Great books I’ve read/listened to recently for career development or personal development

I am very big on career development and personal development, and one of the techniques I use to help with this is to read or listen to books that improve my knowledge and/or self awareness. Here’s 5 great books I have read recently:

This one is an additional resources to compliment the Business Mentoring programme that I am currently participating in. Check out Self Made book by Bianca Miller-Cole and Byron Cole here https://amzn.to/3QKedQr

This one I bought years ago in Paperback and ready through most of it then apart from the one section I didn’t think was relevant at the time – Selling. Year later I realise its a chapter I probably should have taken seriously so I’ve making up for it now and listening to the audiobook version. Check out Brian Tracy’s book No Excuses here https://amzn.to/3HzMwFu

This book is the second book by Bianca Miller-Cole and Byron Cole, followup after more experiences and feedback from readers and mentees after the first book. This second book is definitely speaking to the things I have been experiencing recently. Check out The Business Survival Kit book here: https://amzn.to/3Na45Nv

This book I bought after attending a training course Financial Freedom and Passion and Profits from Property, hosted by the lovely George and Sarah Choy. It’s definitely helped me make a few changes and take up some new habits in regards to budgeting and money management. Check out Retire Now by George Choy and Sarah Choy here: https://amzn.to/3y6cAFq

I bought this book years ago and never got around to using it until 12 months ago. I haven’t read it cover to cover yet, but used it more like a reference book and jumped into relevant chapters I needed to help me prep for specific interview. I love Gayle’s style of writing as its easy to read and really engaging so far. Check out Cracking the Coding Interview book by Gayle Laakmann McDowell here: https://amzn.to/39zH20W

Bought this Leading Quality book by Ronald Cummings-John and Owais Peer on kindle ages ago so I could read it while commuting. Covid had other ideas and I’ve avoided the commute as have been working at home since 2020. Only just rediscovered this one so only just started reading it. Since I’m in a leadership role now I thought it would be wise to invest some time in developing myself in this area. It’s pretty good so far. I’m hoping I’ll be able to implement some of the things it suggests to improve the quality of the product I’m involved with delivering to the public. Check out the Leading Quality book here https://amzn.to/3zKOEZ9

So these are some of the books I’m currently reading or listening to for career development and personal development. What are your favourite books that you are reading at the moment? And have any of them impacted your career/work/business/life?

Continue Reading

What I’ve Learned From 15 Years At The Same Company in Tech

According to LinkedIn it is my work anniversary month and they are telling me I’ve reached 15 years at the same company. Lord have mercy!

I’ve been so busy that I forgot to even celebrate (or cry) on 4th June, the actual anniversary day.

LinkedIn has got me here all in my feelings. Reminiscing about the good times, and vex about the not so good times. In truth it’s been a rollercoaster of a journey the last 15 years, especially the first 10 years, but everything happens for a reason, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without these experiences and lessons in life and career.

Here’s 5 things I’ve learned from spending 15 years at the same company in tech:

Never stay in the same team too long

I spent the first 10 years in the same team, doing the same things day in day out, until the role changed focus abruptly. Nightmare. But when I eventually moved to a new team within the department it felt like I was working for a brand new company… Modern tech, fresh faces, new ways of working, new projects. It was a blessing. I moved teams a few times until I found the tech, project, and product I really enjoyed working on and felt proud of. Finally found my passion too… Mobile Development.

In order to survive even 10 years at the same company it’s wise to move around the department/company so that you get a better understanding of the business and different domains. This also helps to build good relationships in different areas with key people, relationships that you can leverage later on in your tech career.

Never stick to one technology stack

Whatever you do, never focus on one technology for the majority of your career. I made the mistake of being territorial about Java because it took me so long to be taken seriously as a Java developer that I was damn well going to be a Java developer for life… Little did I know I was cutting myself off from lots of opportunities to grow, and to work on other exciting products. When I finally opened my mind to other technologies new opportunities came thick and fast to widen my knowledge and experience, and I became a better developer because of it.

It’s your responsibility to keep up with the ever changing technology

Don’t get comfortable or complacent, especially after learning your first major tech stack (in my case Java). 10 years in the same team working on the same thing will keep you in your comfort zone. If you have the opportunity to regularly learn new technologies and apply them to your existing project and in your existing team then that’s great. However, if not, at least make the effort to do some skills development or at least have an awareness of what tech is new out there, and find out what opportunities are available in other teams with your department or company to get to use them.

Promotions are not handed to you on a plate… You need to do the work and have a positive mindset

I have to admit I was a bit naive in this space… Throughout most of my career I thought someone would tell you when you are ready for promotion and it just happens. That’s not exactly the case… And it took me 12 years to come to that realisation. You have to take responsibility for your own career development and put a plan together (with assistance from your manager if they care and/or are willing to support). Know what you want in life and career and create a plan to get there. Once you’re clear on what you want, start taking ‘inspired’ action and go along about it with a positive mindset. I don’t know for sure why, but the help, assistance, encouragement, and opportunities will start to appear when you least expect it. Mindset is everything. If you are struggling with this, get help from a coach or therapist until having a positive mindset becomes the norm. Also surround yourself with like minded people who are on a similar journey to you.

