Find a company with a culture you love, and it won't feel like work. That's the advice Romy Greenfield, a senior software engineer at Adaptavist, would tell her younger self. Here she shares how she moved from the public sector to carve out a career in tech engineering and why she believes impostor syndrome should never hold you back from success.
Can you tell us about your current role?
I am a senior software engineer and technical lead for our Enhanced Search product here at Adaptavist. I work with multiple software engineers, product managers, and marketers to ensure our product works well and meets our customers' needs.
What does being a senior software engineer mean to you?
Software engineering allows me to combine three things I enjoy; problem-solving, collaboration, and creativity. As an engineer, you face challenges daily, forcing you to learn and improve continually. It's impossible to stagnate. You have to be able to think innovatively and consider ever-changing business, customer, and technical requirements. You can only achieve these with great teamwork and cross-team collaboration, which I love. As a senior engineer, helping and guiding others is a big part of my job; it challenges me to expand my knowledge and look at things differently.
What are you responsible for?
I ensure our customers understand and use our Enhanced Search product. As an engineer, I write and maintain code, test, build, and deploy our application to multiple environments and guide other engineers on how to do this. As a tech lead, I plan and make technical decisions on how we will build, improve, and scale new features for our product. I represent the team to all our internal and external stakeholders and lead the technical design, training, and planning sessions.
How did you get into software engineering?
I started working in the public sector, and despite many efforts, I was passed over for promotion several times, which was disheartening. It greatly impacted my motivation and faith in the company I was working for. So I hit the reset button and took some time to focus on my next move.
I knew I wanted to find a career where I would always be in demand, never be bored, be able to work anytime and anywhere in the world, have good career progression, and earn a decent salary. A tall order, I know.
Did you always want to work in tech?
When I left school, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I fell into various jobs simply by being in the right place at the right time. But after working in several industries, I realised tech was by far the best for me. You get a level of opportunity, freedom, and flexibility in tech that you can't find anywhere else. Now, there's no way I would leave it.
What does a typical day look like?
To start the day off, I read my emails and Slack messages to check there have been no production concerns or incidents. Every day I have a standup meeting with my team to ensure everyone has something to work on and to determine if there are any obstacles to overcome. Next, I will write some code or perform other technical tasks between additional design and feedback meetings. Although I am fully remote, I often have video calls with colleagues throughout the day. And when possible, I jump at the chance to visit the office and work with people face-to-face.
What is a memorable moment in your career so far?
When I first applied to work at Adaptavist, I thought I needed to be more qualified for the role and would be unlikely to get it. Despite this, it ticked all the right boxes, providing everything I was looking for, both technically and from a cultural perspective. Adaptavist trusted in my abilities from the start, more than I probably did, to be honest. I have always felt encouraged and supported and learned much along the way. It turns out the culture at Adaptavist IS every bit as good as it sounds. Everyone treats you as a human first and employee second, which is so refreshing.
What's the worst part of your job?
It has to be when you get stuck on something and start losing faith in your abilities. Sometimes it is easy to forget that this job is challenging, and imposter syndrome is something most engineers experience in their careers.
And the best?
I never feel siloed or sidelined, whether that's technically or personally. I get to work on every part of the codebase. My ideas are listened to and considered, and my time is completely flexible. Plus, they have free ice cream and snacks in the London office. What more could you ask for?
What do you want to do next with your career?
I want to improve my technical skills, get more exposure to different technologies, and potentially try managing people. I want to get the team into a position where we can hire more junior engineers, too, as this is a great place to learn and personally, I enjoy mentoring.
What's it like working for The Adaptavist Group?
I really enjoy it. There is a lot of investment in people and technology. Our management team are great to work with. They really listen to your ideas and try to give you the tools you need to succeed.
How do you use The Adaptavist Group benefits?
I try to take advantage of all the benefits because that is the benefit of having them. I am on a fully remote contract, so I can work from home or anywhere I want to. However, if I want or need to go to the office, I am encouraged and reimbursed for my travel costs. I've even set up a Slack channel for colleagues in the north to meet up and work despite not having an office in the area.
The unlimited annual leave is AMAZING. It really is unlimited. If you're struggling in your personal life, have a passion that eats into the working week, or need to take an extra day because it makes your life easier, the company is exceptionally understanding and willing to help you.
What advice would you give your younger self about work?
If you find a company with a culture you love, it won't feel like work. A good culture is more important than anything else, even your paycheque. Follow your interests, passions, and skills, and you will find the right career path for you. Finally, don't stick to a job in a company where you feel unhappy, unsupported, and unfulfilled. Be brave and try something new.
What has being a woman in tech meant for you? Has it impacted your career or experiences?
I have always been interested in STEM. But it is frustrating that women are still so underrepresented in this space. Sadly like many other women, I have faced challenges in my career purely because of my gender—from having my opinion ignored, my performance questioned, or my physical appearance commented on, it can feel like an endless battle. But despite this, I persevered, and it has been worth it. Now I have an amazing job in a company with zero tolerance towards sexism in the workplace—among other amazing values and benefits.
Personally, I would love to see more women join the workforce, especially in software engineering at Adaptavist. Tech is one of only a few industries actively hiring women to increase diversity, so my advice is to take full advantage of the opportunity while it lasts.
Anything else you'd like to share?
Don't hesitate to apply for a role with Adaptavist, even if you feel you don't fulfil all the criteria. If you don't apply, you will never get the job. If you do apply, the worst that might happen is you don't get the job. But the best outcome could be that you do, and you get to work in a company with a great culture and lots of opportunities to succeed. What have you got to lose?
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