Principal Engineer Alastair tells us how he’s developed his career in Technology
“I love it when our teams get behind initiatives with a really positive attitude and seeing some of the great, innovative ideas they come up with”
Name: Alastair Rodgers
Job title: Principal Engineer
What area of Sky do you work in? I work in the Digital Trading department. We’re responsible for selling our products to consumers on the web and through the Sky Mobile app. As a Principal Engineer, I’m involved with both technical leadership and people management.
What’s your career journey been like up until now? I did a PhD in Astrophysics, which involved working on a telescope in Arizona and writing lots of data analysis and simulation software. After university, I worked as a full-stack Software Developer for a start-up, developing Digital Rights Management solutions. I then worked in financial services as a Developer, a Software Architect and eventually an Enterprise Architect. After a couple of years as an EA, I decided I wanted to get back to a more technical, hands-on role, so I joined as a Senior Developer. After a few months, I took a promotion to Principal Engineer, sharing technical leadership and management responsibilities for the Digital Trading Engineering team.
What does a typical day working here look like for you? I spend a lot of time providing technical direction and guidance to our Software Development teams, working with the Engineers on solution architecture, design and best practice. This often involves workshops and other meetings, as well as fielding many emails and messages from our team and other colleagues in the business. I work with the Principal Engineers from other departments too, so we can learn from each other and join up on common approaches. I also manage some of our Developers, helping them to develop their careers and dealing with any issues that arise. It’s fast-paced and I often have to deal with many different things in a typical day, but this helps keep the job interesting and stimulating.
How have you made a difference in your role? Shortly after I started the role, we embarked on a major overhaul of the software platform supporting our online shop, to enable us to sell products more flexibly and effectively. This involved defining the target solution architecture, evangelising the approach, selecting suitable technologies and helping the engineering teams with software design and implementation. We’re now in the middle of this transformation and I’m really excited about the new opportunities it’ll open up.
What’s been your proudest moment since working here? Seeing our teams get behind initiatives with a really positive attitude and seeing some of the great, innovative ideas they come up with.
What’s the most enjoyable thing about your job? Working with our engineers to build great systems and constantly learning new technology and techniques.
Describe your work/life balance? As I have 3 kids, I find our flexibility really helpful. I sometimes work from home and our technology makes this easy, though I prefer to be in the office most of the time. We encourage everyone to take responsibility for their own time management. I can generally leave work behind when I leave the office, though I do use my commute for catching up on new technology.
What advice would you give to others trying to develop their career? Step outside your everyday tasks and don’t rest on your laurels. If you see a problem, ask yourself what you can do to improve things. Sometimes this can be daunting if it takes you outside your comfort zone, but taking on new challenges can really help develop your skills and lead to new opportunities. At the same time, don’t take on a new role or promotion unless it’s what you really want – try to pursue things you really enjoy and don’t think that ‘career progression’ always has to mean promotion.
An interesting fact/something no one else knows about you? I discovered the third ever known source of cosmic very high-energy gamma rays, a galaxy called Markarian 501. This is an obscure branch of astronomy, and in any case, no one ever remembers the guy who came third.