Not everyone is for you, but there are some great cheerleaders and supporters too. Know the difference

Tech careers can be very competitive. Most people in tech are generally decent humans and will celebrate your achievements and encourage you to push on and achieve more, and that’s great. Unfortunately, there are those who will smile in your face, but just hate to see you achieving, progressing and getting the recognition you deserve. (Could also be known as Frienemies). Please don’t waste your time or energy trying to convince said people of your worth. It’s their issue not yours. Keep on keeping on! Focus on build a thriving career in tech and building good relationships with the ones that cheer you on.

BONUS – Never turn down opportunities you feel you are not ready for

I’ve let so many opportunities slip through my fingers it’s unreal… and the feeling of regret is painful. However, at the 12.5 years point as a Senior Developer at the same company, my mindset started to change. I was encouraged by a colleague to consider applying for a leadership position, one of the roles I’ve been doing for the last year. If I tell you I tried my hardest to run from this opportunity, but many people pointed out that I had already been leading people in many ways for many years and I just needed to focus that energy and do it with intention to have influence and make a difference. My feelings were that I’d just got comfortable working on the technology and product I loved, and was I really going to stop doing what I love everyday for a role I wasn’t 100% convinced about. It took me a further 12 months to accept they were right, and I should put myself forward, which I begrudgingly did. Blocked in my first attempt (that’s a long story for another day), paused on my 2nd attempt due to the pandemic, but as they say 3 times a charm so I tried again. 15 months after taking that leadership role on, I’m still involved in contributing to a product I love, and being able to create career development opportunities for people who want to grow their tech careers. And it is so satisfying to help make that happen. Damn it!

Overall its been a good 15 years, but I the last 5 years have been great for the most part, and I’m immensely proud of the products I have contributed to and the team I work with. Here’s to the future.

Continue Reading

Exceptional Female Role Models Interview

I sat down for an open and honest chat with Richard Pickard (CEO of Inclusive Search, Champion of Women in Business) for the Exceptional Female Role Models series, about my journey into the technology industry, diversity in tech advocacy, and the lack of representation of underrepresented group in tech, and my hopes for the future.

Check out the interview here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/exceptional-female-role-models-dionne-richard-pickard

Continue Reading

STEPPING UP TO LEAD

Leadership

So this happened earlier this month… On 12th April I got promoted to be an Agile Development Lead, after 13 years and 10 months as a Senior Developer at TfL. Better late than never I guess :-). Apparently Agile Development Lead (ADL) is equivalent to an Engineering Manager externally, as ADL role is not a common description for this type of role in the outside tech world.

Stepping up to Lead

Over the last 2.5 years I’ve had the pleasure of developing on the first mobile app I’ve ever developed on, and one of the most interesting Android apps out there, TfL Go (a travel planning app with heavy focus on accessibility). I’ll now be stepping up from Android development (although currently juggling both Senior Dev and ADL roles for the time being), to now lead the same talented Android and iOS developers that have got the TfL Go app to where it is today, into the hands of the users and hopefully helping to make planning travel across London that little bit easier.

Apparently, it’s important I step up into a tech related leadership role. With only 20% of people in tech being women, and a ridiculously low 0.7% being black women in tech, apparently I need to step up as a role model in tech leadership, to be effective at encouraging a new generation of women and black people to get into tech (both currently very underrepresented groups in tech).

My sponsor rightly pointed out that if I’m not even willing to step up, how do I expect anyone who looks like me to see themselves in a leadership role. I cursed him, but damn, why does he have to be right all the time lol.

It’s going to require a total mindset change, and one that I’m currently battling with. Luckily I inadvertently started developing leadership skills a few years ago, through the ‘extra curricular’ activities I’ve been doing in the tech community (although I didn’t realise I was developing those skills at the time).

Active Listening, Coaching, Negotiating, Public Speaking, Presenting, Sharing Authentic Experiences, Recognising and Nurturing Talent, Being Supporting, Giving Praise, and Being Direct (to be fair I’ve alway been like this lol), apparently are all skills required to be an effective leader. Yet I have so so much to learn, and I’m not 100% sure an official Leadership position is for me (it feels different and less scary when your doing things on a voluntary basis).

Giving up what you love to do day in day out for a greater cause is damn hard. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been an emotional wreck for the last 2 weeks, once I realised I am not going to be coding every day. Gonna have to come up with a plan to satisfy my coding hunger another way, because I don’t think I’ll ever fully accept that one.

But I’m give this a shot. If me stepping up as an Agile Development Lead will encourage even one more person from an underrepresented group to get into tech, and eventually step into a leadership role themselves, then it will be all worth it. If I can do it so can you :-).

#womenintech

#blackintech

#diversityintech

#techleadership

#getintotech

#technewbies

References for the stats:

British Computer Society – Record numbers of women in IT – but black women still under-represented, https://www.bcs.org/more/about-us/press-office/press-releases/record-numbers-of-women-in-it-but-black-women-still-under-represented-new-research-finds/

Diversity and inclusion | BCS BIMA Diversity and Inclusion report https://bima.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/BIMA-Tech-Inclusion-and-Diversity-Report-2019.pdf Tech Nation Diversity report https://technation.io/report2020/

The Edge Foundation Skills Shortage report June 2020 https://www.edge.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/skills_shortage_bulletin_7_web-final.pdf

The Edge Foundation Skills Shortage report Jan 2021 https://www.edge.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/edge_-_ssb-8_web-1c.pdf

Continue Reading