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.
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 :-).
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