Mobile Developer Michael talks about the impact his work has on our customers’ interaction with us
“I want to better understand how customers use the My Sky app in order to make it easier for them to achieve what they want to do and help them enjoy it”
Name: Michael Richardson
Job title: Mobile Developer (Android Chapter Lead)
What area of Sky do you work in? My Sky App
What’s your career journey been like up until now? I worked in academic research for around ten years studying genetics before moving into software engineering. At first, I was working on websites before moving into Android development around 4 years ago. Most of my work was for start-ups before I started here about a year and a half ago.
What does a typical day working here look like for you? We have daily stand ups in the mornings where the team discusses the work we’re doing towards the current sprint. For most of the remainder of the day I’ll be working on tickets to add new functionality to the app. I often have meetings to attend where we’ll discuss and plan the future features we want to add. Our app interacts with a lot of different services across the company so these meetings will often involve other teams. We have a strong set of communities which work across the company that arrange talks on a variety of topics from the latest Android technologies to public speaking. These include external speakers coming in from companies such as Spotify and Monzo to talk about the technologies they use. I’ll attend any talks that interest me.
If you’ve been here over one year, how have you made a difference in your role? One aspect of the new app that I’ve enjoyed working on is analytics. We want to better understand how customers use the app in order to make it easier for them to achieve what they want to do in the app and to make them enjoy their interactions with us. Part of this involved adding Automatic Tracking so that we always have some analytics data even if the developers didn’t add anything. It has been very interesting to integrate with Adobe and also with Sky Analytics. Sky Analytics is an analytics solution developed in house using open source technologies such as Kafka and Apache Spark. This opens up the possibility to take different approaches to understanding our customers such as machine learning and recommendation engines to provide personalised experiences to our customers. I’ve been working on converting this work to an SDK to allow other internal mobile teams to use it.
What’s been your proudest moment since working here? It was great to see the My Sky App launched. The team did a brilliant job and the app looks superb.
What’s the most enjoyable thing about your job? I love working with the latest technologies to find innovative solutions to problems. We’ve made some great technology choices in the new app. For example, we’re using Kotlin for almost all our development work in the Android app. It requires around half the amount of code that Java would need to be written in Java. This makes developers more productive and also leaves fewer places for bugs to hide making the code easier to maintain. From a standing start of not having used Kotlin before, I think the whole team was confident using it within a month and after two months we had all added more features than we would’ve done using Java.
Describe your work/life balance? This is a nice, laid back place to work. The developers are given the time and space they need to follow best practice and work at their best rather than being rushed. The working week is fairly 9-5. If overtime is needed, individuals can choose if they want to work extra hours and get paid for doing so.
What advice would you give to others trying to develop their career? I’m a self-taught programmer, which can make it challenging to break into the industry. You need to dive deep on a single platform to know it well and learn important skills like writing unit tests. Having a long-term project, even if it’s a personal project is a good way to get that experience. Overall, the most important thing for me has been to keep learning and keep questioning how to be a better engineer. Here, there are so many different people with so many different interests and specialities that you can also find someone knowledgeable to discuss things with and learn from.
An interesting fact/something no one else knows about you? I was in San Francisco when the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake hit.
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