step to becoming a Software Development Team Lead in the Customer Interactions Team. I won’t lie, it’s been hard, it’s been a challenge and it was quite a daunting leap for me. However, the constant support from my managers, along with the AO led workshops have helped me build my leadership and coaching skills. So I’ve been able to really enjoy this challenge as well as having the confidence that I can grow into this role.

I’m still very much hands-on though, I still get to code every day. But now, I also get to work with each member of the team individually. I get to really know who they are, what motivates them, and hopefully support them in defining and achieving their goals, in the same ways that my mentors have done for me so far. And I think that’s what really sets AO apart from other companies; I remember first coming into the fold and looking above me in the chain of command and just being really inspired by the talent and enthusiasm on show, and I still am. If I’m being honest, it’s hard not to buy into the culture of AO; there’s something contagious about it. Everyone just genuinely cares and are excited about the work they’re doing, and how they can make a strong, positive impact. I think this is because AO sets you up for success and gives you the power to the make the changes you want to see, and to be a part of something like that is very exciting.