Ever dreamed of writing software with the power to help change the nation? Then Kainos is the place to be. Síona, a Solution Architect at Kainos, is here to tell you what makes Kainos special, give you the scoop on the award-winning project she's worked on, and give you insight on the skills that could help you land a role with them. Let's dive right in!

Hi Síona, tell us more about yourself/your journey into tech and how you ended up in your current role at Kainos

I'm a Solution Architect at Kainos, but when I'm not working on projects, I'm also a huge travel enthusiast. Currently, my passport has stamps from 36 countries and counting. But it's not just travelling that I'm passionate about, I'm also a STEM nerd at heart and have been my whole life.

I started my tech journey with a fairly traditional route of studying Computing, Maths and Science subjects before diving right into a Master's degree in Computer Science. I was able to have real-world experience during my placement year as a Trainee Software Engineer at … Kainos!.

Kainos has a lot of longstanding employees, you being one of them. What has made you stay for over a decade and what has that progression looked like for you?

Working at Kainos has been a real learning experience with plenty of exciting challenges that have kept me on my toes.

I've had the chance to write software that makes a real difference in people's lives, and it's an amazing feeling to see the positive impact of my work. Not only that, but I have the opportunity to collaborate with incredibly talented people who are always willing to lend a helping hand. Everyone wants to see each other succeed and there's no cutthroat competition here.

Since joining Kainos in 2011, I've been promoted 5 times and I'm now a Solution Architect leading four teams on a large digital transformation programme. I’ve been super fortunate to have an amazing People Manager in my corner who’s been cheering me on, even in my moments of self-doubt.

What type of support have you received whilst working at Kainos?

Kainos is incredibly supportive when it comes to its employees receiving training and certifications. They provide the tools, resources, and support necessary for us to confidently choose whatever path we want to take. From graduate academies to more experienced hires, Kainos genuinely has everyone covered. I recently achieved my AWS Solution Architect certification, and I'm proud to be part of an AWS advanced partner organisation. Not only that, but Kainos also has four solution partner designations and five advanced specialisms for Microsoft, so you can explore whichever technology stack sparks your curiosity.

They're also incredibly flexible and understanding when it comes to personal matters. Last year, I got married and wanted to take some time out for the preparations and a long, relaxing honeymoon – and they granted me a whopping eight weeks off.

Kainos also has a range of inspiring employee networks and champion the creation of networks specifically focused on advocacy and opportunity for members of their community such as women, LGBTQ+, and ethnic diversity. There really is something for everyone!

The HMPO Passport service you’ve worked on is exemplary of what a digital services project should be – what makes it stand out as a project and what type of technology was involved in delivering this?

HMPO Passport Services is an unparalleled project. With cutting-edge CI/CD processes, the ability to deploy multiple times a day, and a user-centric design approach, this project is second-to-none. We use a range of tools to ensure that only the best code reaches production, making it a rock-solid and highly reliable service built on JavaScript and Java, running on AWS.

But that's not all - this project also puts a huge focus on user-centred design. Any new features are heavily researched and tested with real users – they go to research labs and the feedback from those sessions is absolutely essential to the development process.

It's no wonder that this project has been recognised by industry awards.

Not every project can be smooth sailing from start to finish. What advice would you give to other engineers who face challenges in projects  – how do you overcome these?

It's not all smooth sailing. But here's the thing: you don't have to deal with these challenges alone!

Engineering is a team effort, so don't be afraid to ask for help from your colleagues, whether you need a sympathetic ear or a brainstorming session. You never know what gems of wisdom you might uncover; those difficult projects can be a real source of knowledge. You'll learn valuable lessons and develop skills that you'll use time and time again throughout your career.

What type of skills do you think suits those wanting to become Software Engineers at Kainos (both technical and non-technical) and which of these has helped you the most?

In terms of technical skills, we would start with object-oriented programming. No need to limit yourself to one language though, having a solid foundation in any programming language gives you the skills to apply it to other technologies.

To be a successful software developer, it's not just about knowing the technical stuff – you've got to be hungry to learn and keep improving because the software is always evolving! Plus, don't forget your problem-solving skills. It comes in handy when you need to get to the source of the issue quickly and come up with a solution.

If I had to pick one talent that has had the biggest impact on my career, it's got to be my storytelling and communication skills. Being able to speak to both technical and non-technical people has been invaluable, especially as part of my job is interfacing with clients – and it's been key to my success over the years.

And that’s it!

We've loved hearing from Síona, and we hope you have too. If you're looking for a career that is both exciting and rewarding, with the chance to write software that makes a real difference in people's lives, then Kainos could be the place you've been looking for. If you're interested in a role with the Kainos, then head on over to our platform where you could be matched with them. It takes just 5 minutes to sign up.

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