Why did you first become interested in science/ engineering?
Hassan: From a very young age, I acknowledged how technology plays such an important role in modern society. If implemented correctly, it has the potential to solve an almost unlimited number of problems that humankind faces. This realisation drove me to pursue all things related to information technology and to be a part of creating software that society values.
Hussain: I have always been intrigued as to how software appeared on a screen from a young age; especially as an avid gamer! This first sparked my curiosity and ambitions to study computer science. During my teenage years, I would create games using programmes such as GameMaker and Unity. As I grew older, the sorts of software I started to create became more mature as I began to create websites and apps for fun.
How did you get to where you are now?
Hassan: While studying for my A levels, I secured an internship at Barclays supporting the Finance Structural Reform Programme through Career Ready, which exposed me to the complex organisational structures and processes in a large company. This experience helped me get through the interview processes and trials to get a job as a data analyst for Xantura and work towards a level 3 apprenticeship. Upon completion, I was promoted to Operations Team Leader, which meant managing a team of data analysts, and simultaneously started a degree apprenticeship with Coventry University. I recently graduated and was promoted to Business Domain DevOps Team Lead.
Hussain: During my Year 11 summer holiday, I carried out work experience as a software tester at 2Simple. When I completed my A levels, I went back to 2Simple and continued working for a year. I then obtained a level 3 apprenticeship with Sphonic to work as a data/business analyst. I then did a degree apprenticeship, also at Coventry University, and became a team lead at Sphonic. Now that I have completed my degree apprenticeship, I am Senior Team Lead.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Hassan: Teaching myself how to programme in Python and SQL and using it to automate an important part of Xantura’s data pipeline. I feel like this is my biggest achievement because it demonstrated to me that I have the capacity to deal with complex problems and that I play an important role within the business.
Hussain: Attaining and completing my digital and technology solutions professional degree apprenticeship. From the day I finished my A levels, I set my sights on achieving a degree apprenticeship as I knew how valuable it would be. My brother and I understood that if we could join a company on a level 3 apprenticeship and demonstrate our work ethic, they would be willing to take us on as degree apprentices – we are very grateful to our respective companies!
What is your favourite thing about your job?
Hassan: I thoroughly enjoy solving complex problems – it can be a thrilling journey as you get closer to finding the answer.
Hussain: Coming up with solutions for my clients and then implementing them is by far the most exhilarating thing I enjoy about my role at Sphonic.
What does a typical day involve for you?
Hassan: Producing lots of complex SQL queries for analysis and to be used as data sources for reporting tools. Automating any manual processes using Python. Managing members of my team and supporting them with any problems they are facing. Supervising operational tasks and business activities to ensure the desired results are produced and are consistent with the overall company strategy and mission.
Hussain: Proposing solutions for current clients and newly onboarded clients and answering queries throughout the day. Once solutions/workflows have been designed and confirmed with the client, I then begin implementing the solution/ workflow by programming in LUA (a scripting language). When I have some spare time during the day, I help out fellow team members.
What would be your advice to young people looking to pursue a career in engineering?
Hassan and Hussain: First and foremost, clearly define your goals and highlight all the different pathways to achieve them. In our case, our goal was to achieve a degree apprenticeship and so we chose the pathways that were the most effective way to do that. Another piece of advice would be to demonstrate a good work ethic at all times (for example, having the desire to do a task well, being vigilant and organised). Finally, do projects in your own time to improve and showcase your skills.
What’s next for you?
Hassan: I intend to gain a stronger understanding of machine learning and potentially implement computer algorithms to further improve the accuracy of Xantura’s predictive models. I will continue to work on improving my project management skills by obtaining the PRINCE2 Agile certification and work towards getting the Microsoft Azure Data Scientist Associate certification. These will help me achieve my overall goal to become a full stack data scientist.
Hussain: I’m also currently studying to be PRINCE2 Agile certified to further diversify and hone my project management skills and knowledge. In my own time, I have been working on a mini REST API in Python using the Flask framework to screen companies to ensure they meet specific compliance rules and standards. At Sphonic, I want to expand my knowledge of regulating the financial services industry through technology, as well as data analytics.