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By Natsumi Nakayama, Software Engineer at BJSS
Natsumi talks about starting a Computer Science college course with no expectations, the challenges of being a woman in the tech industry and learning how to lead a team of people.
I came to the UK as an ESOL student, and I had a friend doing a computer science course at the local college – it was one of those NVQ or BTECH equivalent courses. I had no prior knowledge of computers, but I thought it sounded interesting and I decided to do it. I had no expectations! After completing the two-year course, I went to university to get my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Following that, I worked in a few internal development roles, building internal management systems and things like that. However, with in-house development you’re very limited in what you can do, and I was having to hop to new companies to work on different things. That’s when I joined BJSS.
I started at BJSS as a Developer, which basically means looking at the monitor and writing code! But on the last few projects I’ve been a Technical Lead, looking after a team of Developers, Testers, Architects and the like. I make technical decisions, mentor people and give them direction. A big part of the job is working with Project Managers and Analysts to bridge the gap between a client’s business needs and the technical side of things.
A couple of years ago, I worked on a big project for a delivery service provider, replatforming and migrating a lot of their online services like getting quotes and printing labels. It was my first Tech Lead role and my first time working in a fully integrated client team at the client’s office. It was a big step up for me being the Tech Lead and I learned a lot about managing and leading a team. The people I worked with were brilliant, clever, and enthusiastic people, and I learned a lot from them, too. Plus, I think we delivered something truly great for the client, and when you see how successful the client is today, it’s nice to know you’ve played a part in it.
Because BJSS is a consultancy, you don’t have to hop to another company to work on new things. You can stay here and work with the same people, but on different clients and projects touching different technologies, tech stacks and environments. In-house development roles can be quite limiting, but at BJSS I get to progress my career and develop new skills and capabilities.
Another reason I like BJSS is because of the approach to diversity and inclusion. I’m a woman and I’m from an ethnic minority, and it can be hard to survive in this industry. In some of my previous jobs, I’ve been literally the only woman in the company. I look around BJSS and it’s just amazing the diversity of people that we’re hiring. The company is really trying to lead in that area, and I can’t wait to see how much further they go with it.