Tascomi Software Developer Aimi Forgan recently featured in the Sync NI summer magazine. Sync NI provides a platform to instantly inform readers on the latest technology and business news, jobs, and events from Northern Ireland and abroad.
To celebrate one year at Tascomi, Aimi shares about life as a Software Developer, how she came to be involved in Tascomi and what it’s like being a ‘Woman in Tech.”
Tell us a little about your career path.
I have always been creative and had a real passion for design, which lead me to study Interior Architecture at Edinburgh Napier University after I finished high school. This was where I had my first taste of technology and computer design. Whilst studying I also had a part time role as a Hairdressing Assistant and after completing my HNC in Interior Architecture I decided to complete an Apprenticeship in Hairdressing, which developed into a full time role.
However, the passion I felt for technology and design was always in the back of my mind and when the opportunity arose to pursue a career path in this field, I decided to go for it. I made the decision to study Web Design and Development at Abertay University, Dundee, where I gained a First Class Honours degree – leading me straight to Tascomi and I can honestly say that I haven’t looked back.
Having lived and studied in Scotland, how did you discover Tascomi?
I was unfamiliar with Tascomi until a recruitment agency brought them to my attention. Unsurprisingly, I decided to spend a short amount of time researching the company, and discovered that they were making a difference to Local Government with their web-based software solutions. At that time, I was working on a project to enhance small community banking issues in Africa and working alongside Local Authorities there, so for me, Tascomi seemed like a very natural progression. I sent through my Online Portfolio and CV and a short time later I was invited to take part in a Skype interview with Tascomi’s Development Director, Rick Hassard, and the rest, as they say, is history.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me starts with a big cup of tea! Following that, I assist with the maintenance and enhancement of our systems. I carry out a wide variety of tasks every day; whether it’s solving customer queries, fixing bugs or working on improvements to our current systems.
Do you have any role models that influenced and guided you to where you are today?
There are lots of very inspirational people in the tech industry, both men and women, but none that I would say have directly influenced or guided me throughout my studies. However, my partner has always been able to support and inspire me and has definitely guided me to where I am today.
Since joining Tascomi, I have been continually inspired and influenced by all of my colleagues, particularly our Programme Director, Roisin Murray – who was promoted to the Tascomi Board of Directors in 2015 after 7 years of leading the implementation side of the business.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your role? And why do you think young women are less inclined to enter the technology sector?
I think I am very lucky to work for a company where the only challenges are code-based and not gender-based, with 36% of the Tascomi workforce being female. However, I do feel as though there is still very much a modern stereotype which discourages women from joining the Tech industry. As a ‘girly girl’, I didn’t conform to the archetypal ‘programmer’ look and because of this I found University challenging. It made me nervous about starting a career in the industry and I doubted my abilities because of how my appearance was perceived by others, male and female, rather than focusing on my performance. In spite of these challenges, more and more young woman are starting careers in technology, which I think is great – we have to encourage gender diversity in every industry in order to develop and move forward as a society.
What do you think is the best part of being a ‘Woman In Tech’?
For me, one of the best parts is continually surprising people who underestimate me. On top of that, every day I am surrounded by innovative technology and extremely intelligent people. I get to make a valuable contribution towards building software that enhances other people’s lives and is a path towards a better future for the Local Government sector – How amazing is that?
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Believe in your own abilities and just go for it.
What advice would you give to women who are starting their careers in technology?
Be confident in what you can do, know your strengths and weaknesses and ask lots of questions. Finally – never stop learning.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in technology?
Pursuing a career in technology was not a straightforward process for me, but a decision that I reached after many years of trying my hand at other things. As I mentioned above, my original career path was hairdressing, just like my mum. However, I soon discovered that hairdressing was not something that I was passionate about. After exploring other options, I ended up completing some online tutorials in programming and I absolutely loved it. I realised that becoming a Software Developer would enable me to combine my passion for design with a job role that would be continually challenging and rewarding and it developed into a career from there.
What trends in the industry really excite you?
I get really excited about mobile design trends, such as creative gestures on touch screen devices, which have an almost endless potential for usability compared to cursors.
You recently participated in a course with The Mobile Academy Belfast soon. Can you tell us a little more about the course? How did you come to get involved? What did you learn?
The Mobile Academy Belfast is an innovative part-time learning course for professionals in Northern Ireland who want to understand the mobile ecosystem, hatch a new mobile business or product idea, bring mobile know-how into their organisation, or progress their career. Licensed by Mobile Monday Belfast and Ulster University’s School of Computing & Mathematics, the course consisted of 1-Day tuitions over a period of 5 weeks from 27th April to 25th May 2016.
I became involved with Mobile Monday Belfast after attending a talk in Belfast centered on UX Design. Through this course I really expanded my knowledge on the ‘user journey’ and how design can be used to enhance the end user experience. It also enabled me to build upon my current contribution to our existing products and also future products with new knowledge and greater understanding.
Lastly, what do you do for fun outside of work?
Outside of work, I live on farm! So when I am not behind a computer screen, I help out on the farm, which is great fun as it is such a change from my day-to-day job. I also love going out for drinks and dinner with family and friends.
Find out more about The Mobile Academy Belfast: