Have you ever wondered how you could transform your career? Many of us do, but sometimes don't take that leap. But with a great work/life balance, and an amazing role that you'll not only love but can grow in, it's clear that you don't have to look any further than The Very Group. As the only retailer to appear in Glassdoor’s top list of places to work for work/life balance, it's clear they're an employer with a difference, and the best part is they're currently hiring via hackajob for roles you'll love.
Previously, we've had a look inside software engineering with The Very Group, and due to popular demand, we're back! This time, we're taking a look at their digital customer experience tribe, particularly Jayne's story. We're talking all things career moves, progression and digital. Let's get stuck in!
Jayne has worked at The Very Group for the last five years, starting off as an Associate Engineer, working her way up to being an engineering manager. Part of the DCX (digital customer experience) tribe at The Very Group, she and her team innovate, create and look after customers' journeys on their websites, which are very.co.uk, littlewoods.com, and littlewoodsireland.ie.
Hi, Jayne, tell us a bit more about yourself and your journey into tech
It started at school. My Physics teacher suggested that I do Computing as a degree, and I was intrigued. This was back when computers weren't in schools - in fact, my school only had one computer and we weren't really allowed to use it! I looked into the degree and decided to go for it.
Following my degree, I worked for a telecoms company in Liverpool programming in a range of languages from Assembler to C++. When the company closed in 2005, I decided to use my free time to write a novel, and then turn my talent to teaching. Whilst teaching had a lot of rewarding aspects to it, I really missed the hands-on development and I wanted to be back problem solving, which led me to a role with The Very Group.
What new tech are you exploring at the moment?
In DCX, we're responsible for the websites and we're undergoing a massive transformation. We're moving to a new tech stack, utilising microservices, and microservice architectures, AWS, serverless TerraForm, React, Node JS, Go and many more. We have an Android and an iOS app and those engineers develop in Java, Kotlin, and Swift. I’d say The Very Group offers endless opportunities for engineers.
When it came to The Very Group, why did you decide to join them and what made them stand out?
A friend of mine knew I wanted to get back into Engineering and she worked at The Very Group. She'd actually been telling me about the company and how great they were for years, so it was really authentic. She'd made it sound like such a great place to work that I was convinced to go for it. I was a little nervous but so glad I took a chance. And I'm glad to say The Very Group took a chance on me in return.
What have been some of the highlights and challenges whilst working on projects at The Very Group?
For me, they actually go hand in hand. My team, the Checkout squad, were formed in lockdown. We all went home one day in different squads, and within two weeks, they decided to form our squad. So, we had to navigate not actually being together as a team in the office.
We're responsible for the shipping and the payment pages of our website. Previously there hadn't been a squad working on those, so the big challenge was in getting to understand all the logic and the business rules that went around that area. That was a huge challenge, but also really, really rewarding.
When returning to the tech workspace, how did The Very Group support you?
As I joined as an associate engineer, it was ideal for someone after a ten-year career break as it was entry-level. My aim was to work hard and prove myself to get my career back on track. The fabulous community of engineers that I became part of were all so welcoming, understanding, and helpful. That's still the case now, as it was then.
We also have 10% of our working week allotted to personal development time, and we're encouraged to actually spend that time training. Additionally, we get an annual training budget per person which is great as there are plenty of online training tools that we can use. I've made very good use of PluralSight courses.
What practical advice would you give to those who are looking to return to work or would like to change career?
It depends on your past experience and the length of your career break, but one thing I want to say to everybody is to believe in yourself. If you've done it once, in terms of you've been a developer once, then you can do it again. It's an aptitude that people have for that skillset. It's like people who can learn one foreign language can often pick up others as well.
I'd also say to people on a career break to consider your soft skills because things you've been doing are still helping you to skill up. In my case, I was supply teaching, and whilst it wasn't contributing to my technical skills, I had many other transferable skills. The fact that I could get a phone call at eight in the morning and be in a classroom at nine o'clock that same morning and manage to deliver engaging lessons was definitely transferable. So many people have those transferable skills. You just need to take time to recognise them in yourself.
And in terms of technical preparation, there are plenty of online courses. For example, I knew that I would be programming in Java so I did some Java online courses. I'd never worked in Java before, although I'd done C++, which was similar. And I know from my career returners, some councils offer funding for coding boot camps. Plus, there are organisations that have programmes like Women Returners, which we've partnered with this year, who, despite their name, also cater for men.
What advice would you give to people who are thinking to join The Very Group?
Now's an incredible time to join as we are currently recruiting at various levels, from software engineers to engineering managers. All our vacancies are out there on our website.
It might be easy to say but don't get hung up on not having absolutely all of the technical requirements that we list. Some of them, you might have, but not all of them. In my example, I'd never programmed in Java, but I had worked in C++. So it wasn't that difficult for me to, you know, transfer over to that. I would say an aptitude and a desire to succeed play a big part.
If you'd like to join The Very Group, they're currently hiring via hackajob for roles you'll love. Like what you've read or want more like this? Let us know! Email us here or DM us: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, we'd love to hear from you.